Hello again from your Netherlands-based Australian cycling consultant. I’ve checked out the route they’ve given you on this Giro Day 2 between Amsterdam to Utrecht, and it’s ridiculous! They’re sending you a very long way around. 209 kilometres?? What are they thinking of??!! I rode down to Utrecht a few weeks ago and it was only a touch over 50km!
That’s what you get for having boys from out of town doing the planning. Those Italians may know Tuscany or Sardinia like the backs of their hands, but send them to Holland and they haven’t got a clue. Any Amsterdammer could have told them there’s a nice flat cycleway with only a few tree roots alongside the Rhine Canal that takes you straight to Utrecht. A few times you have to pick up your bike and lift it over a footbridge, but that shouldn’t be any problem to people like you who have really light bikes. It’s much shorter and quicker than the crazy route they’ve set you guys.
Anyway, I hope you’ll be able to appreciate a bit of nice Dutch countryside and pretty villages. I rode out there and took the camera so I could show you what to expect.
You’ll start off at Amsterdam’s Museumplein again. It could be a bit messy there because the Dutch garbagemen are on strike for a week and the big crowd from Saturday probably won’t take all their litter home with them. Speaking of which, would you tell the other riders not to throw their empty drink bottles away like they usually do when they’ve finished with them, because nobody will be cleaning them up till next Thursday at the earliest.
From the Museumplein you head out through Diemen (a bit boring) and on to Weesp.This is a very pretty town with a market, but it’s only on Wednesdays so unfortunately you’ll miss it. Probably the organisers give you free lunch on a big important ride like the Giro, but if they don’t you’ll find Weesp has a few nice cafes by the water. They’ll be busy because of all the crowds there to see the Giro, but if you say you’re famous and doing the race yourself they should find you a table and serve you fairly quickly. The coffee isn’t nearly as good as in Adelaide, Wollongong or Milan, though.
After Weesp you pass close to Hilversum, the town where most Dutch television studios are based. Expect lots of ‘personalities’ jumping in front of you with cameras and trying to interview you. Ignore them. TV people always think the world revolves around them, but they don’t realise how much more important we cyclists are.
Next the route winds down to Utrecht, past lots of cows and canals. It misses Utrecht the first time, then wiggles around all over the town trying to find the Centrum, or town centre. We shouldn’t blame the organisers for that. I got lost in Utrecht myself. By Sunday I hope they’ll have put up signs with arrows pointing to the finish so you should find it okay, even if you’re out in front of the race and can’t just follow the other riders.
Utrecht is a university town so there are nice things to do there. There’s a Kathmandu store there too, so if you need any outdoor gear, a Goretex jacket or a tent to save on hotel costs, that’s the place to be. It’s been really cold here in Holland, Cadel, so you may need a fleece jacket.
If you’re at a loose end after the race, there are two interesting museums in Utrecht – the Aboriginal Art Museum (tell them you’re an Aussie and they’ll be all over you) and a museum of mechanical music which has entertaining music boxes and street organs.
Good luck, Cadel – it’s a long day’s ride but a good one.
Your cycling friend, Richard.
PS. Tomorrow I’ll try the third of the Dutch Giro legs – Amsterdam to Middelburg in Zeeland, through the tulip fields of Lisse. Then on Saturday I’ll be by the roadside watching out for you.