July 11 – Westerbork to Meppel
This weather it makes us procrastinate
We flip and flop and ruminate
Should we ride on, or should we stop?
Should we go there, or should we not?
When your brain’s all soggy and you’re all wet through
It’s hard to think just what to do
Decisions, decisions, they’re hard to make
And so, instead, we procrastinate!
Feel free to roll your eyes at that feeble attempt at verse, but that about sums up the day. We had some dodgy weather and so we “ummed and aahed” about what to do, all the while getting soggier and soggier.
We know from past experience that there are quite a few thunderstorms in these parts at this time of year and we had thunderstorms forecast for today (and the next few days in fact), so we planned three different possible destinations for the day – a short range stop, a mid range and a long range destination, so if the weather was bad we had a pull up short option and if it was OK, we had a destination to aim for that was further along. It rained overnight and we set off this morning into the mizzle. It wasn’t raining and it wasn’t cold, so all was so far so good.
After a short ride along a path beside the road, we were in the Dwingelderveld National Park. What a great place to ride. It had changing scenery, from open grassland that felt like riding across a moor, then into thick forest. The forest was beautiful to ride through, just peaceful and quiet and those huge trees all around us. I saw a squirrel and it looked like a red one, but it scurried up a giant tree before I could get a photo. I walked a few laps of the tree, hoping to catch another glimpse, but it wasn’t having any of it. Then a deer ran across the path. It was all fabulous.
Then the rain started. Then it got heavier. Time to stop and put the coats on. At least it wasn’t cold and there’s something quite nice about riding through a forest in the rain.
We saw a small cafe, still within the National Park and decided to stop to take some shelter under one of the outdoor umbrellas and have a cuppa to sit it out for a while.
The rain wasn’t going anywhere. Steve looked at the rain radar map and it was well and truly setting in. The coats weren’t going to be enough…time to get into full slicks. So we pulled on the waterproof trousers, Steve added his fashionable waterproof socks and we began reviewing our options. Do we still aim for our long range destination of Zwolle. No, probably not. Was there still accommodation available in our mid range stop, Meppel? Yep, that was still a possibility.
“I’m starting to think we head for Ruinen,” said Steve. This was our short range option and we were only about 15km from there.
We started tallying up the pros and cons of what to do. It was raining, but it wasn’t cold, we had one accommodation option in Meppel, which was a bit dodgy, but at least we’d ride further. We had places to stay in Ruinen that were a bit better, but it would have us stopping really early. What to do? Let’s head for Meppel we decided. It was raining and we were wet, but it was bearable. We set off, back into the trees and back into the wet. We began scouting for elevenses locations, with no suitably sheltered spots showing themselves.
It was still a lovely ride, even if it was wet, just pedalling along with nothing but nature all around us. We hit an intersection in the path, with a map of the routes with the numbers and signs to various towns. We stopped and Steve consulted the map. I left him to his route research while I stood under an oak tree to get some shelter courtesy of Mother Nature.
“What’s our next number?” asked Steve and I began to list the sequence of route numbers we were following.
“Well, we can keep going straight ahead and it’s about 30km to Meppel, or it’s 6km to Ruinen and we can stop there if we want, or keep going to Meppel and it’s about 20km to Meppel from Ruinen.”
“So we might as well just go through Ruinen then,” I said, “if we can keep going on from there anyway.”
“But that will mean riding to Meppel alongside a road, rather than on the scenic route,” Steve informed me.
We went back and forth, thinking about distances and routes, while the rain came down around us and we procrastinated under the arms of an oak tree.
“Let’s stick to the scenic route,” I said. “It’s not cold and we can do another 30km to Meppel.”
So that was decided and off we pedalled along the path, continuing on through the forest. We’d gone about four hundred metres when all of a sudden, the rain really turned on the tap…it PELTED! We rode on, with it absolutely pouring and then, our sealed path turned into a path of sand. The top of the sand was wet but underneath was still dry, so that would make for very slow and very difficult forward progress. We stopped.
“I say we change plan and ride for Ruinen,” said Steve.
“Back the way we just came,” I asked.
“Yep, are you happy with that? At least it’s a concrete path.”
I agreed, It seemed the better option.
So we turned around, back tracked and then followed the signs to Ruinen, with that rain absolutely drenching us along the way.
When we rode into the lovely little village, we again began faffing about and procrastinating. We wanted somewhere to sit and consider our options, but there was nowhere with shelter. We rode laps of the village and then decided it would have to be a cafe…but we couldn’t sit inside if we wanted to eat our own elevenses and keep an eye on the bikes. We decided to go to that place…no that place would be better…honestly, just make a decision people! We eventually took an outside, but undercover, spot at a cafe, ordered drinks and began to think of what to do.
Do we stay where we were, where we had a possible hotel, right in front of us? It was still early though, do we want to stop so soon? It was raining though. Do we want to ride on in it? We looked at maps again, we looked at distances again, we looked at rain radar again, we looked at accommodation options again, we procrastinated…again! While all this overthinking was going on, the rain eased.
“Let’s just keep going,” we eventually decided.
So, off we pedalled again. This time we were on a path beside a road, but even that was OK. There were interesting houses to look at, there were towns to pass through and with the rain holding off, we could finally take off our coats. Then we found a bench and actually had some lunch, while watching the locals going about their day and it’s always great to see how bikes are just a mode of transport and everyone is pedalling around, just doing their errands and getting around.
We rode the final few kilometres into Meppel and just as we arrived, the rain came down again. Good timing. When the rain eventually eased again, we took a stroll into the centre of Meppel, had a look around another nice little town, before gathering supplies and heading back to our room. On our walk back, we saw some more of the “stumbling stones” outside the buildings where Jewish people had lived before being transported to concentration camps. These were the first we’d seen outside Germany.
So, we made it to our midrange option. This description of the day might give you another insight into the realities of life on the road on two-wheels…our style! There’s always decisions to be made and always weather as a factor in those and sometimes we’re sharp on the decision making front and sometimes…we’re not! We got to Meppel in the end. We are in a hotel, that’s a bit dodgy and it’s maybe one step up from camping as far as standards go, although I’d prefer the tent! Still, we are out of the rain and with more thunderstorms expected tonight, it was the only place with solid walls on offer. These things are character building!
Tomorrow there is more rain on the way, more thunderstorms to come, so another day of getting soggy and drenched no doubt. Maybe tomorrow we can hone our decision making skills and then we might actually have less time in the rain. No, this is us. If there’s faffing about to be done, we’ll be there. If there’s a possibility of procrastination, we’ll be at the head of the line. If there’s overthinking on order, we’ll have it with the lot! If there’s a decision to be made…weeeelllll… we’ll get there in the end…eventually! So, we don’t know where we’ll be tomorrow, somewhere damp, but where that is, who knows, that requires a decision!
Distance ridden: 45.8 km
Time in the saddle: 3 hours 4 minutes
Actual time on the road: 5 hours 45 minutes (a few stops for shelter and then lots of time not making a decision!)
Weather: wet, no wind though, not cold, 18C