Europe Tour | Autumn 2016 | Day 3
Morning ride: https://www.strava.com/activities/736982078
Day three and another night of comfortable lodging for less than thirty dollars booked using the Airbnb iPhone app and not until after 4 pm. So far my system of trying to save money whilst staying anywhere I happen to arrive is working well. That system starts each day with an inevitable, it seems, ambition to ride 50 miles or more before noon with little concern about where I'll arrive to as long as it's roughly south of where I started. This ambition is motivated by a body and mind reinvigorated by a deep sleep and a hearty breakfast; and by my experience that the body will eventually start to slow down. As my motivation dips and the sun begins it's long descent towards the western hemisphere, I give-into a slower pace, smell the flowers, sample the village bakeries, and eventually, though often well after noontime, I stop for an open-air lunch somewhere in the countryside. Finally, by about 4-o'clock in the afternoon I begin to consider a fairly lengthy stop to search for lodging in villages near and not so far. The principal aid for that search is the Airbnb app already mentioned. But I've also made extensive use of Google maps.
Once the lodging stop and a reservation request have been made, a fairly dodgy series of 1-2 hours has so far ensued. First dodge, I must find the village where my pending reservation may, hopefully will, be fulfilled (accepted by the host) before I arrive. Until the host confirms my reservation, and hopefully they will given that daylight has all but vanished when I reach their vicinity, I will not know the location of their home other than a rough approximation (Note that a 'pending reservation' step can be avoided by booking only with hosts that offer immediate confirmation). Distances to hosts, from where I made the reservations, have varied. As short a 5 miles (8 km) or as many as 20 (32 km). Along the way, fading daylight and traffic conditions have at times been a liability, sometimes nudging-up against dark on a road not recommended for cyclists. But lightly kicking these consequences so that they come to rest gently, respectfully, on the verge, if my system continues to dispense conclusions from a shelf that must be labeled, somewhere, with the word 'serendipity' then I'll save a bundle on lodging costs without having to sacrifice comfort and convenience. And I think it's worth adding that one should not discount the value of a proper adventure to 'look forward to' and 'reflect on' at the conclusion of each day, something my 'after 4' policy almost guarantees on an Autumn tour well inside of month of October.
Despite a long day on the saddle, just over 120 miles (192 km), I enjoyed several breaks today including a cappuccino paired with a chocolate filled croissant and a few freshly baked brötchen. Ambition delivered on it's 50 miles / 80 km before noon, and for the most part without stopping amidst a three hour spin mostly across a countryside festooned by wonder and inspiration. In the afternoon, as anticipated, I slowed my pace and delved into, as requested by my big brother Dan on Facebook, the smells and sounds of the local foliage along with whatever food, typically local apples, I had stashed in my kit pockets. Today the winds were once again favorable as they have been the previous two days blowing all the way from Siberia to my derrière or deflecting off my la cage thoracique at a comfortable 8-12 mph (13-19 kph), perhaps a bit more at times.
This evening I'm sleeping in the small town of Baarlo, my second night in the Netherlands. According to my Airbnb host, Baarlo contains four castles, three dating back to the 13th century. I may have to return for a castle tour followed by visits to other historical sites in the area. Here is a sample of Baarlo history from Wikipedia,
"The oldest mention of the name Baarlo is from 1219."
"Archaeological discoveries have shown that Baarlo has a long history ... there was an ancient settlement west of the village from the Stone and Iron Age. Around 1930, a remarkable discovery was made: a large bucket or bronze situla from the period 800-500 BC."
"An important Roman road was on the west side of the village. It came from the direction of Cuyk ... along the Maas villages Blerick, Heel, and Maaseik to Maastricht. Roman [artifacts found in the town] ... include two Epona figurines, a few urns, oak piles, and tiles of Roman origin."
"In Gallo-Roman religion, Epona was a protector of horses, ponies, donkeys, and mules. She was particularly a goddess of fertility, as shown by her attributes of a patera, cornucopia, ears of grain and the presence of foals in some sculptures."
"Castle d'Erp [was built] around 1200. [The castle and it's subsequent constructions experienced a] checkered history ... including sieges by William of Orange and his son Frederick Henry."
I'd like to write a little more about my day but honestly I'm starting to feel some fatigue after my third 100+ mile ride in three-out-of-three days. Fatigue withstanding and with a smile across my face, I'll be back on the RLT 9 Steel by 8:30 tomorrow morning to attempt a grand slam, four hundred-mile (or more) distance rides in four consecutive days. I nearly accomplished that last year but was derailed, with love, on the fourth day by a relationship trump card. Sometimes I need to have that one thrown at me.
Despite cooperative weather, in particular no rain and favorable wind, I've witnessed very little in the form of sunshine or genuinely 'warmish' temperatures. Instead, cloudy skies and "fresh" temperatures have been the norm across a landscape, not long ago, reclaimed from the North Sea. Despite my sincere appreciation for three days without rain, I'm nonetheless hoping for some sunshine tomorrow. The sunshine would warm my cold fingers and nose and no doubt do wonders for photographs.
I bid any reader that's had the courage and patience to read this far (!) a Guten Nacht from Baarlo. Baring the return of Christ or a similar turn-of-events, this should be my last night in the Netherlands on this Autumn Tour. Tomorrow I'll sleep in either Belgium or Luxembourg.
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Adventure Guide, Mentor, Lifestyle Coach, Consultant, Endurance Athlete