Blog

Melting snow

The melting snow in Germany and Switzerland means that the Rhine has now flooded over the summer dikesmelsting snow and is lapping half way up the taller winter dikes protecting the cities. The water is lower than a few years ago (due to extensive projects creating basins for storing water in nature reserves on the floodplain), but as we cycled out along the top of the dike protecting Wageningen from the Rhine it was still quite dramatic to see all the flooded land. Somewhat to our suprise, the flooding was not confined to the floodplain. At this spot in the forest near Ede there is always a pool, caused by upwelling ground water. However, today the pool was 3-4 times as large as usual, and spread right out so that you either had to go a long way round, or go through it. As it was spring water, it was crystal clear, so even though it was in places about 1/2 m deep, it was still possible to see the ground and cycle through it without too much difficulty, so long as getting wet does not count as difficulty. At least my apparently foolish decision to wear shorts was a good one in this case. Route (right-click to download)

wet

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Archeology

Every so often as you cycle around the woods here, you come across a large mound.grafheuvel Often the trees and shrubs have been cleared from it. These are burial mounds from prehistoric times. At the name implies, they were burial chambers, often for several people together. Their age varies from bronze to iron to stone age. Near Wageningen they are mostly bronze age (3000 - 800 BC). These ancient monuments have legal protection. It permitted to walk on them, but is best not to take your mountainbike over them as that will erode away the outer surface.

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Problems

Luck was clearly not on our side today. I was out cycling with the club andbroken chain we had  one problem after another. First thing was that somone forgot to wake up, so we hung around a while getting cold waiting for him. Then someone's deraillier failed, so his gear shift stopped working |(temporarily), then my chain snapped (result of the problems below), and finally we had a crash with one person falling over and another one tumbing over them, causing severe bruising to her hands. So much for the volley ball match they were hoping to play soon. Oh yes, and we lost someone half way round.

Route.

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Dust

It is incredibly dry in the woods. It is stll May but already drier than it would be at the end of a Corynephorus normal dry summer and the rainfall deficit is more than in the historic dry year of 1976. That means that the paths in the woods are filled with dry dust, and it is like cycling through powdery snow in places, with a need for similar techniques. There have been a lot of heathland fires as well. A lot of the nature areas are really drying out and this must be having a big impact on the wildlife. I think it must be for that reason that we had a woodpecker (photo!) in the garden yesterday, eating the peanuts and fighting off the sparrows - presumably less caterpillars and others insects than usual, as normally they only eat seeds and nuts in the winter. The dry weather must also mean that the paths in the woods are suffering more from erosion than usual, but in itself that is not necessary a bad thing as some of the specialities of the Veluwe are plants like Corynephorus (photo on the right) which need open sand. But as mountainbikers we should be careful not to go into the 'forbidden' areas round Wolfheze as the nature will be quite vulnerable there at the moment, and above all not to go of the paths in areas where there are delicate lichen communities.

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Summer woodland

The photos on the right says it all.summer Sunny early summer, shrubs growing fast out over the tracks. Despite the thunderstorms of the last week, the ground is again dry and dusty, but it is not yet like May with the plants wilting.

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