In about two months we should be on our way to Amsterdam to begin our ride to Rome.  That being the case, it’s about time we start getting in shape.  We have already taken two training rides on our Bike Fridays and hope to do another tomorrow.  Rudy will not be accompanying us to Europe but he insists on being part of the training rides.  If nothing else, he (plus his trailer) provides useful ballast that approximates the weight of the panniers I will be carrying on the actual ride.  I towed him in his plastic bin yesterday but he was mad with thirst when we returned home and lapped his water dish dry in no time so I rigged up a Connestoga cover to shelter him from the sun (see photo).  I also greatly shortened his tether.  That’s because he saw a doe and her fawns yesterday and leapt from his bin as we were riding along.  Luckily we were not traveling but about ten mph so he only skinned his shin.  Had we been moving at high speed he probably would have been dragged by the neck along the pavement for some distance before I realized what had happened and was able to stop.

Our Dutch friends, the Maiwalds (whom we met on our Great Divide ride), procured us some nifty maps of the Amsterdam-Rome route which they mailed to us.  The maps are very detailed and follow bicycle paths and rural roads so they will be essential.  I’m going to have to brush up on my Dutch, however, because the narrative is written in that language.  In any case, the maps, being maps, should be mostly self-explanatory:

Perusing the map, I see “halfopen tunnel” which sounds suspiciously English if a bit treacherous – does that mean one lane is open or does the tunnel go half way through the mountain and then stop?  “Hoofdweg op” on the other hand, is a genuine head scratcher.  Oh well, there is always Google translator.

In addition to whipping our bodies into shape, we need to take a shakedown ride with all our gear and see how that works out.  I’m thinking the Cascade Loop, which crosses the mountain range twice, would be an appropriate venue.  That should be good preparation for the Swiss Alps.  

Next to the actual ride, I would have to say the challenge of training and sense of anticipation leading up to the ride are favorite activities.  Images of the bucolic Dutch countryside, French vinyards, German castles, Swiss Alps, and Italian lakes entice me as I pedal merrily along through North Central Washington.