The chances of disappearing under the wheels of an impatient motorist seemed increasingly dim on the wide cycle path running outside the campsite. Instead this happy pair of wheeled galactic travellers enjoyed an unexpectedly benevolent planet – one that had literally paved a red carpet to welcome us and ensure our survival. Herringbone paths separated traffic with healthy sized kerbs and rows of summer green elm and birch. At each cycle crossing we pointed and smiled at the forethought of this alien culture.
Initially reluctant to get on the plump, single geared and slightly antique looking cycle in the hire enclosure at Durinell theme park, yesterday’s experimental ride to the beach had rid me of my attachment to the U.K. cycling kit of pump and repair kit paraphernalia; not to mention 16 gears. This was true cycling freedom.
The easy passage of each wonderfully flat kilometre revealed the boat-shaped gables and intersecting canalsHollandis renowned for – enhanced by the acceptance that we were free to pedal and enjoy without a haunted look over our shoulders for motorists – there were dedicated traffic crossings, signposts and roundabouts, most separate from the road system. Another world.
“Always choices the future is.” Declares another alien sage and our choice to venture the 10 Km to Le Hague, leaving the younger folk to another day’s thrill seeking with the various vertiginous mechanical monsters of the park, seemed a good one until I felt a familiar metal jarring through the saddle. A puncture. Our hopes of cycling freedom deflated faster than the air from my tyre.
Through the wonder of hyperspace we travel forward a mere 15 minutes to meet Lars, the genial frontman at the cycle shop two blocks away. “Of course we can fix it for you. Can you wait 10 minutes?” While we stood discussing the chances of easily finding a cycle shop in the U.K suburbs, a steady stream of other customers visited the workshop.
The elderly lady who’s front wheel was a little wobbly, the young mum who collecting a new bike (a mini version of my now charming model), the family collecting a hybrid version with a voluminous child seat up front and others who just wanted a bit of air for their tyres or a tie for a loose piece of wiring – all were welcomed, served and sent off with a friendly wave and sometimes with no apparent charge. We left minus a modest fee, wondering how many other cycling oasis there were hidden amongst the streets of this wonderful land.
There is no doubting the fact thatHolland, and the area around Le Hague in particular, has something to offer folk of every age and persuasion. What we were left with however, was the knowledge that we had visited planet cycle-heaven. A planet where every cyclist can, with little equipment, cost or risk, enjoy sampling the delights of this spin friendly world up close, low effort, and a maximum of pleasure.
(c) S Dyer 2011
- Can cyclists and motorists learn to share the road? (confused.com)
- Cycle path work begins as historic Stray bylaw finally overturned (yorkshirepost.co.uk)