Where am I?:^mistymornings-->Cycletouring-->2009-->Summer.-->Day 17

Day 17-1. Dalen to Valle.

Distance D 62.62 km Max 60.0 km/h Time 5.14:28 Average 11.9 km/h
Distance S 62.53 km Max 50.0 km/h Time 4.38:38 Average 13.4 km/h

Our day started at half past seven, and by ten to eight I was busy putting the finishing touches to breakfast and Damae was starting to take down the tent. The weather was grey and cool and just a little damp in Dalen this morning and we sat looking out at the campsite. The inhabitants of the big tent to our right had not yet stirred. In fact we were the only ones up as the sun made its first feeble attempts to break through the cloud.

By half past eight we were ready for the challenge of the day. As we left our pitch the motorcyclists were still asleep. We thought about leaving a note with our email addresses, as it had been a very gezellig evening. But, something held us back. It was partly due to the fact that our plans in the future involved us moving to Norway, not staying in Holland so why did we need Dutch friends? The other thing was that we'd finally worked out how to make friends with Dutch people. Go on holiday in a foreign country where there are lots of Dutch people who are also on holiday and there you will find friendship. It was all a bit ironic. No, we decided, it was time to leave quietly and get on with our lives: "an Englishman's goodbye" is how a Spanish woman I once knew would have described it. After the usual last stop at the loos we took our leave of Buøy Camping, and left its Dutch inmates to drag themselves out of bed.

The valley and lake looked grey and uninvinting, sulking like a teenager under the fish-scale clouds, as we made our way across town. We picked up signs that pointed us on our way to the very steep hill. The gradient was given in our guide as up to twelve percent, which might not sound much to you but is getting close to our "Get off and walk" limit. It didn't take us long to find the turning that signalled the start of the climb. The first hundred metres or so looked easy enough but shortly after we were climbing steeply out of the valley.

After twenty minutes of toiling away I decided to pause and wait for Damae. The valley below us still looked grey and damp. As I waited I realised that there was one downside to the Smart Sam tyes. The Smart Sams were not only wider and knobblier than the Travel Contacts we used the year before, but they also had a larger external diameter. This meant that our gearing was just that little bit higher. It was lucky then that the first flat bit of our tour in Germany and Denmark had raised our fitness levels enough for it not to be a problem. I took a picture of my bike at the side of the road while I waited. This is perhaps the first one of many such pictures I have taken that gives an accurate impression of how steep the road was. Damae arrived at the same spot a few minutes later. Further back down the road we could hear the sound of something lorry like starting its slow ascent. There wasn't much more we could do other than cycle and rest, cycle and rest. At the next hairpin bend I stopped to look down at Lake Bandak. Damae had become speck person again, just visible in the distance, and the noise of the lorry was coming closer.

I carried on uphill, and not long after was overtaken by the lorry we had heard. It turned out to be an old German ex-millitary Mercedes Benz lorry which wasn't travelling that much faster than we were. It, like us, had limited power and low gears which meant that, like us, progress was slow but certain. Slow, but certain, is the idea but sometimes it is the mental effort that determines if you carry on cycling or not. Round the next corner I was confronted with another long straight. Long uphill straights are rather demoralising and it took me three minutes to reach the next hairpin bend. For most of that time it seemed like I wasn't getting any closer.

The hairpin, if I remember correctly was the most exposed bend on this climb and I took it in the middle of the road. It was lucky that at this time in the morning there was no significant traffic on the road. Below me, Bandak was still just visible and still under a grey cloudy sky. I waited for Damae to arrive and we then carried on up the hill together for a bit. A lorry passed, this one was newer and somewhat faster than the German one. Another couple of bends and twenty minutes later was saw a sign saying Holtebru. This meant that the steepest part of the climb was now behind us. In the last three and a half kilometres we had climbed almost four hundred metres, it had taken us around an hour. In the next four kilometres up to Grimdalen we'd climb another two hundred.

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