In my opinion, there’s really only one way to see the Netherlands – yes, it is a two wheeled wedgy-inducing, self-powered contraption. For some time, I had dreamt of cycling and camping around the Netherlands, I imaged myself frolicking through green fields and past stone windmills, hair in plaits, sporting a pair of clogs. I’m kidding – no such images existed. But whatever my expectations were, it didn’t matter, as my time in Holland went above and beyond any ideas I may have had. You see, there is something strangely liberating about cycling into the unknown. I had never done anything remotely like this. After a drenched tent, spending (however many) days living off a pathetic diet, developing barrel sized quads and forming dreadlocks, I can safely say it is an experience that any soul-searching nomad must do.
With zero idea of what I was getting myself into, what my plans were, or where I would stay, I boarded a flight to Amsterdam and met my friend, Tom. After hiring bikes and pannier bags from “Bike City” (excellent bikes and equipment, questionable staff), we packed our one-man midget tent, our few possessions and a tub of peanut butter, and set off.
Knowing that we had to end up back in Amsterdam, we anticipated that our route would be some sort of loop. Here is the loop that we did to complete our trip.
Cycling out of Amsterdam was a slight issue for those of us whose coordination levels were not at their peak. With my balance slightly off center, thanks to poorly packed pannier bags, I cycled alongside hoards of businessmen, children and people of all sorts – all more competent than I. Weaving in and out of the bike lane, dodging parked cars and accidently ignoring traffic lights, we left the red light districts’ distinct smell of herbs and spirits behind, and peddled into the countryside.
Our first night started when we were only half way to the nearest town, and the sun was setting faster than my burning legs could peddle. Cycling alongside a river, I sighed with relief at our first sighting of other humans. We approached a group of fisherman, anxious for directions to the nearest town. The fact that their English vocabulary consisted of zero words, became quite a problem. Defeated and exhausted, we cycled through darkness, and into a small forest.
Using the lights of our dying phones, we set up camp, lay on the hard forest floor and started to shiver. It was at this point, sticks poking into my back, my stomach growling, that for the first (and last) time while in Holland, I experienced doubt, and fear. What the hell have I gotten myself into?