One early morning in mid May I started out on an adventure to solo 80 km bike ride across the Dutch countryside to the location of our seasonal camping spot in Oud-Alblas. This bucket list item had been eluding me for years. With the passing of my father-in-law just weeks prior it brought into full focus that I shouldn’t put off things I desire to do, that my own clock is ticking.
I have taken one bike vacation with my hubby in the eleven years we have known each other. It was a little over 60 km ride from our house to the city of Alkmaar. I have done possibly hundreds of shorter day bike rides in the years I have lived here in The Netherlands but nothing longer than 30 km alone.
I started my planning with my Lidl Fietsatlas ( Lidl the discount store, and a Bike atlas they sold several years ago) showing all the bike point routes in The Netherlands.
I then carefully chose my routes based on what I wanted to see along the way. One of those locations was Gouda. I also wanted to cross the Lek River by ferryboat. With those requirements I started planning my route.
Then I carefully wrote down the bike points and routes I wanted to follow.
Then it was time to pack my bike bags and head out on this adventure alone.
The early morning had a bit of a nip in the air as I started out. I soon warmed up as I peddled against a headwind. The wind is almost always blowing here and if you are lucky you have a nice tailwind to help push the bike along. Unlucky for me I had to work a bit harder on the start of this trip. I headed towards the real start of my route to the South on the Haarlemmeer ringvaart. I marked bike point 9 as my official start point. It took me about a 1/2 hour to ride to the start of my bike trip outside the Haarlemmeer polder.
Riding over the bike bridge and out of the polder into the Green Heart of The Netherlands.
I entered into the small town of Oude Wetering and saw this tower proudly displaying a tulip.
For a while I was unsure of my route through this small town and ended up along another bike path that edged along a large lake. The wind was really kicking into high gear and I stopped to look at my map and figure out what direction I needed to go next to get back on track. I found out the large lake was Braassemer.
Finding these bike route signs are not always easy as they are never located exactly where you think they should be. Sometimes they are located easily in eye view and other times you have to play hide and seek with them, mostly missing them all together and making for a longer (sometimes frustrating, more scenic, or adventurous bike ride). The ones below are the ones I found in Oude Weterling after I had gotten off my route a bit.
I knew that bike point 32 is where I had to catch my first ferry boat to cross the water so I was happy to find this sign. The route still didn’t feel right as I rode through several neighborhood streets and across new housing construction along the Braassemer Lake. I kept thinking I had to be going in the right direction but the distance seemed further than what I had calculated. I stopped and looked at my phone map and saw I only had a short distance further to peddle to the ferry boat.
I was now out of the housing areas and back into the flat fields with a farm house every now and then along my path. I was so enjoying the ride now with a nice tailwind that I missed the ferry boat platform on my left hand side. I quickly stopped, backtracked and hauled my bike onto the grated platform.
I asked the one other waiting passengers what was the cost of the ferry ride. I started hauling my change out of the depths of my purse, I then watched several of my coins fall through the grated platform with a plop, plop, plop into the waiting water below. The cost of this ferry now became even most expensive for me. I laughed it off.
“Oh well it is only money.” as I continued to lightly chat with the lady I shared this ferry boat ride with. She was on her daily bike commute to work in Alphen aan den Rijn. She confirmed my route into the city and wished me luck on my trip further. At this point the sun was shining.
In the next post I continue on this trip towards Oud-Alblas, biking though Alphen aan den Rijn and Gouda.
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