The Netherlands just keeps throwing the splendour at us and we’re feelin’ the love!
The morning was absolutely glorious and we pedalled along in sunshine, not a breath of wind, beautiful countryside and quiet, peaceful paths. We had some roads to ride on this morning, but they were pretty quiet.
“Can it get any better than this?” called Steve down the road.
“Just a cycle path would make it perfect,” I said.
Then around the corner we went and the cycle lane appeared. Perfect!
We rode through countryside, along forest lined roads in the warmth and sunshine and it was superb. We rode into the small town of Dinther, where we were stopping for the day. I had done some research and found another run to enter, so I was doing the XRC Bernhezeloop 10K in the afternoon. With a little time to kill before making our way to our hotel, we sat in the sunshine, had elevenses and chatted about our growing fondness for The Netherlands.
We both feel this is a country we could return to and spend more time exploring. With elevenses over, we set off to our hotel and rode through the town streets and then along lovely woodland trails.
When we arrived, our room wasn’t quite ready, so we sat in the sun and had a cold drink and commented on how much we would like every day to be like this one! Warm, sunny, peaceful…a few more like that would be fantastic, thanks very much!
The 10K wasn’t due to start until 5:00pm, so we spent some time doing some housekeeping, lunching and then eventually set off for the ride back into Dinther to find the start of the run. I’m pretty sure this was the first non-English run that I’d entered because I don’t remember feeling that confused before a run! Of course we couldn’t understand anything that was being said over the loud speaker, but it was great to just be part of the atmosphere. I wasn’t too sure when I was supposed to make my way to the start line and there were a lot of runners and a few different events – a 5K, 10K, half marathon and half marathon relay. I decided to look for people that had the same coloured bib as mine, so they would be running in my event and then I’d just follow them. I saw a man standing on his own, with the same coloured bib, so I made my way over to him and stood beside him, figuring he’d know what to do because he’d understand the directions being announced and then I’d follow him. Then he turned to me, “Do you speak English?”
“Yes!” I said.
“Can you tell me what the announcer is saying?” he asked in an American accent.
“I have absolutely no idea!” I laughed, “I’m afraid I ONLY speak English!”
We both laughed and this is where a random coincidence became apparent. Last night I’d gone on to the event website, to check the time and location again and saw the name of one other entrant, on the English language side of the site. I commented to Steve that there was at least one other foreign runner, because his name was listed with mine as an entrant. I said all the other competitors would have registered on the Netherlands site and we were the only ones to be redirected to the English website for registration. Well, it turned out that the one person I had spotted in the crowd and decided to latch on to and follow his lead, was none other than Ryan, the other English speaking, non-Dutch runner! How random was that! We chatted about this and that and Ryan said he and his family had moved from Oregon to Amsterdam and had been here for about five weeks. We listened to the announcements that we couldn’t understand, waiting to hear something that sounded like “10 kilometre” and watching for others with our bib colour to move, so we could follow them. Finally, the flock began to move and like good sheep, we followed.
Standing on the start line, there was a lengthy explanation of things from the announcer, where to go, which lane to use on finishing, when to go around for another loop if you were in the relay and where to run to the finish. I could guess from his gestures and pointing that he was talking about those things, but I had no idea what to do! I asked a lady beside me if she spoke English and she did, so I asked her what to do and she explained the lanes. I was still a bit unsure what to do though and where to go! Oh well, I was only there for the fun, so if I got lost, it didn’t matter, I’d still have a nice run in the sunshine! It was quite hot too and I’ve never run an afternoon race before, all the runs I’ve done have been in the morning, so this was different.
GO! Off we went, a mass of runners trotting along the road and out into the countryside. It was a lovely place to run, past the farmland and along the forest tracks. As I ran along, a marshal said something to me, to which I said, “Sorry I speak English.”
“Are you doing OK?” he repeated in English.
“Yes thank you,” I replied, “it’s a beautiful course.”
“And nice weather,” he added.
“Perfect,” I agreed.
Luckily there was a marshal on a bike just ahead of me, so I just hoped she’d stay there and then I’d be able to follow her and make sure I went the right way. She kept looking behind her, so I figured she was checking on the field of runners and making sure she stayed ahead of us. Then the end was in sight, here came the really confusing bit, getting in the right lane to finish. Well, the marshall on the bike was still there, so I followed her and made it through the right finish line! Done! As I went through the marshalling area, a volunteer was taking the timing chips off each runner’s shoe and she looked at me and said, “Congratulations.”
“Thank you,” I said, “did I do something?”
She said something else and I replied, “I can’t understand what any of the announcements are saying.”
“You did the 10 kilometre?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“I heard them say you are number one, you are first finished for the women.”
“Oh! Was I?” I said.
Then the lady marshal who’d been on the bike in front of me, who was standing nearby, heard this and said, “Yes, that’s why I was riding with you.”
“Oh!” I said, “I was just glad you were there so I knew where to go!”
“I was your chaperone,” she said, “I was to stay with you because you were the lead runner.”
“Well thank you very much, I didn’t know that,” I said.
I had seen her point over her shoulder a few times and say something to other marshals we passed, but of course I couldn’t understand what they were saying, so I had no idea she was guiding me and telling the other race organisers what my place was. I just trotted along in happy ignorance, enjoying the scenery!
We waited for the presentations and I nearly missed that too, because I couldn’t understand the announcements! Steve heard my name called, so I hurried up to the announcer, who was just about to call me again, because I hadn’t turned up. The other ladies on the podium were lovely and asked me where I was from, because the announcer had said I was “international”. When I said Australia, one of the ladies asked if I’d moved to the area.
“No,” I said, “my husband and I are cycling around Europe and we happened to be in the area and I just wanted to be able to run in your beautiful country.”
“Aww, that’s wonderful,” she replied and we shook hands and congratulated each other and chatted and they were absolutely lovely.
We met up with Ryan again afterwards and chatted a bit more about our respective experiences in the Netherlands and then wished each other well as we parted ways. I gave Ryan my flowers to give to his wife and now I have to find some way of packing the trophy. Steve thinks it should be a bike decoration and we’ll attach it to the front like a Rolls Royce. We’ll see! Space is a bit precious at the moment!
An update on Steve – his eye is quite a bit puffier today and “feels funny” as he describes it, but he’s OK and his eye hasn’t closed or anything, it’s just a bit swollen and makes it harder to look down over the puffy bit. All is OK though.
It was a fun day. We had a wonderful ride, cruising along the roads and paths and enjoying the scenery and sunshine. Then a fun run through more gorgeous scenery and meeting some more lovely, friendly people. A super Saturday cycling and sauntering in the sunshine! Netherlands, you are gorgeous, glorious and simply grand! Still lovin’ it! LOVE-ING IT!