A bike ride and a couple of beers

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August 7th 2009
Published: August 16th 2009
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Friday 7th August
A bike ride and a couple of beers
After a long day yesterday and a fairly late night getting to bed we were obviously ready for a sleep in because we didn’t wake until nearly 8am.
After breakfast Wim got the bikes out for us to ride with them to the towns Friday market where they purchased their fresh produce.
Following our first experience of riding a bike for years this morning’s effort was even more assured and neither of us got the wobbles like we did last night when starting off.Leaving Diny to show us the way we followed on behind as she virtually stopped what little vehicle traffic there was in the town as we negotiated the suburban streets and made the necessary turns to get to the central market.
Everything here is geared towards riding a bike!!In many instances cyclists have the right of way although you still have to be wary of cars and the odd bus.The cycle lanes on the sides of the road are generously wide compared to what we have in Tauranga for instance and are clearly marked.Where you ride across a common area there are cycle routes that criss cross and to give continuity there are tunnels that go under the busier roads or overbridges.You do however share with mopeds or scooters which you do have to watch out for also although you can hear them approach from behind you.
Diny has experienced bike theft before so they are careful making sure their bikes are secure and locked when they leave them.This morning we were to leave them in the cycle garage a free parking space underground and alongside where cars had to pay for the same priviledge.There was even a channel to run your bike smoothly down the steps so that you didn’t have to bump it down!!The bike park employs a woman who gives you a ticket and attachs a corresponding number to the bike before you park it in one of the many cycle stands.
With the bikes safe and secure we strolled around the market which in the first instance had vendors selling mainly produce such as cheese,meat and fish.Diny explained that all the vendors that were usually here weren’t today because of the holidays but the marketplace still seemed very full and busy with locals walking around with bags of purchases.We took advantage of buying some fresh free range eggs for our ongoing travels and breakfasts.It was the first time we have come across a 10 egg carton as our experience has always been by the dozen or half dozen.
Further on their were stall selling clothing etc and I picked up a new shirt for €10 and even had the luxury of trying it on for size by using a tiny changing room built onto the side of the stall by using canvas flaps.
The vendor at the fruit stall where Diny made her purchases was very generous handing out samples to try before you buy and even threw in a handful of juicy mandarins as she paid for her fruit.
I should explain that Wim and Diny are great cyclists and ride all over the Netherlands usually up to 100km perday and if they are riding further than it takes to get back home in a day then they stay overnight in what you would call a cyclists B&B,a network of homes that have beds for an overnight stay.A couple of weeks ago they had ridden into Germany to a town that had a shop with a sale of cycling gear at prices too good to miss and had spent the night away from home.
The bikes they ride have all the mod cons including weatherproof bags that attach to the rear of the bike to carry their personal belongings and in the case of Diny’s market purchases this morning all of the fruit she purchased.They don’t own a car and don’t need one!!
After lunch they took us for a ride in the countryside.First along a dedicated cycleway along the top of a dyke and then across farmland to the edge of the river where a small ferry boat chugs back and forth taking cyclists across to the other side saving a few kilometres of riding to get there.With the beautiful summer day the ferry quickly filled up with cyclists and we were on our way for the 5 minute journey.
After a bit more riding along the side of the river and a canal we stopped at the towns square and took a rest under a large sun umbrella to enjoy a couple of cold Dutch beers.It was a very relaxing way to idle away the afternoon with great company and conversation.
As we finished our second beer and tasted a local delicacy of a deep fried ball of potato with a small piece of meat inside we noticed that the sky had darkened and that there was some thunder in the distance.
With the probability of rain we started the cycle back home this time down the river to cross a bridge taking us back to Zwolle.Here,Wim pointed out the earthworks for a new rail line being built that would link Zwolle more directly to Amsterdam and how the locals had wanted the rail line to be tunnelled under the river rather than the rather unsightly raised approaches and bridge that had been decided upon because of the cost of a tunnel being too expensive.It did seem a shame because with the countryside so flat and ones vision being mostly of open spaces the new embankment and bridge would block the landscape considerably.
We made it home just as the spots of rain were getting bigger only then to find that the thunderstorm headed away and the rain stop.
After a delicious home cooked slightly spicy with satay sauce dinner and more conversation we were ready for an earlier night with a trip to Amsterdam on for tomorrow.


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