Friday, December 12, 2014

Zomer in Zeeland 1

Brielse Meer dive platform
So I'm off on my grand summer fiets tour of Zeeland. It's hot and I'm at the south bank of the Brielse Meer, a little west of the bridge to Rozenburg-Maassluis. In other words, going the opposite direction from my last trip to Zeeland. Another difference is that then it was overcast and chilly, today it is hot and sunny. The back of my neck is sweating. I sit at a picnic table alongside a canal where some pleasure craft are moored, 60ish couples with shirtless, paunchy guys skippering the boats, same sort who'd be RV'ing it in America. A bunch of boys claiming the bridge foundation as their diving platform. I'm a few miles from Brielle. I'll skirt the beachy perimeter of Voorne island and head for the evening's destination, Rockanje.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Rondje Zijpe

The Sand: Callantsoog beach
A week later I'm trying another ride from the "rivers, lakes and coast" guide: Rondje Zijpe, named for the reclaimed farmlands north of Alkmaar. The route goes through these polder-lands, devoted primarily to flower production, then jogs west to the low-key coastal resort of Callantsoog, continues south through the coastal dunes to the village of Petten and finally loops back through some old farmsteads dotted with windmills.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

IJssel Delta - Day 2

I had breakfast with the three economists, two from Den Haag and one from Kampen, all in their 50s or so. Nice fellows but obviously on a different page from my own as regards cycling styles, all decked out in lycra with serious racing bikes. Every year they get together for a ride of 100km or so. They just want to tear up the fietspad. They were headed for Lelystad in Flevoland. I was planning a modest circuit of Kampereiland, then a leisurely ride to Zwolle.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Door de IJsseldelta

Time for a fietstocht (Dutch for "bike ride," with a phlegm-clearing fricative on the second syllable).

I've been browsing through the ANWB cycling guide I borrowed from the library, Rivieren, Meren en Kust, which after all are the sorts of places that most interest me in Holland, aka Waterworld. Many interesting rides described, e.g., up along the coast of Callantsoog north of Alkmaar; along the Geldse Rijn into Germany; and the lakes and windmills east of Leiden. It was tough to decide but I finally chose "Door de IJsseldelta," the watery zone north of Zwolle, on Kampereiland.

As there did not appear to be a direct train to Kampen, the departure point, I'm going to Zwolle--in any case a city I would like to revisit--and will cycle from there to Kampen.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Belgian Limburg - Day 2

We got up around 9 the next day and took our breakfast out on our little patio: bread, salami, cheese, but disappointingly no eggs from the chicken coop. Corrie's boyfriend Toon was puttering around pruning bushes and carting things around with a wheelbarrow.

My plan was to follow a fietstocht that I'd found on Ontdek de natuur rond Lommel. Lommel is the next town west from Overpelt. It's a 53 km loop round Lommel but if we got tired we could cut it short.

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.