Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Zeeuwse Strand en Landroute

Summer is over and I'm off on a cycling trip: Zeeland.

I haven't done nearly enough cycling this summer--kept getting bogged down in writing and translation projects. So I determined to make at least one major journey before the cold sets in. The forecast calls for sunshine and warm weather. Most of the summer has been dreary. Even today, as I ride the train to Schiphol to make my connection, the skies are overcast, though the horizon is blue.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rondje Veluwe - Day 2

Into the badlands. 

The fietsrondje-map correspondence continues to be sketchy but that adds an element of challenge. I could see on the guide map a trail within the forest  that parallels the N310. This shows up on my atlas map as a thin orange line but there are no knooppunten associated with it. I headed back east toward point 81, past the N310, and there it was; the fietspad to Harskamp (between the Loobosch and the Harskampscherzand). This path parallels the N310 for about 9 km.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Rondje Veluwe - Day 1

Sunday morning, Deventer. 

Another weekend, another korte fietsvakantie. I am starting from Deventer, from the same stretch of the IJssel I took last time. When I awoke it was raining. I had my breakfast, served by Eva den Hartog, a Russia expert. Then I rode into the center of town in the rain. I headed for De Brink, the main square, hoping to find a cafe open at 9ish on a Sunday morning. But there was nothing except a hotel cafe which didn't appeal to me. The rides from the zomer kermis stood forlornly draped in canvas. I took refuge from the rain beneath the overhanging part of a circular snack stand, now dormant, and surveyed the scene on the plaza. Behind me a group of Moroccan boys were carrying on. The rain let up finally and I headed down to the river. I climbed the ramp to the bridge over the IJssel, and headed for the Veluwe.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fietsmuseum, Nijmegen

Ride lighter on a "JOCO"

It was easy enough to locate my vriend op de fiets (cycling friend) in Nijmegen, in a residential zone west of the center. Marina Pool lives in a curved apartment complex on Floraweg. Her flat is on the sixth floor with a balcony overlooking a park. Marina, in the same age bracket as Ricky and Mevrouw Janssen, speaks English perfectly, is rather shy. I noticed there were mezuzot in the doorways and I pretended to kiss one by my room.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Rondje Gelders Rivierengebied - Day 3

Through the Maas & Waal heartland.

Breakfast with Ricky Rieter, my cycling friend in Megen. Like many people in this part of Holland, Ricky is a serious walker. (Nijmegen's biggest event is a four-day walking marathon, held in mid-July). A small woman in her 70s, Ricky just got back from an aborted hike from Salamanca to Santiago de Compostela, along the Ruta de Santiago--after 300 km, her sister's knees gave out. But Ricky has already walked from Megen to Santiago and wrote a book about her pilgrimage: Pelgrimeren, lopend stilstaanall. She's also walked all over Holland, including along the entire borders with Germany and Belgium.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Rondje Gelders Rivierengebied - Day 2

Groesbeek is unusual for a town in the Netherlands: it's hilly. The highest point is 90 m above sea level, no big deal but for Holland that's significant. Excavations show that Groesbeek (GROOZ-bake) has been inhabited since Roman times--according to the text on the knooppunt marker board, which also tells me that wild orchids bloom around here in June, turning the fields pink.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Rondje Gelders Rivierengebied - Day 1

I was at another Mezrab event last night, chatting with some kids, an Aussie/English woman named Leni and her Dutch boyfriend. Leni asked me what I do for a living and my first answer was, I ride my bike around. "I like taking trips around the Netherlands," I said.

Her boyfriend's response was typical: "There is nothing to see in the Netherlands." Typical of an Amsterdammer, that is, the smug perception that there is nothing worth experiencing beyond one's own city. I vaguely protested but what's the point in arguing.

Instead I am back out there, this time going to Nijmegen, "oldest city in the Netherlands," to embark on a three-day tour of southern Gelderland, the zone that spreads around the Waal river.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Wet IJssel, west side. 
So here it is, the day of my big bike ride and ... it's raining. A light rain, as predicted. Maybe I'll have a leisurely breakfast here in Deventer and hope it stops. The idea is to take the IJsselvalleiroute, which starts on the west side of the river, a part I have not explored yet. The route follows the IJssel valley south, crossing the A1, then going by a ruin of some sort, then striking west through woods to reach a recreational lake, the Bussloo. Then it skirts the lake, crosses back over the A1 and meanders around the town of Twello before heading back to the river: 40 km.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Potential soccer louts arriving outside Bijlmer Arena.
Approaching Hilversum. The skies look tropical with low-hanging bluish clouds, sun poking through at times. At Amersfoort I will change for a train to Deventer. I missed an earlier direct train to Deventer due to a delay, probably not related to the masses of soccer fans out today for the Ajax match. When I arrived at Bijlmer station, fireworks were exploding rousing the throngs to a peak of excitement. Bellowing Ajax war chants.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rondom Watergang-route Part 1

Het Twiske nature reserve, North Amsterdam
It's my last day catsitting at Nina's place near Westerpark. It's a bit cloudy but still warm and summery. I was thinking of taking the fast ferry to the coast, but I'm getting a late start. So instead I opt for a fietsrondje. I take the ferry from the Oude Houthaven landing to the NDSM Werf. Then it's a right on Klaprozenweg, a high-traffic warehouse zone, across the Zijkanaal, then up through North Amsterdam along a trail that is frequently interrupted by construction sites.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Duin-en Strandwalroute, part 1

Out on another spring jaunt, this time around the town of Castricum. The weather continues to be eerily summery so the thought of heading for the dunes and beach appealed to me. I had not expected it to be so busy but on a day like today (Easter Sunday), why wouldn't it be? The trail through the Noord-Hollands Duinreservaat looks like a bicycle highway with riders of all ages in huge family groups, all welcoming spring with gusto.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Across the Rijnkanaal

It is officially spring and the weather is wonderful: 60s (15-20 Celsius), sunny, breezy. Cue in the rural music. I'm sitting underneath the A9 highway and a yacht just cruised by, some seniors hanging on the deck. Don't know why I haven't come this way yet: the Stammerdijk, a ribbon of a road toward Driemond which forms the north bank of the Weespertrekvaart canal, skirting the Diemerbos nature reserve.  

Bicycle bridge over the Stammerdijk toward Diemerbos, a few blocks from my home in southeast Amsterdam.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bicycle Blues, Seattle USA

Del Rey's new video is "Bicycle Blues."

Del usually plays acoustic blues and old-time jazz--she's a ukelele maestra--but here she's going for a more rawkus sound, as suits the urgency of her lyrics.

The video shows that Seattle's bike infrastructure is pretty developed--if not its bike culture perhaps.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Weesperzijde route

Another way to Amsterdam, a somewhat more scenic route that parallels the previous one to the south. I ride through a nicely landscaped apartment complex to Metro Ganzenhoef, then continue south behind the bank of African import shops and hairdressers, through the plaza where the street market is held on Saturday (dormant today, Sunday). Past the plaza, the path skirts a block of modern attached brick houses. Clara Zetkinstraat curves west and feeds into the Kelbergenpad. This meets the north-south Strandvlietpad at one of those perfect housing complexes overlooking a canal with ducks (pictured, above). I pause there and observe three African women in traditional garb, strolling arm in arm on this chilly, sunny day, cyclists occasionally zipping past. This is an immigrant neighborhood but hasn't got the slightest trace of blight.

Monday, January 3, 2011

One way to Amsterdam

Today, January 2, the sun is shining and I must get my vitamin D fix. So I decide to ride to the Tropenmuseum in east Amsterdam (an anthropology museum focusing on the former Dutch colonies). One of the advantages of being in Amsterdam is that the bike network is so brilliantly laid out that a trip downtown is as pleasant as any out to the hinterlands.

Still chilly on Jan 2 but the bike paths are clear of snow.
Now I'm taking one of three principal routes into the city center from my home in Zuid-Oost (southeast). This one is perhaps the most direct. I head north up the Gulden Kruispad, then turn left and follow a path alongside a suburban complex. It is cold and I'm riding against the wind but wrapped in a wool sweater, sweatshirt and down-filled jacket, it's not bad.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Riding in the new year

Christmas day I rode my bike to Gaasperplas, the lake park east of De Bijlmer, and actually enjoyed a bit of sunshine, though it's still quite cold. The access path has been cleared most of the way, but inside the park, most paths remained covered with snow. In general it was ride-able though slippery in places. I parked the bike by a bench and walked along the lake bank. Many ducks, swans and black coots floated along the icy surface. People showed up and fed them, resulting in an exodus of water fowl down the lake to the feeding point.
Gaasperplas, a big park around a lake in southeast Amsterdam, near my house. It's boxing day and there's still plenty of snow on the ground.