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CaRott – the journey comes to an end

Day 4: Helleveltsluice to Rotterdam (37km)

In the middle of the night we got woken up by rain. Not just any rain, but really heavy tent-shaking stuff. Needless to say that we were pretty anxious about having to spend the last day skating in wet conditions. Fortunately, our luck held out with the weather and we woke to another gloriously sunny day.

It was a strange feeling to be packing up our bags for the final day but at the same time, now  that our destination was in sight, I was looking forward to finally getting there.

We’d got used to the really good conditions and things carried on much as they had been the previous day. No sea this time round but still plenty of lovely serene countryside to roll through.

We met up with Jochem once we reached Spijkenisse, around 15km from Rotterdam – not far to go!

Suddenly the views took on a much more urban feel and before we knew it, we were crossing the bridge which would take us to the outskirts of Rotterdam.

Our route then took an unexpected turn when Jesse said “we’re going to go through an awesome tunnel”. It turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip from a longboarding perspective. The tunnel itself went underneath a river or a canal for around two, perhaps three kilometres of flat perfectly smooth tarmac. You picked up speed for what seemed an age until you thought that surely you’d take off and then the tunnel would start curving gently upwards.

Being underground meant that we weren’t able to get a GPS reading but it’s the fastest I’ve ever been on a longboard. A rough guesstimate would be around the 45kph mark. It was so much fun! Smiles all round!

Our route took on a much more town-like feel, with residential areas, cafes and pedestrians becoming more prominent features.

The previous day we were wondering about what exact point we would head to in Rotterdam. After some thought, I remembered the comment my girlfriend Faye had written when making her donation for our trip: “Go boys! You are only getting sponsorship from me if you bring back stroopwafels however ;)”. Not wanting to disappoint, we all decided to aim for what Jesse described as the ‘Best Stroopwaffel shop in town’.

At around 1.30pm, after 37km we finally reached our goal:

You might think it rather strange that we chose to aim for this particular food place as the end of our trip. If you’re thinking this then it must mean that you’ve never eaten a Stroopwaffel. I can’t compare these things to anything else…to do so would be to disrespect them.

Did I mention that we were ravenous at this point? We bought some very big ones and some smaller ones to take back.

And then devoured them…yummy. You cannot believe how amazing they tasted.

Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get a group shot of all of us but we were pretty relieved to have made our final destination as in the end timing was pretty tight. Looking back at the conversation we had together in Belgium when we were very worried about our progress made our safe arrival in Rotterdam all the more satisfying.

Group shot attempt with Jeese in the middle and Jochem on the right:

Tim, myself and a van full of Stroopwaffels…joy!

Tim’s take on the trip, which completely echoes my own thoughts:

It’s no secret that I was the least experienced and least prepared one reason being a recent sever ankle injury. The amount of skating and preperation before we went was minimal and I must have only skated around 5 times/40 miles in the past 4 months. Despite this, I feel I kept up, most of the time, and there were no problems with going a little slower at times. I still can’t quite believe how smoothly everything went. We didn’t really get lost over the entire trip thanks to great map reading by Chris and Jochem mostly.

During Skaiti when I asked Jochem and Jesse to take part in the trip, I was acting on a gut feeling brought on by a spending a good few hours skating with them. I knew that TIm would get on with them. It was a little strange at first though because both TIm and I had put lots of time and energy into organising the trip, contacting the charities and getting in touch with potential sponsors, companies and various media. I’m happy to say that I’m so stoked that they joined the team and came along!

Again, Tim summed up perfectly what having Jochem and Jesse along for the trip meant – I can’t agree enough with this:

“if it wasn’t for Jochem and Jesse, the trip wouldn’t have been the same. Their generosity and knowledge of the country was greatly welcomed and appreciated”

I had so much fun skating with both of them and in a strange way I feel as if I’ve known them both a lot longer than what is essentially a few days…

After a quick stop for some food, we made our way to the train station to go our separate ways. The first person I said goodbye to was Jochem who’d make his way back to Middleburg from Rotterdam. The rest of us got a train to Amsterdam together as this was where I was to get my train from Paris, Tim his flight home to the UK and Jesse his train back to Groningen.

As the train made it’s way to Amsterdam, it dawned upon us that even the mighty Jesse get tired at some point…maybe he’s just thinking about a new pushing technique?!

With everyone headed back home, little did I know that my adventure was to carry on a little longer than planned. Instead of arriving back at a nice early-ish time (8.30pm) our train broke down in Beligium meaning that I got back after midnight. At least I had lots of time to reminisce about the trip and the great times.

Thank yous

In no particular order, hoping that I have not forgotten anybody:

Tim, Jochem and Jesse – I’m sure that better travel companions would be very hard to find.
Sarah Taylor at Oxfam365 who was amazingly supportive and helpful throughout the trip.
Véronique Valois Boucher at RecySkate for fronting such a great project.
The Calais longboarders for their very warm welcome and an especially big thanks to Phildar from SessionSixDeux for all his help and for relaying our local news coverage.
– Bevilacqua of Sa Ka Roulé for his encouragement and for helping spread the word about our project – it really is an honour to be written about on your blog!
Everyone in the extended Skatefurther family for their continued support and inspiration, without whom I would have never dreamed of undertaking such adventures!
Brian at Bustin for putting the word out on their blog.
Peter at RollsRolls for his helping in finding the perfect board for Tim and for the free goodies.
– My girlfriend Faye for her patience and for not thinking I’m too crazy.

Additionally, I’d also like to thank Hieko from Concretewave.de and Anna at Howies for their material support in the early days of the project.

CaRott in the media:

Here are the press articles which resulted from the trip:

22/05/10: Nord Littoral – Calais edition (in French)
23/05/10: La Voix du Nord (in French)
24/05/10:Nord Littoral – Calais edition (in French)
06/06/10: Nord Littoral – Calais edition (in French)

At present we have managed to raise a total of £270 (€327),  or £313.70 (€452) if we include Gift Aid, all of which will go towards the Oxfam365 fund. A couple of donations are still outstanding so, I can safely say that we achieved all our goals!

Now, what’s the next trip going to be?!





One response

  1. Pingback: So I took my longboard to Amsterdam… « Here & there – Ici & là

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