Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fiets Elfstedentocht minder Eén

I did it! Minus one.

Last Friday and Saturday, I did a Tienstedentocht of Friesland by bicycle. My route was more similar to the skating race, than the fietsclassic... my goal was to just see each city, not to necessarily race a brevet to and from them within 24 hours. Heavens forbid.

It was still quite a challenge.

The wind in Friesland is very intense and there is very little to block it.

I started in Leeuwarden (spending the night before in a garret hotel there) and cycled to Dokkum first thing in the morning. It lies northeast about 30k away (stopping in the town of Damwoude for the adorable town children's parade). That was lovely.

But then I had to turn and start moving west. That was horrible.

I had to ride for about 55k in a 25kmph headwind to reach Harlingen. There was a shorter route, but I had extended it because of my immature desire to see and photograph the town sign of Sexbierum (heh).

I made it to Vrouwbuurtstermolen (before Sexbierum) without stopping or eating, but then I just couldn't keep going. A nice waiter encouraged me to keep going by saying it was only three more hours. Then, a bee drowned itself in my half finished beer and a cat stole my chair, so I felt that I had to leave and go on. 


And thus, I kept going at a gruelingly slow pace into the headwind.

In Harlingen, I went straight to the nearest Hema and bought some chocolate. This helped a lot.
Also, the next 15k was east! Yay, tailwind! I had wanted to reach Franeker well before 5pm so I could visit the Planetarium. This was a success and relief.

My fancy camping boarding room was 5k out of Franeker, so after the planetarium, I went and cleaned up and then rode back into Franeker and ate an entire pizza.

In the morning, the hosts offered a very nice breakfast and I was up and out the door by 7:45am. My progress was slowed by the prettiness of everything because I just had to keep stopping and taking photos. By the time I reached Bolsward, it was not so pretty so I was able to start moving at a better speed.

The wind was kinder so when I turned from West from Sneek to Ijlst, I was able to travel comfortably and faster than the day before.


After Ijlst, I decided to make it to Workum for lunch. From Workum, Hindeloopen was just down the coast... by which time it was very hot and too sunny. (I must always have something to complain about). The next stretch was along the coast in blazing sun with little shade.

There are no trees near the dijks.

Shadows atop the dijk

At Staveron, I found the ferry that departs for Enkhuizen and realized I could be home in a couple of hours if I caught the next ferry.

Also, the last city was 25k away, so to reach it and get back to the ferry, I'd have to do another 50k in blazing sun, on top of the 180k I'd already done in two days. This was unappealing.

So I caught the ferry!

I'm planning to visit Sloten (and the power station in Lemmer) tomorrow so my Elfstedentocht will be complete, albeit within 8 days.  :)

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I always love to visit that part of Friesland, it is very beautiful.

    Bul allow me one correction: minder means less. Given the second sentence you mean: "Fiets Elfstedentocht min Eén" :)

    1. Thanks for the tip! Can I change it now or is that unethical? :) I guess I'll just let my poor dutch stand.

  3. Congratulations, you did it.
    Looks like a beautiful tour, and very long, impressive. And still you found time to warm up the pillows for the cat, that's a nice touch.
    Thanks for the town sign picture. There's nothing immature about geography and photo documentation. Although, regarding the head wind, you were resolved.

  4. The Flemish TV host Marcel Vanthilt said this week that Westvleteren (i.e. the abbey) made the best beer in Belgium. It so happens that Westvleteren's patron saint is St. Sixtus (one of several, don't know which one) and the official name of the abbey is St. Sixtus Abbey. The same St. Sixtus is patron saint of the (only) church in Sexbierum which explains the Sex-. Bierum on the other hand doesn't refer to beer at all, it just means neighborhood or hamlet in old Frisian. Which goes to show that explanations often spoil the fun.