Thursday, May 26, 2011


Wet IJssel, west side. 
So here it is, the day of my big bike ride and ... it's raining. A light rain, as predicted. Maybe I'll have a leisurely breakfast here in Deventer and hope it stops. The idea is to take the IJsselvalleiroute, which starts on the west side of the river, a part I have not explored yet. The route follows the IJssel valley south, crossing the A1, then going by a ruin of some sort, then striking west through woods to reach a recreational lake, the Bussloo. Then it skirts the lake, crosses back over the A1 and meanders around the town of Twello before heading back to the river: 40 km.

Hanni van der Bovenkamp, my vriend op de fiets in Deventer, says it may clear up in the afternoon. She served me the classic high-cholesterol Dutch breakfast: ham, cheese, butter, a medium-boiled egg in an egg cup, coffee with packaged creamers, lots of bread and crackers. One tomato.

Decided to postpone my departure. Still raining, though lightly, a sort of a misty rain. I've been loitering around the center, waiting for it to stop. The Brink, Deventer's large main square, is not far from the IJssel, so I rode down the Polstraat to the river. There was the big bridge, but how to get over it? No signage but it was obvious--head for the ramp to find a brick-cobbled access path for bikes. Upon the bridge a damp wind was blowing off the IJssel, which looked muddy and dull this morning.

Bolwerksmolen: last of the wind/sawmills.

Over the bridge I spotted "one of the last" (qualified superlative) working wind/sawmills. Not much going on today, a soggy mass of timber lying at the foot of the contraption. I hung out in a graffiti-strewn tunnel waiting for the rain to let up.

IJsselvalleiroute (ANWB map)

Continuing toward knooppunt 17, the path deviates from the river into green pastures. This whole area was a swamp; now the fertile beds are covered in greenness. It is still misting but the precipitation has let up. Fortunately I have my rain outfit (poncho and pants) and am fairly comfortable, except that my glasses are spotted with droplets. It appears I am heading toward Voorst--6.5km from point 17. (A ferry crosses the IJssel to Gorssel 1km east of here.)

Commemorating Republican shenanigans?

Somehow I missed the ruined tower of Nijenbeek--obscured by droplets perhaps. Instead saw deserted fields and farmhouses. I passed a sixtyish man on the trail. He was walking with his carved cane along the wet road. I stopped at a bend in the IJssel to look at a stone commemorating some Canadians that crossed it during WWII. While I was looking, the man with the cane passed me; then I passed him again. Now he just walked into this cafe, the Bakkerij Bril & Zonen, in the village of Appen. He's sitting with a cosmetically enhanced woman in a toque and they are engaged in conversation.

It is funny how people mix English into their conversation here. Having my apple pie, I overheard these bits: "country music ... and that's it." Kind of a status marker, I suppose.
Bussloo: the rain stops here.

Past Appen, I descend into the woods, looking for point 31. There a concrete path cuts through the forest toward Bussloo recreational park (point 29). Bussloo focuses on a lake that used to be a sand quarry. My guidebook says they found the bones of rhinoceros and aurochs (wild Eurasian oxen) there.

Now at Bussloo, 2:30 pm on this soggy Monday. The rain has abated momentarily. The lake is overcast and utterly deserted, birds chirping from the woods that line the banks--I'm sure it would be a great spot for taking the sun, should it ever appear.

The wetness seems to have finally receded, save for a few random sprinkles. I'm about halfway through my journey. Wilp is dull and suburban, as are most towns around here. But the woods are very nice between pt 97 and 98 before traversing the highway overpass.

Signs o' the times.
Teuge, by N344, is an airfield for flying instruction ( I follow a narrow road through this agglomeration of warehouses and hangars. A small plane is taking off. Then it's more farmland, rows of corn sprouting up, happy after finally getting some rain. Fortunately for me, the rain has stopped, the temperature is mild, not much wind. Lots of squawking and chirping from the trees and fields around me at point 69, the northwestern corner of this tour. Now I descend southeast into Twello.

Point 69, outside Twello. At each knooppunt, there is a handy map.

I am happy as a clam. There's nothing I'd rather be doing than poking around the countryside, then calling it a night in Deventer.

Just picked up all kinds of useful items, including a faux gold lighter and the second volume of ANWB's Korte Fietsvacancies (Short Cycling Vacations) in a very well-stocked bookstore/stationer/tobacconist in Twello, an otherwise unremarkable suburban town with a plaza/mall. Once again I am the only person sitting on a bench in the plaza. There are people out, mostly going to the ATM, but no one sitting on any of the plaza's benches but me.

East of Twello are some old estates, including one called Het Hunderen, which a sign says has been occupied since the 17th century. I had a look and a couple of horses came over to investigate my presence.

Het Hunderen

The final bit (at 6:30 pm, making a journey of about seven hours) has me climbing up a dike with views of surrounding farmhouses, then deposits me at the IJssel once again. For a majestic finish, the path follows the dike along the west bank of the river, where a solitary woman sits on a bench overlooking the scene. I cross the railroad bridge and end up a block away from home base: Boevendekstraat. Great ride, and except for the rain and wind during the initial section, the 40 km journey was not difficult.

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