Bike Touring Holland

The Land of "If You Wish..."

With the bike tour of France under our belt, we decided that another bike tour was in order.  Jayne's primary criteria were that the tour be in a flat country with interesting scenery that was bicycle friendly.  The availability of recumbent bicycles was also important for our comfort.  After a bit of internet work, we determined that Holland would meet our needs quite well, so we began to plan...

We decided to try a group tour for this trip and selected Cycletours Holland Bike and Barge tour.  We would spend a week touring the country by bike and live on a boat with 30 other people - what an adventure!  The Cycletours program provides meals, accommodations, bikes, and a guide.  

Though standard upright bikes are included in the package, we wanted to ride recumbents (primarily for their comfort, but Steve would be preparing an article on recumbent bikes for the online magazine Bent Rider Online, so we figured we should ride 'bents).  After a bit of web searching and emails, we selected Ligfeitswinkel Amsterdam to supply the bikes.  Owner Gerhard Diddens worked with us to select the bikes and made the rental process very easy.

The Land of "If You Wish"

What characterizes Holland and the Dutch?  For most people, windmills, tulips, and wooden shoes first come to mind.  After spending a bit of time among them though, we came to the realization that the Dutch are some of the most tolerant and pragmatic people around.  Generally, the Dutch attitude is "do what you wish, so long as you don't bother others, and pay your taxes".  Politically, you might characterize them a "socialist libertarians".

Our guide, Armand, would give us a spiel about a particular attraction or tour sideline that we could visit, always prefaced with the phrase "If you wish" - as in "If you wish, you may ..."  "buy one of our Cycletours t-shirts"; "visit the museum"; or even "stop in the red light district".  Whatever you wanted was OK.  "If you wish" is similar to the Jamaican "No Problem", but without the pushiness.

Our schedule was simple: fly to Amsterdam, spend a couple of days seeing the local sights and getting over jet lag, do the tour, then take the train to Bruges, Belgium for a Easter, then back to Amsterdam for the trip home.

About the Weather...

We expected to see temperatures in the low 50s during the day, with a bit of cloudiness and occasional rain.  Instead, we got a major cold wave that would feature highs in the low 40s that combined with the blustery winds and dampness to make almost every day bone-chillingly cold for us Texans.  Consequently, we took the layered look to the extremes, which, Jayne says, explains the rather puffy look of the both of us.

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