Our AirBnB host offered us two
bikes to borrow during our stay, so we took her up on the offer. Haarlem is only about 9 km from the Atlantic, and we mapped a bike route through the dunes of the Nationaal Park Zuid-Kennemerland which would be about a 20-mile circuit. We based our ride on this youtube video.
Starting out on the streets of Haarlem, I have to say that the thought that has gone into the bike paths throughout town (and undoubtedly the rest of the country) is excellent. One lane for cars, one for bikes, one for pedestrians. Bikes are king. Soon we were through town and into the park.
One thinks of Holland as being flat, and well, it pretty much is. Then when you think of sand dunes, you think of small hills. Against our better judgment, we took the loaner bikes (beaters – mine with a rusty chain, H’s with no gears and a flapping fender) and had to work a little harder than most people going up the slight inclines. Even old ladies passed us up. Our new rule is: Never ride junker bikes if you can help it!!! (Right, Judy?) One woman who passed us pointed at H’s fender and said something in Dutch which I took to mean, “Your bike is falling apart you crazy person.”
The path was completely paved with a herringbone brick. I not only appreciated the smoothness of the ride, but also the amount of labor it must have taken to lay that brick. Workers were replacing the brick sidewalk in front of our flat while we were there, and though they made daily progress, it is NOT a swift endeavor.
We met up with C and B in the resort town of Zaandwort (you just gotta love all the place names that start with Z!) for a pizza lunch and a short stroll along the beach. We had to dip our fingers into the Atlantic at least once this year.
After our rest and refueling, it was time to decide whether to take the bikes back on the train for a 10-minute ride, or to take the short bike path back for 30 minutes. I thought I was good to ride, but I should have known that the 30 minutes on those bikes was really about an hour. We earned our dinner that night.
Repeat, “NEVER ride a junker bike!”