TOURING THE NETHERLANDS (1) NORTH

July 24 - August 3 1995

Touring The Netherlands North

After a year of hard work in our photo studio, the three of us made a tour through our homeland. We started in Eindhoven located in the south of The Netherlands and travelled north, then west and south again. It was an extremely hot summer that year. We did not camp, but stayed in bed and breakfast pensions for the night, so our bikes were not that heavily loaded. It was our first main bike tour as a team.

Sorry for the poor quality of the photos, I had to scan them out of our personal dairies.

Studying the maps and preparing the bikes
Studying the maps and preparing the bikes

Studying the maps and preparing the bikes

Day 1 - 2 > Eindhoven - Tiel - Apeldoorn 168 km

At the end of the first day we crossed river Rhine

At the end of the first day we crossed river Rhine

Holland is a completely flat country, except for the very south and the center where it's just a little hilly.

The journey went through sandy heather county, changing to clay in the river area a little more to the north. One can establish that by the sort of farming culture, for which the Dutch are famous in this region. Today the population is working in the industry.

Lunch and fun on our way
Lunch and fun on our way

Lunch and fun on our way

Cycling was easy in the shade of the woods along the biking route, although one of us suffered of saddle pain, which later on became a serious problem, forcing us to change the culprit saddle for a better one. Lack of experience can ruin ones holiday. We had good night's rest, with fine people.

Day 2 - 4 > Apeldoorn - Nunspeet - Hasselt 122 km

I never knew even chicken live in floor apartments!

I never knew even chicken live in floor apartments!

After the many green colors of meadows and forests we entered the heather landscape of De Veluwe. A little hilly but our winter training turned out to be sufficient. No problems at all.

For the first time we really could feel the burning sun. Our water consumption increased, but drinking water will not bring one in trouble in Holland. Distances are small, water quality is save and easily available within a few miles.

This part of Holland is a nature reserve area and a region for outdoor tourists. The area is mainly wooded by pine trees. Famous are the chicken farms around Barneveld, the large and tasteful eggs and the chicken meat.

Rainy arrival in Hasselt

Rainy arrival in Hasselt
As you may have noticed, architecture has changed

After a hot day it started to rain, a warm shower.

Day 5 - 6 > Hasselt - Balk - Joure 158 km

A peculiar story

A peculiar story

The Old Dutch harbor town of Sloten

The Old Dutch harbour town of Sloten

We then came in a completely different district. This part of Holland is situated along the eastern shores of the IJsselmeer, formerly called The Southern Sea. In 1932 this large lake was shut of from the open see by a dam. Along her shores one can still see the ancient harbour-, and fisherman towns showing their trading character.

In Zwart Sluis we heard a peculiar story about a hermit called Bolle Willempien. About 1880 he lived a simple life in this rough and swampy area. In old Dutch 'bolle' means dead-born calf. That was his food. Why he lived out there in the backlands and were he also died, we'll never know. A foundation bought this tiny piece of land - to be seen just behind us in the photograph - to his remembrance.

Shelter under a tree

That night we stayed with an old theologian. We had an interesting evening. When you are traveling this way, you'll get to meet some colorful people.

The next day it was extremely hot again. At the end of the day the sky turned coal black in just a few minutes time. We could not make a bolt for the next village, 2 miles further on. Heavy rain, lightning and thunder was our share. We had to build a shelter under a tree.

Day 7 - 8 > Joure - Breezand - Hoorn 211 km

Our most northern point

Our most northern point

A hot summer built up to a heat wave, which lasted for a few weeks. Temperatures raised above 35 degrees Celsius. This is unknown to our country. Thank God we are blessed with a head full of thick hair!

In this area there is no shade of a forest, nothing but interesting old harbours that silted up during the centuries. Like Stavoren did.

On our right the open sea on our left the lake, all water. Before us a straight line: The Dam

On our right the open sea on our left the lake, all water. Before us a straight line: The Dam

Before us is the Afsluitdijk, the dam I told you about earlier, 30 km's long. There is no protection against the wind, but we were lucky with a strong eastern backwind.

The Hondsbosche Seadam

The Hondsbosche Seadam

Going south again. This region in the northwest of Holland is famous for her bulb growing, for instance tulips. In spring it is a colorful sight.

Dunes and heather against the sea

Dunes and heather against the sea

Impressing, not a single brick is wrongly positioned. Holland's protection against heavy storms depends on the condition of these dams and dunes. Most of our land and cities in the west are conquered from the sea, reclaimed with the help of dams and are below sea level.

In Hoorn we completed this unforgettable route. In the 15- and 16 hundreds Hoorn was a more important seaport, than Amsterdam. Sailing ships out of the Indies could easily enter. Amsterdam improved her facilities and the sailor's journey in became shorter.

Day 9 - 10 > Hoorn - Naarden - Overheicop 101 + 80 km

Old fisherman villages like Marken

Old fisherman villages like Marken

My companions, Josie and Edo had to be very patient with me. Every time I spotted an interesting photo theme I had to stop. A selection of which you can see in 'Barns' and 'Low Lands'.

Those last 3 days I was quite lucky with my photography, although contrasts were much too high in the hot sun.

Our second flat tire on this trip

Our second flat tire on this trip

When The IJsselmeer was still open sea, it was called De Zuiderzee (Southern Sea). Towns like Marken and Volendam were little islands then. People lived an isolated life with their fishingfleet. Today the inhabitants still hold on to their old traditions and clothing.

We cycled along the river Vecht. In the 16 hundreds rich traders built their homes in beautiful architecture. Our first problem with one of the bicycles, we have to change two broken spokes. Another problem changes our plans: Saddle pain!

In Holland we are blessed with save and good bicycle pathways, which are off the main road, flats are therefore rare. As you already understood, cycling requires good training and knowledge of bicycles.

Day 11 > Overheicop - 's Hertogenbosch - Eindhoven

Windmill along the river near Zuilichem

Windmill along the river near Zuilichem

To our eyes landscape and architecture is changing to a more familiar kind. This is our homeland again.

Worried faces, could we make it home with that saddle pain?

Worried faces, could we make it home with that saddle pain?

As you can see all different colors of green, with woods and meadows. The south of The Netherlands is like that. The loads on our bicycles were about 20 kilos each, which is light, we did not carry camping gear. The terrain was flat, so except for the hot weather the trip was easy.

Edo. A slim teenager grew up to be a fine outdoor athlete and a promising student

Edo. A slim teenager grew up to be a fine outdoor athlete and a promising student

After lunch Edo broke out far ahead of us and arrived 2 hours earlier at home in Eindhoven. We couldn't keep up with him. Physical condition not bad. A little more long distance training. Are we ready for more daring challenges....?