You never know if the going will be hard or soft until you reach it!
I had initially been suffering with a tender derrière following our first couple of long days in the saddle and so have been doubling up on the padding; trousers and padded cycle pants. This has eased things, along with the inevitable toughening up of the area, so today I decided to go lightweight with thinner trousers and just the padded pants.
Today we have traversed along many surfaces, from immaculate mini-road type cycle ways, along the side of the road sharing the space with other vehicles, gravel (or rather crushed sea shell) tracks, sandy tracks and simple concrete byways. All have been well maintained and smooth going, though sandy is always an issue but they are few and far between. We have come to expect a certain standard, and Holland has delivered.
Mid morning we came to a junction and duly proceeded in the direction indicated alongside a dyke. It wasn’t long before we were wondering if we had taken a wrong turn as the bumps and shakes delivered as we rode on were bruising on tender areas to say the least. In addition, we could see on the other side of the dyke running parallel a new smooth concrete path. We checked the Ranger to make sure we were on track, and sure enough we were the right side of the dyke. We were thinking that it would be Sod’s Law that a new path had been laid that would have made this stretch more comfortable and cursing the lack of corresponding new signage, when we saw the other path peter out in a field. At least we were on the right track, but that did not help our poor behinds being juddered and bumped for over a kilometre.
We were progressing Eastward today aiming for the city of Groningen. The going started out extremely pleasantly, the countryside picturesque and roadways planted with avenues of trees, giving shade from the heat of the sun and acting as a windbreak. We stopped for coffee at a picnic spot that had a sandy beach area around a shallow river; being a Saturday it became increasingly busy with families eager to enjoy a day out in the sunshine equipped with picnic and swimming togs. We did not stop long as the empty picnic bench we chose became swiftly surrounded by noisy fun seeking locals.
Continuing our journey, we were mainly in the countryside which made the going speedy, with long stretches between junctions. After a couple more hours peddling, mainly into our close companion the head-wind, we came across a nice picnic bench and started to set up for lunch, but when our tomatoes, still in their box I might add, were blown across the table by a pesky gust of wind, we debated whether we should stay or go. As we wanted to have a decent rest, we decided to push on and find somewhere a little more sheltered. This we did find, but it took another hour of peddling alongside vast fields, with nothing to break the persistent headwind.
We sat and relaxed in what was a picnic area with some recreational equipment, but unusually we thought, there was no one else utilising it until later when an extremely elderly couple cycled up and seated themselves on the bench in front of us. We mused that this would be us I about another 30 years. Once we had rested enough, we packed and wheeled out of the park, looking back to see that the elderly couple had moved themselves to the bench we had been occupying, but only for the briefest of time, as when we cycled past again, shortly after, they were moving off. All very strange!
The rest of the day passed by pleasantly enough, we did not miss too many signposts and we found our way to our destination which has a large parkland at its centre where we are camped. After buying provisions for a picnic supper, having pitched the tent and divested Talula of all her burdens we took a spin to find a nice tranquil spot where we stretched out our tired limbs,snoozing in the still warm evening sunshine.
I fear though that was the last tranquil moment this evening. The campsite has filled and there are some rowdy rowing teams clearly here for a social event post regatta, ‘singing’ a rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody as I type! We had thought to book a Vrienden op de fiets for tonight but unusually there is a dearth in the city and the one we had been able to contact was clearly new and was a little flustered at the prospect so could not accommodate us as he had too much preparation to do!
We have a rest day tomorrow to explore the city and suspect that many of our fellow campers will depart back to their normal weekday routine so we are hoping for a quieter night. In any event; we have ear plugs at the ready.