day 12

Today's ride:

And the completed ride:

I was hoping to have found accommodation a little further south, so today we could have cycled up the coast, but Brielle was all we could find. That left just 12 miles-ish to cycle to the ferry that would take us back to Hook of Holland, though it ended up at around 20 with various riding around Brielle.

With the ferry not due to board until 8.30pm, we would mostly be hanging out in Brielle - which is not entirely a bright lights, big city kind of place. I arranged a late checkout and settled in to watch the finalé of Orange is the New Black.

At noon, we headed out to the bikes.

Eric's rear wheel had been rubbing the previous day, and investigation showed the rim was buckled. Fortunately the hotel bike shelter was equipped with hi-tech wheel-trueing equipment which Eric put to work.

While he was doing this, I noticed I had a slight wheel-related issue of my own, namely a complete absence of tread around the entire diameter of the right wheel.

Oh. In my defence, I generally approach the trike from behind, where the tyres are hidden by the mudguards.

Eric had been checking into local bike shops for his wheel, but reckoned his DIY repair would now get him home without any drama. I was less confident my tyre would do the same, so we decided to pay a call to a bike shop or two later.

First, though, a cycle through the town, where we found a drawbridge ...

Someone taking the term 'houseboat' rather literally ...

Cute houses everywhere.

And a pub where we guessed they liked their football.

Our destination was a working windmill.

This was well positioned, atop a small hill.

There was a tempting set of steps to the rear.

I made enquiries at the nearby bakery and found that it would open to visitors in 15 mins.

It's a surprisingly long way down from the top of the steps.

Eric quizzed the windmill operator on all kinds of technical stuff while I basically admired the view.

We spotted this on the way back.

And rode slowly along the main waterfront road.

We found a local cycle shop and asked if she had any 20-inch tyres. She didn't, but suggested we try a larger cycle shop in the industrial park on the outskirts of the town. We did so. While they checked, we had a look at a few bikes, including this one with a very neat integral ABUS chain.

They had only one 20-inch tyre, and not the one I ideally wanted, but the assistant knew of a local recumbent specialist so kindly phoned them. The owner wasn't there but would be back shortly, so the assistant suggested we cycle round. He kindly put the address into my GPS.

It was a home business, with an impressive number of recumbents in a shed/shop.

And an even more impressive number of rental bikes around the back.

He had only one Marathon Plus. He could offer me a pair of standard Marathons, but I love the Plusses and want to have their babies. Since the left tyre was relatively intact (just a few patches of blue showing through), I opted to buy the one Plus he had for the right-hand wheel.

I asked if he could fit it, but he was dashing out somewhere else and couldn't do it for about 45 minutes. Eric felt confident he could manage it, even after my dire warnings of how notoriously difficult they are to fit because of the stiff tyre walls, made worse by the small diameter of a 20-inch wheel.

The camera mount made a handy tyre carrier.

We then went on an unuccessful hunt for a pancake house, it having occured to me that we had failed to visit one.

We settled for a place that did an omlette so huge we were forced to share a pudding between us (a lemon-flavoured creme brulee that I'm definitely going to attempt to make).

Despite my famed mechanical illiteracy, removing a front wheel is simple enough on the trike. I managed this without any significal death-toll.

Fitting the replacement tyre was another matter. A first attempt resulted in a pinched tube and puncture.

I had two spare tubes, so Eric felt a second attempt was safe before we gave up and went back to the bike shop. I grabbed my iPad and loaded up a youtube video I'd seen on fitting Marathon Plus tyres without levers. The technique was essentially to ensure you push the sidewall of the tyre right to the bottom of the rim to create flex on the opposite side, using toe-straps to secure one half of the tyre while working on the other.

I didn't have toe-straps, but I did have a couple of removeable cable-ties that I carry as multi-purpose repair devices.

With the assistance of these, Eric successfully replaced the tyre without levers while I engaged in my primary mechanical skill: standing next to a mechanic trying to look like I'm helping.

Here's the before:

And the after:

With a trike that now was likely to make it to the ferry, we set off, exiting Brielle through the town wall.

The early part of the ride was very scenic.

Then things got residential but still pretty.

A marina in the foreground, but already signs of what was to follow.

Um, yeah.

Plus a headwind to add to the fun.

Well, think of it as an antidote to tree-lined avenues.

If we'd known we had five minutes to get to the ferry, we'd have put our foot down. But we didn't.

We got to the ferry station five minutes after it left. The next (and last one of the day) was in an hour. But no panic - that would get us there in plenty of time. Which was handy, as the only ferry-free way to get there is to cycle to Rotterdam and back, a ride of 42 miles.

The VIP lounge of the ferry station.

We both decided this would be a very unhappy place to spend an hour in winter. But in summer, it was fine - if windy.

The ferry would make one stop en-route to Hook of Holland.

When it arrived, it felt like it lived up to its Fast Ferry designation, though the GPS showed it maxed-out at 22mph.

It couldn't have been more convenient, dropping us right in the port just a few hundred feet from our rather larger ferry home.

I had a cabin right at the front.

We arranged to meet for dinner in 25 mins. Having tried the buffet on the way out, I wasn't keen to repeat the experience, so we opted for the proper restaurant. And one final bottle of red.

Which was extremely good.

The crossing back was smooth.

And that was the holiday. As we'd been following the route in a rather laisse-faire fashion, and our track was less crinkly than the official one, my door-to-door mileage was 476 miles against the nominal 550. Still, that was almost enough to burn off the calorie intake along the way.

We'd been incredibly lucky with the weather, and the route was mostly brilliant. It was great to meet up with JW, Helen and Dave along the way. All-in-all, a great holiday.

Trike expenditure for the trip: two front tyres (which had lasted 2,000 miles), one new pair of cycling shoes (which had lasted 8,000 miles). Plus all the fuel for the engine, of course.

Once again, thanks to Eric for excellent company as well as tyre-fitting and banking services. I'd earlier concluded that the key criteria for a cycle-touring companion are the ability to maintain one's sense of humour come what may, and a matching level of geekitude so that we both disappear into our MacBook Airs with equal frequency and duration. Eric qualified on both counts.