Sunday, February 1, 2015

Utrecht -> Amsterdam Lakeways

A warm humid Thursday, kind of cloudy but might clear up. On the train to Utrecht Centraal. My plan is simply to ride back to Amsterdam via the Loosdrechtsche Plassen (lakes east of Breukelen), then along the Amsterdam Rijnkanaal, a distance of about 35 km.
(original date of this entry: Aug 7, 2014)

3-28-45-47-48-49-27 (Utrecht-Nieuw Loosdrecht)

Heading out of Utrecht along the Zandpad, I noticed a long row of houseboats like floating cabins along the bank. I believe they were "peeskamers" where prostitutes worked. But they all look closed now and stamped with a message about abuse. Then the menacing clouds that had been gathering all morning burst and I took refuge in the entry hall of a senior center--no one offered me coffee or anything as I waited out the storm. From there I threaded through the watery polders above Maarssen to the southern edge of the big lake.
Not in current use. 

28-26-7-5-4-2 (Oud-Loosdrecht - Vreeland)

The bird hide has landed
This section of the route is a good case of a deceptively appealing map, on which it appears to be a strand through the lake, then greenery and small towns. In fact along the approach to Nieuw-Loosdrecht, the most significant town on the lake, it's been nothing but traffic and suburban roadside businesses selling things like yachts and ice cream. At no point could I actually see the lake. Finally, turning toward kp 5, the Loosdrechtsche lakes appear in their vastness and the sun beams down at full blast.
Between kp 5 -> 4 the situation improves considerably and it's more like what I had in mind. With the hot sun beaming down after the morning's storms it feels quite tropical. At kp 5, the fietspad turns abruptly left to follow a packed dirt trail through the woods that fringe the Loosdrechtse. Soon I reach a birding hide, a little cylindrical tower from which you can see that you're on a strip of land between two lakes. Lily pads strewn across an inlet shining like silver. It is a bird breeding zone for various species. All I saw were a couple of coots. A still and lovely spot--it appears that the lower lake--the Loenderveensche Plas-- is a sort of reserve with trails but the gate is locked.

Utrecht -> Amsterdam

1-39-40-46-47-48-44-43-15-55 (Vreeland-Amsterdam)

The next bit, north of Vreeland along the Vecht, is also lovely. As I rode along the lake strip I thought it felt familiar. I'd ridden this way before ... but wasn't there something about a missed ferry cross the Vecht? 
Way to go.
The path to kp 39, branching east from Nederhorst, is the fabulous tour alongside the Spiegelplas, which I've taken at least once before, pulling up (on the way to kp 40) at this perfect lakeside bench, now the sun dropping around 7:30, still plenty hot. It is the most wonderful spot of the tour. "The Spiegelplas is quite deep, in some parts as deep as 45m. A strong wind can produce large waves."

Spiegelplas at dusk

And now I recall: when I reached the Vecht, I headed back toward Nigtevecht but that ferry had stopped running so I had to backtrack to Weesp. (That ferry is not indicated on the map!) Now I will just head straight for Weesp, then at Driemond head up the Amsterdam Rijnkanaal home.

Took LF-23a, staying on the north side of the Amsterdam Rijnkanaal. Reaching the bridge at kp 15, I followed signs for IJburg/Amsterdam Noord. Beautiful nature reserve along Diemer Zeedijk, good alternative route to south side via Diemen.

A superb ride--but a bit too long. 

Weesp at dusk

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