Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Town Twinning Cycle Ride to Mulheim: day 2

Our second day dawned bright and sunny as we set off for our first experience of cycling in Holland. Amazing! Right of way (impeccibly observed by motorists) for cyclists at roundabouts and road crossings; dedicated cycle paths beside all the main roads; minor roads narrowed to a single lane to allow for cycle lanes.

We had no maps, though one of our team thought he knew a little place that sold them. When we found it, it was closed, so we headed off for Amsterdam mapless. This was to become the norm!

After a couple of hours we were in Amsterdam, which was pretty hairy for virgin continental cyclists. Thousands of cyclists flying around, one of whom sent Tom Nutt crashing to the pavement, all on their sit-up-and-beg bikes.

Everyone seemed to cycle: gorgeous girls, businessmen, students, mums with babies in tow, pensioners: the bicycle in Holland is a classless and ageless mode of transport.

We had an outdoor lunch sitting beside a canal, then found the Central Station, with its multi-story bike park, and an information centre selling maps!

Back on the road, we left the city behind and charged through Hilversum, Baarn and Amersfoort, heading towards our destination of Lunteren. Attractive towns and villages, but no time to stop and wander.

After 65 miles we had no idea where our hostel for the night was, nor even what it was called. Eventually, after several wrong turnings, we found it. A bit basic would be a generous description.

Back into town for a drink we found a pizzeria with a couple of tables outside. A long, tiring day ended satisfactorily.

An interesting sideline: most of the houses in this sleepy town had their curtains wide open with lights blazing inside. Apparently, in this part of Holland it is important that the neighbours can see in, to make sure you're behaving yourself!
Photos: Top, Tom Nutt surveying the luxury of our hostel accommodation in Lunteren. Middle: an unexpected gem in Amersfoort. Bottom, the cheese display in a wonderful cheese shop and bakery where some of us bought our take-away lunch in Amsterdam.
Distance covered after 2 days: 115 miles.

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