When the Going Gets Tough…

Friday dawned with the sun already warm, and with what has become our usual routine, we were up and getting packed away as efficiently as possible to make the most of the cool morning. As we set off though, a combination of sharp trajectory, uneven ground and not a strong enough push off, meant that we toppled over to the side, and with a fully laden tandem, once the tipping point is reached, there is no stopping it! Thankfully there were no casualties, other than an extra bruise here and there and our pride, fortunately everyone else in the vicinity was still asleep. Heaving Talula back to an upright position, we pushed her to the tarmac and got a steadier start.

The initial part of the route had us travelling either alongside, or on what was a straight road, which obviously meant that the motor vehicles using it were travelling at some speed, so it was not a particularly pleasant section. By about 08.30 we were ready to have a break after about two hours in the saddle, however there is a dearth of establishments that are open at this time of the morning, but thankfully the likes of Aldi can always be relied upon for some early freshly baked goods. Mr V was dispatched to buy breakfast, and when he came back to the bike, had not shown restraint when presented with the choice of goods, purchasing four pastries rather than the two that I usually buy. We rested in a small area of greenery to the side of the store to enjoy our breakfast. Rested and replete we mounted up and were on our way again.

Thankfully, once we were out of Apensen, the going was rather more pleasant along quieter back roads and dedicated cycleways. The day was already getting hot by 10.00 so we were pleased when we saw from the navigation map that we were approaching a significantly sized area of woodland, offering much needed shade. We had been climbing steadily for some time and were looking forward to generating some breeze with the long downhill. The track was initially a dry dirt road, flanked by evidence of the logging industry, we were disappointed though as we got over the brow of the hill, that the long awaited downhill was far too tricky to be traversed at any speed. Indeed there were large rocks and loose stone to be carefully navigated. Little did we know though, that worse was yet to come. Sand. The route ran along what was obviously a dedicated bridleway, and unlike those in the Netherlands, here it was just sand, not a hint of a firm cycleway running alongside. There was nothing for it but to get off and push, and man it was heavy going. Mr V though was a trooper, taking on the lions share of the struggle. It was with utter relief that we turned onto a hard gravel track, which then led on to the holy grail of tarmac. We were very hot and tired by this point and knew that once we got to our campsite we would not want to go out again to shop, so decided to take a bit of a detour to the nearest grocery store, before heading off to the campsite. With google maps taking over the navigation we were surprised to find that we were being directed though a woodland area with what seemed to be a mountain bike trail. Needless to say, this was beyond Talula’s ability, even if she was not laden down with panniers. So we found ourselves pushing once again.

Shopping done for both lunch and supper, we sat down on the ground outside the shop and enjoyed a cooling ice lolly, whilst consulting with google maps for an alternative route back to the campsite that was exclusively tarmac. We arrived at the campsite during the reception lunchtime break, so with a couple of other motor homes we waited in the ‘holding pen’, set up our chairs in the sunshine and had our lunch. Once we had booked in and set up our tent, we thought we heard the rumble of distant thunder. Rain had been forecast, but just a passing shower, so we initially stood under the trees adjacent to the tent. It soon became clear though that this was no passing light shower as the rain suddenly became like a monsoon and we had to quickly secure all the bags and make a dash to the ablution block, the short dash leaving us drenched and splashing through sudden huge puddles in the now swampy grass. We went in and had showers and dressed in dry clothes, whilst the storm raged around us. We then sat in the shelter of the veranda of the building waiting for the ferocity to abate.

This was the light rain, it got so much worse!

Whilst waiting, we took the opportunity to throw our wet clothes in the tumble dryer, however after chucking them in, I realised that there was a large puddle in the bottom of the drum, so they were even wetter. I managed to dry this out with copious amounts of paper towels, and set it on to dry. I am not sure what had happened to the dryer, whether someone had loaded it with sodden clothes or not, but it was not happy. Though it went round and got hot, the clothes did not dry, they just became evenly damp and warm. Having wasted €3, when I explained this to the lady on reception, she came and had a look, took out the filter, put it back and gave me another €3 to try. The machine did keep cutting out, and thinking that I could overcome this and restart it and all would be well, I stayed with it for the full €3 worth. Alas, the clothes remained damp and warm. By this time the storm had passed and the sun was again shining, so we hung up as much as we could and hoped it would dry. The warm sunshine was but a brief respite, and soon the clouds were gathering, and the pitter-patter of rain could be discerned, so once again everything was gathered up and put into bags to be dealt with later.

I confess, that whilst we waited for the storm to pass, having seen how quickly the ground had flooded, I was very concerned that we would return to a tent that was ankle deep in water. I am pleased to report that it held up well, and though it continued to rain on and off throughout the night, inside the tent we were dry and warm.

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