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Sunday cycling, tuesday swimming

For future reference: today, April 25, was the first day in the season I swam in De Papiermolen, the outdoor pool right next to my workplace. 2006 is also the first year since moving into the studio that I have a season ticket.
I limited myself to twenty laps in the competition-length pool, not because I'm out of practice (I'm not) but because I was still feeling the effect of Sunday's cycling. Sidsel and I went to Dokkumer Nieuwe Zijlen - no, I hadn't heard of it either. It's on the northwest side of the Lauwersmeer. Our original destination was Lauwersoog, which is only 42 kilometers from Groningen, but we ended up taking a bit of a detour because we rode too far west and didn't go north quickly enough. This meant we got to see quite a few towns we hadn't been through before, as well as long stretches of empty space. The Netherlands has a reputation for being a wee bit crowded, but there are still places where no people live although avoiding tourists is a bit difficult even there. Near Dokkumer Nieuwe Zijlen, though, there's a nature preserve, two thirds of which is off-limits to people. The other third is largely marshland, with only the bike paths being accessible. It's very nice to suddenly find yourself riding through swamp covered in tall dry grass and reeds as far as the eye can see.

It's really nice to go cycling right now, anyway. You get to see tiny newborn lambs, birds nesting and everything coming to life. The birds in particular are everywhere, twittering and chattering. We stopped to look at a large group of excitable yellow-bellied finches and took pictures of, among other things, a swan in its nest. We spotted it turning over its eggs, but by the time we got our cameras out it had sat down on them again. Interesting though to see it nest out in the open. I suppose swans are badass enough to defend their nests against anything, so they don't need to hide them. (pictures to come later)
The one downside to cycling this early in the season is that it's impossible to dress for. We left in cold, clammy conditions; by the time we took our tea break at Houwerzijl it was sunny and warm; and by our coffee break in Lauwersoog at 5 PM it was cooling down noticeably again. The last hour of our journey we had light rain. In all, we spent about 7 1/2 hours, of a 9-hour journey, in the saddle, covering between 100 and 120 kilometers, most of it upwind. We rode on just about every surface known to man: asphalt, brick, concrete, gravel, sea-shell, dirt and sand. The only surface we missed out on was one made of shit, and trust me, we have ridden on dung-covered roads before in the past two years. The dominant organism along the northern coast is the sheep, remember.
I didn't write about this earlier because I was knackered at the end, and still didn't feel my best on Monday. I even skipped running on Monday evening. By 9 PM, though, my energy was returning and I started tinkering with the website. I expect to have manic levels of energy later today.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 25, 2006 11:58 AM.

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