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.

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