|May 3, 2019||Campground |
de Kleine Wolf
It was pretty quiet in the campground when I got my day started. I was on the road around 0600 and ready for a big day. All my clothing was dry and although it was chilly, there was no wind.
At about 11 km into the ride around the town of Collendoorn, I had to stop and photograph this glorious sunrise. I took it to be a sign of better weather today. That turned out to not be the case but for the time being, with very little wind, the 2°C temperature was bearable.
Just after Sellingen, around marker 426, the course crossed a small canal. I found it particular attractive and stopped for a moment to take a couple of pictures. It was quiet and peaceful and before any wind or rain. There was blue sky showing through the clouds. It was still cold. I decided to stop at the first bike store and purchase one appropriate outfit to cope with the cold. For the moment, I was in a place of emotional contentment and enjoying the day. This was really a special place.
About 10 km later, the route passed through Fort Bourtange which is a beautiful maintained historic site. The cobblestones were rough to ride on but it was visually very appealing. I stopped here to have a bite of lunch and change to dry clothing. It was midday and although still cool, it was better than earlier in the day and the winds were low. At this location, the route was very close to the border between the Netherlands and Germany.
I left Bourtange well fueled, dry and comfortable. Even the weather was improving for a pleasant afternoon ride. I arrived in Stadskanaal at marker 458. By this time my base layer was soaked in sweat and cold. My next stop was at Bouw Koster Tweewielers. Hans Koster took great care of me in the purchase of a base layer, jersey and jacket. I was now ready to ride with a terrific outfit. As I was leaving the store, Hans came to the door and presented me with a gift jersey worn by his racing team. It was far too generous but he insisted. I plan to send him some very Nova Scotia gift as a sign of appreciation. I will suggest to the race organizers that his store is a great location to serve as a race sponsor in 2020.
I also decided to take a restaurant meal while in Stadskanaal. Hans suggested a spot just down the street. Wonderful service and a huge portion. In fact I couldn’t eat it all. It was also a location for a final bathroom break before heading out on the road. Once again I was well fueled and ready to get on the road.
The race took us through the Houtvester Jasenweg which runs through a forest. I had to take a picture of the bike trail. As you can see in the picture, the trail I’m riding is paved. To the right is the unpaved road for vehicles and I suspect horses. I find this to be the highest demonstration of the commitment by the Dutch to making cycling be one of the best options as a way to travel from A to B.
Around marker 480, the skys opened and the rain started. At this point I was wearing my new riding kit. Rather than pull out my rain jacket, I decided to make a stop for coffee in hopes the rain was just a short shower. As I passed through Gasteren, I spotted what I thought was a cafe. In fact, it was a collectibles store which served coffee and cookies. It made for an interesting stop with all the artifacts to view in the shop. By the way, at almost every stop, I gave proprietors one of the Canadian Flag pins I was carrying. They were always appreciated and served as an ice-breaker to get a conversation started about the reason for my travel around the Netherlands.
The rain did not let up so I got out my rain jacket and headed back onto the course. I knew this would trap my sweat in the base layer and make me cold but there was no other option. As the rain continued, I decided to make a hotel night and searched Google for hotels near Appingedam. It returned Eemshotel in Delfzijl which was about 5 km off the course route. I called, booked a room, and headed to the hotel.
What surprise? Eemshotel is on stilts and just off the dyke. To enter, I crossed a bridge to the lobby entrance. My room was on the lower level and I could hear the waves breaking on the shore. It was soothing and I slept well. I hope to return to this location in the future. It was fascinating!