Time for another backyard ride! Amidst high workloads from our new book 50 Ways to Cycle the World, the perfect breather lies just a few minutes away... 'het Schoorlse bos en duingebied' is a gorgeous natural area with smooth bike lanes and 'hiking' paths paved all over it. A lovely place for a quick ride to settle the mind.What I like most about this area is that one can do a multitude of different rides in such a small area (it's what the Backyard Rides collection intents to show) without getting bored by it. Especially with the changing seasons it's a nice place to get away from the meadows for a bit. If you end up doing this ride, don't forget your frietjes-hookup in Bergen aan Zee and if you're like me.... bring your own vegan mayo since they don't have any!! Have a lovely day everyone!
28 april 2021
After a crazy workweek and the announcement of a new book called 50 Ways to Cycle the World, I needed a long breather to get away from the screens! Since @belletoscan and I were housesitting a friend's apartment in Amsterdam I took the opportunity to explore the outer reaches of the city. And it turned out to be a very nice ride!For those living in the city, you can simply tag along anywhere on the route and ride a small segment, but I'd recommend to use my start- and end-points. If you take the same direction, the treat that starts after about 2/3 of the ride is the riverside that you can cycle along; something I love since it's so simple to follow and so pleasant to be at. Within the Netherlands there are SO many bike lanes and directions to take, that it is nice to sometimes just follow one way that you know you can't go wrong on. Do pay attention to the side of the river you're on... this can mess up your route ;)Other than that, the loop is a pleasant escape from the busy streets of Amsterdam, shows a lot of green and is a wonderful route for picnic spots in case you wanna load up a pannier or basket and go have an outdoor lunch in the meadows. Plenty of little bars and restaurants too, but that's dependent on Covid-19 measures and at what time you're reading this.Either way, I got my outdoor fix and was ready for the screens again upon returning...
27 april 2021
A typical backyard-breather... been doing loads of work behind screens and really needed a little escape. I'm feeling so happy about the fact that next to where I live there's this beautiful (and honestly pretty rare) part of the country that holds a lot of natural beauty.When I was growing up, this didn't really leave an impression on me, but nowadays I love a ride through this forested and protected area of my hometown. The ride is short but sweet, it includes a lot of the highlights I'd put on the top of my list and even offers a bit of sandy path here and there for cyclists to go on (a section I cycled is off limits, I think). Besides, if the weather is warm and sunny, this is the perfect(!) ride to do with your partner, kids or friends to have a little picnic or drink on the way. The route crosses forest, dunes, great views and also the mountainbike parkour that is known all throughout the Dutch mountainbiking community.As with all my backyard rides, this route can be adapted and enlarged easily by taking a look at the other rides in my Backyard Rides collection.Happy riding!
22 april 2021
Yesterday marked the 6th edition of my Weaving the Waterways cycling series here in Noord-Holland. This time, I took a train from Alkmaar to Anna Paulowna in order to start and finish the ride there. The bike day tickets from NS are a tad bit pricy, so if you have more time you should definitely consider cycling out to your own chosen starting point of this route in order to avoid that extra ticket (and waiting for the off-peak times in which you're allowed to take your bike along).The ride was smooth sailing; almost no wind, a blue sky and an open snackbar in Den Oever to fill up on some salt and calories. Besides these enjoyable factors I must also confess that this was the most boring of all Weaving the Waterways rides, due to the plentitude of farmland in this part of Noord-Holland (also called West-Friesland). Traditionally there's been lots of farming here, after the land was reclaimed by humans a rather long time ago (look it up, it's fascinating!). Nowadays, it feels old-fashioned, wasteful and, most of all, a huge source of landscape degradation and pollution. Since it's spring, the farmers were also happily carving calfs-manure into the land, making this ride a pretty smelly one.This ride takes you around the Wieringermeer area, which has in recent years become a very good place for wind-turbine installations–something I'm a big fan of! And cycling underneath these giants is all the more spectacular, hence the amount of pictures you'll find of wind turbines. In my defense, there wasn't much else to see! Lastly, the patch of forest just south of Den Oever, also marked as a highlight, was a relief to cycle through after seeing so much flat land and following the dike. There's a nice bikelane winding through it, and here and there you can find benches and tables to have a break at. If you like chatting with locals, you'll most likely find them here out on a stroll or bike ride.All in all I'd recommend this ride mostly to those who want to get to know all sides of this Dutch province. Cycling it is a wonderful way to connect with that which is seen as truly Dutch–farms, meadows, dikes and of course... those beautiful frietjes you can reward yourself with!
31 maart 2021
Yesterday the sun came out and so it was time to weave some waterways! Beware though, as this route is better done between mid-April and mid-October due to the little ferries only operating between those months.This time the route started just east of Heiloo, and as per usual exploring a part of Noord-Holland I've never seen before (even though I've lived there for 27 years now). This route goes around the Alkmaardermeer and Wormer- en Jisperveld & Kalverpolder. A fair bit of classic Dutch riding!When riding counterclockwise you'll first get the chance to ride along the Alkmaardermeer. I opted to cycle through some of the neighborhoods there instead of trying to follow the water, as it's a little impractical for a quick ride. If you have more time, I encourage you to take it easy by the water. When heading out of Uitgeest towards Markenbinnen, you'll ride a really nice stretch of bike lane along the water (see photos). I wanted to cycle close to the water east of Oostknollendam, but couldn't manage to cross the canal due to a self-service ferry (you pull yourself over with a rope) that's only functional from mid April onwards. So instead, I cycled down into Wormerveer and through Wormer to get out into the fields again. This last town offers a look at a more old-fashioned Dutch village with small shops and churches.Circling around the Kalverpolder you'll find straight-cut meadows, neat rows of trees and pleasant asphalt riding. If you're lucky, you might even have a tailwind here, but it usually comes from the southwest so expect a bit of pushing. The towns of Spijkerboor, Oost-Graftdijk and West-Graftdijk are nice to look at from the other side of the canal before crossing over to the other side. From there, its just a bike lane and little paid ferry ride (€1,25, possible with contactless payment) away from completing the loop. See you later for another weaving session!
26 maart 2021
The first sunny day in the Lands of Nether in a little while... that means biking time! Belén came along and we had a blast cycling a section of the 'Westfriese omringdijk'. This dike, starting (with our direction) east of Winkel and ending in Schoorldam, was built around the 12th century, and became a provincial monument fairly recently... which you can cycle on! Due to the luxury of having spacious, comfortable bike lanes (always separate from the cars) almost everywhere, I should note that the dike has access for cars and so you might want to choose a weekday afternoon if you choose to cycle this route.
Starting out in Schoorldam, we headed south and then east, off to Winkel with a headwind. Pleasant dutch scenery all along, and not too much traffic, as well as bike lanes left and right giving you the opportunity to cycle some scenic detours (Waarddijk Noord, for example). After getting near Winkel we turned towards the north-west and started our ride on the dike.
Just a little later, with meadows and windturbines (yes clean energy production) accompanying us wherever we looked, we got to Kolhorn, and soon after Schagerbrug. Because there's no bridge over the canal at that section, one has to head in and out of Schagerbrug. However, if the snackbar depicted in the photos is open when you pass... you're in luck! Frietjes break anytime, no?
Once you leave Schagerbrug behind you, it's time to enjoy the best part of this route (and why we rode it this way, to keep the best for last); the Westfriese Zeedijk. I made a highlight out of it so you can try it yourself... We enjoyed it with a tailwind, sunset and almost nobody else being there! A great ending to a lovely day out riding.
See you next time for another segment of Weaving the Waterways of Noord-Holland!
20 maart 2021
- Belén Castelló
On an attempt to discover the Netherlands a little more, we embarked on a loop tour from Tristan's home town that would take about a week to complete. We had a set date for our departure but... Wow. Winter decided to make a comeback in mid-March, as we were ready to leave.
As the first days went by, the clouds slowly settled in and eventually, we saw we'd be facing a storm with strong winds and rain from the south. It was time to balance out the reasons why we went out in the first place.
For us, every long ride brings a potential to document it and in this case, we wanted to film and photograph a tour that would make the Netherlands look appetizing and inviting to others. Grey skies, naked trees, closed cafeterias *because of COVID-19*, frozen toes and wet gear... Didn't make our mission easy. So, some kilometers before reaching Zwolle, we made the decision to abort the mission and postpone the tour until the spring.
The route we took is a nice one though. Especially cool is the free Fietsbus to cross the Afsluitdijk since the road is closed for cyclists until 2023. I'd say, come cycle in the Netherlands! (But perhaps don't do it during the winter).
We try again in a few weeks!
12 maart 2021
Yesterday I completed the last of this month's loops around Noord-Holland, the province I grew up in but failed to see fully up until three weeks ago. This is exactly what Komoot has been good for during the start of 2021–exploring my home beneath sea level.
I started this tour slightly outside the centre of Bergen, to make my way to Hoorn and trace the dike-lines of what I like to call the 'nose' of Noord-Holland, up to Medemblik. Then back to Bergen through small villages such as Opperdoes and Twisk, where you'll find rural and traditional architecture and the classics of Dutch culture; windmills in eternity.
This ride is doable in just one day, but if you'd like to split it into two I'd recommend staying over in Enkhuizen or Medemblik. In case you're riding it from (close to) one of those places, Bergen is a lovely place to stay over too! If you do, be sure to check out my 'Backyard Ride' in order to attach it to your route. It's a great way to connect IJsselmeer to the North Sea.
Other than that, due to the plentitude of bike lanes, you can pretty much cycle this route on any bicycle, just like the other Weaving the Waterways routes. It's been a good one, see you during the next ride!
25 februari 2021
Yesterday marked the second Dutch loop this month! I set out to cycle from Bergen to the northernmost point of Texel, shaping the planned route almost like a paintbrush. An early start and a headwind put me at an advantage on the way to Texel's lovely lighthouse, and after about five hours I sat down close to it for a lunchbreak. The way back over Texel's eastern side had some headwind, but as soon as I cycled off the 16:30 ferry in Den Helder the wind settled down and allowed me to cycle the fairly quick stretch of national road along one of the long canals of North-Holland. Closed the loop with a quiet ride through the Schoorlse Duinen and with a gorgeous sunset. What else does a rider want?
This ride started through one of my favorite parts of the Netherlands; the previously mentioned Schoorlse Duinen. The bike lanes through this forest are a real treat–I mean, real treat! Once you make it through the forest and onto the long dike towards Den Helder the scenery changes to typical Dutch farmland on the right, and dunes and seaside on the left. It's a strange realization I have during these Dutch rides, that the landscape is so incredibly organized by the humans who 'built' this country. The way this land is kept by humans is rather odd, if you stop and think about it. Nonetheless, the fact that it's been so organized has laid the groundworks for bike infrastructure like nowhere else. And with a few hiccups on my side here and there (still getting used to routing myself around with Komoot and keeping an eye out for construction work) I made the route work out fine. Beware of the fact that bike lanes might be under construction here and there; hence my slightly altered route in some places, notably the stretch on Texel where a closed bike lane along the dunes confused the f- out of me.
The way back was much easier to navigate due to the canal and bike lane along it, and an audiobook on my AirPods helped with the long and dull part of this ride. The sun was setting and as I took a last break before entering the Schoorlse Duinen once more, I snapped an image of what I'd call 'typical Dutch scenery'. These windmills really are some solid heritage of old times.
All in all, a great ride for those wanting to explore their backyard in North-Holland, or those cycling a bigger stretch of this country looking to extend their coastal route. Bedankt en tot ziens!
#3LoopsLegends #BBBSeasonStarter #LegendsAreMade #ThreeLoopsLegends #StartYourSeasonStronger #3LL
22 februari 2021
On Thursday I decided to ride a two-day route, starting near my hometown of Bergen, to Amsterdam and back, since there was lots of snow and ice! This provided a unique opportunity to see the province I grew up in covered in a white blanket. Amazing views.
First off, as I made a lot of little mistakes (just about getting the hang of route planning-then tracking-then uploading) and took about eighty-seven wrong turns, I've perfected the GPX file for your riding pleasure. However, this also resulted in an unrealistic 27km/h speed that I definitely didn't cycle! I take my rides slow and steady, with lots of little photo breaks as well as lunch. I can't ride without a proper lunch.
The ride started with a stretch of meadows between Alkmaar and Edam, then continued along the IJsselmeer and through the dam-villages north of Amsterdam. I must say, I was surprised by the cuteness of what I formerly thought were just fields of cowl and polluting tractors. These meadows and small towns of North-Holland provide a great adventure as long as the wind isn't too harsh! Closer to Amsterdam there were lots of people ice skating and the bike lanes were beyond clean. Proper job, Gemeente Waterland. I then cycled into Amsterdam and finished day 1 close to Vondelpark. Stayed over at a friend to let my legs rest a little!
The next morning, I cycled to Haarlem next to a busy highway on an excellent bike lane. The infrastructure for bikes here is really something. In Haarlem, I got some fries that ended up being rather disappointing, as I live for vegan mayonaise (that this snackbar didn't have). Went for a sloppy satay sauce instead, fries got cold. Bummer. I then rode on through the dunes and forests in the north-west of Haarlem and the bike lane was covered in thick snow, making it almost like cycling gravel. I thought there'd be a ferry in the west of IJmuiden (as Komoot shows) but it turned out to be a private company. After I found the regular ferry slightly east, I was confronted with the Tata Steel factory that obstructed my way to the dunes and made my cycle even more east to eventually find my way into the forest. If you cycle this stretch, I'd advice to check if the 'Sluizen' above IJmuiden are open, as it's a pretty cool bike lane to ride.
Cycling the last stretch between Beverwijk and Egmond aan de Hoef, my starting point, was pretty smooth sailing. These dunes are highly protected, so having a 'dune card' is recommended; one can get a ticket at every entry to support the work being done to maintain this pretty pristine nature. It's a home to Scottish Highlander-cows as well as horses who roam... ehm... not big enough to roam... graze this patch of 'wild' land by the coast. Seeing them always makes me reflect on the fact that most of the Netherlands is no more real nature; instead it's a human-made and organized maze of waterways and fields that all serve a purpose.
If I may end on that note: I'd like to suggest that we need to change the way this country's natural spaces are cultivated and used. But in the meantime, I'm thankful for having been able to see it all from the bike!
13 februari 2021