The curse of day 3 struck me right from the start: heavy legs, various twinges and a nagging voice in my head telling me I am too old and unfit for this trip. This is so familiar that I wonder if the expectation of a difficult day 3 now contributes to my problem. Aside from physical and mental weariness, the cycle was very pleasant, with a sight-seeing stop at the docks in Harlingen and then a cross-country route to Leeuwarden, where we stopped for coffee.
Getting going again after coffee seemed too hard. Bruce took pity on me and agreed that we should spend the night at Leeuwarden. Quick search turned up an intriguing hostel in a former prison building with a private room free. Conversion turns out to have been done very well to creat comfortable and quirky rooms, and the man on reception could not have been friendlier or more helpful. To get in and out we had to pick our way through a major building site, but all was quiet up on the bedrooms (former cells). Really recommend Alibi Hostel if you are ever in this area.
Then we had an afternoon making like tourists round the Fries Museum and the attractive old streets of Leeuwarden. Hunting for a vegan meal for Bruce, we wound up having dinner in an Irish pub called Paddy O’Ryan’s – strange but good. All of this felt very much like a holiday. We are on holiday, so that ought to tick the box, but I couldn’t quite shake a faint feeling of guilt that we hadn’t covered more distance. Hmm. Some further holiday mental adjustment needed.
Along the way in Leeuwarden we found a bike shop that kindly cured the droop that had developed in the fixing for my handlebar bag – first minor running repair of this trip.
If the day 3 crash was predictable, the day 4 rebound ought to be also, but it is always more of a surprise. The legs this morning felt light and travelling by bike suddenly seemed to be fun again. Tried a couple of (by my standards) sprints along nice wide sections of path just for the fun of it. We had a lovely cross-country route again to the major town of Groningen, where we had lunch outdoors watching the people in the market and the boats passing through the swing bridge.
We had weather today: a lot of sunshine, and up to around 22 degrees, but a couple of short, heavy downpours in the morning and some very light drizzle later on. Weather is another source of bonding for cyclists, though: we sheltered at a petrol station with one couple, and got chatting outside a bakery to two Dutch ladies who had also been soaked while out on their road bikes and were intrigued about us and our route. Fortunately the wind is still cooperating: we had light crosswind or tailwind all day.
After Groningen, we pushed on to Winschoten. At one set of roadworks on a bridge, the cyclist diversion route involved a small ferry, which was very efficient. Our hotel in Winschoten is on the market square. Really delicious dinner and very friendly manageress. The church in the square has a clock with loud musical chimes every quarter hour, so earplugs were supplied with our room keys!
Must stop writing now and do some more back stretches, as there were twinges near the end of today’s ride. Tomorrow we should cross the border into Germany, where the cycle paths are not quite so good, but I should at least be able to have a basic conversation in the local language. Wiedersehen!