So, I had almost 10 days out of the saddle, which meant that this week’s ride was probably going to hurt. My Training Buddy (TB), Gill and I had planned to ride on Friday … which was wet, windy and I was waiting for a dishwasher engineer – so postponed.
Saturday dawned dry but Gill spoke grimly about prevailing wind … I know nothing of that kind of wind, so donned an oversized waterproof jacket, clambered on The Cube and set off to meet TB at the rendezvous.
Windy it certainly was – and the first challenge was a hill (a first for us!) towards Wassenaarseslag (aka the beach) where we plunged into the dunes and began our rise and fall towards Noordwijk. As always in The Netherlands, the cycle paths are clear and well surfaced – unlike those encountered by my partner in crime Alli Duf who is training in Wiltshire – read her Blog ‘Old Birds On Bikes’. But the wind – well, that was something else – not always a ‘constantly-in-your-face’ kind of wind – more of a ‘buffeting-takes-you-by-surprise-and-inflates-your-inappropriately-large –BSN Rugby Club -waterproof-jacket’ variety.
Now that we have recognised that we can’t chat in quite the way we did on our first ride
(it slows you down, apparently), my TB has transformed into a rabbit (or pacemaker as they are more commonly known). Gill is a proper fittie – a kryptonite-crunching-always-on-the-move kind of girl – and most of the time was nothing but a pale blue smudge on my horizon – at a safe enough distance to be deaf to any whingeing about wind that I may have been doing.
We stopped for double cappuccino/green tea and noted how we hadn’t seen a single other cyclist heading in the same direction as us … I think they knew.
We ploughed on through the dunes – crossing the border into Noord Holland (where the rabbit had left me for dust) – until we reached Zandvoort where I had caught up with TB who then had a kerfuffle with a kryptonite flavoured granola bar, her water bottle, a cobbled road and some sluggish clippy pedal evacuation – Ouch! This minor drama unfolded beside a small red car, which rather surprisingly – given that it was very definitely lunchtime – contained a startled youth (complete with pillow and duvet) who was having a sleep.
The final run was largely uneventful, although we did ride past a racetrack at Zandvoort (who knew?!) and towards the bulbous black and belching chimneys of the Ijmuiden Steelworks. A quick right hand veer towards Bloemendaal aan Zee where we were scooped up by The Rock and The Jock on their way back from watching The Netherlands u18 beat Germany 27-5
So – after 50.7km with 132m elevation gain (please note Alli!) and 8 brooches on Strava, it was home for a hot bath in Epsom Salts and to write my ‘this and that’.
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