Sunday, July 13, 2014

Day 65: to Sint Maartenszee (86; 4297)

Another day, another dyke. This was the mother of all dykes though: 26 straight kilometres with a fairly strong headwind. It felt quite good at the time, especially when the drizzle stopped and the sun came out. 

But by early afternoon I was properly tired. Not just low blood sugar, or legs needing a rest, but actually ready to lay down and sleep where I am. Made me realise how used to continuous moderate exercise I've become, in that it's been ages since I have felt like that. Possibly not since the early days of the camino.

It felt like there was a strong headwind almost all of the day, which doesn't seem logically possible since I wasn't cycling in a straight line. Once over the big dyke (direction southwest) I followed the coast northwest, then around the top of Den Helder (due west) and then down the west coast (south). This last part was through and next to large sand dunes which perhaps help to funnel the wind... Or maybe I was just particularly tired by then.

At 2pm I stopped in a beach cafe for a burger, chips and a beer. Don't judge me. The Dutch are amazing for many reasons, but one is that the teenagers who work in such places will happily serve you in Dutch, German or English.  Another is their totally cavalier attitude to appropriate attire: no shoes necessary in caf√©s or supermarkets around here it seems. And also their height: I saw a cyclist today who must have been over 7 feet. How did the gene pool get so tall? 

But most of all I love that being on a bike makes you part of the club here. As I cycled across the dyke a wiry older chap slowed down to chat; he'd been at a music festival in Friesland until 3am and was now cycling home (this was at 8.30, and he must have been 65 if he was a day).

This coast is a big holiday destination and just dripping in campsites, the difficulty being picking one that is reasonably priced and not completely monstrous WRT kids clubs, water slides, and the sheer number of pitches. Some I passed today have 800 mobile homes according to my (very useful) camping app. As you can imagine I try and avoid those. With just two nights of camping and 4 days of cycling left, I want to enjoy every last moment. 

One last surprise in store today: a cycling Greek girl en route to Athens! Not entirely sure where from, but she was heading for the Rhine and Danube. I'm the first lone female she's met so we had a nice chat. She's a bit homesick after 9 months away (including 6 months on Skye!) so was surprised to hear I will be there soon. Alex send me a message saying 'see you in a week': moving from the Dutch sand dunes to Cambridge to Athens feels like quite a crazy change of pace ahead!

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