Ride like the wind
Or more like Ride into the wind. We are gearing up here to ride from London to Paris in a couple weeks, and since my average ride is about 15 minutes, I thought I would spend my afternoons off building up the distances. For me here in NL, I am left with a couple options in terms of “pleasant” rides away from motorways. I decided to head due west to get to Zaandvoort Beach, then turn and follow the coast north until I hit the seaport of IJmuden. Between those two spots is about 20 km of dunes with mostly paved bike paths meandering this way and that. When overcast, and surrounded by long horn, long hair cattle one can get pretty disoriented pretty quick and my 20km jaunt through the dunes turned into a 30km maddening saga. Sure that sounds like I am being dramatic, but you weren’t there. The wind had a mind of its own, and somewhere along the line I must have insulted its mother, because for that entire distance I was getting sand thrown in my face at speeds capable of bringing my spritely pace down to drunken cow stumble. After making my way out of the dune maze, I found my self a nice little path next to a fairly big road heading off to the point. No drama here, but just as you come to the top of a hill, you are given a not very clear set of options. Both seem to head in the exact direction, just one is atop a seawall and the other skirts some parking lots, but the both end in the marina. So.. Seawall of course, riding 5 or 6 meters up, atop a barricade aimed at stopping the ocean from wiping this fair country off the surface of the earth was more than enjoyable. Ocean, beach and car parks off to the left, and car parks, ship berths and seaport on the right. I was pretty happy with the chosen path, figuring this would lead me straight onto the 2 km long jetty where I could stop and drain my water bottle before heading back home. But no, of course no. I ride to a fence, the 4 meter wide bike path takes an immediate right and bears toward the seaport. Directly beyond the fence, which is built in staggered sections to allow foot traffic, is the end of what looks like a peer. Navigating this rather crude attempt at keeping the wheeled variety out, I ride another 50 meters or so past a double deep row of beach cottages and come to a stop, the pavement ends and is met with air, a several meter deep drop and then water. The mouth to a rather extensive marina for private boats and yachts nestled in next to the seawall and some pretty hefty dunes. Across from me is the bike path that leads to the jetty. Spitting distance, well, perhaps not spitting distance, but you get the picture, after talking my self out of throwing my bike across the gap and then swimming it and then swearing for a moment or two, I decide to turn around, and ride around the marina, a mear 5km loop so I could then meet the sand blasting wind head on while riding out to the light house.
The ride home was purgatory punctuated by short stretches of cycling joy, in the woods where the wind was at my back and the ground was a nice, smooth hardpack (and the occasional WWII bunker). This joy is bes described as if the bike is riding it self, the pedals just go round and round, speed is increased, the bike feels completely in control. A similar feeling comes with riding on the edge. But then I would crest a hill, or clip an apex and be met by the familiar feeling of sand in the face.
This trip inadvertently proved a lingering argument of mine which I will delve into on a later post; but the gist of it is: only hipster tits ride without bar tape or grips (exception being if you are adorned with padded riding gloves).