I can write about the nice coastal towns of Zeeland, the excellent food and the pleasure of a trip to the seaside. I could even mention the amazing cycle routes once again.
But there was only one subject for yesterday’s ride. The photos can’t really capture it, but they might give a clue!
The cyclists invisible friend and foe was out in force, with a strong wind hammering in off the North Sea and gusting across the wide flat landscapes of Zeeland.
This area is so renowned for its windy cycling they even designated one ride “The Wind Route“, a 126km circular route that if completed in a day is supposed to show you are a Zeeland cycling hero.
It was pretty tough zig-zagging our way across the fields to Westkapelle because some of the roads were completely exposed, but the huge cycle paths still make it easy to ride because there is plenty of room for the occasional wobble.
But from Westkapelle to Domburg we had the chance to take in one of cycling’s great experiences – the North Sea Cycle Route with the wind howling up behind.
What a contrast. At Westkapelle the sea and beaches are protected by the vital dykes that keep the highest tides from the land behind which is at or below sea level. The North Sea cycle route is tucked behind the barrier, keeping cyclists from the teeth of the gales.
But for one spectacular section the route climbs a long shallow incline up onto the sea dyke, up above the roofs of the town. The experience is written on the faces of the cyclists. Coming down are the strained and hardened grimaces of those who have been battling the elements for the past hours. Going up smiles break out, partly from the sea view but even better as the bikes take wings from the force of the wind.
It is actually so windy on the full height of the ridge that most cyclists we saw coming towards us were walking, and our friend Brian found it quite frightening to stay upright even with the wind behind, riding carefully with the brakes on.
Personally I loved it, and I had a great “big kid” moment when we turned the corner towards Domburg and I saw the cycle route spreading out way along the coast.
With the wind behind I sat up, threw my arms out to make the biggest sail that I could and felt myself riding without pedalling, almost 5 kilometres without effort. We all did lots of smiling on that section.