Friday, 9 April 2010

Tour to Middelburg: part 1

Finally, time for a write up. The goal was to ride down to Gent to watch the Tour de Vlaanderen on Sunday. I mapped a route following the coast, via Zeeland. For various reasons, I didn't make it that far. Here is a report of what did happen.

The weather forecast didn't look too promising on Friday night, so I prepared accordingly, rain jacket, warm clothing, dry clothes, and enough snacks to keep me fueled. To give me enough capacity and reduce the load on my back, I decided to mount my Nitto R10 rack on the back. This is a rack that can be used on a frame with no eyelets, and in theory this is a good design. It's a very nicely welded piece of kit, and it served me quite well on a 160km offroad tour along the South Downs Way (highly recommended). Climbing out of the seat does induce a big of sway with around 5kg, but it's still straight as new. The only issue I could see with this rack was the reliance on the support of the rubberised 'p' clips on the seat stay. I got the feeling they might slip, but when installed, they seemed reasonably sturdy.

The first effort of the day was lowering my considerably heavier bike down the steep and narrow staircase. Thankfully I'd swapped out my road footwear for my more comfortable MTB shoes and pedals. It makes life off the bike much more pleasant. I left Amsterdam under overcast skies with a mild southerly wind and with the mercury showing 5 degrees celsius. The first way point on my desired route was Bloemendaal. It's a common destination for my rides during the Winter and it always give me something to look forward to, be it a sunset, rough seas, headwind, or snickers.

The ride down to Noordwijk is also a common feature of my training kilometers. It's about 55km (65km via Ijmuijden) from home down to Noordwijk, and I have a favourite petrol station to fill up on water and food. Today I was on another mission though, so I quickly passed by the beach side town and headed into a less familiar set of dunes. I've been there before, but it's been a long time. I took a rest by jumping on the wheel of a fellow weekend warrior. This particular example was a bit tougher though, riding without water. That's something I can't understand. How can you go on a proper ride without food or water? Tssssssss. The sound of air escaping its enclosure. I wave goodbye to my lift and pull off the bike path to attend to my tyres call for attention. I expressed doubt about these tyres prior to the departure, having had too many punctures in recent kilometers. I'm used to riding without incident, but I guess this is part of the process of building a new bike. After inspecting the tube for holes, I found a small opening with a corresponding stone embedded in the tyre. A stone! Not even glass. Time to upgrade in the rubber department. After a quick patch job, I was on the road again, not before being told "nice eh, broken bike" by a passing jogger. Dutch people find it hard to resist saying something. Very strange.

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