"We continued on and crossed on over to our 10th and final country of the trip."
by Patrick Burns
1. We're almost to Amsterdam!
2. We 'almost' went to a bakery named Müller inside of a mall in Düsseldorf for breakfast. It turns out that it was a department store. It did smell like a bakery though.
3. Patrick 'almost' went the entire day with his bike bikes on inside out. Luckily we noticed at mile 45 and rectified it in an 'almost' deserted field. Padding is important!
4. German bakeries are plagued by both bees and us. Sometimes the bees win. Don was 'almost' stung by many of them.
5. We 'almost' made it the entire 2000 mile trip without being passed by anyone on a bike. We were passed by a 40's year old woman on an e-bike even though we were pulling a respectable 23 mph. This was a little disheartening but actually quite surprising that no other e-bikes had passed us by now.
Now back to the beginning:
Our night at the Centro Hotel Residence in Bonn, Germany was presided over by a rather stern receptionist. She was adamant our bicycles not be kept in the room despite our persistent requests. As we laid down to sleep, Dave became increasingly concerned over the safety of our trusty steeds and we snuck down to the basement garage under the cover of darkness to carry them up 5 flights of stairs. Thanks to our cunning, dexterity and stealth - and that nobody ever takes the stairs In Europe either - the caper went unnoticed.
We awoke before sunrise, dressed and carried out bicycles down the stairs, fully expecting to zoom past the same receptionist only to be greeted by someone new who was less steadfast with the rules.
We sped away from the university district in Bonn and settled into the first leg of our 119 mile day.
We raced on in the cold morning air enjoying the lack of precipitation that had recently plagued us. We saw horses and hay, cows and corn, cities and streetlights. We sped past bridges that inspired momentary awe as we continued on our journey with few words exchanged.
After weeks in the saddle, there were conflicting emotions: desire to return to creature comforts of our daily lives, exhaustion from constant one-sport exercise, mile annoyance that comes with 24/7 company for 3 weeks - but all overshadowed by a desire to enjoy the time that still remained.
We stopped for our usual morning bakery items and quickly resumed our route. The road was flat and speckled with stoplights which caused interruptions in our speed, but we carried on.
By lunch, we were hungry and ready for calories. We came to Xanten, Germany - an otherwise quaint German town replete with a cathedral and cobblestones that has a fascinating archeological history that can date earliest settlements to 2000 BCE.
We admired the German braille on the replica of the town featured in the square before settling down for sustenance.
As we were leaving town, we even found portents of the near future.
We continued on and crossed on over to our 10th and final country of the trip.
As we crossed the border from Germany to The Netherlands there was a palpable change in the attitude towards cyclists. The cars stopped for cyclists. There were even step-wise instructions for cyclists to cross the street.
We arrived at the hotel in Arnhem and quickly showered breaking from our daily routine of supermarket radlers and cookies because we headed to a nearby restaurant to meet Peter and Kikita who had flown in from Boston that morning.
After a wonderful meal with delightful company, Pter and Kikita returned to Amsterdam as we settled in for the night.
One more night's sleep before our final stretch to Amsterdam in the morning.
A memory is a beautiful thing, it's almost a desire that you miss.
- Gustave Flaubert
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ABOUT PATRICK BURNS
Patrick is an emergency medicine physician at Stanford University. He lives in San Francisco but grew up in the Boston area, where he attended medical school at Tufts University. He has been an avid triathlete and ultra-running enthusiast for many years, and has wanted to bike across a continent since 2014 when he hosted the other three in Seattle before launching them on their ride across the U.S. from Seattle to Boston.