August 1, 2013
Distance: 34.2 miles Climbing: 823.5 ft
The sun and sheep were out to greet us in the morning. There were very few clouds in the sky, so we expected a hot day. There had been little bouts of rain almost everyday, so we were looking forward to nice weather.
The cycling was lovely and stress-free, as usual. While we were always on a bike path, there were times when we were right next to traffic and times when the path would veer away.
One of the interesting aspects of being in Holland, is being aware that we are below sea level most of the time. It is strange to be riding through fields next to a canal and have it be above you, held in by miles of levees. Sometimes, the water level is clearly higher than the roofs of houses. It makes me think about how much possible destruction could occur if a dike broke or overflowed.
In the middle of the day, we reached a town, decided to go through it and pick up some food. The first thing we noticed was the church. Not because of it’s grandeur, but because it looked like it was about to fall over. I have never seen something leaning that badly. We read later that the Oude Kerk of Delft started to lean during construction in the 13th century due to poor foundation conditions. Today, the top of the bell tower is more than 6 feet off from plumb, but the towers above it were apparently built vertically to straighten things out.
In the parking lot, I also saw a very amusing bumper sticker. Wish I had a stack to hand out to people sometimes.
Once resupplied, we continued on our way. We were heading to Hook van Holland, where Chandler wanted to see the Delta Works. Even though we didn’t have far to go, we didn’t get there until the evening. We scouted out for campgrounds, but all we found was a campground that resembled a dog run surrounded by chain link fence for somewhere in the ballpark of $30. We opted to find a place to free camp. Luckily, there was a large, forested park nearby and found a spot quickly.
We began to unpack when we noticed an awful smell. A rabbit had died nearby and I had managed to step in dog poo. Taking both as a bad sign, we left for another spot. Chandler found a much better area, but it required pushing our bikes through a thick patch of pricker bushes. We set up camp as the sun was setting and made dinner in the dark. Thinking we were so clever and well hidden, we were surprised to hear voices coming closer. Apparently, some drunk teenage boys climbed over some barbed wire to go exploring and discovered us. We couldn’t understand any of there Dutch except for the word camping. I think we scared them more than they scared us. Thankfully, they said hello and left us alone for a quiet evening.