Day 12. Well the “Dutch hills” got us today. Like a Mack truck in the face. Before coffee break it was windy, then between coffee and lunch it was windy and then after lunch for something different it was…um, windy. The scenery was pretty and we rode through some lovely villages, Elburg being one of the most quaint lovely little villages I’ve ever seen. We did a lot of riding along paths on the top of dikes. We thought it might be less windy down on the lower road (where there was that option), but no, just as windy there.
It’s amazing to see how the Dutch embrace bike culture. EVERYONE is out riding; entire families (right down to the youngest of kids), often all carrying gear on their bikes, older couples out for their afternoon ride, shoppers, commuters, the works. After 106km I think most of us were happy to see the outskirts of the city. Amsterdam is certainly a bike Mecca. There are bikes in every imaginable configuration, being ridden by every demographic. It appears to be absolute bedlam as everyone ducks in and out of paths, merging, crossing and weaving. Then throw in the motor scooters that are also allowed to use the paths and it looks like there should be complete carnage occurring constantly, however everyone seems to understand the flow and it all seems to move pretty well. It’s a little intimidating at first but you need to just go with it.
Everyone made it safely to our lovely hotel on the water. This is the end of stage 1 of our tour so we had our final group dinner for the stage and had to say goodbye to four people, Kahren and Michael, Paddy and our German speaking guide Ronny. We also welcomed four new additions for stage 2 in Chris and Penny, Rod, Irene and new Belgian guide Loic. Rest tomorrow in Amsterdam before we begin stage 2.