CaRott – day two
Day 2: Camping Amazone (Koksijde) to Middleburg (93km)
After a pretty good night’s sleep in a tent filled with the smells which accompany long distance trips we crawled out of our tents full of anticipation for the day ahead.
Not to worry though we found an awesome bakery with possibly the best breakfast bread product that I have ever encountered. I’m not talking about the Belgian waffels here, I did try one but found them to be dry and not very interesting (I’ve since been told that I bought the wrong type). Not sure what it is called but behold the magnificence of the bread/onion/bacon-bits/cheese extravaganza:
I miss it too…mnom. The picture doesn’t do it justice – it was a beast, pretty much as big as a keyboard! Yeah! Enough about food…
The first few kilometres were very peaceful. The sun was out and at 10.30 it was clear that the day was going to be a scorcher. There were some lovely shaded paths to start with:
And spirits were high…
I really grew to like the scenery we were going through. We passed through small towns with Om-pah bands who were playing on the main square to the accompanied with the dull clunking of beer glasses. There is something about being near water which just lifts my spirits and combined with it being the weekend a holiday mood could really be felt.
The salty smell of the sea grew stronger and it wasn’t long before we reached the sea-front itself. It was paved, but through some genius foresight, the planners had decided to lay the paving slabs so that they lay diagonally…this small detail meant that instead of going along bumpity-bump stylee, it was smooth and marble-like.
All we had to do was slalom around the piles of sand and enjoy the ride. The sun was at it’s zenith and my neck was really starting to look pretty lobster-like…always at the forefront of fashion, I came up with the nifty idea of wrapping a spare base-layer around my neck in a stylish fashion:
After the easy introduction to Belgium it showed it’s real colours. The sea-front route that we were following started to become more and more sandy (good for Sandcastles but not for longboarding) from Oostende onwards so we were forced to turn inland.
The quieter routes were either cheese-grater or crippling paving slabs so we opted to carry on the ‘walk with your longboard’ theme of the trip and took a short-cut through the forest.
By this time it was getting late into the day and we were still a good 20km from the Dutch border, our minimum destination for the day. The problem was that we were a little slower than expected due to the heat, taking longer scenic routes, walking a little, taking some wrong turns…all contributed to us being behind schedule. Tension was starting to run a little higher and it became clear that we really needed to start moving faster and make some good progress so that we would reach Rotterdam in good time.
The LF route was also being cheeky with us by taking strange detours through residential estates, strange directions and random twists and turns. We finally stopped for some food in one of the last towns (probably Albertstrand or Het Zoute) on beach front.
We were all starving by this point and Jochem especially was pretty keen on getting some proper Belgian frites. I got the opportunity to try a fried food speciality called a Frikadel with ‘special sauce’.
The chips were ok, but this was pretty good. The closest thing I can think of is to describe it as a deep-fried Kebab sausage cut in two and filled with Ketchup, Mayonnaise and chopped onion. This is us post-frikadel:
The food raised our spirits and we just got on with getting through the last of the varying horrible surfaces but mostly the Belgian fondness for slabs. At last we felt like we were getting somewhere. The last town thinned out and we went through some lovely countryside.
The next border crossing was finally coming up – our challenge was to cross the international dyke (has it been done by longboard before?). The gravelly footpath was an interesting change from the slabs but made for some hard going.
Yum – gravel:
We didn’t realise that this was the actual border until we came accross Jesse doing a little ‘I’m in Holland dance’ – we obviously joined in because it felt good to be in Holland and the prospects of smoother roads was almost mouth-watering.
We were on a real high – after the slog of the last few hours, not even knowing if we’d make it to the border it was really refreshing to have good paths and some varying terrain. We decided without really thinking about it that we were going to push on to Middleburg that night.
The next kilometres were an amazing experience. There were some nice up and downhill-ish bits thanks to the various dykes and dunes (I managed to get 36km/h) at one point. The air was fresh and the light was soft. It really was one of those pivotal moments when everything felt perfect.
It really felt like a proper home-coming for Jochem especially as he started to recognise landmarks along the route which would finally lead us to his home town. The last few kilometres went by quickly and the views for the top of the dune we were on were glorious:
We finally made the ferry, at around 10pm – the last one of the day!
Dutch flag – we’re definitely in Holland:
Middleburg, here we come!
Once we had arrived we set out on the cycle path that Jochem knew well for the last 15km to his flat where he had very kindly invited us to stay. His mum had also phoned through to tell him that she’d made us an apple pie – knowing that it was there waiting provided a huge boost of motivation for us all.
As it was properly dark so we got the lights out:
I’d only once ridden my board in near-total darkness during Skaiti but for Tim it was a new experience.
Ground view of skating in darkness:
We were pretty knackered by this point but for me anyhow I was on autopilot. The aches were there but everything felt easier because of the cool air and the stillness of the night.
Lights are cool. What kind of contraption is hiding here?
We finally made it to Jochem’s where his brother and sister were waiting to surprise us with a very warm welcome at around 11.45pm. We’d done around 93km that day.
Dutch apple pie, which is the best thing ever. Tastes like apple strudel and is truly amazing and goes well with beer. Thank you Jochem’s mum!
We hung up our helmets for the night…for some well-earned rest.