The city of Nice seen from the surrounding hillside bathed in sunshine

Home Travel StoriesThe Netherlands 2016

A Big Dyke With Edam

By Ren Withnell

Manicured campsites with bowling green short grass look smart and highly maintained. This campsite has longer grass and while it may not look so perfect it does make sleeping on my thin airbed much more comfortable. There's light cloud in the sky today and the breeze is cool as we start to take down the tent. David, whom we met yesterday evening comes to bid us farewell and we exchange details. He lives in Norfolk and assures us we'd receive a warm welcome at his place if we ever were to come down. He might regret that...hehe! 

David, the English camper we met, stood in the field in front of his campervanI can see a trip to Norfolk coming. David and his Bongo off on their travels.

Today ought to be another simple and easy ride, for today we go to Edam of cheese fame. That's 20 miles across the big dyke thingy then 30 miles south through Hoorne. I'm liking this slow and genteel type of travel a lot. We can stop when we want for as long as we desire, I can get us lost without flapping, I know my arse isn't going to complain and there's no rushing. we could physically do 300 miles a day but it's no fun and we wouldn't see anything.

Riding along the Afsluitdijk in itself is not all that impressive because you can only see one body of water, the IJsselmeer. The North Sea is hidden from view behind the highest part of the dyke so it feels as though we're just riding alongside a big lake, which is in fact the case. Luckily after a few miles I spot some kind of car park with a big tower so I pull in hoping to glimpse the North Sea. 

How fortuitous! We've pulled in at a visitor centre built here in the middle of the long thin dyke to commemorate the people that built it. The tower is a viewing platform which after climbing the steep steps presents us with vast broad views across the sunlit IJsselmeer on one side and the darker choppier waters of the North Sea on the other. To see the road and the dyke stretching out towards the far away land with 2 quite different waters either side is to realise just how much work such an undertaking required. It seems like an awful lot of effort to create the world's largest puddle surely? I'm sure they have their reasons.

Seeing the dyke from the tower, Ijsselmeer to the left, north sea to the rightIJsselmeer on the left, North Sea on the right and one massive dyke inbetween.

The dyke goes on and on until we're finally back on land. Land? the Dutch version of land requires pumps and windmills and dykes and sluices so I'm no longer entirely sure if we are on land or just dried out sea bed. No matter, it looks like land and farmers seem to have no problems making things grow here. Modern wind turbines are plentiful and highly visible across these horizontal landscapes. Contrary to the marketing myth we have seen but a handful of the traditional windmills and they have all been in the distance so when we pass close to one we must stop for a photograph.

Our two motorcycles in from of a traditional wooden Dutch windmillOld school windmills are not as common as the tourist board would have you believe.

Hoorne is a town, a larger town and the suburbs we see are just like all the other suburbs. We blunder into a cafe and as we wait for our snacks I bludgeon a pretty potted plant off the table and onto the floor as I swipe my helmet out of the way. Muppet! Oh how embarrassing. I pick up the plant and place it upon the table, it looks somewhat dishevelled. Sharon points out that the plastic pot had been within a colourfully painted ceramic pot that is now smashed. I apologise to the oriental owners, the counter girls says "it's ok". The shame, I'm such a clumsy oaf. 

The cafe in Hoorne, just a plain concrete building and car parkI am so so so so sorry about your pretty plant pot. Whoops.

Camping Zeevangshoeve has perhaps the smartest toilets I've seen in a long time, a handy common room and very little space tonight for 2 roughty toughty bad ass 125 riders like ourselves. Oh yeah, it's Friday and the weekend that's why it's busy. Fortunately there's a spare pitch for the night and soon the tent is up sandwiched between a campervan and a caravan. We both hop onto my 125 and ride through Edam into Volendam for some shopping. Edam looks rather nice and worthy of exploration, hopefully we can stop another night at the campsite and spend tomorrow looking around Edam.

Our tent and motorcycles at the campsite near edamThat'll do just fine for the evening thank you.

Prologue - The Netherlands 2016 Why are we going Dutch? What's that peculiar box on Ren's bike? Why are we taking our 125cc motorcycles? Is there even a plan? Find out more...
Disaster The first day of our trip is not the start we would hope for. Yet with some luck and the desire to improve his mindset Ren manages to keep a calm and positive outlook.
Crashing Out To The Netherlands This is Sharon's take on the first day of The Netherland's trip. Oh the best laid plans of mice and women.
No News Is Good News It's an ordinary day of ordinary travelling for our dynamic duo. Sometimes a lack of excitement can be a good thing doncha know.
Helter Skelter Sharon covers the second day of the trip to The Netherlands. She moves from discomfort and bruises through nervous and fear to luxury and comfort. All in one day!
Hades - I Mean Amsterdam Ah The Netherlands, fields of flowers, windmills, tranquil canals and leisurely cyclists. Or is this what the tourist office would have you believe?
Crying In The Rain And Laughing Gonkeys Sharon's first time motorcycling on foreign tarmac is a baptism of fire. What on earth is a laughing gonkey anyhow?
We Are Tourist So what is Ren's take on the popular city of Amsterdam? Will he survive the bicycles? Is he a wild traveller or just a tourist?
The Lost Experience Once again Ren's expectations get the better of him. Once again Ren gets completely lost. Once again the rain is coming down. Is there any hope at all? Actually it's not all bad.
Smiles In The Rain The friendly Dutch folk mean that a rain filled day can still be a worthwhile day.
Bicycling De Hoge Veluwe Will today be a tortuous day stuck in the tent waiting for the rain to stop? For the sake of Ren's mental health let's hope there's some good weather.
Urk? Is That The Sun? A break in the weather brings a positive feel to the day along with pleasant places, friendly faces and new acquaintances.
A Big Dyke With Edam What is the Afsluitdijk for? Why would you name a town after a cheese? All these questions will not be answered by reading this.
Edam, Marken, Tourists and Symmetry Ren and Sharon visit a town named after a cheese. Why would you name a town after a cheese? Weird folks these Dutch.
Curious Distelloo Sunshine, philosophy and an alternative kind of campsite.
Drowning In Zierikzee Philosophy, friendly people, terrible rain and salvation all in one day! Not bad really for pair of wastrels on 125s.
Exploring Zeeland We're chilling out and exploring Zeeland 2-up on a 125. Is this the Dutch Riviera?
A Short Hop To Oostkapelle How do you get lost in 15 miles on a route you already know? How do you upset a German camper? How do you do all this and remain content in yourself? It's called getting old.
Dodgy Dutch Drivers Their last full day in The Netherlands sums up the whole Dutch experience. "The nicest bad drivers you'll ever meet".
Going Home-ish It's time to leave The Netherlands and return to good 'ole Blighty. There's some shocking news that might change things for the future though.
So, What About The Netherlands? After 2 weeks of riding around The Netherlands on 125s what does Ren think of the country now?

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