Two of the many bicylcists I saw as I rode towards Amsterdam

I slept late today - because it was Sunday, breakfast didn't start till 8 AM - and it started raining while I was eating breakfast at about 8:30. I had a good nights sleep despite the fact that my hotel's ground floor was a bar and it was Saturday night. The band cranked up about the time I went to bed, but, with ear plugs I could only hear the beat, and that wasn't enough to keep me from sleeping. They were still going when I woke up around 1 AM, but I think they quit soon after 1. I should, having had the experience several times, known better than to pick a hotel which has a bar on Friday or Saturday night. Ah well, it was good night, the staff was very friendly, and they offered a good breakfast. Tonight I'm in a huge fancy hotel near the Schiphol Airport. The room is nice, and the staff is good, but not particularly friendly. Still it is only three and a half miles to check-in - I do hope it isn't raining at 5:30 tomorrow morning - and they start serving breakfast at 4 AM. I asked (a computer) for a wake-up call at 4:30. My flight is at 7:40 and I'll try to check in around 6 AM.

I've reorganized my panniers so that I can repackage stuff at the airport into two carry on - a pannier and a messenger bag and a duffel. The duffel will hold my two Ortlieb panniers and the dry bag that goes inside my right front pannier. The carry on pannier will have my spare tire, spare sandals, some misc stuff, and the other front (Arkel) pannier inside it. The messenger bag with have my camera, computer, backup copies of all my web pages from this trip and over 200 MB of images I really like. My bike will go in a bag with pedals removed (they'll be in the duffel) and handlebars turned. It is no big deal flying with a bike from the Amsterdam airport!

Speaking of Schiphol, I rode from my hotel after I cleaned up to make sure I knew what I was doing tomorrow morning and to reconfirm my flight with the British Airways folks. The official sign said 4 km, but it is closer to 4 miles, and turned out to be much more of a pain than I expected to get to the departing flights section of the terminal. It is easy to get in and out from the south - I know since I rode out that way before riding back to hunt for the way out to the north - but not so easy from the north. The bike path ends at a bike storage building - heh, what US airport has a special building for storing the bike of passengers? - and you have to make you way on sidewalks across the front of the busy airport terminal building. I'm glad I did a trial run and figured out how to get to where I need to be tomorrow morning. I would have been unhappy trying to figure it out at 5:30 AM!

Note added at London Heathrow: even at Schiphol it was a minor pain to fly out with my bike. I had to ask them for a bike bag, and then, after I got the bike sealed in the bag, the BA guy who was watching - not helping - decided I needed to let the air out of the tires! I said thank you and removed the bike from the bag to, needlessly, deflate the tires. Then, while he watched, I got it back in and resealed the bag. I hope it makes it through Heathrow OK. One advantage, my flight from Amsterdam and my fight to the US are at the same terminal.

Note added in the US: My bike survived, but was, once again, badly mishandled at Heathrow. Touring bikes are really sturdy, so I don't think anything was damaged that I can't repair, but I also doubt I'll fly BA again with a bike.

I had to get my luggage through custom at Baltimore. My bike arrived there without the bag it started in, and with some obvious mishandling: torn wire to the computer, bungy cord hook wrapped multiple turns around the rear axle and mangled, bike bag straps disconnected (?somebody had to do that and, by doing it, probably cause the wire damage), fender stays bent and one broken from fender, scrapes on the seat, derailleur and chain screwed up as if it had been pedalled - nopedals! - after being shifted too many gears, and other minor stuff. I didn't ride it out of the airport, but I think I could have with half and hours work to do makeshift repairs. The derailleur was already damaged from the trip over - I had to use non indexed shifting on this tour, but, with bar end shifters, I like non-indexed shifting better anyway - so there may be further shifting problem, and it will be a pain to repair the computer wiring, but , unless I missed something in my inspection, the bike is not seriously damaged. The lack of serious damage is a refection of the basic durability of the bike, not the actions of the baggage handlers at Heathrow! Those folks must be truly bad!

Sunday morning on the street in front of my hotel - it was really hoping last night

And of course, there is a McDs. I didn't eat at this one
but I did eat at the one near Schiphol airport

The rain stopped by 9:30 this morning and the sun came out. From watching the weather I knew that it was likkely to rain again later in the day, but it was sure pretty and pleasant to ride out in sunlight on wet streets this morning. I got routing advice from the folks at the hotel, but still managed to get lost on my way out of town to the east. I asked a fellow walking his dog - a St Bernard - and he was most helpful. The Dutch are remarkably friendly and helpful. The fact that most of them speak Engish make this the easiest country I've ridden in this summer to get routing help from the locals. Since most people here ride bicycles, their routing advice is usually good. The downside is that this is, by far, the country where I've needed the most routing help: I can't just pick a road and ride on it, I have to find out where the bike routes are.

The bike path between Hilversum and Loosdrecht

Two views of the lake on either side of Loosdrecht

The bike path between Loosdrecht and Uithoorn

Riding was good once I got on the right path <grin>, although the path were bumpy in the towns. When I got to Uithoorn, there was no signed route to Amsterdam, but there were a lot of cyclists going in to/from somewhere, so I just followed the ones going in the right general direction. That turned out to be a great route that initially, roughly, followed the Amsterdam - Rinjnkanaal. Later it followed the autoroutes.

The main canal south of Amsterdam

On the way to Amsterdam I saw a sign for the bike path to Schiphol and made sure I remembered how to get back to that path. Five km later, when I actually got to Amsterdam, the path ended in an industrial area. I figured the thing to do was to head north toward the city. Not to far north, I found a city map and found out where I was in Amsterdam; pretty much at the center of the south end. There was a bridge that would take me north into the city and then I could follow a canal to the center. Amsterdam is arranged in concentric rings land between canals, with radial canals and the streets along the radial canals have bridges over the canals between the rings.

The canal I followed towards the center of Amsterdam

Riding in the centrum, lots of bicycles and bicyclists

A street near the center of Amsterdam

Once I got on the bike path along a canal, I was able to head north towards the centum. I had to cross the canal and do some other minor detours on the way in. I continued towards the center, and found myself behind a group of cyclists who seemed to know where they were going, so I followed them. Since there was construction and other fun things, this turned out to be a good idea. They rode to a ferry that went across the bay from near the main train station. That gave me the map reference I needed to find the other points I wanted to visit in Amsterdam. I had a very poor excuse for a bagel at the train station and headed for the Old Synagogue. It is hard to navigate in a city like Amsterdam, but I managed to find it. Unfortunately the weather was deteriorating so I decided to head out of the city towards Schiphol before the rain started.

The Amsterdam train station
Note the clouds

I had some trouble - even ended up doing a loop at one point - but managed to get back to where I had entered Amsterdam. By that time it was raining pretty hard, but it looked like it would stop soon. I rode on, past lots of cyclists waiting under overpasses for the rain to end, and it did stop half an hour later. I took off my rain gear at the place where the bike path to Schiphol started, but had to put it on again five minutes later when it started to rain! I kept it on through three other rain/dry spells on my way to Schiphol. I only lost the bike route once on the way to the airport: I think I was distracted by other bicyclists - there were a lot of other bicyclists on those paths! - and missed a sign. I stopped a bicyclist going the other way and he told he how to get back on that bike path.

Sheep near the Amsterdam - Rinjnkanaal
there are lots of sheep grazing in this area
It reminded me of New Zealand - green with white dots

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