Saturday, October 11, 2014



(original date of this entry: March 9, 2014)
Went to the Fiets en Wandelbeurs at Amsterdam RAI, the big convention center, conveniently near home. It's a pretty big deal and the place was swarming with mostly middle-aged recreational cyclists and walkers clad in high-end synthetic apparel. One wing of the center was devoted to recreational options, with stands for regions of Holland, Belgium and other countries (Turkey, Macedonia, Germany, USA) staffed by tourism boosters. I lingered at the stands devoted to Belgium, as this is a country I would like to explore more, and purchased cycling maps of Belgian Limburg and Vlaams-Brabant--the region round Antwerp.

Another wing was filled with bicycle makers, including such stalwarts as Gazelle, Batavus and Sparta,  pricey upscale brands like Trek, Cannondale and Giant, plus upstarts like Spiked, Roetz and Dahon and a whole array of accessory producers, with state-of-the-art lights, baskets, locks and chains. Most of the bicycle makers were pushing e-bikes, which to me are like the iPhones of bicycles, in that they put a new technological spin on an old device, convince everyone they must have it as a pretext to jack up the price astronomically. Bikes like the e-go and Milano went for upwards of €1700. All are some variation of a battery pack and LED panel with a switch to put it in electric overdrive. The battery may be placed in front, back or pedal crank housing. Dealers had demos of these models under tents alongside a track that ran around the convention. So when I spotted one I liked I just pointed to it, the rep adjusted the seat and off I went down the track with many other testers. It was certainly fun to ride an e-bike. You press the button on the LED and get a hyper boost, but better slow down when you reach the blind turn (no one wearing a helmet of course). Others rode foot-powered scooters with a big front wheel, recumbent bikes, etc. But what's so beautiful is all this activity produces no noise whatsoever, it's a silently moving fun rally.

And actually, e-bikes are a great innovation, especially for oldsters, and pricey as they are, they're still way below cars or flashy motorbikes. You can go pretty fast on one with little effort. But in table-flat Holland you don't really need one unless you're in a hurry.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Eindhoven -> Belgian Limburg

More lovely weather so Alice and I are taking another fietstocht, this time dropping into Belgium. The journey started in Eindhoven, a drab city in the southeastern part of the Netherlands best known as the base for Philips Electronics and a hub for cheap flights on Ryan Air. The plan was to venture across the border to the town of Overpelt, then "discover the nature" in its vicinity, as one prescribed route suggests.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hollandse Bloemenroute

The spring had arrived and we wanted to see some flowers. The area around Lisse is known for its vast tulip fields. It was another fine day, supposedly the last in a while, so we chose a tour from, the 32.2 km Dutch Flower route.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Alkmaar, Egmond binnen en aan zee

On the beach at Egmond-aan-Zee and it's about as nice a beach as any on the North Sea coast: broad, flat expanse of sand dotted with transparent jellyfish, backed by high dunes, a line of trailers as beach housing. This 32 km tour in the north of Noord Holland takes in the terrain west of Alkmaar, a melange of coast, dunes, farmlands and woods. A nice rural/beachy fietstocht.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Rondje Groene Hart - Day 3

By the time we awoke, the other residents of Sumatrastraat 65 in east Dordrecht had left and we had the run of the place. We had our hard kaiser rolls and brown rolls, eggs, cheese, etc. I decided we would take a ferry to Kinderdijk, then ride on to Gouda (21 km), thus limiting the actual riding time. Dordrecht had several ferry docks, with service to the nearby towns of Zwijndrecht, Ridderkerk and Rotterdam. We easily found the one going up the Noord River to Alblasserdam/Ridderkerk (paying with our NS chip cards). It was a busy shipping lane which we shared with various cargo boats and passed shipyards and hangars. We met a strange young woman in a nurse's uniform with a horsey face. She told me impatiently that she wanted to visit New York some day. I told her to take lots of cash. I asked her what she did for a living and she asked, rather crossly, "What do you think? Look at me."

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Rondje Groene Hart - Day 2

Breakfast at the Vuijks'

In the morning we had our breakfast in the piggy salon; a bewildering array of pig figurines and art covered every available space. It was an elaborate spread: boiled egg in a cup, cold cuts and cheese, bread, jam, coffee, with the addition of a fruit salad comprised entirely of fruit from Niesje Vuijk's garden.