Monday, October 25, 2010


This starts in Ermelo, east of Amersfoort, and loops through some old forests, the Speulderbos and the Sprielderbos.

This is not Speuld.
Starts out prosaically enough, skirting the road down to Drie, which means "three" (I know not why). Autumn has arrived, and it is pretty cool. Yahoo Weather says it might break 50. It's "partly cloudy," meaning the sun breaks through intermittently and it feels nice, otherwise overcast with a chilly breeze. My perception is that it's busy: cars streaming by, lots of cyclists, people out in groups walking dogs. I sit on an elaborately tiled bench at the entrance to the Ermelasche Heide, apparently a mecca for nature walkers.

Speuldroute (ANWB map)

The fietspad continues down the road a ways, then toward point 60 cuts through vast heath, though by now the heather's lost its purple haze. Now, heading west to 59, it's a lovely mix of heath and low trees, mainly conifers. People ride horses along these trails. I am heading for Garderen. More than half the journey lies ahead.

Comin' thru the heath ...
"Purple Rain" plays at this tony café at the main roundabout of Garderen. It's not an attractive spot, really just a traffic interchange, with a pebble terrace, now empty in the chilly weather. People crowd the interior for ice cream.

One of the prettiest stretches is through the Boeschoten (58 -> 57): old woods, sandy path bordered by beech trees, the lowering afternoon sun flashing through the treetops. It rolls on and on like this, the moist ground littered with leaves.

I stop for refreshments near a turf roof hut, on display as a sort of historical remnant. A pair of elderly couples arrives to inspect the structure. "Must be something about this in the guidebook, honey," I imagine they're saying in Dutch.

The Sprielderbos forest, mostly wiry beech and pine, is very still - remote enough that I can only faintly hear engines in the distance.

The way through the woods
In the middle of the woods, at point 56, a branch heads due west (toward 20) to Putten. (You could alternatively continue north to Ermelo.) Then all of a sudden the woods disappear and I'm smack in the middle of Dutch urbanization: bland brick homes, snack bar, semi-fancy Chinese restaurant, but few signs of life. I could catch the train back from Putten but will continue to Ermelo.

Now at point 30 on the north side of Putten. A turn to the east (80) and then north to Ermelo. I detoured into Putten, guessing it is some historic village, but found just a church, a few quaint stores and cafés and a cobblestone parking lot. Circling the church, I am approached by an ostrich-like woman with a skin condition marring her face and wearing the oddest hot pink topcoat. She asks me in a screechy voice if I know anywhere to eat around here.

"Looks like everything's closed," I observed.

What's happening in Putten
They told me they were here to attend a talk on spiritual matters by an American! Something about releasing your creativity through god. Her companion was a bearded, bug-eyed young man. They both urged me to stay and attend the talk by ... his name escaped them. But I begged off, saying I had to return to Amsterdam.

Oude Arnhemsekarweg (old auto route to Arnhem?) to point 39, a bend in the woods. This is the last leg of the journey, as evening falls and my nose drips.

This trip was quite nice and not hard to do -- I was riding for about five hours. The sheer expanse of the woods here makes this an enjoyable ride -- though even here, civilization encroaches. I don't mind riding in the chilly autumn weather, in fact it's bracing, like a freezing shower after a sweat in the sauna.

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