Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bicycling in Amsterdam - Windmill Tour

The De Riekermolen windmill with its "fantail" in clear view (see below)
As I keep saying, while in Amsterdam, biking is what I like to do best.  Well, and a little beer drinking at the Gollem Bar after the rides. Consequently, yesterday I did the Park Tour and today with an eye toward finding a goal for a second day's ride I decided to visit a few windmills. Even though I had pretty much already done this in 2009, windmills are pretty awesome and continue to fascinate me. I was under the mistaken impression that there were only a few of those famous Dutch windmills left. However, while I was planning a route I discovered a Google Earth KML file that conveniently place-marked many of them — from it I learned there are hundreds scattered around the country. I edited it and then converted it to a format my GPS can read and downloaded it to my trusty Garmin 60Cx. I constructed a circular route that would take me to see some that were within riding distance of my hotel. By the way, bike rental outfits are everywhere and the shop keepers are eager to please. I paid 21 euro for a two day deal.
(Note added May 6, 2012: In retrospect,  as I look more closely at a map of the surrounding area I observe that my hotel is very close to the North Sea, only about 20 miles, that I really should have done a ride over there -- all the more reason to go back.)

The weather at 9 am was cold and windy with heavily overcast skies. After a few minutes in that wind I began to think I'd better head back to my hotel room for warmer clothes. I was again wearing a polypro hat and cotton gloves along with my old wind-proof jacket and long johns under my shorts but I had this nice wool shirt in my bag that I wanted. I talked myself into going on and after a half hour or so I was feeling fine. All you need is a bit of activity to stay warm and biking easily provides that. And I will admit to enjoying the feel of the crisp spring air after all those months in tropical Thailand.

De Otter

De 1200 Roe windmill and a typical Amsterdam bike path

My bike and I visiting Sloterpark
De 1100 Roe windmill
Built in 1757, the De 1100 Roe (as well as the others I've shown) is an example of a smock mill, a type called a grondzeiler ("ground sailer") by the Dutch, since the sails almost reach the ground. Notice also the "fantail", the small windmill set at a right angle to the sails, at the back. (You can see it more clearly in the top photo of De Riekermolen.) This device helps rotate the turret or cap of the mill so as to keep the sails facing into the wind. The long white poles are attached to the cap and help to turn it and possibly to brace the structure against the wind. This mill is set in a lovely spot and was actually turning when I was there. Quite impressive.

De Dikkert
Molen van Sloten
I rode about the same distance on this tour as yesterday's, about 28 miles. It was a fine ride. I stopped for lunch at the eponymously named Klein Kalfje, a lovely little restaurant near De Riekermolen on the Amstel River, and had some crispy deep fried chicken over salad greens with wasabi dressing. About 14 euro. The place was crowded and even though the temperature was still cool by any standard many of the outdoor tables were occupied by hardy Dutch folk. The weather doesn't keep them from going out hiking or biking whenever the opportunity presents itself.
As for me, I ate indoors ^_^

Here's the route I took.

View Amsterdam 2012 - Windmill Tour in a larger map

Tomorrow I'll  leave Amsterdam to hop over the Atlantic to Buffalo. I'll enjoy visiting family for the next few weeks but I'll miss Amsterdam. This is a city I could certainly enjoy living in for a month or two. Maybe someday I will ....