Seventeen: Riding the Polders from Alkmaar to Den Oever. - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

June 25, 2013

Seventeen: Riding the Polders from Alkmaar to Den Oever.

On the ride into Alkmaar from my camp-site between a dyke and a grove, I was behind these young people for a long way. I began wondering what was in the red box with the Amstel beer logo.
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I arrived in Alkmaar at eight o'clock exactly. The central walking street lined with cafes was still only in early morning quietness except for the shuffle of chairs on pavement at a few cafés which had just opening their doors.

Alkmaar at eight AM. More like seven.
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Most of the windows were dark inside and most of the cafes had round beer signs outside: Amstel and Jupiler, so these places wouldn't be opening to late anyway. I was looking for a morning café. Then in a corner saw an Anne and Max. I thought, is there a chain of these cafes. The barista was carrying chairs outside and he didn't look pleased to have a customer so early. He looked like he'd had a late night.

I spotted two power-points to charge the computer; one halfway back and the second below a seat in by the window. I chose the window seat. Later, a local was none too pleased to find me plugged in when he wanted to charge his iphone. Then when he looked the other socket under the bench halfway back was taken too.

With the Netbook open and connected to the network, I saved the journal page I'd written at my camp-site the evening before; then, worked through, editing. Around half an hour later, I had finished my coffee and I still had to creat a page and load the day before's pictures to that; soon, the barista came over and asked "Can I get you something to drink?" Just like in the Anne and Max in Harlem; supposedly, the Wi-Fi's only free to paying customers. Eventually, I did have a second coffee, celibrating that, although slow, the Netbook had finally cooperated and loaded the last picture and I could soon get going.

Eleven o'clock.
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Looking at the signs for the way out of town and onwards, but I've to find a supermarket first.
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There was something wrong. I was leaving town without buying food. Looking at the signs and checking my map for the way ahead, I thought it may only be by chance that I pass a supermarket on the way out, so I asked. A woman directed me through a small street behind me and around the corner into a square where there was a supermarket.

Enough for two days, perhaps.
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Waiting at the level-crossing for the train to pass and the barrier to rise.
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Follow the yellow flower road! Follow the yellow flower road! We're off to see..........Most younger readers won't remember: The Wizard of Oz.
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Cyclists over there.
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The famous Dutch black and white dairy cows. Tomorrow I enter the Provence were they were first bred in the 1700s.
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Dutch farmhouse.
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I was lucky. A passing cloud cast a nice shadow on the detail, adding a bit of mystic to the snooker-table flat Polder-land reclaimed from the sea.
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When stopped looking at the map, it's been my experience so far in Holland, someone nearly always approaches and offers to help; and so, after I'd ridden on from the supermarket, while stopped by signs for places ahead and checking with the map, a young man on a bike stopped and asked where I wanted to go. I replied, north. I am doing the North Sea Circuit. He sent me on the road towards Den Helder; and said, turn right at a village for Schagen.

Not long after, Is bowling along on smooth cycle-road running parallel with the road for vehicles across ultra flat farmland with a light breeze blowing across from the left. I remember at school the word "Polder", the flat low-laying land which with dykes and sea-defence-walls, Holland had reclaimed from the sea. This was it. And now and again, there cropped up on the horizon that other icon of the Dutch landscape, the windmill. Not those modern wind-turbine things with aeroplane propeller blades, there were lots of those too; the ones with sails, from the era before steam-power, most probably.

I passed Tulip fields but it'd long past the season for the flowers, instead there were rows of withered stems. There were also fields of vegetables, but the main activity was dairy farming. I passed fields of black and white Friesland cows, which originate from the namesake Dutch province to the north. I read that they were first bred in the 1730s. And first introduced to America before the New Englanders fought for independents. Today they're are found all over the world. Indeed, a couple of years ago in the Province of Buenos Aires, in South America, I rode by a farm at nine AM just as a long long line of Frieslands strolled along out to pasture from a humming milking shed.

Tulipland Nu Open, says the billboard. To late, the colour highlight has gone from this picture.
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I had turned for Schagen as the young man had advised, but came to a point were the cycle-road didn't continue alongside the main route, so I turned for a place called "Anna Paulowa" and continue along a narrow traffic-free road, the Dutch equivalen of a by-road, occationally passing through small places of a few houses. Eventually I reached a grass bank where the road swung left and ran along the bottom of the slope. About a kilometre further, I entered quite a big village and was back on a main route again. Straightaway I could see the grassy bank I'd ridden along, was a sea defence wall retaining a tidal lagoon. Ahead, cars on the vehicle road were stopped and queued up; then, I saw a glass control booth of a sluice-gate where the road had turned up vertically and poll-barriers were down while red lights blinked, like a level-crossing, while a barge sailed slowly through from the lagoon out to sea.

Canal.
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I stopped to talk with this Pigmy Goat. She nibbled my finger, but when I asked her to look at the camera for a photo, she wouldn't play ball.
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The road rises and the gates open to let a barge pass through.
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The cycle-sign directed me into another village ahead and out to the sea wall along the coast, looking out over a shallow stretch of sea mirroring the sky's light fluffy clouds, with a blur of land just about visable on the sea's horizon. An old woman pushing a bike directed me along the sea wall, saying, I could ride upon it the whole way to Oever. Which I did. By six o'clock I'd reached the abovemention seaside village at the beginning of a long causeway road link north, which would wait to the morning, because off to the side, was a large area between road and sea with scrub covered hillocks and a wide grass plain in amongst which had recently been mown. An ideal place to camp, so I put the tent up straightaway once I'd found my preferred spot. The only person I saw was a teenager that ripped by on a quad-bike a little later.

This is the part of Holland where the land ends and a string of islands continue north, curving north east and along Germany's North Sea coast.
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From the sea defence wall.
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Five PM. Cycling on the sea defence wall.
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The sheep on the right was trying to tell me something.
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They cut the grass for me here. This is on a little peninsular off the road at the beginning of the thirty kilometre long causeway across the bay to Holland's northern provinces
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Expenditure Total: 15.05 euros.

Café in Alkmaar: 5.60 euros.

Supermarket " " 9.45 euros.

Today's ride: 64 km (40 miles)
Total: 1,366 km (848 miles)

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