Norway, England and now the Netherlands. Cycling with Chris, my kindred spirit, through fields, forests, dunes and dikes. Full speed ahead to keep ahead of the weather, and to catch the return boat to England. We were caught by the downpour, but made the boat. And still time for a cafe stop.
We first met in Norway last year on the boat to Senja island, and then repeatedly as we both headed north to the North Cape and beyond. This spring, as training for my 6000km cycling expedition, I met Chris on his own territory as we cycled in England from Harwich to Dover. Last weekend, as a post-adventure debriefing, we met in Holland to stretch the legs, and dream about future adventures.
Chris had cycled from the coast in the heat of the summer’s last day. Summer’s momentum was faltering, and the change to cold, wet weather was predicted. The coast was to be briefly spared the new autumn, and we sprinted there to escape the oncoming rain. Eindhoven was grey when we left, but still dry.
We passed menacing statues,
and strawberry dispensers,
before we reached the border of the weather systems. It was a striking sight. Behind us it was dark, grey, and bleak. Ahead, the skies were blue and clear. And, at the border, the clouds were beautiful.
We stopped on the sunny side of the border in Bergen op Zoom. I didn’t realize it was this pretty. It has a really beautiful old city centre, with a lovely market square surrounded by bars and restaurants. We ate enough to explode before ambling around the city in the twilight.
Our second day began slowly. We were in no hurry to cycle in the rain that was falling when we woke. We waited long enough to feed on the breakfast buffet that only started at 8. We then talked, and talked, and only after a long time, realized the rain had stopped, and that it was getting late. If we were to do a big loop of Zeeland, we should start.
We turned up the speed. It was 14:00, and we were deep in Zeeland, and Chris had to be in Hoek van Holland at 20:00. We took roadworks detours. We took scenic detours – following the Noordzee cycle route which meandered leisurely through the beautiful sandhills of the Zeeland islands.
And then, when it became clear that time was really running short, we took the direct route, and accelerated. It was a long distance sprint. Stops only to fill-up on water, let cramp subside, hurl abuse at badly signposted detours, and wait for ferries during torrential downpours.
We made it. Chris caught his boat, and I caught my train back to Eindhoven. It was a lovely trip. The last one of the summer? Probably. It has been a great cycling year. Bring on the next adventure!