Maastricht to Alkmaar and back

From 19/05/2012 to 24/08/2012

We managed to get six days free in August so we decide to do the LF7b from Maastricht to Alkmaar. Weather wise we couldn’t pick a better time for this tour, as it turned out the first day was the warmest this year at 37°c and a good tail wind. And it stayed warm, dry and a tail wind for most of the week.

Day 1 – Maastricht to Lierop – 110kms

We had an early start as we knew it was going to be a long and hot ride today so by 07:30 we were on our way. The whole ride was very good but the heat today and the kilometers took their toll. By the time we reached the camping we were totally spent. We quickly set up showered and cycled the short distance into town for some fast food and a few cold beers.
Natuurkampeerterrein De Lier is a very good and quiet family camping located in the woods. I want to add a special thanks to the manager of this camping for sending us by mail the clothes line we’ve forgotten there. We have had it since the beginning. Great place, highly recommended.

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All loaded up and pointed in the right direction.

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Nationaal Park De Grote Peel. Click to view larger.

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Day 2 – Lierop to Aalst – 90kms

After a good nights sleep we were on our way by 08:30. We stayed on the LF7b route cycling through fields and little villages. The only bad part (if you can call it that) was that we had to ride through the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, apart from that it was a pretty good day. The weather wasn’t as hot as yesterday but still a good 30°c.
Camping Recreatiepark het Esmeer is very good.

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Our breakfast table, looks to be for 4 people 🙂

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That’s one way to raise a bridge.

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The cathedral in ‘s-Hertogenbos.

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Day 3 – Aalst to Camping Gaasperpark (near Amsterdam) – 104kms

Wow, what a day. We rode through so many different places. We crossed a couple of rivers, cycled through wide open fields and little traditional hamlets. We had to go through the very busy city of Utrecht. At one point we were cycling next to this canal and all these lovely houseboats but soon we noticed that they were all the same, just different colors. Soon afterwards we really saw what was going on, all these prostitutes standing in front of the houseboats. I’d have to say they were pretty organized with a new road and a place to make a U-turn at either end.
Some time later we rode through this very nice area between Maarssen and Nieuersluis were there was one beautiful villa after another. Lot of money around here.
The LF7 route goes through Amsterdam but we weren’t in the mood cycling through another large city so we opted to go around it and that’s how we ended up at this Camping.
Camping Gaasperpark is ok, everything was clean but very busy.

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Typical early morning view of North Holland, complete with mist.

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Crossing the Wall

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Scene near Utrecht. Those are not the houseboats with the hookers 🙂 Click to view larger.

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A quieter area in Utrecht.

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Cycling along the river Vecht.

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Canal that connects Amsterdam and Utrecht.

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Same canal, opposite direction.

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Day 4 – Gaasperpark to Groede – 96kms

Another fantastic day of cycling. We still ended up going through the Northern part of Amsterdam because it was the nearest place to cross this canal. The boats left from behind the Amsterdam North train station. If in doubt just ask for direction to Landsmeer.
Again we rode through open fields and beautiful little traditional hamlets. Today we reached our main goal which was Alkmaar, the other goals were to reach the North sea and cycle along the 32km long Afsluitdijk that keeps the North sea from drowning a good part of Holland.
We continued along the LF7 route to Bergen, again this area looks very rich with many villas and expensive cars about. When we reached the North sea we followed the LF1 (North sea cycling route) and started looking for a camping. We found several around but many were in poor quality but soon we found camping Groede, hidden between some trees. A very nice and quiet place for two tired cyclists. Tonight we weren’t in the mood to cook so went out for mussels. The place for mussels here is on the corner of Heereweg and Hargervaart, highly recomended.

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We came across this touristy area with a replica of an old Dutch village.

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Threatening clouds appeared but they just threatened.

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The ever smiling Monique.

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Finally on the LF1 cycling route.

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The North sea in the distance.

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Zoomed in.

Day 5 – Groede to Bolsward – 110kms

Yet another great cycling day. The weather was fantastic, sunny, cool, and a strong tail wind all day long. This morning we rode along the LF1 through open fields and sand dunes. After about 20kms or so we truned inland along the LF10 heading towards DAn Oever where the Afsluitdijk begins.
Again many little traditional hamlets set in a very picturesque area. At Dan Oever we stopped for some supplies before heading across the Afsluitdijk. With a good tailwind we rode peacefully along. On the way we saw several cyclist going the opposite direction and needed to stop often because of the head winds 🙂
At he end of the Afsluitdijk we got on the LF22 heading South towards the camping at Kakkum but when we got there we found it to be very busy so we just left. We rode about 8kms East to Bolsward were we found this small city camping next to the public swimming pool, which was closed 🙁
Nothing much to this camping just a place for the night. Later on this lovely Dutch couple, Michiel and Thea, doing a small tour in the area came and we had a nice chat about past travel experiences.

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Typical farm house.

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Looking back from atop the dyke.

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And looking foreward. We rode on the road, right side of picture and didn’t see the sea very much, but when we stopped for a break we climbed the dyke for a view.

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On the LF1.

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Great riding before Dan Oever. Click to view larger.

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Finally on the Afsluitdijk.

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This is the guy that built it.

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This is not the same picture, different cloud formations 🙂

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After a while it does get a bit boring, its 32kms after all.

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Our tent and the other couple’s tent. We thought we had a big tent.

Day 6 – Bolsward to Maastricht – 10kms

Woke up to rain this morning which we ended up waiting it out for about 30 minute. We it finally stopped we loaded the bikes and rode the 10kms to Sneek for the train to Maastricht.
Everything went pretty smooth on the trains even when we had to change twice. All in all it took us about 4 hours.

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Epilogue:
The ride itself was very good, all flat terrain and a good tailwind most of the time so we managed an average of 100kms per day. It’s very easy cycling with many camping’s along the way, we were spoiled for choice. A couple of times we didn’t like what we saw and just moved on a couple of kilometers to the next camping.
*Tip* You can save a lot of money if you look out for sales on train tickets, as the Dutch trains are not the cheapest.
We will be exploring more of The Netherlands in the future.