A Circular Bike Tour of Holland

This was my second biking trip in Holland, a five-day, circular ride beginning and ending in Amsterdam.

Things you might want to know about cycling in Holland

Here I have compiled a short list of things that I would tell anyone who is unfamiliar with Holland about biking there - weather, wind, language, bikes, roads, and road signs.

Day 1 - Amsterdam to Hilversum

Meeting at Schiphol Airport, renting bikes in Amsterdam, and then getting lost trying to get out of Amsterdam. Finally an easy ride through farm country to Hilversum, where we enjoy a quiet walk to dinner on the town square.

Day 2 - Hilversum to Nieuwegein

We try to leave Hilversum to the southeast, but construction on the highway stops us and once again we are lost. We give up and rearrange our itinerary to bike south through pleasant small towns and an extensive, wooded park. We endure rain as we ride on highways that we can't identify towards Utrecht. We try to avoid Utrecht, but the roads take us there anyway. What we see of Utrecht looks beautiful, but we have trouble there trying to cross a major highway.

Day 3 - Nieuwegein to Gouda

Our hotel is on a major highway, and for the third time in three days, we have trouble trying to get to the other side of a big road. Once there, however, we have a wonderful morning ride on a small road. We stop at the small towns of Montfort and Oudewater, where we see a bride and groom and a girl fishing in the canal out of her kitchen window. Our ride ends at Gouda, where Len searches for its namesake cheese as we browse its beautiful canals.

Day 4 - Gouda to Noordwijk

This time we find a secret way to cross the highway that fronts our hotel. There is easy, but comparatively uninteresting, cycling until we arrive at Leiden, where we are enchanted by the ubiquitous canals and picturesque views. We visit a museum looking for Dutch master paintings, but instead see Egyptian antiquities. There doesn't seem to be much to see of the famous university there, and we leave, cycling west towards the sea. We arrive at our hotel in Noordwijk, a seaside resort more like New Jersey than the Holland we have seen in Leiden.

Day 5 - Noordwijk to Amsterdam

We cycle north on a long distance bike path with the strong wind at our back. At Zandvoort a young girl tells us that it is possible to bike directly to Amsterdam on a highway that I had believed was forbidden to bikes. She is right, and we arrive early in the afternoon in Amsterdam, where the town is alive on this mid-summer Saturday. We return the bikes, walk around town, and take the evening train to Paris.