Dutch Hills

The Netherlands

Definition: Dutch hill (noun) 1. A strong headwind

Docked at Alkmaar for a good night’s sleep

We finished our first full day of biking on a real high, ready to tackle anything ahead that our tour guide would throw at us. After all, this is the Netherlands, how hard can biking flat at sea level be? We soon found out that… 1. Not all the Netherlands is flat, 2. Rain/drizzle/cold can dampen more than just your spirits, 3. Headwinds along the North Sea are a force to contend with, and 4. Real cyclists are a little crazy in the head.

The Stiff-Upper-Lip Gang

The cold, wet, blustery morning of April 25th was enough to send the majority of us back to the warmth of the ship. Six brave (did I mention crazy) souls decided to ride the whole 60km. While I suffer intensively from a chronic case of FOMO, I wasn’t even remotely tempted to go with them, and elected to wait with some of my smarter compadres and join the 60km group at the halfway point. So, three Americans, two English and a Welshman whose choice of biking shoes was an old pair of Crocs, ventured out early in the chilly, gray morning. One of those Americans was my husband (certified crazy cyclist) and he tells me that the first hour of the ride was, in his words “stellar!” but he was oddly silent about the rest of that morning. Stellar or not, I still wasn’t convinced that I should’ve gone with them mostly because I could see and feel what that North Sea gale winds were capable of as the boat navigated the waves to our meeting up point.

Moody morning

Roughly three hours later, the boat pulled into a port and let us off so we could ride the remaining 30 km. The first group beat us there and decided not to wait and continued on without us. Our group of “fair weather” riders hit the trail just as the drizzle was letting up slightly even though the stiff wind showed no signs of abating. We followed our guide through tulip fields and farming communities (fun) and then headed west to bike the hilly dunes along the North Sea (not-so-fun).

If anyone tells you there are no hills in Holland give them a bike (not an e-bike) and tell them to ride from Petten to DenHelder in a headwind. That will humble them. I have no doubt that in better weather the ride had the potential to be “stellar,” but that headwind and cold, wet weather just about did me in. But that’s just me…I admit I’m a fair-weather rider who struggles with not wanting to miss out so on we went north, north, north until finally arriving in Den Helder where the boat, the six brave (crazy) souls, warm food, cold beer and a hot tub waited for me. I almost forgot the whole bone-chilling experience. Almost.

The next day I swallowed my pride and requested an e-bike. Best. Decision. Ever.

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