The second days’ motoring and we progressed to the town of Alkmaar, some 30 miles north of Amsterdam.
Bridget was content to cruise at a comfortable 60/65 miles an hour and never stumbled once. The weather on the other hand was very poor.
Regulars will testify that I don’t just motor everywhere and have been moved on occasions to alternative modes of transport e.g. paragliding, jet-skiing, etc. In the interests of research I persuaded myself that I should sample the national mode of transport in The Netherlands, namely cycling. Now, it is over 20 years since I last rode a bike, but everyone here seems to do it and the whole road network appears to be designed around it. So I parked up Bridget for the day and hired a bicycle.
It was some 5 kilometres into the centre of Alkmaar from my hotel and after a slightly shaky start I was soon town bound in the correct cycle lane. Similar to the UK, cyclists here pay scant regard to details such as the correct side of the road to ride on. Most junctions give priority to cyclists and as one would expect vehicle drivers are delighted to give way to them. I soon found myself speeding along with the wind in my hair, what there is of it, and a fly in my mouth! First lesson was ‘keep your mouth closed’. This was somewhat difficult whilst gasping for breath, but I eventually got the hang of it.
Cycling is not the calm, sedate activity I thought. Some of the participants are quite competitive and I soon found myself ‘hooning’ at traffic lights in a rather pathetic attempt to lead the pack. It was an interesting way in which to pass the afternoon but I can’t see me joining the MG Cycling Club any time soon.
As for the town of Alkmaar, it is a medieval town with the usual interesting items of architecture such as the tall tower of the Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk. The other main attraction, especially in the summer months, is Alkmaar’s cheese market held outside the Waagplein. A ‘Waag’ is traditional facility for weighing things and there are several surviving examples in The Netherlands.