Sixteen: Noordwijk to near Alkrnaar. - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

June 24, 2013

Sixteen: Noordwijk to near Alkrnaar.

Nobody could have seen my tent in amongst scrubs behind the park bench I sat on eating breakfast. It started to rain lightly. It didn't look like it would last. A dog came along the path and up to me and I pet it, it's master followed in a red rain-poncho. I said "I think your dog likes me". "My dog likes everybody" the young man replied, laughting.

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Quarter past seven in the park where I camped.
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I am getting used to the one hour difference in time zone between England and Continental Europe. It was just after seven when I packed away the tent and Is on the road at eight. The cycle-road through the village was full of children and teenagers cycling to school. Then I took a turning towards the coast and for the first time saw a LF 1 North Sea Circuit sign. I followed the road shown, but it was the last LF 1 sign I saw, so I decided to head for Harlem to use the computer.

Coffee and Tea.
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LF 1b, the first North Sea Circuit sign I've seen.
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A kilometre to Harlem centre. Like in Sweden, men are more offen than not the child-minders.
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By now the light rain had eased as I followed the signs for Centrum, until Is in the traffic-free old town and arrived in the Grand square, full of market stalls and shoppers with umbrellas as the rain was on again.

The car is waiting as the cyclists have priority.
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The Grand square in Harlem.
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The café were I'd elevenses which turned into lunch as journal updating takes a long time.
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Most of the cafes looked expensive; or perhaps, the types of places not to have free Wi-Fi which is much the same thing. But I remained patient and after a ride about in the narrow streets of the square arrived outside a place called Anne and Max, which looked right.

Inside, I sat down with a coffee and the Netbook open on the table and began editing and elevenses lasted through to lunch. I had long finish the coffee and as I remained sitting, the baby-faced blue-eyed waitress came over twice and asked "Would you like something to drink?". I think she was getting at, the Wi-Fi isn't really free, you most buy something more to go on using it.

Around half twelve I was winning. Words were all in their right place and I needed a coffee. Seeing as it was time, I took the card on the table and had a look at the sandwiches. Prices ranged between five sixty, upto just under eleven Euros. I stuck with the former and ordered. I had a pannia with mozzarella cheese garnish with herbs including mint. Delicious. And although the two triangles of toasted sandwich were small, I felt full afterwards.

Back on the road and passing the station.
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Wild Roses along the path.
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Having looked at the map, I was riding to an unpronounciable place starting with an interesting combination of letters, IJMUIDEN. Out of town, there were sand dunes either side and eventually I ended up at the coast, at the mouth of a channel. The map showed the cycle-route crossing the channel at a point inland, but as I didn't see any of the North Sea cycle-route signs, I'd have to look and work it out. Looking at the bleak grey shore, it felt cold in the sharp wind blowing in off the sea. I was hoping the rain would hold off. I turned back and found a path through the dunes and saw peaking up ahead chimmeys with plumes of steam billowing out and being blown horizontally across and inland.

I asked a man walking a dog was I going in the right direction, saying I was riding north along the North Sea and was there a bridge over the channel. I'd seen on the map two road tunnels. The man said yes, turn left at the end, then "you come to, sorry I don't know the English word." "Bridge!" "No. no bridge. Sluizen." I was puzzled for a moment but the word sounded much the same as sluice, which would be just right, a sluice-gate.

Following the man's directions, Is in a land of locks with container-ships and barges and the sky-line on the far side was dominated by refinearies with those chimmeys and billowing plumes of stream. The way was staggered along locks, turning right, crossing over the sluice-bridge and parallel along the other side and turning left to cross the next sluice; and so on until I turned rignt along the bank of the channel's far bank.

Heavy polluting industry ahead.
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I think some type of mined ore, which was being off-loading from bardges is being refined. The air smelt sulphurous this close.
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Riding away from the industrial landscape and north, it was now five and Is anxious to see a supermarket. I asked a woman at lights. "Yes, only five minutes. I'm going there now." she replied. When the lights changed we rode on abreast chatting. "Is this your normal pace" she asked. "I can ride faster if you like. When I get home, I get on my small bike, my BMX and go and see my daughter train. She's an elite BMXer". And so she mentioned a string of names from the world of BMX competition and was surprized I had never heard of any of them.

This cat came along and looked at my groceries outside the supwermarket.
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Outside the supermarket, there were spots of rain. I was packing shopping into the front pannier when a bald man looked closely at the Dawes name on the down-tube. "Dawes, an engels bike. A good bike" he said. I agreed. "I had a Holdsworth" he continued "another good bike, but they no longer make them." I said, "I had a Holdsworth cyclo-cross. I bought it in 1994. I think it was one of the last they made. It got me into at the time the winter racing scene of cyclo-cross."

The rain held off as I rode the cycle-road alongside the main route north to Alkmaar. I passed a dairy farm then saw a turn off towards a grove of trees. When I'd gotten that far, there was a grass bank between the trees and a water dyke which had been mown. It was as good a place as any to picnic and then at dusk put the tent up. As I looked around for the best spot, one of the back and white cows in the field across the dyke saw me and began heading over, so I crouched down so the reeds on the water's edge hide me. The cow came no further. Later a woman out walking her dog, stopped to talk. She smiled and said there was a campsite at the farm, pointing at the houses beyond the field of black and white cows. "Oh, I didn't see any sign" I said. She laughted. She told me she had ridden the North Sea route herself, but only got as far as Denmark when she'd had enough and took the train home.

Stopped for the night. A dog-walker took my photo.
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Expenditure total: 19.05 euros.

Café in Harlem: 11.60 euros.

Supermarket: 7.45 euros.

Today's ride: 52 km (32 miles)
Total: 1,302 km (809 miles)

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