Sunday, December 16, 2012

Elfde! Finally.

On Saturday, I finished my self-directed elfstedentocht in just 3 months and two weeks!

It must be a record- no worries about hitting the maximum speed. :)

Here's the last city of my tour. Sloten!

Since September, I've been determined to visit the 11th city, but I've also had many excuses to delay such as the weather and vast number of remaining weekends in the Netherlands. 

By this Saturday my time was almost up and while my full sized bicycles were packed in boxes, the situation was otherwise perfect; no plans, not much rain in the forecast, a toasty 8 degrees celsius and the wind was just under 40kmph. Perfect. (If you plan the route with a tailwind)

To plan my route with a tailwind, I took the train to Lelystad. From there, I caught a bus to Emmeloord. The bus driver suggested I stow my bicycle in the empty undercarriage of the bus. This was fine until he made a sudden stop and everyone on the bus heard a very loud "crash, ding!"
The driver said "vouwfiets" and caught my eye in the mirror. I laughed. Bromptons are solid bicycles so I wasn't too worried, but on the next bus to Lemmer I did sit with the bicycle next to me.

On the bus to Lemmer

In Lemmer, I commenced the unfolding and took off for a quick trip to the Woudegemaal.

A quote from the UNESCO world heritage page:

 "The Wouda Pumping Station represents the apogee of Dutch hydraulic engineering, which has provided the models and set the standards worldwide for centuries. It bears exceptional witness to the power of steam in controlling the forces of nature, especially as applied to water handling by Dutch engineers."

 It was very impressive. I didn't feel like going inside after all the sitting on the train and buses so I cycled around the building and took pictures. From the Woudegemaal, I planned a nice 10k route to Sloten. There was some misty rain, but nothing too awful.

The landscape and views were very lovely. Ducks abounded.

Outside of Lemmer, FrieslandDucks in the sky!

I knew I was nearing Sloten when I saw boat masts like a small white forest in the distance.
The route took me through the haven to the town center.  Charming is an understatement.

Sloten haven, Friesland
The city is beautiful and every single person I saw said "hello" to me. It was so nice. It felt like Minnesota with more beauty and better infrastructure.

Sloten, Friesland

I ate a delicious hamburger at De MalleMok which happened to be set up for a musical chorus event  later that evening... the Muzikale Elfstdentocht.

Overly stuffed and charmed, I left Sloten saying to the cafe owner something which I hope to never say again, "It's 2:30pm, I'd better get moving before it gets dark outside."

And then I cycled another 28k to Heerenveen (which by a freak of trackwork and train re-routing, had a direct train back to Leiden). The route had paved roads, muddy roads, gravel roads, and very beautiful countryside views. The tailwind kept me aloft and fresh even on my tiny wheels.

Friesland vista
I made it to the station by 4pm with 30 minutes of daylight to spare. I will miss this country!!

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations!
    The longer the tour, the longer the text.
    Beautiful photos, that must have been a fun ride.
    Yes, daylight will last longer in the Californian winter. That's why our bikes have lights. Not just because they look quaint.
    Actually yesterday was winterzonnewende. Another ride around the sun has begun. Time to break out your sunglasses 8)
    By coincidence the UNESCO paragraph was using the term apogee while we are now close to the perihelion. Yay, Greek terms and orbital mechanics.