Things we have learned so far:
1 – The WORST aspect of this trip is being under so much time pressure. I'm very much aware that I need to get JP back for the start of his new school year. Being non-cyclists, we are struggling to ride a decent distance each day. Our bicycles are very uncomfortable (2 pairs of underpants help!).
This means that sightseeing is almost non-existent and rest days are also minimal. It would be so good to be able to have a few days at each camp, instead of pitching our camp in the evening and striking it again in the morning. By the time I've loaded our bicycles I feel as though I've done half a day's work and that's before we start riding. I'm seriously considering doing more sightseeing and fewer miles and then catching a train or bus to the Hook of Holland near the end of the trip. However, we'll have to see.
During my years in the Philippines (before I met Grace) I rode a bicycle on two short tours that each lasted about two weeks. I wasn't under any time pressure and rode short distances on many days. I sometimes stayed in one place for a few days and thoroughly enjoyed my tours. This River Rhine trip is much more stressful as we have such a long distance to ride and only 5 weeks to get through it.
2 – The BEST aspect of this trip is spending so much time with JP. This is a great adventure for us both and one to make the most of in so many ways. I'm sure he will remember this adventure for the rest of his days and I want him to really enjoy it and have a lot of happy memories about being with his dad. He constantly talks about Annelise – almost as though she's with us (maybe she is in spirit). I miss her terribly too and we have told many fellow travellers about her.
3 – We really are on budget bicycles and this is the same for all our equipment. If this was going to be a serious pastime for years in the future I'd buy us much better bicycles and carry better equipment on it. The panniers we use are not great and our loads are piled high on the back carrier. I may buy some front panniers when we get to Germany as the cost of EVERYTHING in Switzerland is really high. A good SatNav would also be a very useful addition. We don't even have maps!
4 – Don't go to Switzerland unless you're a millionaire! Now the Swiss Franc is at about 1.25 to £1 instead of 3+ to £1, it is horrifically expensive. It may be one of the best, most civilised countries in the world, but the cost of living, compared to the UK, makes it suitable for millionaires only.
5 – Have a support vehicle. Unless you've got an infinite time to complete your tour, having a support vehicle will make life so much easier. The time pressure would not be a problem, neither would we have to carry such heavy loads. It would be really useful to be able to use the support vehicle to go sightseeing too.
6 – Don't cycle with your mouth open unless you enjoy eating flies.