Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Alternatieve Elfstedendtocht - Day 2

I spent most of the morning shopping in Sneek: got my front tire's tube replaced, got a sweater (needed one this morning, no longer), some dried fruits, nuts and chocolate.

Now I am at a picnic table southeast of Sneek at or near a place called Twellingea (or in Dutch, Uitwellingerga). The fietspad was paralleling the highway for a while and momentarily deviated from it here. Altje, my vriend last night, told me this bit of the road was not too interesting but I'm just enjoying the ride.
"11 Cities Route" -  Day 2 (ANWB map)

For a while, I was riding behind two women, one on a recumbent bike, which reminds me that yesterday I saw a guy in a sort of pedal-powered racing car, in a yellow shell. Made me excited about the possibilities for self-powered transport.

The picnic table is by one of those ubiquitous drainage canals with a film of green detritus. Some wild purple flowers sprout up along its bank, and a duck floats on its surface upstream. Behind me a flock of fat sheep are busy chewing up the grass. To the west, the highway drones. It's quite overcast and I feel the hint of precipitation.

Interesting fact: the cows of Friesland are the source for those vile little coffee creamer portions available nationwide.

Langmeer quaintness
In Langmeer, on the southwest bank of the lake of the same name. It's an unexpectedly cute and quaint village at point 92. I feel an indescribable calm sitting here at this covered terrace cafe on the village's quaint shopping street of a Thursday afternoon, the radio playing low in the gray non-time of a Friesland afternoon. There's no traffic for one, just buxom younger mamas shopping for vintage clothing in the boutiques, crew in tow, and dopey lads in shorts loping up the bricks. I'm looking into an ancient lane opposite, black bike with white rear fender leaning against a low brick house. I feel that life is worth living.

Hurdy gurdy man
Made in Tilburg
I reach a bend toward point 53, outside the town of Sint Nicolaasga. It sounds like a marching band with drum, pipes and percussion, an amazing hurdy gurdy made in Tilburg, with wheel and bellows. A farmer in overalls feeds punchcard volumes through it, encoded songs like "Walking Back to Happiness" and "Mooi Amsterdam." A bearded middle-aged man named Abraham rebuilds them. "He's the big boss, I'm the little boss!" the man in overalls tells me, then shows me some other, smaller music makers from Leiden. For one of them, depicting twins on the front, Abraham had just the facade and had to build a hurdy gurdy behind it. The guy in overalls will play one of the small jobs tomorrow night in Balk.

I made it to Laaxum but it took a lot of effort, especially the last leg, an empty road alongside a dike. For part of the way sheep grazed atop the grassy mound that separated the road from the sea. Not sure if I can keep up this pace of 40-50 km per day. Thirty is more my speed.

About to drop off here in my little cabin at the wonderful homestead here in Laaxum. It's only by chance that I'm staying here. All the places in Stavoren, the route's endpoint for Day 2, were booked. I am so glad I didn't have to go that extra 10 km. 

My cabin, formerly the laborers' clubhouse, at Gedda Folkertsma's place, Laaxum

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