The Bicycling Shus: Sand Dunes

I have had a lot of time to ride my bicycle since moving here. It's exciting to ride a "city bicycle" around town or explore this country on the excellent network of pathways. Since we moved here, I have been most drawn to the pathways that run parallel the north sea. Cycling from Haarlem to Bloemendaal aan Zee is a relaxed 20-30 minute, and from there you can head North or South along the Dutch coastline.

View from Bloemendaal aan Zee

View from Bloemendaal aan Zee

I often go south through the town called Zandvoort, a popular destination for German tourists year-round, it seems, and in the summer a cool place to hang out at a seaside club for Amsterdammers.

Bicycle pathway and Zandvoort in the distance

Once you get out of there you escape into the dunes, special in that there are some small hills in a country of NO HILLS and the wind is often BLASTING at an inopportune angle. This is good for your heart and legs!

An entry point of the coastal pathway from the southside of the town "Zandvoort"

I love that it is quite predictable: peaceful and serene from Monday to Friday with a few elderly dog walkers or occasional bicycle tourists passing through these parts, and the sound of grasses blowing in the wind. Saturdays and Sundays you feel like you could be in a bicycle race, with hundreds of recreational cyclists on their "sport-fiets" riding as fast as possible, winding around each other, and the hum of rubber on pavement.

View of the North Sea from atop a sand dune

I think in this country of little "wildland" those peaceful weekday mornings are my highlight, a moment to see what this place was once like before settled and crafted into the "Randstad." Over 7 million people live in this "megapolis," consisting of the Netherlands four largest cities, but sometimes you can be out there for an hour and see more wild deer than humans. It's a windy and sandy world that surprises me with new colour every time I visit. It's hard not to stop and take the occasional photo of a much different "wild" than I am used to in Western Canada.

Some fox prints in the sand; looking inland from a sand dune, much greener on sandy soil than expected mid-November

~ Brian