Thursday, June 15, 2017

North Sea coast -> Amsterdam

LF-1 south of Castricum
Carefree couples stroll the beach. A speckled brown gull hopes for a scrap of my sandwich, warding off other beggars, occasionally letting out a screech. Today it's cool, breezy. A distinct change of seasons mood. This is Wijk aan Zee.

Parking lot, Wijk aan Zee
(original date of this entry: Sept 18, 2016)
Grey plover, maybe
As I had left my bike at Castricum station, I thought it would be a good day to fetch it, ride it back home. (I had left it out there because I like Castricum's beach but it's a 5km ride from the station, and the station rental outlet has surly service and it closes at 7pm, well before the sun goes down.)

So I headed into the dune reserve, following signs for Strand Heemsteed and Wijk aan Zee until I hit the LF-1a. Typical coastal dunes landscape: stretches of brushy wasteland followed by patches of forest, the trail winding along and sometimes climbing. Don't think I've traversed this stretch of the LF-1 yet. Numerous cyclists, particularly elderly and stone-faced types on high-end cruisers and e-bikes.

Castricum -> Amsterdam
Wijk aan Zee has an air of melancholy, as do most of the North Sea beach towns in autumn as things are shutting down on cue.

Velsen-Noord, near mouth of Noordzeekanaal, which links Amsterdam to the North Sea. 
Going inland from the coast (kp 97 -> 42) you are essentially routed along a woodsy corridor between industrial zones. To my left a big steel mill with twin smokestacks and giant wagons tooling along tracks like an erector set. The ride is lovely, a sinuous, gently graded trail through pine woods all the way to Beverwijk. Then it's a short hop to Velsen-Noord and the ferry cross the Noordzeekanaal (kp 1 -> 2). Ferries every 20 minutes (free). Just missed one which gives me time for a synthetic soft ijsje at the Café Wachten (Café Wait) and to admire the industry that hugs the north bank of the Noordzeekanaal at its mouth. A big cruise ship heading out to sea. I once cycled through that industrial zone on a rainy day--that was five or six years ago. Not much has really changed.

kp 3 -> 95
On the south side, I follow the Noordzeekanaal for a bit, then drop into Spaarnwoude, a nature zone/recreation area, and the path cuts between lakes where I take a bench, the sun lowering into clouds behind my back. It says 20km to Amsterdam. This ride is a little treat.

kp 98 -> 11 -> 89  -> 29 -> 30 -> 28
Around kp 89 it got dark. I never saw any sign of Ruigoord, the storied countercultural community. Somehow I bypassed it. I was riding through the woods in the dark, with only my headlamp for illumination. Then another patch of forest, the Houtrak. Under the trees I caught glimpses of the bike icons painted on the trail to guide me. At kp 28 I hit a canal and the LF-20. This I followed east back toward Amsterdam. Some stretches were illuminated by lamps, others were pitch dark. I saw no other cyclists. But it was clearly a beautiful ride along a wonderful greenway, most of the way paralleling the railroad tracks, so trains periodically powered by in the darkness. Finally reached Sloterdijk station, then took Admiral de Ruiterweg south. Scored some curried chicken and potatoes at a toko and went home.

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