Well, O.K, so I took a plane to Amsterdam and then spent a lot of time cycling around but the general gist is the same methinks. Here’s the background, although technically this wasn’t a training ride:
So I’ve signed up for Christian Aids’ ‘Cathedrals to Coast’ bike ride.
(Seriously it is for a good cause and I’m really glad to be supporting the work of Christian Aid. See the link for more details of what they do, and if you feel so inclined you could sponsor me at my justgiving address too.)
This time, as I said above, I wasn’t cycling to any particular churches. Instead, on our trip to Holland we took every opportunity to use the wonderful cycling facilities available there. So the Stats will look a bit different this time.
Distance: Sorry, no bike computer, but must have racked up at least 200km all told.
Time: Had a fab time!
Coffee Shops: Ha! Anyone who’s been before will know that that is a loaded question! So, no, no visits to those coffee shops but instead we used our bikes to get to and explore a whole range of art museums, cafes, tulip fields etc as you can see from the pics below. Click on the links for more information
Average speed: An interesting aspect this. All the bikes we used were ‘sit up and beg’ style and only one of the bikes had gears. However, the seating position was very comfortable and the generally flat landscape meant that we didn’t really need gears. Plus, these trips were literally about ‘sight-seeing’ . The most wonderful thing about being on a bike is that if you see something (in our case, deer, sculpture, birds, buildings etc) you can just stop where you are and look! No need to find a parking space or worry about holding up traffic. Great.
Fitness Feedback: On a general muse: All ages can be seen cycling around Holland. We saw the very young, the student, the elderly and the executive with their briefcase all pedalling around the area. It would be interesting to know how the Dutch fare in terms of long term health benefits.
Weather: Mixed really, a few showers but mostly good cycling weather.
Roads: Ah. Here is the genius of the Dutch system. Their simple solution to the congestion problem is: keep cyclists and motorists seperate wherever possible! So simple in principle. So most cycle lanes are physically seperate from the roads that they run parallel to. They have their own traffic lights and signs and cyclists have priority over cars at most junctions where the cycle path crosses a road entrance, for example. The excellent cycle network shows you how far to the next information board which makes it easy to find your way around.
Another brave move is to put paved or concrete paths through parks and forests. No shingle or bumpy, rocky, unused railway paths here! I can imagine the National Trust Conservatives screaming in fury at the thought of cycle paths through parkland but the great thing is it means you can get right into the heart of the woodland and yet not disturb the wildlife. It felt a bit like being on a peaceful theme park ride. The shot below is one of the paths through the De Hoge Veluwe national park.
The Best Idea On the Ride:Perhaps the simplest but best thing we found were the ‘white bikes’ at the park. You drive, or catch the bus to the park entrance. There you can help yourself to one of a thousand ‘white bikes’ to cycle around the park and up to the excellent art gallery at its heart. You simply leave your bike at any of the stopping points and pick up another when you leave. No fuss, no tickets, no reservations and no charge!
Navigation: Superb. Interestingly, the only mistakes we made were when we assumed that we had to stick to the road – only to find on our return that there was a handy cycle path that would have made journey easier.
Traffic Tantrums / Near misses: Here’s the rub. Absolutely none! Firstly because the cars and bikes are seperate for most of the time. So even if someone is a bit slow and wobbly (i.e. moi) it doesn’t effect anyone apart from some other cyclists. This also means that during peak traffic times, the cars are not held up by having to wait to pass cyclists safely. The roads are smaller because of the cycle paths but that also has a traffic calming effect. Secondly I wonder if the motorists are more considerate of the average cyclist because they have all been cyclists too, from an early age. So they have empathy for those on two wheels.
Recovery Time: Excellent recovery time, probably due to the fact that most rides were to or around some wonderful places and experiences, all thoroughly recommended if you are going. The wonderful welcome (and breakfasts!) at our B&B also helped!
See you next time,
- Cycloboy Rides Again 3 (rattledrum.wordpress.com)
- Cycloboy Rides Again! (rattledrum.wordpress.com)
- Cycloboy Rides Again 2 (rattledrum.wordpress.com)
- Can cyclists and motorists learn to share the road? (confused.com)
- Why off-road cycling paths (2) (ucancycletoo.wordpress.com)
- Memories of Amsterdam. (rmnvr.wordpress.com)