June 9 – Monday. Back on the bikes. We went to the rental shop to pick up our bikes, and a motley group they were. Some 8-speeds, some 3-speeds, some with hand brakes, and all internal hub. Mine was the only single speed coaster of the bunch. I haven’t rode one of those since I was 12 but what the hell. I have seen lots of locals riding them so they are obviously suitable for the terrain. Except for the split second of terror the first few times I went to grab the non-existent hand brakes and then realize that I had to use my feet instead, the bike wasn’t too bad. The gearing was such that I had no trouble on the minor elevation changes that pass for hills here (the steepest “hills” are the canal overpasses), although my cadence got a bit high when our speed got over 23 or so.
After adjusting all the bikes to fit, Ad led us out of Leiden at 10 a.m. Twenty minutes later, we were crossing the Rhine on a cute little free ferry, only big enough to take half our group at a time.
Soon we were in Katwijk, which is only 11 km away from Leiden and on the coast of the North Sea. It is beach community and very popular with the locals and tourists for good reason. It was our first encounter with the beaches of Holland and they are freakin’ HUGE! We stopped for a coffee, then continued another 10 km up the coast to Noordwijk for a longer break. The sand dunes between the 2 towns are spectacular and not what I expected of the Dutch countryside. Since it was sunny, 27C, and a long holiday weekend to boot, the trails and towns were packed with locals and tourists.
After grabbing some lunch, a few of us went wading in the North Sea. The beach sand was a perfect consistency – not too fine, not too coarse – and felt great underfoot. It was a little disconcerting to see how many jellyfish were floating around though. We weren’t sure if they packed a punch or not so we tried to avoid them. The ones that washed up on shore looked like big eyeballs The other waders didn’t seem too perturbed though.
After we had played/ate/drank for 2 hours, it was time to get back on the bikes and continue our loop back to Leiden. Great day, great trails, great scenery, great group.
Rode 50 km for the day.