Sunday, August 12, 2018

How the Dutch got their cycle paths

For the entire tour, the Netherlands wonderfully designed cycle paths had me scratching my head, why were the Dutch able to crate a set of interconnected, safe and functional bike paths and not a large percentage of other countries?

The following video will give you some insight into how the country was able to turn away from automotive concentric transportation to human powered local transportation.



Maybe it was the perfect storm to lead to this transportation solution. Would it be possible to reproduce the same outcome in the US or any one state?

I ran some numbers; the Netherlands has:

  • population of 16.9 million
  • land area of 13,86 square miles
  • population density of 1,291 people per sq mile


If you collectively take the Southern California counties of Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo you would have:

  • population of 12.0 million
  • land area of 9,470 square miles
  • population density of 1,268 people per sq mile

Very comparable numbers

If we wanted to solve many of our transportation issues, we have the Netherlands as a model.

Brian 


Friday, August 10, 2018

Last day....

Today was a lovely day several times. Left the waterside hotel in Rotterdam riding out with the water on our left hand side. Winds into our faces for the first 20 kms but turning in to a nice tail wind for most of the reminding day. About 90 minutes into the ride we felt the tail winds increase and looking over our shoulders we spied a huge dark storm cloud looming behind us. Time to increase out speed in ride like the wind!! At times we were reaching 44 km (27 mph) as we rode the winding undulating path among the sand dunes.

The rain started first with showers and just as the downpour stared we ducked into a beach side shopping center to wait out the worst of it. If we had been a bit later, 30 minutes, the shops and cafes would have been open and we could have enjoyed a cup of coffee and dried out a bit, but the worst of the rain passed and we were on our way just as the shops began to open.

The tail wind had soften a bit and the roads a bit damp but it had become a lovely day again, second time today.

The ride continued on the bike path through the sand dunes with the ocean on the left occasionally going through some vacation beach towns. As we entered The Hague clouds started to form again and after a quick pass through the downtown waterfront, we needed to seek shelter under a set of trees at the showers passed.  Shortly afterwards we started inland to lunch at 83 km and for a third time in the day it was a lovely day. Being the last day, we had a time crunch in Amsterdam and need to repack out bags and disassemble our equipment before our last dinner together, so the typical coffee and ice cream stops were not on today's agenda.

The last 25 km into Amsterdam when by huge green houses as we pick up another tail wind  and zoomed beside the water way that that evening out dinner cruise boat will follow and then into the park south of Amsterdam and into our hotel.

I had one final task, travel though the center of Amsterdam to find a riding jersey at a shop call Presto Cycling Sport. Dan had bought a beautiful orange "Holland" jersey before the trip and I selected a red "Amsterdam" jersey. A great souvenir of a wonderful two week tour.


Today's photos

Happy Biking,

Brian


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Finally got some Netherlands Weather...

For the past two weeks the weather has been more Southern California and not at all like typical Netherlands weather. This morning, the riding group was all in a tizzy.  The weather forecast called for drenching raining over our destination of Rotterdam with rain starting at 11 am or so.

Some folks were scooting out early and trying to beat the rain. Another approach was to have a good breakfast, grab your rain gear and brave the possible rain. The third option was to jump on the train and ride up to Rotterdam see the city before rain hits.   I was with the group that chose the second option, good breakfast and brave the rain.

All in all we were pretty happy with the choice. We pushed it a bit, skipped the coffee stop and the afternoon ice cream stop, but did stop for the lunch van at about 1/2 point. The rain held off and I gotta say we started to become pretty cocky hoping that the rain would not appear at all, but at about one out out the drizzle started.  Fortunately it was summer rain and really not too chilly but we still had 25 km to go. We followed the path back and forth finally arriving at the ferry just as the gang plank was being raised, just miss the boat. The next trip would be in about 30 minutes. Then the rain started to increase. We all started to huddle in a small covering waiting for the boat. By the time we got the the far side the rain turned into steady rain and we had 8 more kilometers (5 miles) to go. Jumping off the boat we follow the shore almost all the way to the hotel, check in, showered up and changed into some nice warm clothes. All very nice.

Today's photos

Happy Biking,

Brian Cox


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

oh now we're getting the true Netherlands treatment

Last night was a huge set of storms that came through our area last night, though you could tell by me. I slept through two different storms to wake up with water on the ground, cool temperatures and a brisk breeze. The weather forecast had called for winds from the south, which would not be too bad, but much of the winds came from west or south west that slowed our progress a bit. We also got a late start. We were staying an Abby and had a tour of it. We excused ourselves at shortly after 9 AM cause we had a 125 km ride in front of us.

The ride was a mixture of trails, canals and rides along the dikes. most of it with head wind the was in our faces, but not oppressive.

Link to Photos 

Happy Biking,

Brian



Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Technology

As I was starting out this morning I was thinking about how much the technology has changed since I've been taking these bicycle trips. I took as couple of trips in the mid-90s and there was no electronics. The camera was a disposable film camera, I didn't want to risk lugging around my Cannon 35mm. All phone calls were from pay phones, but you could get money from an ATM, if you could find a bank with one.

In 2002, for my cross country trip, I had set up a website that using library computers, I could log on and update using files on my 64 Megabyte thumb drive. Photos were still on film. My cross country site is still on line and posted at; http://coxintl.com/coast2coast.htm

In 2003, I did a "End to End" trip in the UK, from Lands End to John o'Groats Scotland and I upgraded to digital camera for the first time. The end to end site is located at: http://coxintl.com/end2end/index_end2end.htm

In 2011, I stared post my trips to an new thing called a "blog", that made the daily trip descriptions a bit easier  The 2011 trip blog is located at: http://spain2011-blog.blogspot.com/

In 2013, the trip was from Paris to Istanbul, along the path of the Orient Express, prompted me to get a Garmin GPS unit to help me with navigating the daily route. the 2013 trip blog is located at: http://orientexpresss2013.blogspot.com/

For this trip I've started to use the "RideWithGPS" smartphone verbal turn by turn directions. With the daily trip route on "RideWithGPS", you download the route to your phone using the "RideWithGPS" app and throw the phone into "airplane mode" to save on the data plan and to conserve power. For the rest of the day a little voice in your ear will be saying things like; "500 meters, turn left". Between the voice in your ear and the Garmin GPS maps on your handle bars, it gives you a great sense of where you are and if you miss a turn, the best way to get back on track.

There is one final technology that I just tried out yesterday, but it's jaw dropping. It's call Google Translate and it's a smartphone app. Point it at a sign or menu and it will translate to your specified language it will even translate a conversation, Star Trek universal translator here we come!!

Link to Photos

Happy Biking,

Brian Cox


Monday, August 6, 2018

Hey they have steep climbs in the Netherlands

Today was an out and back loop ride. Through some beautiful countryside and some nasty climbs. So far, the ride has been pretty flat but today Jan sent us south to catch a few of the Netherlands climbs and a bit of Belgium as well.

The climbs are not really long, but at 14% grade each climb becomes pretty significant.

The heat has returned with it reaching into the mid 90's by the end of the ride. More warm days are ahead.

link to today's photos


Happy Biking,

Brian Cox



Sunday, August 5, 2018

Cooler, faster, prettier....

We had a rest day off yesterday that gave us a chance to gather ourselves and explore a bit before heading out on the trail today.

The temperature was a cooler this morning with the predicted temperature reaching the low 80's. The sky was almost cloud free. The road surface was mostly paved as we headed south. crossing into Belgium before cross back into the Netherlands for the hotel this evening.

Being a Sunday, not much road traffic was expected and only a couple cafes would be open today.

As we headed south we entered the area around Eindhoven. As we passed the edge of the airport, at the end of the runway, there was a parking lot filled with maybe 20 cars and a food truck. folding chairs were out an folks with binoculars we watching the planes take off and land.

The big attraction for cyclist was a couple of miles on also outside the edge of Eindhoven, a suspended round-about with a tall king post in the center holding the elevated bikeway above the vehicular traffic below. Many of us went round and round the roadway just for the fun of it.

Our ride also traveled through 2 towns that must of had some fun carnivals the evening before. It was almost spooky riding thorough the middle of the towns with silent carnival rides on either side, beer gardens empty and food stands abandoned. The streets were littered with confetti, but you could almost here the echo of the music and voices from the night before.

After lunch started to follow the wide canal that runs from Maastrich to Den Bosh for a distance of 120 km. We followed it for 40 beautiful kilometers That I can only hope that the photos will be able to capture.

We're now at a "vd Valk" hotel and we'll be here for two nights. Tomorrow we'll be doing a loop rides into the hills. We're looking forward to it.

Links to photos

Happy Biking,

Brian


Thursday, August 2, 2018

two ferries, one that you gotta pull!!

Where do I start?

I guess I'll start at the beginning. The morning breakfast was filling and got us off to a good start. The weather was kinda crisp at 64 degrees with the promise of warmer temperatures later today.

The trails today were mostly remote trails that often did not follow a specific road, but instead headed out across a field sometimes in a straight line, sometimes not. The surface varied greatly as well, from concrete to asphalt to paving stones to hard pack surface. All surfaces very ride-able. We often were routed through residential neighborhoods where we found herring bone paving stones.

We crossed the 2 rivers today. The first ferry was a small raft where you pulled the ferry from side to side (take a look at the pictures below). It was all lots of fun. The second crossing was later in the day where the ferry was almost tug boat size where for 1.30 Euros they would take both you and your bike cross a small river.

By the time we ended the ride, the temperature had reached 89 degrees which is breaking records in this country. The lack of rain is also affecting the plants in the fields, the lawns of the homes and the golf courses.

Tomorrow is likely to be very similar weather and we're planning on being on the road by 8 AM.

Link to photos

Happy Riding,

Brian


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Going to where they make Olympic Medals....

Jan told us that we were traveling to where the Netherlands made Olympic medals. Not the actual medals, but where they trained their skaters to win medals!

Started off with the weather a bit cool maybe 72 degrees or so through mostly through rural roads and bike paths. At a bit over 20 km (12 miles) we entered the town of Heerenveen and pulled into the skating center called, "Thiaf". The arena is huge and we arrived in the middle of short track skating practice. There is no way that television can convey the speed and precision of these skaters as they zipped round the oval. I just hope that some of my photos and capture at least a small fraction of the awe that we experienced watching the skaters zip by just a couple of yards away.

The next stop was just 'round the corner at a golf course for some coffee. I think I have some photos of us relaxing under the umbrellas with our coffee.

Lunch was at 56 kms in a shady park where we had sandwiches, drinks, yogurt and fruit.  All very healthy to get us back on the road.

A second highlight for the day was a radio telescope a the "ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy" where a parabolic dish was just off the bike path.

Dwingeloo Telescope

From here it was a quick 12 km (7.5 miles) to the hotel. I've showered and dragged all my internet equipment to the bar to upload the photos and GPS recordings since the wi-fi is pretty weak. The owner has informed me that tonight we're having BBQ with all the fixings.

Looking forward to another great day on bike.

Link to Photos


Happy Biking,

Brian Cox


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Loop Day...

Today we did a loop ride, starting and ending at our hotel in Sint Nicolaaga. Our tour leader, Jan had arranged for a visit to the maritime museum in the town called Sneek (pronounced Snake) in the town where he grew up. The museum also included materials about life in Sneed in the 1800's, including winter life.

Just as we were getting ready to leave for lunch, a downpour started so we all hung out in the museum's lobby drinking coffee until it blew over. Then it was time for heading out to lunch that was held at a local community center just a couple of kilometers away. As we getting ready to leave the rain started to come down in buckets again.

We were fortunate in that the rain passed quickly and we were soon on our way. The return trip brushed the parameter of Sneek and went through some of the residential sections of the town before heading out to the fields then looping around a couple of lakes. The wind had picked up and at times we were heading into some brisk headwinds. As we started to turn south and then west, the headwinds turned into friendly tail winds pushing us along.

With about 20 km (12 mile) to go, we spied the town of Heeg and decided that ice cream would be in order. We found a shaded cafe in town and enjoyed some sundaes be for finishing up the ride and getting back to the hotel before showering up before dinner.

link to photos, click here

All in all, a very nice day to be on the bike

Happy Riding,

Brian



Monday, July 30, 2018

Second day on the bike....

We're getting the morning routine down a bit better. Had great breakfast before the ride briefing. Today we headed further north to cross the Afsluitdijk. A huge 20 mile long dike that allows motor traffic and bikes to cross over the dike.

The ride north started under gray skies and about 72 degrees temperatures, just about right for biking. The route was along tree lined bike paths with a gentle tailwind pushing us along at a nice clip. At 10, about 90 minutes into the ride it was time for coffee. After about 30 minutes it was time to push on to lunch. The picnic lunch was located on the dike almost mid way across.

I'm not sure how long we were at lunch, perhaps 45 minutes or so, before we headed out for the last halve of the ride. Once were were back on land, the task was to find ice cream. Yea, breakfast, coffee, lunch, ice cream that's the that ticket, the right elements for a good ride. The final push from the ice cream stop was in full sun and a bit of a headwind as well, but you're near the end of the ride and more traffic circles to navigate, cute neighborhoods to cruise through and a brief ferry ride before the hotel.  We arrive close to 4 PM. Time enough for a shower, blogging and now time for a beer before dinner. Oh this is what a call a vacation!!

click here for photos


Sunday, July 29, 2018

First day on the road...

We had to hustle to get on the road this morning even though it was fairly late start at 8:30 AM. Had repack, get your breakfast, load the baggage van and make final adjustments to the bikes.

I'm renting a bike, so that final critical seat adjustment were required. The bike routing is much more sophisticated than in the past where we would all get route sheets to follow hope for the best. This trip everything is also electronic. Tiny little GPS receivers with maps and routes the that beep at you on all the turns and buzz you when you go off course. Most of the units are various models of Garmins and a couple of units from Wahoo.

In addition, there is a smartphone system called "ridewithgps" that allow you to turn your phone into a GPS bike device as well. The nifty feature of "ridewithgps" is that it will call out the routes as you ride through your headphones. I used both devices today. The Garmin on the handle bars and the smartphone tucked into my back pocket with the headphone snaking up to my ears. For the first day, it worked out ok. I've also helped several others get their units set up as well.

The Ride

Today was a ride that headed a bit south then east as we left Amsterdam. Some this on bike paths that ran beside the road and many times paths that headed out across the fields. The dutch have put a lot of effort to make sure that bike travel is practical and safe with special bike routes, signs and traffic lights.

In contrast to the recent heatwave, today was a bit overcast and cooler. I don't remember the exact temperature, but it was likely in the 70's most of the day. The day was also pretty breezy with headwind early in the the ride turning into tail winds as the day progressed.

Jan the trip leader lives outside of Amsterdam and arranged for us to picnic at his waterside house. The picnic is typical items to keep you going for the final 1/2 of the ride, sandwich fixings and drinks. I made a couple of peanut and butter sandwiches.

The final push into the hotel was almost all tailwinds with some sky threatening to pour at any moment, but out luck held as it spit on us a bit but never developed into full downpour.

The hotel is very upscale and even has a gambling casino. After a great dinner it was time to get ready for tomorrow.

Click here for daily ride photos




Saturday, July 28, 2018

Arrived safely Thursday and toured Amsterdam Thursday, Friday and Saturday. This evening (Saturday) the entire group of riders, about 40 of us, headed out to dinner at local restaurant for a good meal and a ride briefing. Jan out lined the ride in detail, giving a rundown on the local traffic markers and riding customs of the Netherlands.

Tomorrow's ride is a bit over 66 miles (107 km). The temperatures have been record breaking the past couple of days with one day hovering at 99 degrees F, which if unheard of in the Netherlands. With some showers today, perhaps the heat has broken. The highs for tomorrow are predicted to be about 80 degrees F (27 degrees C).

Happy riding,

Brian

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Getting Ready

Last minute preparation before I get on the plane. almost fully packed. Just gotta throw my tooth brush in the bag before heading to he airport. The flight is on KLM, direct from LAX at 1:30 PM to the Netherlands with an estimated arrival time of 9AM Thursday. The flight will be on a 747. Expect one or two movies then just snooze until arrival.

The trip blog will have daily description of each day, a GPS route and links to photos.

Have fun.

Brian