The sun was already out by 8 a.m. but the temperature was still nippy (about 10C) (it's always 10 here, I swear). We enjoyed totally empty bike paths. We rode north to Zandvoort, which is 40 km away. I saw grazing horses, cattle, and rabbits. The dunes were still damp, which intensified the color. However, what I was supposed to be looking at was R's wheel. And staying in the slip stream.
He is an excellent coach. Firm and directive but not annoyingly so. He doesn't make me feel like I've disappointed him (well, only that once when I stayed fat). He pointed where I was supposed to ride to be able to draft. He kept aware of where I was and called obstructions (people, runners, cyclists, posts). I drafted when it was really windy. He pulled forever without complaining. When I fell off his wheel (not that often), he collected me by slowing down. Told me not to cycle in such a high gear, to get out of the saddle more, spin faster. Trust him enough to stay close. At one point a herd of spandex riders passed us, and we jumped on the back of the train. I couldn't quite catch up, so he pushed me so I could get up with the group - made me start laughing - a firm hand appeared on the small of my back and I just accelerated. We kept up with the group for quite a while. I worked really hard.
I was having trouble eating and drinking enough. I brought honey packets as an experiment. Better for aerobic rides, I think, because 50-50 glucose fructose. This was definitely heart-pounding anaerobic use-it-all-up and then some.
We started poking around into the bulb fields when we got up to Zandvoort. Lovely stripes of pink, yellow, purple. Overpowering fragrance (choking really). There was a lot of wind, so my eyes watered for four hours, making me look very tough - like I had been sweating. Really only crying.
Sometimes we rode two across and talked and talked. He talks a lot. And I am a good listener. But probably talk more than he does. When I ran out of gas we stopped at a little "ëat cafe" and had apple pie with whipped cream (that smelled of coconut oil) and I had a big coffee. He had tea. We sat outside and it started to rain lightly. He is quite lean and got cold. I suggested he should be fatter like me and he'd stay warmer. We refilled the water bottles and booked it towards home.
It took a few minutes to warm up. Once the sun went in, the temp dropped. Thankfully, it didn't rain in earnest. Actually, the sky just forgot about raining and contented itself with wind. More bulbs in bloom on the way back. It's early for tulips, but I saw some. And water birds (canals of course). My quads were toast. Totally empty. every time I tried to stop pedalling and rest they cramped. So I kept going. R encouraged me. He's good at that - calling out and persuading me to dig a little more and give a little more. I didn't give up. there were a lot of times towards the end when I passed 70 km, 80 km that I wanted to just fall over on the ground and rest. Or sleep on a bench. But I said out loud I'm not giving up. he's the rockstar though. He lives 20 km away from me and rode to our meeting point, so tallied 140 for the day.