SaddleBrooke Cyclemasters pedal through Northern Europe on trip of a lifetime

Kay and Tom Erb, Joanne and Vince Marmon, Eileen and Bob Halk, Mary and Richard Ganzel, Pat and Bruce Somerhalder, Joyce Hagin and Larry Reich, Judy and Gerry Hanson, Gloria and Ted Belanger

Kay and Tom Erb, Joanne and Vince Marmon, Eileen and Bob Halk, Mary and Richard Ganzel, Pat and Bruce Somerhalder, Joyce Hagin and Larry Reich, Judy and Gerry Hanson, Gloria and Ted Belanger

Ted Belanger

On August 9, sixteen SaddleBrooke Cyclemasters embarked on a dream trip aboard the Angeline Barge, biking from Bremen, Germany, to Amsterdam, Netherlands. The 13 day bike trip was organized through Bike and Barge Holland, a Seattle based bike company, and followed small rivers and canals through the quaint towns of Northern Europe. We cycled through the scenic countryside with two very experienced guides after choosing what distance and speed we wanted that day. The shorter ride was 25 to 35 miles and the longer ride was 45 to 55 miles and at a faster pace. Each day we would start with a breakfast on board, pack our lunch and then ride ahead to meet the barge at the next town. Along the way we experienced the small towns, coffee shops and historical sights. The coffee stop always included fresh bakery! After arriving back onboard the barge, which had traveled ahead while we were biking, we would enjoy our happy hour and discuss the day’s events before being served a delicious dinner by our chef Daniel onboard. What he created for us while we were biking was amazing. We had themes of Indian, Greek, Mexican, French, Thai and Italian, with even a flaming baked Alaska on our last night. After dinner and a recap of that day’s route and tomorrow’s schedule, we all headed out for a walk to visit the town where we were docked. Many of us even stopped at a local pub for a nightcap.

Our tour started in Bremen in Northern Germany, dating back to year 780. We followed the Weser River, which at 452 km is the longest river in Germany. We past small medieval towns, dikes and wetlands, all built in the 17th and 18th centuries. Our next day we rode past beautiful lakes and Bad Zwischenahn, the famous Spa Resort, on our way to the 70 km long manmade canal, connecting the Ems River to the coast. The peat farms here are of unbelievable size, seven miles in either direction, and all graded and piled to ship all over the world. One of the highlights of this trip was the day we rode to Meyer Werft Boat Works located in Papenburg, Germany. This is one of the largest shipyards in the world for luxury cruise ships. We were all thrilled to be there that morning as they pulled out of the dry dock the newest Royal Caribbean ship called the Quantum of the Seas, one of the largest cruise ships in the world. This was an awesome site! We continued cycling through Leer, a natural peat ground, used the same as coal to heat homes in the 17th century through the 1900s. On day seven we had a day off to explore the city of Groningen with all the churches, universities and a great maritime museum and train station. As we approached the Netherlands we picked up headwinds and rain. This made for some very interesting cycling days! Raincoats and wet clothes were quite common for a few days. We visited the Friesland area consisting of farmer lowlands, reclaimed by the drainage of the seas and the building of hundreds of miles of dikes. On our last day we cycled into Amsterdam, passing through the town of Almere and all the new reclaimed land created between 1950 and 1967. Our ride was on the bottom of a former lake, about 15 feet below sea level. The last day we all headed off to explore Amsterdam on our own. We were given museum passes and many of us enjoyed the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Rembrandt House, the Royal Palace (we personally thought was magnificent) and Anne Frank’s House. This was a wonderful way to end this exciting two weeks of biking and barging.

The trip was a great experience on its own, but the staff made it all happen. Peter, the pilot and owner of the Angeline, the two guides Janneke and Willemina, Chef Daniel and Sam his helper, all made it over the top! This trip lived up to the Cyclemaster’s motto of “we cycle for fun, fitness  and fellowship.”