Biking Holland (Pt. 1)

Holland is flat, they said. Biking there will be easy-peasy! Well, um….

They aren’t big hills, it’s true. But after fighting strong winds for hours — 25-30 mph, sustained — they felt big! The conditions were uncommonly rough, our guide said. (If you haven’t biked for more than a few minutes into a strong headwind, it’s hard to explain.) I was glad for my own commitment to fitness, our group’s resilience, our guide’s cheeriness, and the E-bikes that several used (which helped the whole group move along better.) On our 2nd day of biking at least 30 miles, I was ready for a E-bike myself. Almost.

When you embark on a trip like this, you never know who you’ll meet. Our 14-person touring group includes three engineers, a lawyer, a lineman, a Navy captain, several federal managers and a U.S. Senate staffer (mostly retired). We come from the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Singapore. Biking experience varies. Conversation is lively.

Another unknown on this trip was how sailing would be combined with biking. Our overnight lodging is the three-masted schooner Mare Fan Fryslan. (See previous post). Its 5-person crew, including a sailor-in-training, hails from Holland and Germany. The food is fabulous, the interior roomy, and the atmosphere relaxed. Sometimes the boat meets us at the next port and sometimes it brings us there.

It all works. See photos and captions below.

Starting our ride on the island of Texel, bordering the North Sea, in strong winds. We returned to the boat seven hours later, tired by dry and thankful that the rain held off.
Our bikes are equipped with waterproof paniers (bags on the back) and directions clipped to the handlebars.
The winds did not feel challenging on the boat. It’s a different thing on a bike!
It looks like three tall sticks, doesn’t it? That’s our three-masted schooner, traveling through a narrow canal as we bike along nearby.
The boat crew: in back. Skipper Mattys, First Mate Marvin, and Chef Stef; in front, Hostess Katie and sailor-in-training Stein.
These Dutch Navy ships at Den Elder look new, compared to our 63-year-old boat. But I think ours is more beautiful. I think I’ve been out if the Navy too long.
Sea grasses wave in the wind near the North Sea as we take a biking break.
Breaks were pretty frequent while the wind was strong.
I took a turn as “sweep,” meaning I take the tail (back) end to make sure we stay together. I have a radio, map and trail numbers to help – plus the bright yellow vest.
Holland’s famous dikes are everywhere, holding back the sea.
Stopping on the sandy (and windy) shore of the North Sea.
Scottish Highlanders join sheep and horses in Holland’s fields. Adorable!
On our 3rd day of biking, we began to encounter the famous fields of flowers.
These tulips will be cut down soon in order to harvest the bulbs. Our guide says it’s quite sad, really…one day the fields are aflame with color, the next day they’re drab and flat. This is why tourists flock to Holland in April. The visual opportunity is brief…
Hyacinths were in full bloom also.
The hot tub on the boat is always welcome after a long ride.
Our guide Tom advertises the company that hosts us on his vest.

3 thoughts on “Biking Holland (Pt. 1)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s