Had breakfast with Ingrid and Rob, walkers from Leiden, also staying at Mevrouw Janssen's place. It was raining so they decided to call off their walk back to Nijmegen (4 to 5 hours, they said). But it's stopped and now the sun is out as I sit here in the woods west of Groesbeek listening to the birds. This Sunday morning the forest is lousy with racing cyclists, also runners and one horse rider galloping along. Have that lovely feeling now: Sunday morning, bike journey ahead, no hurry.
Conversed with Mevrouw Anna Janssen, a 70ish woman with dyed hair, friendly and chatty. Her late husband, 15 years her senior, constructed a series of sheds in the rear garden where Anna now deposits her stuff. "People say that's where I make my hashish." She says it was the Belgians who started the idea of the knooppunten system, but the Dutch rode with it.
Rode down through the woods from Groesbeek. Quite lovely though also very busy and the trail is narrow. I found myself amongst a group of seniors. They moved briskly enough but slower than the norm. From the opposite direction came groups of racers at top speed. (The racers ride through the woods on mountain bikes and get splashed in mud.) We emerged at a valley down to the River Maas with relatively spectacular views. Then it was a precipitous descent behind the seniors ending up in the hamlet of Plasmolen: groups of holiday makers in matching track suits.
|Crossing the Maas at Cuijk.|
De naam Ceuclum is ontleend aan een Romeinse wegenkaart.
|Defending his turf.|
Here's one of the hallelujah bits: west of Cuijk along the Maas river. Serene. Pastures and fields form the banks. Goats graze along the bike trail. One is coming toward me now--he just stood before me and began to complain in a low moan. Sounds of DJs wafting across the river from some community--70s disco, the gold standard of coolness among that lot.
Outstanding apple pancakes at appropriately named Herberg De Pannenkoeken, a cafe in Linden. This is the gateway to the Kraaijenbergse Plassen, a series of lakes from which sand is dredged. The day has become schizoid, an alternating litany of overcast cool breeze and bright warm sunshine. Ingrid and Rob should've reconsidered their walk. Ingrid seemed like the kind of person who makes a decision about something -- for example, that she dislikes New York -- and sticks to it. What's funny is that when I told them I came from New York, Rob commented that Ingrid "likes New York." Perhaps he has heard her views about it so many times he decided to present it ironically as a change of pace. Boston she likes though. And they've been to Linden, the little Dutch community north of Bellingham, Washington. Is this village the namesake? But there must be hundreds of Lindens, named after a deciduous tree with fragrant yellow blossoms. There's one in New Jersey too, isn't there?
|Welcome to Linden.|
Dutch cyclists tend to travel in large groups. You rarely see a solo cyclist unless s/he's been dislodged from the group. A pack of motorized bicycles just buzzed by me. These black monstrosities have an engine upon the front fender. The riders wear a joyless expression.
|A bend in the Meuse.|
The wind has dropped considerably, and the fietspad again skirts the river. At Denem, there's a ferry across the Meuse to Batenberg. Not much else to say as I approach Megen, my destination for the evening, except that the last bit was really nice. As usual, nothing spectacular but so serene. I like that the fietspad is separated from the road by a row of trees. To the right, newly planted fields descend to the blue strip of river. It goes on this way from Ravenstein to Megen. It's pure pleasure.