Saturday, September 26, 2009

Elfstadentocht (Eleven Cities Tour)

Every winter the Dutch attempt to hold an eleven cities ice skating race of 200 kilometers along the canals. It is called the "Elfstadentocht" (Eleven Cities Tour). The only problem is that with the warmer weather the past 12 years, they have not had enough consecutive days of very cold weather to make the ice stable. But wait, why are you talking about this in the fall, you say? Well, since the last race was in 1997 and since the Dutch are very inventive, they have come up with a warm weather alternative. It is a race along the canals, but with the participants standing up in a canoe/surfboard and using a long paddle to propel themselves. We could not believe it when we saw it. Here is evidence of the race earlier this month. You will note in the pictures the bridge with tile images that represents the past participants of the ice skating race. The far view shows skaters in motion. The closer view shows the individual tiles on the bridge with pictures of the skaters. Then you see some of the participants as they head into the last 5 km of the 5 day race (which is done in stages each day). It was truly amazing to watch them race. Many were probably the same ones that do the race on skates in the winter. Any way, the Dutch do love to have a good time.

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