Monday, August 18, 2014

Day 2 Bike & Barge

Everybody was ready for a 9am departure.  So we all grabbed our trusty cycles (mine was a change from last nights ride due to some gear problems).  Off we headed through some quiet streets on a Sunday morning.  Not many local folk up at this time.  We were able to admire the beautiful gardens. 
After a few kms, we stopped to cross the canal, via ferry. 
With so much of this country made up of water, there are lots of crossings.  Our on board retired engineer has been keeping count how many bridges we have been under.  His count is 28.  Of course, whilst riding today, we rode over countless bridges, some small, others much larger.  In fact, they seem to be the only inclines we encounter.  But they can be steep inclines and a few, less capable riders get stuck on these.  Riding in a group has its challenges at times. You need to keep up with the person in front.  When you get to a crossing or bridge and the person in front slows down or stops, it gets a bit congested.  One or two ungainly manoeuvres at times to avoid hitting the deck.  Only a couple of minor tumbles (not by Russ or I yet).  John (74 yo and very fit, similar to Phil in NZ) drew some blood, but no damage.  He just complained that his skin has got thinner and only takes a scratch to bleed. (dad, you can relate to that).  Danni (20 something from USA) misjudged a corner, lost balance and slid down the grass embankment.  Quite gracefully really.  Just missed the cow pat!

The riding got challenging this morning as today was one of the 200.  Yes, it rained.  To go with it, we had Janet's friend with us. (The head wind!). In the towns, it wasn't too bad, but out in the open, it was just head down and keep pedalling.  A very welcome morning tea break at 11, at Kouderkerk, where the hot chocolate was very popular, although a couple had beers and others brandy to get them through the next stage. The bridge opened up several times whilst we were here to let boat traffic through.

This area is a large horticultural area, not just dairy, but market gardens and commercial nursery suppliers.  Huge hothouses everywhere, but also masses of plants in pots. This is all reclaimed land and the growing areas often look like they are on a large pontoons.  Mind you, the houses look like this too.  Cross your own bridge to your private island.
A stop for lunch was welcome, scoffed our sandwich made at brekky, then most of us enjoyed tea or coffee at the only place open in town.  It was also an ice creamery.  Our cup of tea came with a little treat, a little ice cream, very cut and tasty.  Only €1.70 ($2.60).  This town was called Boskoop
More light showers on our final leg to Gouda (pronounced Gh-how-da).  Our boat hadn't quite arrived, so a quiet drink in the centre of town.  A beautiful "square" built around this old building (not a church).

Just a short ride to the boat for a very welcome shower.  Surprisingly, weren't too wet, just the shoes a little.  Most people a little leg weary, for a few, it was just a casual ride. 
A nice dinner on board, then a wander around the town. Very beautiful, old (we are talking 1400s here) buildings, quaint streets.
Today (it is 6.45am as I start this blog), our boat heads off at 7 am, so shower and breakfast are on the move.  We stop about 9 and jump on the bikes and make our way to Willemstad.  It won't be quite as long riding today (perhaps only 40 km). Yesterday may have been close to 50.  Tiring, but gee I slept well last night.   Body feels good so off we go!

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