Category Archives: Bike Tours

Bicycle tour trips we have or would like to ride in.

Cycle Oregon Weekend 2010

 Cycle Oregon Weekend of 2010 started in Monmouth, at Western Oregon University.  For this tour Honey wanted an actual bed to sleep in, so we opted for the dorms.  Ours happened to be on the third floor, which required hauling all our stuff and bikes up and down the stairs, but it also came with its own bathroom, so that was a good thing.  We stayed in the “Gentle” building. How nice.

At Sarah Helmick Park over Luckiamute

The very first stop of the day came at 9 miles.  Really way to early to really be hungry since we had breakfast just before we left.  But, as a family friendly ride, I imagine it was appropriate.  We did have some seriously steep ass climbs just prior to the stop, so it seemed about right.  The stop was at the Ankeny Vineyards which has a very nice garden and public area. Their wine tasting room was open, but since it was only 9:00 am, and with 69 more miles to ride, it seemed just a tad early so we skipped that.

Ankeny Vineyard

On our ride back into Monmouth, we detoured south, for a rest stop at Sarah Helmick state park.  This bridge is adjacent to the park, and it crosses the Luckiamute river.

This is an old barn in the farmlands east of Burns Crossing.

Not all folks out in the country are happy to have people just drop by.

No watchtower people

The Shimanek bridge,  located on Richardson Gap road east of Scio.
The first documented covered bridge was built in 1891.
Truss Type: Howe   Bridge Length (ft): 130   Year Built: 1966

The Gilkey bridge,  located on Goar road east of Scio.
The first documented covered bridge was built in 1939
Truss Type: Howe   Bridge Length (ft): 120   Year Built: 1939 *1998

The Buena Vista ferry crosses the Willamette river a few miles south of Independence. We came up to it just as it was heading across the river.  On the next trip it took the next group of riders, with the operators cutting us off, just before we boarded. We made it on the third trip.
It can carry four cars, or, approximately 60 bikes.  I did notice that they only had 30 life jackets though.

Each night at the main stage,  Johnathon Nichlolas gives a welcoming talk, and he is a very good speaker. After announcements, there is music.

Weekend Summary:
Two nights in dorm – concrete dorms are hot, and have single beds
Two days on bike – Mostly low traffic road
78 Miles on Saturday – Independence, Scio, Jordan,  Jefferson, Buena Vista
48 Miles on Sunday – Dallas, Ellendale, Falls City, Burns Corner
6 full meals – cafeteria style, but plenty of if.
4 food stops with wide range of fruits, drinks, and carbs
3 ice cream bars, because I like them.
4 State Police motorcycles, 2 ambulances
1 CD and 1 Vinyl album purchased – by “The Dimes” (New, local music on vinyl, how cool is that?)
1 Soy Latte to revive sleepy Honey

Poffertjes – like a tiny Dutch pancake

Poffertjes, are a traditional delicacy sold from poffertjes kramen (booths) in Dutch villages and towns in the Netherlands.  Often they are sold from a colorful tent which is pitched at the village for a few days and moves on to market them elsewhere.  We did in fact find a tent in a park during one of our rides, and it was there that we found shelter from the heavy rains, strong Dutch coffee and warm poffertjes.

My first hint that these little things existed is when my first  pannekoeken was delivered, with a shaker of powdered sugar that had a picture of what I mistook for Danish aebleskiver. I later asked our captains wife if they served aebleskiver, and while she was impressed that I knew of such a thing, no, they aren’t served here.  We soon agreed that what I was thinking of were poffertjes.  And while she attempted to insist that they would not be on the menu for the week, under relentless pressure from young Rhian, Linda did in fact surprise us with a small helping during one breakfast.  That lead to the later treats under the tent during the rainstorm.

Somewhat similar to a Danish aebleskiver.  The differences being whereas the aebleskiver are round, and the size of a handball, the poffertjes are more clam shaped, about the size of a golf ball.   And while the aeblskiver is slightly fluffier due to whipped egg whites, they are both very good when they are hot, and covered with butter and powdered sugar!

There are recipes all over the Internet.  This one is from our “Dutch Style” recipe book, that we picked up at the “Scandanavian Festival” in Junction City.  (where you can have fresh hot aebleskiver, but not poffertjes.)

“Pella Poffertjes”

1 cup flour
4 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup hot water
3 eggs
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
powdered sugar

Mix flour, sugar, and salt. Add water, eggs and oil.  Mix well until batter is lump-free. Fry on poffertjes grill, or fry silver-dollar-sized pancakes in frying pan. (or try aebleskiver pan ~ ed.)  To serve, spread with butter and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Netherlands Bike Tour – The Final Day

Today is the final day of the Netherlands leg of our Bike Tour 2009.
As in days past, The Zeeland leaves port by 7:00 am, and we watch the country side slide by as we have breakfast and prepare for the day.  Final day dropoffWe make it to the locks near Gem Nijkerk just before 9:00 am and we hustle off with our bikes so that The Zeeland can enter into the locks and continue on its journey back to Amsterdam.  Today is a windy day up on the dikes in the northern flat lands along the water.

Pump station From here we ride out past an old steam pumping station for a little exploring and a short break. There is a stone outside that says 1776. Hannameike suggests it was the location of a windmill before it became this steam powered station.  And while the station is kept in working condition by a group of aficionados, this station has now since been replaced by a more dependable electric version.  The station is used to pump the waters out of the lowlands, and back on the other sides of the dikes, in a continual vigilance to keep the sea at bay. The large chimney at the station is now home to some chimney swifts and we smile as we recall that a group of swifts had moved into our own chimney just prior to leaving home for this trip.  Then back out on the windy flats as we make our way to our next ferry crossing.  On the trip we have taken perhaps 4 ferry rides.  I believe that there was a charge for each one, however I am not sure what those charges were since, Hannameike saw to it that the tour paid our ways.  That included the museum and national park entry fees.   That was convenient.   We thanked her at this point for her efforts in getting us across but she explained much of her conversation with the captain centered around the torrential rains coming our way from Amsterdam. Wonderful.
Riding into the storm  Having had rain centric conversations with this group in the past, Honey has learned from George that in Germany they say it is “raining elephants”, and at this point she repeats this back to him.  To which he gazes out to the horizon, nods, and without saying a word pedals off down the path.   Soon after the a heavy, stinging rain begins to fall and shortly after we are completely soaked, we can find some shelter for a moment, to regroup beside a tall hedge.

Poffertjes tent

Then into the small town of Eemnes. In the center of the town is a small wooded park with this large brightly colored tent. That wonderful smell emanating from the tent turns out to be hot poffertjes and fresh coffee. Hannameike has delivered us to bike ride stop heaven. Shedding out dripping rain clothes we make way inside to watch the crew bake the poffertjes. They are served hot, smothered in powdered sugar and butter. I high sugar/fat treat to be sure, but after tasting one, you dont really care. The giant grill in this tent is capable of baking over 200 at a time, but the windy rains have served to keep the crowds down as there are perhaps only a dozen other people in the tent. Poffertjes, it turns out, are a Dutch version, of Scandinavians aebleskiver, just a little flatter, and perhaps not as fluffy, since they do not whip the eggs. A real delight for us on this day. The restaurant/tent is a temporary structure here in the park, as they typically move on and are replaced later in the year by other types of prepared foods. The tent is erected around a very large tree that is being used as the center pole for the tent.

Longhorn on the road After getting our fill we ride on out using the sandy gravel roads that cut through the forests. Coming around a bend, the group comes to a halt as we see in front of us perhaps a dozen large longhorn steers standing beside the road on which we intend to ride. There is no fence between our group of bikes and that group of steers, so the next move is theirs. We remain still until they become bored with our presence and wander across the road in front of us and into the deeper woods, leaving one steer to stand watch over us. Soon even he begins to amble down the road just as two jogger are making their way up the road. They stop in their tracks perhaps 60 feet from the bull, and begin making their way quickly and unobtrusively over off the other side of the road, and behind some trees as he struts past them, on his way to join his friends. Interesting.

Cannon and fortress

It begins to rain hard again, and by now the group has gotten farther behind the usual schedule so we stop at a small park, short of our planned lunch stop in town, to again huddle under the trees to eat. This stop is by another war era fortress. Nearing the next town on the days ride, Nadia has fallen behind again due to a flat tire, so Hannameike and Monkey pedal back to repair it, with the rest of the group riding on ahead a few miles to the town in search of coffee. With the tire repaired the Hanameike and Monkey arrive to regroup at the restaurant as the others have finished and are now ready to ride on again. Nice. Then on through a town where we are stopped for a bridge opening, when a Dutchman jumps out of his car to track down Monkey to ask about the mirror on his glasses. Pleased to be able to get an explanation, and to try on the glasses for himself, they part ways again once the bridge is lowered and it is time for the cars to move again. Getting closer to Amsterdam and traffic is noticeably heavier. Monkey, having stopped on the path to take a bridge picture, and hears it from a trio of racers flying by in the other direction. Their words were all in Dutch, but, its pretty certain that they weren’t all nice words. The wind is picking up as well, and at one point while following directly Nadia it seemed to us that she actually went backwards. Too soon, we are back to the boat. The Zeeland is once again parked at the same spot that we found her just one week ago. After cleaning up the bikes and having dinner, the group walked into town for a canal boat tour. Then there was a little time to relax, organize our things and enjoy our last night on the boat.

Netherlands Bike Tour – Harderwijk, via Pannekoeken

 On this morning The Zeeland pushes off from the dockside of the Ijssel river, in Kampen,  promptly at 7:00 am. Headed northe, downriver to the Ketelmeer, and then southeast through the wide canals to Harderwijk. Today would be loop ride out and back in to Harderwijk.  The boat cruised as we dressed, had breakfast, and then prepared for the days ride.  I had enough time to get soundly thrashed by George in a game of chess.  He began the game by admonishing me for my bad choices in opening moves, explaining to me the different opening gambits.  It was at this very early point in the match that I knew I was in trouble.  The boat soon docked in Harderwijk, on the outside of another cycle tour boat.  This was one of several days that we docked against another boat, which required us to take our bikes off our boat, then across their boat and down to the dock.  No on seemed to care, just business as usual on the waterways of The Netherlands.   The early parts of the ride took us in to the National park lands again.  A beautiful area to ride through, with lots of trees, which helped to some degree to shelter us from the torrential rains.
At this point I began to ponder the wisdom of not installing fenders.

Dirty Honey

Paul slipped off the roadway and fell to the pavement quite hard cutting his knee and bruising his shoulder.  This was the second and last fall for the group.   The rain fell quite hard for about two hours until we found shelter under the windmill in Ermelo.  This windmill was a working grain mill, and we took a tour up through all four floors.  There was a couple of workers there happy to show us all the intricacies of the mill.  They demonstrated the braking system, the technique for re-grooving the worn stones, and how to winch the upper section of the windmill around in order to face the wind. Hannameike, our cycle guide released us for a 15 minute tour of the town, while she waited for us at the windmill.  We promptly set  off to find coffee and pannekouken.  Pannekoeken had quickly become a group favorite.  Essentially an ample plate sized, thin pancake, embedded with something good, like apples, chocolate, etc.  After a fair bit of time, spent with coffee, and hiding out from the rain.  Hannameike was spotted riding through town in search of us, since we were once again,  behind schedule.  Soon the group mustered and we set off again.  Paul, once again showing his unique lack of awareness, dawdled until we left, then went the opposite direction and promptly got lost.  Another wait while Hannameike goes out and tracks him down.


We saw many barn structures with tall poles, which allowed the owner to winch up the entire roof, I supposed to allow for feed storage.

Harderwijk Street

Harderwijk Gates

Windmill in Harderwijk

The rain finally cleared up about the time we got into Harderwijk at about 5:00   Our dinner tonight was pasta, which finally made the Italian Nadia feel at home.  After dinner we showered and walked around town as the sun set , somewhat saddened in the realization that the next day is the last riding day of the tour.

Netherlands Bike Tour – Deventer to Kampen, war time revisited.

Day 5 of the tour and I am pleased to see that it is starting to dry out and warm up just a bit.  Yet, the effects of the time change, the dietary changes, and living in the lower cabins is having a bit of an effect with Honey and just prior to departure, we decide it would be a good rest day for her so she can be stronger for the rest of our trip.  The rest of the group disembarks and to begin our ride just after breakfast.  One mile in to the ride, Hannameike discovers her bike wont shift out of first gear, which causes a half hour delay as we repair her shifter.

Crossing a bridge in Hattem

Once underway, we wind our way up through the towns of Diepeoveen, Olst, Wijhe,  and Hattem, in a Northerly direction following the river Ijssel up to Kampen.

Our lunch spot in Hattem

Hattem  was the largest town of the day, and this is where we stopped for a stroll through the town.  With time to tour the Hattem reformed church, built in 1455, it is in remarkably good condition.  George, Lena and I  sat on street side benches behind the church to relax with our lunch. After every one had their time to stroll, and shop, and of course, have some coffee, we were off again.

Stork in the field

In the fields we often had occasion to see some storks.  Its the closest I have been to a wild stork.

WWII Hospital bunker

There is still much evidence of the effects of the war, on the countryside of The Netherlands. Here, we stopped at a concrete hillside bunker that was built as a hospital. On this day, we passed two placements along the road that were essentially tank cannons mounted in concrete. Hannameike took us on another slight detour through the forested gravel paths to an area that was to be filled with earthen dams, that would flood a very large open section of the countryside, turning it into an impassably marshy land, with the hopes of preventing the Russians from attacking.

Riding in to Wijhe
Then it was on to Wijhe, we we could again their windmill, and stop for coffee. We got into Kampen a little after 5:00, where Honey was waiting on the top deck, and having rested and read an entire book she we feeling strong once again.

Netherlands Bike Tour – Castles, Mills & Mansions

The route today was slightly changed from the original plan of taking a loop tour out and back in to Zutphen.  Today we ride on to Deventer. As always, the breakfast bell rings at 8:00 am and we all head up to the dining hall.  For each breakfast Linda provides us with an array of choices.   Several cereals, yogurts, fruits, breads, cheeses, juices, hard boiled eggs,  and coffee.  After breakfast, we then make our sack lunches from the remaining items, gather our gear and get the bikes off the boat.  On this morning we are off the boat at 9:00.   A pretty warm day, with no rain.  A very comfortable day to ride.

Old Mill at Hackfort

Our first stop is in a wooded area, accessible on a gravel road, to an old grain mill near Hackfort. It is fairly well maintained but apparently not still in operation.  These days its use seems to be more of a venue for shows.  We stopped to watch a crew work on the light and music system supporting a amphitheater  that overlooked the mill pond.

Castle at Vorden

From Hackfort, we travelled more gravel roads and paths, or narrow paved roads with very light car traffic.  Some of the paths are hard packed gravel that are fairly easy to ride, but others feature a deep sand or pea gravel base that proves to be difficult to navigate at times, particularly when the are soggy or soft.  These are  not Honeys favorite surfaces to ride, but the wide Marathon Slick tires of the Bike Fridays, plus their low and stable center of gravity, make it significantlyt easier than our conventional road bikes.   Today’s ride also featured the biggest climb of the tour, that Hannamieke had warned us about yesterday.  The climb was on a single track path through a damp and dark forest, that lasted about a 1/4 mile and climbed perhaps just 200 feet.  By this point it was obvious that this tour would not be about climbing.

Gravel roads have bike paths in the Netherlands

Then emerging from the forest we arrive at the Castle at Vorden. The Dutch versions of Castles are not the same versions as those in France and in Denmark. But, as in France, they mostly appear to be privately owned, and few are ever open or accessible to the public. This one does not appear to be in use, but I am certain it is not forgotten or neglected.  Then off through the countryside, stopping again at the numerous tiny little towns for a coffee break.

Castle Near Laren

We stop at the Mansion Verwolde, near Laren for lunch on the grass. Afterwards we wander about the gardens until the time comes for our hour long guided tour of the interior. This was at one time a very large property, owned for decades by a land baron family, and they seem very proud of its history. It also served as a hospital during WW II.

Solar Homes subdivision in Netherlands

Along the paths we passed a small subdivision of identical homes that were all equipped with solar panels.

All the stops made this a full day of riding. The approach to town  today was pretty crowded with much car and bike traffic, and we arrived in Deventer, to find The Zeelend  docked on the shore of the Ijsse, waiting for us.  With just enough time to take care of the bikes and equipment before dinner, with baked salmon.  Then showers, some quick taxi arrangements for our transportation through Paris later in the week, then a walk through the town of Deventer.  I very nice town, but like most towns here, with the exceptions of the pubs and restaurants, no other businesses seem to remain open after dinner.  I would guess due to the long days on the bikes, we were in no more than 4 stores the entire time 11 days we were in The Netherlands.

Tour of the tour boat. “The Zeeland”

Our week long bike tour was made possible by “The Zeeland” and its fine husband and wife crew of Audry and Linda, and a ships mate. Actually two different mates. Otto worked the ship for a few days, then left and was replaced by another much more quite  guy, whose name was never offered.

This weeks tour included the following passengers.   George and Lena, from Germany.  The family of Paul, Angela, and children Huwe and Rhian from Worster England, Nadia came by herself from her home in Italy,  and then “The Americans”, of Monkey and Honey.  Hannamieke was our fun, energetic, and incredibly patient cycling guide who spent the week teaching us about Holland, showing us all the sights, and becoming a great friend.  A great bike rider that we followed all week long, she set up all the stops and sights, kept us all together, and made sure no one was lost for too long.

Zeeland is located in the southwest of the Netherlands. It is criss-crossed by the Ooster- en Westerschelde estuaries. To the west is the North Sea; to the north, the province of Zuid Holland; Noord-Brabant is to its east and Belgium is to the south.

The boat was actually a working class, ocean capable ship, that has since been slightly retrofitted into a tour boat.  These tours are billed as bike and barge trips, and our expectation of a barge was a slightly lower, darker, slower, lesser furnished version of a boat than this.  Perhaps the word barge doesn’t mean the same thing in all countries.

The Zeeland has three levels.  The sun-deck and captains bridge on top.  The dining area, bar, kitchen, a toilet, the shipmates cabin and the captains quarters were on the main deck.  With the passenger cabins, laundry, storage and engine area down below.  The ship was well maintained, and painted.

Blueprint of The Zeeland

The main deck is is the gathering area.  You enter the boat on the main deck level through large sliding glass doors. To the right is the captains quarters and the stairways to both other levels.  To the left, is the front of the ship where the dining area, bar and kitchen is.  The dining area is full of teak and mahogany and furnished with clear pine tables and cabinetry.  There are a half dozen tables, with one reserved for the captain and, for our trip, two larger tables where we all ate together.  Eating breakfast and dinner together at the same table made for a very comfortable setting as we all got along quite well together.  At one end of the dining area was a buffet area that, each morning promptly when the bell rang at 8:00 am, we found full of breads, cheeses, cereals, fruits, meats, juices, and sweet snacks that we had for breakfast, then bagged up the rest of it as we pleased to serve as our lunches while out on the road.   Beyond that was the bar where we could go to get water and drinks for the meals. Behind that was the kitchen, in which we were not allowed.

Dining Hall of The Zeeland

This stairway leads to the cabins below. We were used to the No Smoking sign.  The “no drugs” sign seemed  to us to go without saying, but hey, this is Amsterdam…….

Stairway of The Zeeland

Below deck there are 10 cabins, with 27 beds.  Each cabin with its own bath/shower. Our cabin had 3 single beds.  A bunk bed set, and an open space bed.  There was a sink,  closet, and electrical plug-ins.  This came in handy in making coffee with our personal size  water cup heater.  Of course this also required the power converter to go from the 110 volts used in the states, to the 220 volts used in Europe.  That heater made the water boil very much faster with the 220!  The sleeping area of the cabin also had two small portholes, that we were not allowed to open during the day while the ship was out in the water since the portholes are only slightly higher than the water level.  There was also a porthole in the shower area.  We opened all these each day as we returned from riding and did not close them again til we left for the next days ride, as it does get stuffy down there, and the breeze aided in drying the clothes that we had washed and hung out each night.  As would be expected, the toilet/shower area was quite small. It is actually all one molded fiberglass unit. One step into the room, and you are actually in the shower, with a curtained area just big enough to turn around.  Using the toilet means standing in the shower, made slightly inconvenient in that the slope of the floor meant that the basin never fully drained on its own.  But we were provided a squeegee that we could use to squeegee all the water into the drain so that Honey didn’t get wet feet in the middle of the night.  But the water was hot, the toilet works,  and the rooms were clean and bright.
Down the hall was the laundry room, and Linda provided us with clean towels every third day.

Hallway of The Zeeland

The bikes were stored on the top deck, but there was plenty of room for them, and all of us, and chairs and all the other boat type supplies that would be needed.  Part of it was covered, which came in very handy during the rainy times of our trip.  And of course the captains bridge, which was polished and neat and contained a computerized navigation system that apparently made it easy to stay on course in the river channels without a lot of human steering.

Captains bridge on The Zeeland

A very nice boat, and a wonderful week.  We will remember the trip and the people for a very long time.

Captain and Captains Wife

Netherlands Bike Tour – A to Z (Arnhem to Zutphen)

 Today’s ride is expected to be a relatively short 55 kilometers, along the Ijssel river from Arnhem, through Doesburg, then turning slightly north, in to Zutphen.  Everyone on board follows the schedule. The Zeeland leaves the dock promptly at 7:00, as this is the time our captain told us he would leave.  The breakfast bell rings promptly at 8:00, as this is the time the captains wife told us that the door to the dining room would be open, and that breakfast would be ready.  The Zeeland drops us off at the river wall just prior to the lock that enters the lake like area of the Ijssel, at Doesburg a few minutes before 9:00.  The lake area doesn’t really have a different name, just a really wide spot of the river. We hurry to get every thing off the boat, as the next opening of the locks will be at 9:00.  And we are then off.  We must ride from the north side of the lake area, around the west side, then south side, then east side, in order to continue on to Zutphen.   The weather on this day, as with most days of our tour in The Netherlands were cloudy,  with continual mixtures of wind, then rain, then sun. By the time this day was through,  Honey and I were beginning to adjust to the slow pace of riding in a group of family/recreational riders.   Many stops for food, restrooms, pictures, horses, coffee, waiting for everyone to gather, etc.  On this day, we completed the ride of 55 kilometers in 9 1/2 hours.  Say it again, this……..a……vacation……..

We are here, and want to go there.

Much of the ride did follow the river, and we were able to see The Zeeland pass us by on their way up to Zutphen.  It happened on many occasions that our boat would pass by, and wave. Though I don’t think they ever thought about stopping to ask if we wanted a ride.

The Zeeland on the Ijssel

People in The Netherlands expend a great deal of energy in maintaining their homes.  The homes here are very neatly trimmed, clean and painted, with flowers everywhere.  They also pay attention to their traditional appearance without necessarily adhering to traditional methods.  Here a home was being re-roofed in thatch, with the help of a crane.

New thatch roof

We spent a while touring the town of Doesburg. The area is famous for its mustard production, and this sidewalk cafe proved to be a great spot for a bowl of Salmon/Mustard soup, and coffee, while we watched the bikes go by.


Unlike the U.S. much of the riding through the country side can be done on paths completely separate from the roadways.  In this area we rode for mile on a pathway that was on top of the dike system, elevated from the roads, and separate from another bike path that ran near, but not connected to the road. Kind of like the business route, and rural route, for bikes.  Paths mostly go through sheep pastures, cow pastures and cornfields, as the Dutch don’t think that a bike path really has to follow along any road.  Perhaps 60% of our riding for the entire week were on paths completely separated from any roadway.

Ridging on the dikes

Today’s ride did take us to several windmills, which will covered in another post.  And in addition to the stop for coffee and soup in Doesburg, another stop for coffee and desert in Bronckhorst, a small town that has about three streets, all cobble-stoned, whose appearance likely hasn’t changed in the last 200 years, with the possible exception that its main industry now is tourists.  The town seems to be full of bicycles.  I think that even the Dutch people take their vacations on bikes.    We finished our day with dinner, served promptly at 6:00, followed by a walking tour of Zutphen led by our guide Hannameke.

Netherlands Bike Tour – Roll on to Arnhem

The barge casts off at 7:00 sharp, and we head up the river. This gives us time to settle in for breakfast, pack our lunches and gather our gear.  The Zeeland drops us off near the town of Heavendorp about 11:30 to start our ride for the day.   Early on in the day we have a very short ferry ride over a river, and then perhaps one of the biggest rainstorms of the trip as we stop to visit the castle near Woofheeze.

Ferry ride

The heavy rainstorms turned this 5 minute break, into a 30 minute coffee stop at the cafe, much to the chagrin of our cycle guide Hannamike. Most of the riders were enjoying the shelter of the converted horse stables, and the warm drinks, but she knew how much more riding we had for the day.

Castle Near Woffheeze
The ride then heads north through the De hoge Veluwe national park, with our lunch to be at the Kroller Muller museum. The vegetation of area of the park was sort of a high desert meets the heather of Scotland.   The museum is a large indoor/outdoor art facility, with its main attraction being the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings in the world.  Parking is limited and expensive in the park and for that reason, they maintain a very large collection of white bikes for people to ride in and around the park.  A separate post will cover the white bikes.  We were only given about 1 1/2 hours to have lunch and see the exhibits before we had to start riding again. So we skipped lunch and headed directly to the Van Goghs. That took most all the time we were allowed so we had to skip much of the rest and eat our lunch as we hurried back to the bikes. Returning through the narrow paths through the fields of the park, Honey had her one fall of the trip.  While we were passing some riders, Nadias inexperience caused her to spook and veer, forcing Honey off the path, dropping her a into some rutted muddy area which caused her to loose balance and fall back onto the pathway.  Nothing broken but pavement hitting bare knees is never a good thing.  A little bloodied, but spirits intact, she  rode on.

From there it was back south the Arnhem, on the banks of the Ijssel.

Arnhem city Streets

We arrived at the boat about 6:30.   After dinner, there was time for a quick shower and change, before we took a stroll through the town of Arnhem.

Many of the hansaetic towns in the area were fortified with walls, and had a main gate to the city.
This was the main gate to Arnhem.

Arnhem city gate
The Zeeland was docked just down river from The John Frost bridge, site of the Battle of Arnhem, during world war II, and memorialized in the movie “A bridge too far”.
Zeeland and Arnhem bridge

Netherlands Bike Tour – Board the Barge

The combination of time zone adjustments and excitement for the pending trip has us up early again this morning.  Another breakfast in the hotel dining room, and then I take our four cases down to be stored in the hotel luggage storage room.  The cases are now empty save for a few items we don’t want to haul around on the bikes for two weeks.  The staff cautiously warns that they cannot assure the security of the luggage, even though you must be electronically let into the room, so I use two small locks and cables to secure the cases to the rack.  We both will carry four panniers on front and back racks, and a handlebar bag carrying all the more personal and valuable items.  The bikes are loaded and we are ready to head out.  The elevators most everywhere we went were not big enough for both bikes and both of us, it is one at a time. Once checked out, we ride off. Without our helmets.  After much debate we had decided that for this trip, in an attempt to save space, have two less bulky items to have to keep track of, and to fit into the Dutch cycling experience, we would do this trip without them.  We knew we would feel much safer there in respect to traffic. We also knew that wearing helmets is like wearing a big sign that says “I am a tourist”.  Honey isn’t entirely convinced.

Riding to the barge

We left plenty early as we did not want to be late.  The Zeeland was docked just where we left it the day before, and people were scurrying around cleaning and stocking.  Turns out that The Zeeland isn’t what either the Americans or the Dutch picture as a barge.  It is more like an ocean capable, working class vessel.

The Zeeland docked in Amsterdam

We got to the boat before they were ready to admit new passengers, so it was off again in search of coffee.   Soon we all boarded, stowed the bikes on the top deck, our gear in our cabin, had a brief introduction meeting to meet the other passengers, and the hear the rules from the captain, the order of behavior from the captains wife and the cycling plans from our cycling leader.

In another post I will cover the passengers, the crew, and the boat itself.

Bikes on The Zeeland

Casting off the lines, we now sail southeast out of Amsterdam through  ocean inlets and down the Rhine river.  This is not an Amsterdam canals boat.   The trip takes a few hours. Long enough to unpack a bit,  relax, photograph the numerous bridge structures, and get acquainted with the other passengers.  The Zeeland approaches our port for the night, at Wijk bij Duurstede, just as we gather for dinner.  So we can dine and watch the town appear and the crew secure the ship.

Approaching Wijk bij Duurstede

After dinner, everyone lends a hand to get the bikes down, and adjusted to each riders stature.  Then its out for a ride through the town, and the countryside, and around the castle at Wijk bij Duurstede.

Wijk bij Duurstede Castle

We returned shortly before dark.  All the bikes get hauled to the deck, and there a little time for relaxing prior to doing all the other little things needed to get settled into our little cabin.  To bed after 11:00, but we are still unable to get more than a few hours of sleep.  Good news. Our cabin not only has its own shower (think they all did) but it has 3 beds. (they all did not) Not as good news. They are all bunk beds,  and monkey gets  the second choice. Cramped bottom, or top without ladder. No matter. Its nice, clean and comfortable. We won’t be spending much time in the cabin.

Netherlands Bike Tour – Acclimation Day

The jet lag feels like a warm wet blanket.  We did not sleep at all well on this first night and we were done with it some time before 6:00 am.  Hungry, and without the energy to get prepared and out the door in search of food, we took the easy way out and went downstairs to the hotel restaurant.  Here in the Netherlands the breakfasts are typically European.   Breads, cheeses, thin meats, yogurts, fruits.   All stuff I like so that worked well.  Little heavy on the cheeses for Honeys liking, and a little light on the pastries for mine.  Good, just a little overpriced. The restaurant is on the ground floor, at the end of the train yard.  The longer trains that make brief stops at the station, will leave passengers looking out their window, and directly into the windows of the restaurant less than five feet away.  A bit odd to look up and see somebody gazing in at you from outside.  After breakfast, took another look through the masses of bikes in the parking structure.

Biek parking outside Centaal station

Then decided that maybe we could sleep more and napped until 1:00.  Then, time for some exercise and exploration.  We took the bikes out for a shakedown cruise to verify that they were set up and working correctly, and to find the best route to get to the boat for tomorrows departure.  Google and a little looking around earlier, got us a possible route and with a little wandering around we were confident we could find the paths that we liked.  The bike traffice in Amsterdam is like nothing else we have seen.  Bikes are everywhere, riders are coming and going in all directions, and there are dedicated paths, lanes,  and markings capable of leading a rider anywhere they wanted to go.  This is not a city where you look out for cars.  You must be aware of bike traffic coming from any direction. All the cross walks have pedestrian traffic signals, bike traffic signals and car traffic signals.  With just a couple of map consultations, found the dock where our boat would be.  It was in fact already there, having gotten in the night before, with the previous weeks riders.  Had a brief chat with one of the riders capable of speaking English, met the captains wife, and then rode on, happy that we had that part of our travel connection verified.  Rode back the 6 kilometers to our hotel,  along the canal and over a bridge, using a much more direct and simple route.

Ride back from Boat Dock

Hotel and bike parking

We returned to our room to find the cleaning crew hard at work.  The manager was in the hallway as well, and I alerted him to the leaking toilet line in our room, and he quickly got his maintenance guy to fix it.  It was good to meet this guy, since he would come in very handy later on in our trip.  Picked up tram tickets that would take us through the city and out to the museum district in search of the Van Gogh museum. We used the tram ride as a mini tour of the city, and another way to find a place to eat.   One stop was on a block with a large terrace full of outdoor dining tables, all covered with umbrellas, partially encircled with a ring of restaurants and bars.  Each cafe or bar had tables assigned to them, with their menus.  In Amsterdam it seems that there are an equal number of outdoor settings for bars as for cafes. We hopped off, and found a table dedicated to a cafe that we liked, had lunch, then hopped back on the next tram heading our way.

Van Gogh Museum

The half hour wait to get in to the museum was worth the opportunity to see so many his works, where you could walk right up and touch them.  You could, but I didn’t as I think they are pretty sensitive about stuff like that.  Later we walked around the city and stopped at an Indian restaurant that Honey had previously found.

Amsterdam canals

We sat right by the open front door where we could look out at the traffic going by.  Predominately bikes.  At a rate of perhaps a bike every minute.  An informal survey revealed that, in the 40 bikes that went by during this survey, 20 were men, 20 were women.  Then, back to the room to pack everything up in preparation for the barge tour.  Watched TV as late as we could, and hoped that on this night, we could sleep.