Day 4

The day's route (55.7 miles):

And the ride to date (204.6 miles):

Our guesthouse is on the right, with the red bench outside.

In principle, we're aiming to ride 50 miles a day, but in practice it depends where we can find a guesthouse with free rooms. Today I'd found one that looked around 55-ish miles away.

The weather was rather grey, and with showers forecast. However, the same forecast was promising 20mph tailwinds: it was a deal we were happy to sign up to.

We were today pretty much following the official North Sea Cycle Route, though these are the usual sea views:

The ride today was going to be pretty rural, with no towns of any note, so we were a little uncertain about how lucky we'd be with food-stops. Fortunately, we had spotted a Plan B.

I asked a couple of locals if they knew where we could buy a disposable BBQ.

I was only asking ...

The route took us past an incredibly picturesque but slightly run-down series of cottages, almost half of which were for sale. I noted that were were, according the the GPS, 14 feet below sea-level and wondered whether they knew something we didn't about the condition of the dyke.

There were some eccentric sights.

We passed a museum, which I'd thought Eric might want to visit, but he declared that as it wasn't steam, it didn't count.

They do a nice line in electricity sub-stations around these parts.

We are entirely powered by tea. And cake. Our two forms of power are tea, cake and ice-cream. Among our forms of power ...

How's this for a proper tea-shop?

Though they still don't have the hang of pouring boiling water onto the tea. I did used to make a habit of trying to teach Johnny Foreigner how to make tea, but now I just do the proper English thing and raise an eyebrow with just the hint of a tut.

Then back into the countryside. Still grey and murky, but with splashes of colour, of course.

Sometimes mostly provided by me.

The occasional fellow recumbent rider (I did wave too, honest - the shot was just after I waved).

Concerned at the absence of eateries, and still having not spotted a BBQ shop, we thought we'd better start checking out villages sooner rather than later.

We popped into a place called Holwerd, that had a hotel and restaurant, but we weren't quite hungry enough for lunch. We accosted a random couple of villagers to ask where the next opportunity might be found. They suggested Ternaard, a few miles on, but warned us it was expensive.

We imagined this meant a picturesque tourist town with lots of over-priced restaurants, but it turned out it was a small village with one restaurant.

Turning a corner into the village, a small boy, who turned out to be Gjalt, age 9, pointed excitedly at my trike. I stopped and said hello. Children are often really interested in the trike, so if I have time I let them sit in it.

Gjalt clearly wasn't satisfied with merely sitting in it and started pedalling it down the road. It was looking like I might be walking to Denmark. The woman with him, Janitha, asked if we could show his mum, as they lived just down the street. I said sure.

Always be nice to small boys: the next thing we knew, mum (Petra) had invited us in for lunch. Duck's egg, bread, cheese, peanut butter ... lovely. :-)

After lunch, his sister, Janoek (age 4) got in on the trike act too.

Since Gjalt had ridden my trike, I thought it only reasonable I get a go on his quadracycle. Eric thought it only reasonable to video this.

Gjalt declared his intention to cycle to Denmark with us. A compromise was reached where he would ride with us to the end of the street.

An hour later, after a most enjoyable lunch, we were back on the road. Our respective GPS's were broadly in agreement today, though Eric's reckoned it knew a shortcut. We thus opted to follow his where the two disagreed.

Some cycling signs helped, some of the names familiar as I'd tried guesthouses in those places so knew they were in the right direction.

We were still mostly on the official NSCR.

There were two layers of dyke on this stretch - the original one, and the current one. The stretch of land between the two revealed just how much land had been reclaimed. Gates in the original dyke showed where the planks would be inserted to seal the gaps.

The path followed the inner dyke for some time.

Then took us to the outer one.

Well, we felt we had a duty to support local traders.

Clearly a couple of teas weren't going to keep them in business, so we nobly bought a couple of ice-creams too.

As all cyclists know, there is no such thing as a tailwind. There are only headwinds and days on which our cycling fitness shines through. Today was one of the latter. About 17mph worth of fitness, in fact. We were smiling quite a lot.

Eric spotted a ramp leading up to the top of the dyke, so naturally we cycled up to take a look.

Then across a small causeway (not 20 miles long, and without the headwind), with a set of sluice gates.

We do seem to time our arrival at swing/lift bridges quite well.

This is a lock as well as a bridge.

Just as the bridge opened, it started to rain.

There are two approaches to rain when cycling: wimp out and drink tea until it passes, or be hard men and crack on.

After that, there were fewer than ten miles to go before we reached the B&B. This followed the coast, again inside the dyke. The scenery was mostly not very interesting.

I was finding it rather hard going. Two-and-a-half miles later, I worked out why. For those who order the optional handbrake for the Trice Q, removing it before setting off will make your ride easier.

We went faster after that. And that was the day's cycling.

My outline route-plan was quite rough-and-ready, so not necessarily a reliable guide to the mileage, but we were about 20 miles further than my planned stop for day four. We were 204 miles in, so roughly a third of the way there.

The guesthouse was again amazing - photos tomorrow, if I remember.

Mindful of small-town restaurant closing times, I took the precaution of asking about this as soon as were arrived, especially as the village appeared to have exactly one restaurant. It was 7.30pm. "It's a Wednesday - it would be best to be there before 8pm."

We showered, changed and headed over to a lovely restaurant with the world's largest portions of delicious food.

The menu was in Dutch, and what I'd assumed was steak in parmesan sauce turned out to be simply steak with flakes of parmesan sprinkled on top. Delicious, and fabulously simple. Genius, in fact. I'm stealing that one.

Mindful of the need to maintain our fruit intake, we ordered some grape juice to accompany it.

They didn't have a written wine-list and the waitress didn't seem too sure of how to explain the options in English, so I suggested I come and look. It turned out there were exactly two reds to choose from. I was offered a sample of each, and the house red turned out to be very drinkable.

We didn't think we had room for pudding, but we were wrong.

We did a little technofesting during dinner, of course, and I wrote this blog afterwards.

We again asked for breakfast at 9am, and would plot our route and find our next B&B after breakfast.

On to day 5