August 2, 2013 I woke up feeling happy with my trip and ready to get back to London. While loading my panniers, I chatted with one of my ‘camp-site neighbors’. They were a young Dutch couple who were trying cycle-camping for the first time. They were very friendly. He asked some questions about my solar panels and about touring on a folding bike. I gave my standard answer, about liking one bike for all my cycling, how it has all the gears for long trips, and how I’d cycled for almost 2,000 miles on bikes like it. He heard the words and tried to acknowledge the facts, but his face showed that he was unconvinced. I smiled, wished them a safe journey, and thought about adding ‘on your over-sized bikes’. I chose not to say it. After all, good folks like him gave me the name for this blog.
It was another day of sunshine and bike trails by canals. I didn’t take many pictures this time, maybe because I’d already taken enough or maybe it just felt good to be heading back to the comforts of my apartment in London. I did take pictures when some more surprising sights showed up. The first was a relaxing beach.
The next surprising sight was a form of farming I’d never seen before. It made me think of my Step-Dad Vernon, since he spent many years farming. The ‘field’ in this picture contains only potted plants, put down so carefully that a machine must have placed them. A different kind of machine must be used to harvest the crop. The machine pictured here was for irrigation. I saw a few of these fields, with different colors of pots and plants.
After a few hours, my legs started to ache, my bum was sore again, and I felt sticky from the hot day and sunscreen I was wearing. About that time, I came close to the port of Dunkirk, where I would catch a ferry to Dover, England. About 5 miles from the ferry, there was a long hill to my right. It was about 10 feet high. I thought about stopping, getting off my bike, and climbing to the top, to see what was on the other side. I decided not to, since I often feel like I stop too much, usually for pictures. Then, I thought about trying it again, decided not to, thought about it again, and decided to have a peek, which changed my afternoon.
There was a long beach on the other side of the hill, with a small lifeguard station nearby. I realized that I could park my bike at the lifeguard station, ask them to watch it, and spend a brief but wonderful moment in the sea. It would feel great to cool off and lose some of the sweat. There were two guys in the lifeguard station, and they were happy to watch my bike for me, even suggested an out-of-the-way place to put it. It felt outstanding to lay in the water for a few minutes.
After being refreshed, I walked back to my bike, chatted with the lifeguards for a while, and started cycling to the ferry again. I also wondered how clean the water was, since one side of the narrow land-mass I was on had the beach. The other side had a lot of industry. I saw some other people in the water, so I hoped it was alright.
My little dip in the ocean did make me miss the 2pm ferry I hoped for. I caught the 4pm ferry instead. I had to wait a while, but that time was easily spent having a snack and listening to some music, which I hadn’t done for a week. It’s amazing how refreshing music is after not hearing any for a while.
I found a table on the ferry with a window and power outlet nearby, so I worked on my blog and enjoyed the sea. In two short hours, the ferry arrived in England. As usual, the White Cliffs of Dover are the first sight you can really see.
If you hurry, staff on a ferry let cyclists off first. I did that and enjoyed the thought of how me and my little bike were leading the way for many motorcycles, cars, campers, and trucks. A train to London arrived soon after I arrived at the Dover-Priory station. I relaxed along the way, watched some Star Trek on my netbook, and thought about the wonderful cycling in Belgium.