Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reeuwijkse Land

67-90-33-94 (Woerden-Bodegraven)

Last day of July, another hot muggy cloudy day, not unlike DC, and I'm out rolling along the Oude Rijn which, though pretty, feels rather dull and suburban. The river is wide here with parts of it almost entirely covered with green vegetable matter like a pale green carpet. Along the other side runs a road with fairly constant traffic. I've gone along the river since leaving Woerden. Most of the way the trail skirts the river and all along it is lined with old houses with riverside terraces. This is the way to Bodegraven, my first destination. Haven't been this way before so I thought I'd have a look ... Woerden is just half an hour by train from Amsterdam Muiderpoort. It's already 5ish; the route is a relatively light 35 km. It is the "Reeuwijkse Plassen" route, named for the lakes northeast of Gouda. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Zomer in Zeeland 4

Now on the beach of Neeltje Jans. The heat is intense though intermittently not too bad under cloud cover. Seems it could go either way--south half of the sky is clouded over, north side is clear. But in terms of weather and landscape, this could not be bettered.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Zomer in Zeeland 3

Not yet 9 am and I am supposed to vacate the premises but it is pleasant to sit here on a cool morning of a forecasted hot day (30°), hearing dogs barking in the distance. Over a hedge of large shiny green leaves is a broad lawn with a patch of hollyhocks and gladioli in the middle.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Zomer in Zeeland 2

From Rockanje I rode south alongside farms, then went up on the Haringvliet Sluizen, the northern section of the massive Delta Works dam, to reach Goeree, a finger-like peninsula that looks like part of Zeeland but is actually Zuid-Holland. From the east end I took the coast trail. It is as beautiful as the last time I took it in the reverse direction, a packed white sand path rolling through the dunes, fringed with shrubs and some raspberries, glimpses of the deserted beach and open sea between gaps.

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.

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.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Rondje Groene Hart - Day 1

This three-day jaunt through the "heartland" of South Holland is one I'd planned months earlier. Alice came over here Sunday morning and we took the train from Muiderpoort station, a few blocks from my home, to Woerden, a town just west of Utrecht. We decided not to invest in the bike day pass since the train ride (on the Sprinter) lasted only 35 minutes and the pass cost more than the ticket. So naturally this was one of the few times they checked tickets.

Heath & Woods betw Hilversum and Laren

Brilliant weather so we took a break from house painting to do a fietstocht. I chose Hilversum--less wind. A very pretty route through the forests and heath ringing that town.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Amsterdam School - pt 1

Goedmorgen in de Spaarndammerbuurt
One of the things I enjoy about the little cycling tours from the VVV is that they show me things about Amsterdam that may have escaped my notice. Just north of Westerpark, for example, stands the Spaarndammerbuurt, a hotbed of Amsterdamse school architecture.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Lomas de Limburg - Day 3

Breakfast of fietsers
Outside Mechelen we retraced our way over the gravel path, then climbed the 3 km to Gulpen. As we rode into town under cloudy skies I recalled my last visit here almost three years previous. We were zooming down an elevated street, the eastern approach to Gulpen, and I realized I had stayed in one of the modern homes along its length. Back then it was cold and rainy and I slogged through the puddles to have dinner at a cafe. Now it was warm but overcast and by the time we reached the center of town the clouds burst and we decided to take a break.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Lomas de Limburg - Day 2

Breakfast on our terrace and Mevrouw Nicholaes joined us for a chat. She said she was going to sell the place. She herself did not ride a bike around here: too steep. We also chatted with her gawky and friendly husband Hubertus.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Lomas de Limburg - Day 1

And now we're in Belgium. Well, literally spitting distance from Holland, and our vriend op de fiets, Wiell Nicholaes, is from Haarlem. The countryside here is lovely if unspectacular, not unlike the hills of New Jersey. From Wiell's garden we see gently sloping fields and to the northeast a wooded mountain, which must be the Vijlenerbos, "the largest contiguous deciduous forest of Limburg."