Day 2 - Enkhuizen to Medemblik and Back 42.0 km
The Netherlands must have a law that dictates what hotels serve for breakfast. There was little variation, right down to the brand of the individual servings of jam. It was not exactly an athletes breakfast either. Sure, there were the carbs, various breads, and corn flakes, but the table was dominated by the protein and fat groups: a large platter of cumin-flavored and plain cheese, another large platter of ham and other cold cuts, a basket of warm, almost hard boiled eggs, milk (full-fat, of course) and, if Liz was lucky, full-fat yogurt. The yogurt was nothing like the sugar-loaded, gelatinous stuff we get in Dixie cups. This was creamy, smooth, almost-pourable and delicious. There were coffee, tea and juice, also of course.
This being a fitness-oriented crowd, the reactions were typical. Stock up on bread and corn flakes and, when it was available, fruit and shun the fat. By the end of the week though, most of us were sampling from the cheese and ham side, too. The added fat didn't seem to harm my performance, and didn't seem to slow the racers either. I did pick up a few pounds on the trip, however.
We were being joined today by Amy, the director of Outside Online, web presence of Outside Mag. Previous experience with media-types made me a bit skeptical of her skills, but it didn't take long before she proved she could hold her own skating, and partying, too. Before rolling, Allan went over the plan. Every day we received a direction sheet with the day's tour outlined turn by turn. We were free to move at our own pace and form our own groups. The guides were there more to facilitate and instruct than to lead. We should keep track of our own location so if we got separated or wanted to go faster we could find our own way. On the regular tours, there were designated short, medium and long tours. On the fitness tour, there was only a medium and long variation. The van would bring those who opt for the medium tour to the hotel from the pickup point. Allan also filled us in on some Dutch customs. We should expect some things to be different. After all we didn't come all this way to experience what we could at home. The point I remember the most was that the Dutch had a laid back attitude. This especially manifested itself in restaurant service which tended to be leisurely. In Holland, it is considered rude to bring the check before the customer requests it.
With our cultural sensitivity heightened, we set out for the day's adventure. We were skating to Medemblik and back. Liz was skating with us and Allan drove the van. This was the last time we would skate out and return to the start. For the rest of tour, we would skate to the next hotel and our bags would be ferried by the van. Today's pace was more leisurely than the first day's "tryout." We stayed more or less together and enjoyed the scenery. Early on, we hit a forested path that was still a bit wet. Between muddy stretches and the leaves, it called for short strokes to keep from slipping too badly, but it was fun and soon we were on the road again. We crossed a downhill wooden bridge and skated through, on bricks of course, the village of Andijk where we climbed up to the top of the dike where we would spend most of the rest of the day.
It was a bit hazy, but we were entertained by sheep and goats close up and sailboats in the distance on the Ijsselmeer. We were the only inline skaters, but there were plenty of bicyclists, mostly on the upright cruisers so common in Holland. No lycra-clad speedsters here - just out for a pleasant ride in the country.
Most of the buildings were built of brick and were well maintained. Some had beautiful flower gardens. Many of the farm houses and barns had sod roofs. The sod provided insulation and, I was told, it could last for a century. The lace curtains added a classic homey touch.
In Medemblik, we took off our skates and set out for a quick tour of town and lunch. We waited for a fleet of boats to pass under the raised drawbridge. The bridge keeper has a wooden shoe that he dangles from a string at the end of a pole and collects the toll from the passing helmsmen. There must be thousands of draw bridges in Holland. We certainly waited for our share.
Liz and I lunched at an outdoor café watching the passing scene. As Allan had warned the service was a bit slow. I had a delicious salmon and shrimp sandwich while Liz enjoyed her chicken and peppers. No ham or cheese! This was an unusual lunch.
Every small city seems to have a museum or two. Most of them are not large - more like storefront museums. Medemblik has the bakery museum where we stopped in to get our dessert - almond cookies.
The skate back along the dike was very pleasant. The first real evidence that our group was mostly racers and not street-wise skaters occurred at a spot where the trail dropped off the dike to get around a light house. Many of the skaters did not have heel brakes. They displayed all manner of braking tactics to get down safely: lunge turns, t-drag, side-step. Mara, who had no brake, tandemed with Andrea who did. I waited to snap some photos and then let mine run. The combination of lots to hill time and knowing I could hit the brake if I needed to gave me the confidence to just turn them lose.
Back in Enkhuizen, we got semi-lost on the brick streets. It was no fun trying to negotiate them on sore feet. But taking a bearing from the clock tower, we found our way back to the hotel.
While we sat on the patio nursing beers, it began to rain again. I was glad we weren't out on the bricks!
We had mussels for diner, a local specialty. I thought they were delicious, but several of the less adventurous, opted out. Allan demonstrated the approved method for eating mussels. Using an empty shell as a pair of tweezers, you grab the meat out of the shell, swish it in the broth and pop it in your mouth. Very efficient. The piles of empty shells grew quickly. Kenny showed up for dinner in a puffy sleeved white shirt, black trousers, and knee-high black boots. All he needed was a feathered hat and a rapier. He proceeded to recite poetry to Liz while on bended knee. Ever the shy one, that Kenny. Allan latter mentioned that Kenny had the most luggage of anyone on the trip, man or women.
Kenny, Kathy, Amy, and Allan, who always seemed to be the last to bed, head out to Hoorn, where they we having a fair. Liz and I chose a quiet evening reading in our room.
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Read Day 3.