Sunday, April 23, 2006

Friday 21st - Headwind


The last few days have been pretty good, since leaving France we have barely seen a hill, let alone had to go up one. I was really liking Belgium, it seemed to have good cycle routes, but then the mess around Zeebrugge put a real damper on things - disappearing routes, detours around the shops, and at one point a nice little loop. Thankfully we have maps and a compass and were able to go in the right direction for long enough to get the hell out of there.

The Netherlands aren't nearly as flat as people make out, its certainly not geometrically flat, at times there are bridges, speed bumps and dropped kerbs to get over - you also have to get up to the top of dijkes before you cycle along them. We must have changed our altitude by at least 10 meters yesterday. We haven't seen many windmills, but lots and lots of wind turbines instead and they are pretty too.

It is lovely to see so many cyclists here, even on a Friday afternoon there was real cycling traffic at stages. We also saw two recumbents in the space of 5 minutes, both two wheelers but one was a rowing recumbent which is very rare.


Today was harder work than it should have been, due to (apparently) an 8mph headwind. 8mph ain't much, but hey - this is the Netherlands. It's flat, and cycling should be easy, and the wind's supposed to be on our backs. Nevertheless, it was a fun day. We crossed from Breskens to Vlissingen on the ferry, and cycled along the vast dam linking Noord Beveland and Schouwen-Duiveland.

We decided to stop trying to follow the LF1 route (which we had mostly followed through Belgium, and planned to follow most of the way through the Netherlands) and instead just rely on compass and map, as the signposting gets a bit sporadic in places, and there are cycle paths everywhere anyway. On the dam, there was a cycle path with a lane in each direction, fenced off from a road which also had a single lane in each direction. The cycle path was almost as wide as the road! Much better than the Pont de Normandie, and you can imagine that in the UK it would be all motorway, and cyclists would be asked to please swim across.

Tonight we are staying in a diving hotel in a small town called Scharendijke. Look at a map of the Netherlands - we're on one of those little islandy bits near the bottom.

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