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Category: Outdoor Pursuits (page 1 of 8)

Microadventure: Bolwerken

Between our house and Oosterpark, we pass by a plaque in the sidewalk that indicates that Bolwerk Muiden once stood there. Intriguingly, the plaque has a URL link engraved on it: “www.bolwerken.amsterdam.nl/22”. Finally a few months ago I looked it up.  It turns out that this plaque was part of a project to mark all 26 bolwerken  that protected Amsterdam during its golden age.

I saw this as an opportunity to do a second urban microadventure in Amsterdam. I could not find any more information about the location of the plaques other than some handmade drawings on the website. So I did the best I could in translating the drawings into GPS coordinates. The final step was to load the coordinates into my Garmin Oregon 450.

When I explained the idea to Robin, she thought it would be a interesting day out, so we planned to go the next nice Saturday or Sunday. We arose on Sunday October 9 to a great weather forecast and so decided to go. We took the tram into Centraal Station and then walked out towards the first plaque from there.

Things did not start too well as we could not find the first plaque (“Blaauwhoofd”) after 15 minutes of searching. But we soon hit our stride and found four plaques in succession. Unfortunately, number 6 (“Karthuizen”) eluded us. After finding the 8th plaque (“Reijkeroord”), we crossed the canal and had a quick lunch at the outdoor cafe at Morgan & Mees.  Back on the walk, we found most of  the plaques except for numbers 10 (“Nieuwkerk”) and 16 (“Reguliers”). Starting with number 17, we then hit our best stretch of the day and found 8 straight plaques.  The day finished on a down note as we did not find number 26 (“Zeeburg”) before the rain started. Interestingly, a week later I was going through photos of my 2014 microadventure and found a photo of the 26th plaque.  Robin and I returned to the location on our Sunday run and photographed #26.

The gpx file below contains accurate coordinates for the plaques we found. In addition, it has the rough locations of the bulwarks for the ones we did not find (marked as DNF). If you find our missing plaques and take the GPS coordinates of them, please send them along.

All in all, this was a great way to see the city in a way we hadn’t done before.

Microadventure - Amsterdam Bolwerken

Microadventure – Amsterdam Bolwerken
Distance: 18.3 km
Download the gpx file of the coordinates of the plaques.

Hike: Harderkulm

Since my train back to Amsterdam after the photography workshop did not leave until 1:00 pm, I had a morning in  Interlaken to do something outdoors. With the Hardergrat rising some 800 metres just north of the city centre, hiking to its western summit, the Harderkulm, was an easy choice.

The weather continued to be less than stellar as I awoke to the sound of rain. I set out in the dark, rain gear on and my cameras packed safely away in my weatherproof backpack.

The climbing started immediately after passing the funicular station (which of course is the easy way up). About half way up the rain finally tapered off and I continued to walk through intermittent clouds. The trail broke out of the trees a couple of times: once to cut across a picturesque Swiss farm; another time for a lookout view over Interlaken. After a lot of uphill walking, there was a nice stretch of relatively flat hiking as the trail headed the west end of the Hardergrat ridge. A short climb later, I reached the Harderkulm station. I was definitely the first person up for the day and had the whole observation deck to myself.

And what a view awaited me! The clouds were moving quickly through the valley and the sun was in the right position for some terrific Jacob’s Ladders. I spent some time trying to find the best photograph in the quickly changing conditions; the one above is my favourite.

All too soon, it was time to head back down. I quickly saw that this was a popular fitness hike with the locals as I must have passed 10 to 15 people hiking up as I descended. I retraced my steps back to the hotel, and celebrated the end of a great long weekend in the Alps with a hot shower and a good breakfast.

Harderkulm-9-19-2016

Hike: Harderkulm
Distance: 10.7 km
Elevation Gain: 750m
Download the gpx file of my hike.

Adventure Sports Workshop Wrap-up

Visit the photo set 2016: Adventure Sport Photography Workshop on Flickr.

It’s been a week and a half since I’ve been home from Viewfinder Center’s Adventure Sports Photography Workshop. The workshop exceeded my expectations in almost every way. Many thanks to Dan and Janine Patitucci, the workshop instructors, and the other five attendees for a great experience.

Although the weather was less than stellar, we did get three shooting sessions in and learned how to make strong images of people in the great outdoors. We spent the rest of the three-day workshop in deep discussions about photography theory, Lightroom, and the complexities of running a photography business in 2016. The experience has really helped to shape my plans of moving Station Studios from a hobby to a second-career business.

Cycle: Katwijk

Like 2014 and 2015, scheduling the 2016 edition of my Metric Century Ride to occur on Father’s Day proved to be difficult (here are the links to my 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 rides). Robin and I were at sea on Father’s Day proper, heading towards Copenhagen. Subsequent trips to Belgium and Texel chewed up another few weekends and finally a two-week business trip to Houston in early August left me with only one weekend to get my ride in before September.

Looking at my cumulative map of places I’ve cycled out of Amsterdam, it was clear that the biggest gap was to the southwest. So I set up a plan to cycle west to Zandvoort, head along the North Sea coast to Katwijk and then circle around Leiden before heading back to Amsterdam. This would represent the longest distance so far on these century rides. Unfortunately my fitness level this summer was probably the lowest it has been in the five years I’ve been doing these century rides. So I knew I would have to take things easy, especially early in the day.

Leaving home around 8:00 am, I picked up the long-distance cycle route LF20 out towards Haarlem. I’ve done this part of the trip many times and with the wind at my back, it was a pleasant way to start the day.

Just past Haarlem in the village of Duinwijk, I picked up the LF1 route. I guess I didn’t read the signs well here as I ended heading north on the LF1 when I should have turned southwest.  The upshot is that I likely added 10 km to my ride by reaching the seaside at Bloemendaal aan Zee.

I started southwest with the North Sea on my right and the dunes to my left. At Zandvoort, I rejoined the LF1.  The LF1 from Zandvoort to Katwijk was the scenic highlight of the day; the lead photo shows the LF1 cutting through the dunes just south of Zandvoort. I refilled my water bottles at the water spout at the south end of Noordwijk; a welcome gift from the city.

Arriving in Katwijk, I stopped for a few minutes for a rest.  I like the way the city put the parking for the beach underground; it really made the approach to the beach much more scenic. I also really liked that the city provided free washrooms at the entrances to the parking garages.

Leaving the LF1 at Katwijk, I realized the wind would be in my face all the way back to Amsterdam and the second half of the trip would be challenging. my goal was to circle the central train station at Leiden, a place I travel through at least once a week on my way to the offices in Rijswijk. I enjoyed cycling through Leiden; it reminded me that Robin and I should visit there again and see more of the old city. I also enjoyed the villages of Ode Ade and Rijwetering. Finally I reached Leimuiden, a place I had cycled to several times before and therefore had a good idea of the work ahead of me to make it home. I stopped in Rijsenhout for water and a Coke, my go-to drink for a long cycle. Before much longer, I was back on familiar ground in the Amsterdamse Bos and back home 20 minutes later.

Physically, this was probably the toughest century ride yet for me. I just didn’t have enough cycling miles under my belt this year to sustain a high speed into the wind from Leiden home. On the other hand, it was a beautiful day and I did get to see some very scenic parts of the country.

Katwijk_8_27_2016

Cycle: Katwijk
Distance: 120.9 km
Download the gpx file of my cycle.

Cycle: Texel

The Plan

For my birthday this year, Robin surprised me by booking a hotel on Texel for a three-day-two-night weekend cycling getaway. It had been on our list of places to visit for some time.

We planned to make the trip on only three types of transport:

  1. The Dutch train system (Amsterdam Centraal to Den Helder and return).
  2. The TESO Ferry (Den Helder to Texel and return).
  3. Our own bikes for everything else.

Day 1: Amsterdam to De Koog

I took the Friday afternoon off work and we departed our house in Amsterdam just after 2:30 pm. I actually had both rear panniers filled and on my Santos Travelmaster for the first time.

Departing Amsterdam

Departing Amsterdam

Arriving at Amsterdam Centraal Station, we took our bikes up on to the platform and loaded them onto the Intercity train to Den Helder. The train was reasonably empty and we could sit close to the bikes for the entire one-hour journey.

We next had another short ride from the train station to the ferry terminal. As always, the Dutch cycling pathway system was well marked and we quickly made to the terminal to await the next ferry.

Waiting for the Ferry, Den Helder

The ferry trip is a short one, only about 15 minutes of traveling time. Coming off the ferry in Het Horntje, we had a straightforward cycle to our hotel in De Koog. We followed the cycle path along the main road; it made for a quick if not spectacular ride.

Texel-Weekend-7-29-2016

Cycle: Texel Day 1
Distance: 12.1 km

After checking into the hotel, we had some dinner in the centre of De Koog and then walked along the North Sea beach at sunset.
Signpost on the Noordzee Strand, De Koog

Post, Strand, De Koog

The North Sea

Beach Huts, De Koog

Day 2: Texel – North and East Side

On our second day, our plan was to do a long loop around the north and east sides of the island.  We had a perfect day for cycling, wind at our backs for most of the day. Cycling northeast out of De Koog, our first stop was a visit to de Slufter, a failed polder that has been allowed to reconnect to the North Sea. It is a restricted area to allow a wide range of birds to breed.

Returning from de Slufter

A little further on is the iconic lighthouse,  the Eierland.

Eierland Lighthouse

Eierland Lighthouse

We stopped for a mid-morning Dutch treat: apple taart.

Appeltaart, Cappuccino, Mint Tea

Afterwards, we locked up the bikes and walked on out to the massive beach at the north end of the island.

Eierland Lighthouse

Robin even brought along our packable kite which we took turns flying.

Robin Kiteflying on Texel

After awhile, we returned to the bikes and started heading south along the east side of the island, along the edge of the Waddenzee. We passed a number of interesting scenes, including a classic Dutch windmill one.

The Edge of the Waddenzee at De Cocksdorp

Het Noorden

Stomachs grumbling, we arrived at the port town of Oudeschild and decided to have some lunch, some nice fresh seafood eaten alfresco.

Oudeschild Harbour

Oudeschild Harbour

From Oudeschild, we headed north west, back to De Koog. Both Robin and I remarked how different the middle of the island felt compared to the edges that touch the sea.

Texel-Weekend-7-30-2016

Cycle: Texel Day 2
Distance: 44.0 km

After a short snack, we took a couple of seats at one of the seaside bars along the strand and once again watched the sun go down.

Sunset, De Koog

Day 3: De Koog to Amsterdam

On Sunday, we returned to the ferry along the west side of the island. A good portion of the ride was through the Nationaal Park Duinen van Texel. Leaving the park, we circled the town of Den Hoorn.

Den Hoorn

Just a bit further on, we reached the Mokbaai, an area that cycles between being underwater at high tide, but uncovered at low tides.

Mokbaai

A little while later, we made it back to the ferry dock for the trip back home.

TESO Dock, het Horntje

Texel-Weekend-7-31-2016

Cycle: Texel Day 3
Distance: 14.4 km

Footnotes

We found the cycling great on Texel: excellent paths, interesting geography, and many options for drink and food. There are frequent NS trains between Den Helder and Amsterdam Centraal. The TESO ferry runs every 30 minutes in the spring, summer and fall months. We stayed at a hotel in De Koog, but camping is also possible in a number of locations.

Cycle: Rieteiland

It had been awhile since Robin and I have cycling together so, on a warm Sunday, we took an hour and a half to cycle, starting out along the Amsterdam-Rijn Kanaal. Turning back for home at the A1 bridge, we decided to poke around Rieteiland, an area full of new and interesting architecture. We got a few ideas for our future farmhouse back in Canada.

But mostly it was just a ride to shake the cycling cobwebs off.

Cycle: Rieteiland

Cycle: Rieteliand
Distance: 22.7 km
Download the gpx file of our cycle.