Day 1: Amsterdam to Utrecht

(Today, we’re in Posterholt, a small village about 50 kilomters north of Maastrict in the South of The Netherlands near the German border, and catching up on blog posts. Here’s one that’s been in the hopper for a few days, from the first leg of our journey.)

IMG_5055_editRiding out of Amsterdam, one truth quickly presented itself: there are more than enough bike paths here to get yourself well and truly lost.

For our first leg, a 50 kilometer spin out of Amsterdam down to the University city of Utrecht, we had intended to follow one of the Landelijke Fietsrouten, or Regional Bike Paths, that connect the thousands of kilometers of bike paths into a huge, nationwide system. Once on the route, you only need to follow the signs at each intersection marked with “LF” and, as the Brits say, Bob’s Your Uncle.

The only trouble is getting on the Fietsrouten when EVERY road is a bikepath. When I lived in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, I knew I was on the right bike path because I was on the ONLY bike path. And in Portland, a ride across town or out of the city might intersect only five or six major bike paths. Here? Every intersection is a bike path intersection, every corner has a signpost with indicators for bikes, and there are hundreds of ways to get to the same place.

IMG_5258_edit_1In the cities, large streets have separate paths, often on both sides of the road. The paths are most often separated from the road—and from parking spaces with the ever-present risk of getting ‘doored’—by grassy or planted medians. Where the bike path runs along the road (in the United States think of a narrow, two lane street) the pavement is painted with only a single car lane, the better to allow space for two bike lanes to run in each direction. With such tempting paths leading in every direction, and a bike map crisscrossed with lines of every color, it can be tough to choose the right way.

The upside, of course, is that you can just follow the signs and, though you might not know where you are, you can certainly find your way to where you’re going. So after an amazing ride over all kinds of bike paths (paved, cobbled, brick and just a little dirt) we arrived in Utrecht, happy, tired, and a little wiser about how to get where we’re going.

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