Days 16 & 17: Riding the Dunes of the Dutch Coast

August 22 – 23, 2017

When I suggested we take an overnight trip to cycle the coast I wasn’t sure Amy would be into it. She bikes all around town, just like every Amsterdammer, but does she like cycling all day? Also she only has a heavy single speed. Will that be good for a multi-day trip? But despite all the crap she is dealing with she was totally game. It’s not something she does often but she’s such a good sport and when she at one point apologized for her mood I wouldn’t hear it. She has been nothing but lovely and an amazingly generous host. I’m so sorry she’s in a bad place but we have had so much fun together and I can only hope that’s helping.

Anyway, I had planned the bike the coast route up but going through Antwerp had pushed my journey east and bad weather had kept me from pedaling back westward. The weather remains unpredictable and I’m not entirely sure how much more biking I will do as Vanessa and I make our way back down toward Paris so when I saw 2 beautiful days in the weather report in a row I knew I had to take it.

Biking in Scheveningen. It’s the 100th anniversary of De Stijl so Mondrian has been plastered all over The Hague where he had his only Dutch project. I even saw a crazy dress but the photo isn’t great although it did have an amazing sign that said “This is a decoration not a wearable dress. It might be used for a photo shoot.” Photo by Amy Jo Wiseheart.

10 years ago I took a 4 day bike trip with my then girlfriend Jane. It was guided so we didn’t have to plan anything ourselves nor carry any of our belongings. So it was quite different. But we had been based out of Noordwijk an Zee and had visited several places along the Dutch coast. I have fond memories of much of that trip and also remember some things we missed I wanted to return to.

More mini ponies on the way from Leiden! It may not be a close up but thankfully as an amazing photographer Amy Jo Wiseheart was able to get a nice shot for once.

So in Tuesday we ride to Amsterdam Sloterdijk train station, a much closer and blissfully calmer option then Centraal, and took a train to Leiden. This was my first time taking the train with my bike in NL. During busy times it can be rough but this ride was just fine and we only got turned out a couple times riding out of Leiden. But we took some nice country roads and saw more mini horses (Amy got the best shots) before meeting up with the LF4 heading into The Hague.

Selfie with the iconic Scheveningen pier in the background.

I could have spent more time and gone into the city center, there’s so much to see and do, but we were staying in Scheveningen and it’s the place that I had missed out on (because we took too long at Madurodam) so many years ago. So we went straight there and walked the boardwalk and had lunch.

Sad sculpture park on the boardwalk.

The first things that greeted us were these creepy statues that apparently are characters from fairy tales. I guess those can be quite scary. The iconic pier sported a huge Ferris wheel that was tempting but pricey. But it was just as entertaining watching people zip line and bungy jump. I was also intrigued by this little tourist vehicle that was made to look like a tram that went up and down the boardwalk. Creepy clown bouncy castles and tons of herring and frite stands completed the atmosphere. It’s kind of like Holland’s Jersey Shore really.

I put my swimsuit on but the weather changes fast here and it was just a bit too cold to swim that evening. But we checked in with our Vrienden hosts and took a nap and emerged just in time for dinner on the beach to watch the sunset.

Amy posing for the sunset.

The next day was an even bigger biking day as we planned to go all the way up to Zandvoort before getting on a train back to Amsterdam. The LF1 Noordzeeroute takes you all through the coastal dunes and we had a lovely morning, stopping in Katwijk an Zee for lunch. It was a busy route of through cyclists, day trippers, beach bums and all sorts winding their way through the dunes. I could have stopped at a million little strands (beaches) they were all so cute. And there was just enough climbing to make it interesting.

It was about 1pm and the sun was high in the sky so Amy grabbed an ice cream and we headed out to the beach. The North Sea was chilly but shallow and we got used to it fairly quickly. It was a perfect beach day, my first swimming of this whole trip, and it was excellent.

Hot dogs or legs lounging on the beach in Katwijk. Photo by Amy Jo Wiseheart.

We continued on and the farther north we went the crazier the beach towns got. It was the first really nice day in a while and I think people were trying to rush out there from work to enjoy it. In Noordwijk, where I had previously stayed, we saw a crazy accident with this car halfway up a pole. It hadn’t flipped over entirely but looked like it could. Here is also where we discovered that Amy had been riding with her seat having fallen all the way down making her ride up and down the hilly dunes even more difficult than a cruiser bike would have ordinarily been. I totally understood because my sit also has been tending to slip down this whole trip and it really contributes to leg and knee pain. My multi tool is quite small so sometimes it’s difficult to get enough torque to really tighten a hex bolt and when I tightened my seat in Belgium last week I hit my arm hard on the seat giving me yet another bruise to sport. I really look a mess. But we were glad to have it here as raising her seat improves her ride greatly.

We hit another popular beach needing a drink and a rest at about 4 and just as we are drinking our beverages the sky begins to open up. Children with boogie boards are crying and it’s about time for everyone to go home. The storm passed quickly and we got the hell out of there.

Riding in the dunes with Amy. That’s me in the background there…

We reached Zandvoort without too much more trouble but had to wait for rush hour to end before we were allowed to take bikes on the train. Even so our train was packed and we shared the bike area with 2 older ladies who also had to stand squeezed in with their bicycles.

We passed through the town of Haarlem, a cute little hamlet with a very pretty train station that I definitely wasn’t able to get a good photo of. I hope to maybe come back on my way back south.

We arrived in Amsterdam tired but accomplished and I even made it out to the queer night at the pink bar Vrankrijk as suggested by a friend at home who had just spent some time in the ‘dam.

I sure slept well that night.

Looking back at the Scheveningen pier and the North Sea with a few dots of giant barges in the background.

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