: Home Blog Bike Trips
Holland, 1993
Summer vacation 1993 was spent with a bicycle trip to the Netherlands from
June 3rd until June 21st.  Goals for the trip were to visit family
(particularly Oma Vermeulen and Oma Boon), and to bicycle through the country.
I flew from Boston/Logan to Amsterdam Schiphol via JFK on the way out and
O'hare on the way back.  The reason for the indirect flight was because the
trip was made with frequent flyer miles and the KLM/Northwest agreement would
not allow a direct flight to be made.  Overall, the travel costs for the
trip were $17 for taxes and 25fl. for a bicycle box on the return.

June 4th - 14.4km of cycling, to Amsterdam
I arrived in Amsterdam at ~11:30am.  In fairly short order I was able
to retrieve my bicycle and stuff from baggage claim and reassemble the
bicycle.  Wandering through the airport, I felt like a bit of an
oddity with loaded bicycle and helmet.  Directions from Schiphol were
straightforward and I quickly found myself on the bicycle path en
route to Amsterdam.  The route immediately goes underneath a tunnel
and then comes up at Badhovendorp.  At this point, I was able to find
myself on the Amsterdam map and make my way to Oom Gerard's place.

Cycling through Amsterdam took a little adjustment as I was uncertain
how aggressive to cycle and how closely to follow the rules.  However,
there were enough cyclists out that I could follow one along and see.
In general, I found that in Amsterdam one should obey the rules but
look out carefully for cars when sharing the road.

Oom Gerard relayed information that many bicycles were stolen in
Amsterdam and thus as a result the average age/condition of the
bicycles out there were a bit older.  Good locks were also very

After talking for a while, we took a broad walk through the city and
many neighborhoods.  We visited with some friends of Gerard and saw
where he worked.  In the evening, I went to sleep and he went to Delft
to visit some friends.

June 5th - 123km of cycling, to Zwolle
I fed the cat, bought some raisin rolls and was off by 8:30am.
Without much difficulty, I found my way through the city and out
towards Weesp.  From this point there was a consistent bicycle path
along the road.  Unlike similar paths in the US, this path
consistently followed the main road without interruptions.  In
addition, at cross streets the bicycle path had the same priority as
the parallel road.

I went in towards Bussum to stop at a small supermarket and pick up
some mid-morning food (apples, etc).  From here, rather than rejoining
the main road, I decided to follow the secondary roads past Laren,
Eemnes and Spakenburg to Nijkerk.  Once I got into the countryside,
the roads were fairly narrow.  The entire region was an extremely flat
polder region.  Lots of wide open fields with grazing cows and sheep.

At Eemdijk, I took the a ferry across the river. In this town, I
noticed several women in traditional costume.  The path out to
Spakenburg took a backroad, across several brick roads and along the dike.
Overall, a mellow morning of cycling to Nijkerk.

At Nijkerk, I stopped at the VVV for information and also stopped
through some of the market.  I drank a can of Cassis and had some
french fries with mayonnaise.  Both, more Dutch than American.  From Nijkerk,
I was back along the main route which became much more wooded.  I had
a slight difficulty finding my way at Harderwijk, but otherwise

A few km from Zwolle, I noticed the Pepperbus.  It was great to see a
spot of familiarity.  I cycled right into the center of town, and
picked up some flowers at the market before cycling to Oma Boon.

June 6th - 58.4km of cycling, in Zwolle
This was a rest day, with a visit to Tante Gea in the afternoon.  In
the early morning I left Zwolle for Rouveen and Staphorst to catch the
villages in traditional costume going to church.  At Rouveen, the road
was a brick road with a fairly uneven surface.  This was cute and
picturesque for the first km or so, but after that it was rather
obnoxious to bicycle on.

I encountered several other folks out for a Sunday training ride.
Unlike most other folks I met, they were wearing helmets.  It seems to
be more a sign of a 'serious racer' cyclist than anything normally
worn by the vast majority of everyday cyclists.

I arrived too late at Staphorst, church was already in session.  I
waited for a while, but then decided to continue on to Meppel.  There
was a light wind from the north so when I turned around, I had a nice
tailwind going home.  I followed along the Meppelerdiep canal.  In
addition to other cyclists there were many boats cruising along and
also some people fishing alongside.

I went back via Zwartsluis and Hasselt and made my way back to Zwolle.

June 6th - 88km of cycling, to Enkhuisen
Had mid-morning coffee before leaving.  Kampen really looked like an
old fishing town with a large bridge and many small boats along the
river.  A few km past Kampen, I entered the polder.  As one cycles
along these regions, there appear to be large farms growing wheat and
other crops.  It is extremely flat ground and gives a spacious feel to

I skirted Dronten.  There was still much new construction going on
here.  It gave the appearance of a new planned city.  Lelystad was
also similar.  There were no old city houses, but more construction
that was 1960's and later style.  Without too much difficulty, I found
myself into the center of the city for some lunch.

From Lelystad, I wound my way out to the dike through the Ijsselmeer.
It was a bit foggy, which lent a neat appearance to this dike of 30km
across the lake.  There was one lane of traffic each way, and a
bicycle path.  For much of the distance, the bicycle path was on the
opposite side of the dike from the road so it was a nice trip.  There
were many swans and other birds along the dike.

Close to Enkhuisen, I encountered several large electricity generation
windmills.  It says something about the consistency of the wind for
them to have these here.  At Enkhuisen, I went in to the VVV to find a
place for the night (50fl).  While it was still mid-afternoon this
seemed like the right place to stop.

I met up with some Dutch folks who were out on a several day bicycle
vacation.  They were on a trip along the lake and still needed to take
a ferry across this evening.  In the evening, I wandered through the
town.  It was a nice small port town, with lots of shops, etc.

June 8th - 136.3km of cycling, to Dokkum
This day, started my hotel pattern.  This was to wake up about 7am and
take a shower.  Breakfast was served about 8am or so.  For breakfast I
would have a number of pieces of bread, some tea and a hard boiled egg.
After breakfast, I would be on the road around 9am or so.  All in all,
a rather different style than the US trip last summer.

From Enkhuisen, I traveled north through another polder to Den Oever.
I cycled in to the town and looked around some.  This town was
originally on an island but became part of the mainland in the late 1920's.

I headed across the afsluitdijk.  This dike was larger than the day
before with two lanes of traffic each way.  Also, the bike lanes were
closer to the road (both on the side away from the sea).  A few km
down the road is an interesting display pointing out features of the
dikes in the Ijsselmeer.  This was a very large project at the time it
was completed (1932) and resulted in conversion of a large amount of
salt water region into a large fresh water lake.  Over time,
environmental concerns have grown, so for example the parlement
decided not to complete the polder in the Markermeer.

On the other side, I made my way to Harlingen and a late lunch.  From
there, I went along to skirt Leeuwarden.  There was a scenic bicycle
trail that I followed along one of the canals.  Lots of folks out
bicycling this path so it was somewhat slow.  I stopped for the
evening in Dokkum.

Dokkum was another small town with a ring canal all around the center
of the city.  Lots of small shops to look at and find my way.

June 9th - 44.1km of cycling to Schiermonnikoog
The original plan for the day was to catch the 9:30am boat to the
island and look around some before Oma Boon arrived on the 1:30pm
boat.  However, on leaving from Dokkum I got on the wrong side of a
canal and ended up following a lot of small backroads.  I decided to
make the best of it by going via Zoutkamp, another small former
fishing town.

This region had a lot of newly reclaimed land.  It also had several
Dutch military training areas.  Overall, the land was pretty flat
without much larger vegetation.  In some areas were small farms, but a
lot of it was still new land being reclaimed.

I ended up at Lauwersoog and the boats around 10:30am.  I relaxed for
a while, read and wrote some postcards.  I also dropped by the cafe
for some lunch.  I was uncertain what an "uitsmijter" was, but had
seen them on several different menus.  I decided to find out by
ordering one.  Unfortunately, they were not yet serving lunch so I
didn't get one.  I later found it was a fried egg on bread frequently
served with ham or cheese.

I met Oma Boon on the boat and together we traveled to the island.
She took the bus to her summer home and I cycled the streets.  At the
summer home we did some laundry and made dinner.

June 10th - 151.6km of cycling, to Zwolle
I work up early in order to catch the 7:30am boat back to the
mainland.  While it would have been nice to spend more time on the
island, I had also been there more in the past and wanted to get to
some spots I would be less likely to get to on future trips.

In contrast to the previous day, the tide was out and there were vast
mud flats.  I get the sense that these five islands are all surrounded
by large mud flats and that the elevation of the land very gently drops
off into the north sea.  At one time there had been a proposal to put
dikes between the islands and reclaim all this land.  Now this would
be unconcienciable, as further evidenced with lots of stickers "wees
wijs met the Wadden Zee" (be wise with the Wadden Sea).

I cycled back through the more barren land into a more agricultural
region.  Lots of Holstein cows here.  I cycled back to and along
Groningen.  I decided to avoid the center of the city and instead
skirt it.  Not too far from Assen, I ended up having lunch.

After Assen, I followed a long and straight canal, the Drentse Hoofdvaart.
For most of the route, the main road was along one side and a
secondary road was along the other.  I took the calmer side.  The
combination of the straight route and a slight tailwind really made me
feel like I was zipping along.

From Assen, I went back to Meppel and familiar territory.  I found my
way to Zwolle where I stayed at Oma Boon's (she was still in Schiermonnikoog).

June 11th - 91.3km of cycling, to Nijmegen
It was a somewhat overcast day.  I cycled out of Zwolle along a
secondary road and through many trees.  Without much difficulty I
found myself around Apeldoorn.  Along the way, I encountered another
touring cyclist with full paniers, etc.

After Apeldoorn, the road rose a bit (for the Netherlands) and the
head wind also picked up a fair amount.  I was following a major road
up an over to Arnhem.  In the region north of Arnhem is a rather large
glider airport and so I watched the gliders for a while.

I went down through Arnhem, past Elst to Nijmegen.  At this point, I
had had enough of the obnoxious wind and thus decided to stop for the
day.  I made my way to the VVV to find a hotel in the centrum and
spent the afternoon looking through the city.

June 12th - 87.2km of cycling, to Leende
I had been following some of the route of Market-Garden, the allied
operation to liberate Holland in September 1944 (see also a Bridge to Far).
In Arnhem, I had been careful to find the proper bridge.  Same story
at Nijmegen although in both towns the bridges had been significantly
repaired and expanded since the war.  From Nijmegen, I headed southwest
towards another significant bridge at Grave.  I could see that the significant
issue for these bridges was their long approaches.

From Grave, I went via Zeeland to Uden.  Here I picked up a street
guide to all streets in Dutch cities.  This helped me locate Oom Cor's
place where I arrived shortly after lunch.  On leaving Oom Cor's, they
phoned Oma Vermeulen to let her know I was arriving.  She immediately
went outside to wait.  This turns out to have been a mistake.  I was
traveling through the back paths and got lost once or twice and thus
it took me longer to arrive.

June 13th - 0km in Leende
In Leende today, no cycling.

June 14th - 130km, to Maastrict
Breakfast was abnormally late at the hotel.  Finally got off about 9:30am.
I traveled along via Weert.  At this point I decided to stay to the
east rather than go through Belgium.  The overall route over to
Maasbracht was pretty straightforward, but then it got fairly confusing.

Eventually, I was able to get straight again and skirt Sittart on my
way south.  At this point the land started to get some rolling hills
and even some valleys.  I stopped for lunch in a small town.  The cafe
was closed so I ended up getting 1 liter of yogurt in the supermarket
and drinking it out front.

After lunch, I discovered that the backroads here can be much more
hilly that further north.  In total, this day had ~600meters of climb
more than the rest of the trip combined.  From these points, I was
able to get my way to Vaals and slowly up to the highest point in the
Netherlands (321meters).  This point is also the dividing point
between Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.  There are small
souvenir places on top to buy stuff particularly from Belgium.

On the way down, it started raining.  This continued most of the way
back to Maastrict where I stayed for the evening.  Maastrict was
another interesting town with a good center to wander through.

June 15th - 121.3km of cycling, to Tilburg
On waking up, it was still drizzling.  I put on my rain clothes and
headed back.  For the return, I decided to remain on the west side of
the river and within a few km found myself in Belgium.  The border
crossing consistent of a sign much as one would see in crossing from
one state to another in the US.

As time went on, the weather dried up.  Also, I found myself along the
Willemsvaart canal.  It was a real nice back route without any auto
traffic.  Overall, it went pretty quickly.  I then crossed the border
back to the Netherlands and had lunch.

After lunch, I dropped back on Oma Vermeulen.  I caught her shortly
before she was going out and paid a short visit.  The weather was
becoming real nice so I continued up past Eindhoven.

After Eindhoven, I traveled through another military area.  They had
a pretty cute picture of a tank on it with a sign, "crossing next 2km".
I traveled up to an into the city of Tilburg.

I was left with an unfriendly impression of Tilburg.  It was difficult
to find my way to the VVV, and they weren't much help in finding a hotel.
Along the way someone remarked to me about the cost of my bike (which
made me more wary).  At the first hotel, they didn't have a place for
the bicycle.  At the second, they also didn't but I snuck it in anyway.

June 16th - 59km of cycling, to Rosendaal
I snuck my bicycle back out of the hotel.  This day I had both a cold
wet rain and a slight tailwind.  It was pretty obnoxious.  I found my
way to Breda, but then got disoriented and ended up several KM in the
wrong direction.

Eventually, I got this straightened out, and made my way to Rosendaal
for lunch.  I ran into a very American looking McDonalds where I ate
lunch.  It somehow looked inconsistent with the Dutch landscape.

At lunch I decided that I was wet, cold and not having too much fun.
Thus, I went in to Rosendaal and found a hotel for the day.

June 17th - 113.9km of cycling, to Vlissingen
The weather was much better than the previous day, although the
headwind remained.  I cycled out to Bergen Op Zoom and out the
peninsula.  It was a very rural landscape, with many fewer trees than
the past days.  It also struck me as an area that would have
originally been somewhat poor.

I cycled out the peninsula until the first spot where I could take a
ferry across to the south.  The ferry was free for bicycles and pedestrians.
On the ferry I encountered several German cycle tourists.  We didn't
communicate much except for gestures.

I cycled south for about 10km before having another Supermarket
lunch.  Next, I went east into and through Terneuzen.  In this town, I
just decided to follow another cyclist who led me through a rather
confusing maze onto the other side.

From here, I traveled through more of Flanders out to Oostburg.  My
great grandfather was born here, so I decided to take a look.  Not a
lot of items to note.  From Oostburg, I finally got a cross-wind as I
headed north to Breskins.

The original plan was to stay in Breskins, but there wasn't a lot
there.  Therefore, I took the ferry across to Vlissingen.  There was
lots of boat traffic in the estuary here.  Vlissingen struck me as a
real working port and town.  The hotel I stayed also gave me the
impression with lots of people there who I thought might be temporary
workers or ship hands on a layover.

June 18th - 55.5km of cycling, to Zierikzee
Tailwinds!  Unfortunately there were two reasons I wasn't able to really
take advantage of them.  One was because it was also raining and the
other was that I planned a sequence to two short days ending in
Rotterdam.  Instead, I spent the morning and much of the afternoon at
the exhibitions describing the delta works.

I was fairly impressed, particularly with the last item that was
completed, a large storm surge barrier that neverless allowed the sea
to come in and thus maintained the large salt-water estuary.  This
involved a large construction project using many prefabricated
components, dealing with increased tidal forces along the pilons (with
large rock filled mats) and also large movable barriers.  Overall,
some pretty impressive engineering work.

For the evening, I made my way to Zierikzee, another cute small town.
I spent several hours wandering through town looking at things.

June 19th - 84.9km of cycling, to Rotterdam
Original plan was to spend the day in and around Rotterdam.  However,
along the way I encountered "flag day" at the Haring Fleet Dam.  This
was a day that the harbor was full of ships decorated with many flags.
The public was invited for a two hour cruise (if the word cruise may
be applied to fishing vessels) starting at two in the afternoon.
Overall there were over a hundred ships in total and lots of booths
and other items to lend a festival atmosphere.  I stayed until two and
sailed with a small fish processing boat.

Afterwards, I hurried to Rotterdam where I was only slightly later
than I had told Oom Wim.

June 20th - 75km of cycling, to Amsterdam
Sleepy day today as I had stayed up until 1am visiting.  Made my way
out of Rotterdam.  Today I encountered many racers out on their bicycles.
This was the most populated part of the country, however the backroads
I took made it still pretty manageable.

I traveled along the airport and ended back up at Oom Gerard's place.

June 21st - 14.3km of cycling, to the airport
Woke up at 6am to be extremely early for my plane.  Trip to the
airport was uneventful.  In short order I was able to find a bicycle
box and get my stuff loaded on the plane.

Overall stats for the trip were:
   1448.2km traveled
   1108meters cumulative elevation gain
   19.5km/hr average speed
   37.0km/hr maximum speed