Thursday, September 23, 2010

Reunited (and it feels so good...)

Applying paint to the walls of the guest room
A long time no posts on the blog...I have been busy painting my new apartment in Groningen. It's a nice place, spacious (which means more walls to paint) with a guest room (so everyone's more than welcome to visit) and with a view of the Martinitoren from the living room.
The Martinitoren in the back, with the tower of the University in front and the Reitdiep (canal). Shot from my balcony ;-)

The paintjob would not have gone so well without the help of my friends Bastiaan, Simon and my sister Liduine, who let me kip in het apartment for the duration of the work. After the painting a pro has laid down a floor and tomorrow finally the moving company will deliver my stuff and I can stop living out of the bags I took on the plane early August or the bag that I took on my bike. As I hadn't cycled for over two weeks (I wanted to ride last sunday but the weather was so bad I couldn't get of my butt) it was high time for a ride, this time to bring Scotty from my parents' place to my new apartment. A short ride, some 65 km, with nice weather - balmy temperature and a bit of sun. Of course pancake flat but with some nice small roads lined with trees and typical Dutch farms.
The green 'board' on the roof behind the chimney is typical for the North. Called an "รปlebord" it provides a hole for owls to enter the farms' barn to make sure mice don't like hanging out there.
Three more things -
first: the winner of the distance bet is Lukas Kromer, who bet about 200 km longer than I cycled in the end, but still he won against some fierce competition. Lukas - you'll get your price when I return to ITQB!
second: the amount of money donated on my personal page is still rather pathetic. Come on people - I made it! Open your wallets - I did ;-)
third: This blog will continue - I will occassionally post about my sporting activities or the activities of others that I like to comment on.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

W-w-w-w-warme chocolademelk/FINISH

The last day on the bike - and all the rain that I didn't get during the previous days was bundled into one big sufferfest. It was the first day of autumn-weather in the Netherlands and I spent the whole day in the rain - first driving rain for about two hours and then just enough water to make sure I stayed truly wet for the next two hours. Strong winds and a drop in the temperature added to the fun - although the wind was fortunately in my back or from the side, so I could ride at a decent tempo. The whole ride was along long open roads through polders - with loads of mud/cow shit on the road, and after one hour I was properly soaked through (my jacket is not good enough for sustained rain and my shoecovers also couldn't cope - the water just runs in once the top bit is soaked) and after two hours I was shivering with the cold. All I could think of was warme chocolademelk (hot chocolate) which is exactly what I had after two hours when I stopped for hot drinks and some food. I was trembling so bad I was afraid I was going to spill or drop my cup of chocolate when I took it from the counter to my seat. As it was the last day of the trip and I had a whole bag of fresh clothes waiting for me at my parents' place I decided to put my fleece top over my wet combination of sweatshirt/cycling shirt to keep my core temperature up - my hands and feet were cold, and my legs were also not very warm but that could not be remedied. Fortunately the rain let off a bit after the stop and I knew it was only 50 km to go so within two hours I would be under a hot shower...put my head down, and kept pedaling. And then, after 2658 km, and 107 hours on the bike, I was home! Rhe next few days I will focus on moving house once more - decorating my new apartment and then getting my stuff in. Thanks for following the blog so far - there will be more in the near future!
cold and wet feet - there's probably some cow dung mixed in the grime covering my shoecovers and legs.

Scotty has seen cleaner days too...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sleepovers in Holland

Today I cycled from Wijchen - with a slight diversion to take bridges instead of ferries - to Hattem, just south of the city of Zwolle, and I'm again staying with friends. It was a beautiful day - sunny, with strong winds but from the east so not directly in my face for most of the day. The start of the route was through the Dutch river-countryside which is very nice and green - I started cycling along the river Maas and then crossed both the Waal and the Rijn rivers. Next was a part through the largest natural park in the country, the Hoge Veluwe, which meant cycling through the woods. Very pleasant. Tomorrow I'll head home - chances are I'll encounter my first rain showers of the trip on the last stage! Once reunited with my own laptop I'll also make work of downloading the rest of the pictures and trip details. Best, DJ

Sunday, September 5, 2010

around the block...

Today I got outsprinted around the block by my godson Tim who was riding his new bike - yes, in Holland 5 year old can cycle on the street without sidewheels. Almost crashed myself riding into another friends' kid who decided to stop just in front of me. Would have been a bit stupid after ~ 2500 km without any accidents...
It's good to be a day off the bike although having so many kids around is definitely harder than cycling 100+ km.
Tomorrow I'm moving north - another day of nice weather predicted and I'm going to climb a Dutch mountain - 80 m height difference - ouch.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

(almost) home!!

Well...I am in Holland, in Wijchen with friends - and I have to hurry because we're going for dinner someplace else. A completely flat ride, and I could ride at a decent speed and even did some 'hard' sections at the end because tomorrow's a rest day. I'll try to upload some data and pictures tomorrow...
Best, DJ

Friday, September 3, 2010

I've arrived in the tiny corner of Europe where Dutch is spoken - albeit with a Flemish accent which is not always easy to understand for a Hollander. Had a good day on the bike, starting in the hills of the Ardennes, then seeing the river Maas/Meuse in Namur and gradually descending to Hasselt. The plan was to stop some 17 km earlier but it was nice weather, the idea to shave a bit of tomorrow's distance was nice and I found I've become quite good at pedalling away the miles. Tomorrow I'm riding to Wijchen - in time for my godson Tim's birthday! It will be a finish of sorts...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Belgium! I hope to cross 3 borders in as many days, today into Belgium, tomorrow the infamous language border, and into the Netherlands on saturday. The very empty countryside of northern France has made way for the hillier Ardennes and I hope that the crosswinds are also a thing of the past. I'm now in Chimay. If you think that it is purely coincidental that the last stops were in places famous for their local beverage you are very mistaken :-D.