Sometime over the course of my first two days in Amsterdam, I decided to look up existing bike routes that I could follow, a sight seeing route per say. I fully expected to find a route within the city, maybe passing by some nice townhouses, a famous museum, or a pretty garden. I happily found an architecture focused bike route. The fact that it was 34 km long did not faze me at the time. The pdf guide estimated a completion time of four hours and I figured they must have been considering the needed duration with respect to a leisurely bicycling pace. That was not the case.
The ride started in Almere, the newest city in the Netherlands. Being a “planned” city, the land was built up in the 1960’s, reclaiming area that was once covered in the waters of adjacent Lake Ijssel (a body of water still connected to the North Sea). Modern architecture covers Almere Stad (city proper) with buildings of all shapes and sizes such as an egg-shaped casino, an apartment building called “The Wave”, and canopy level walkways between residences. I rented a bike from the visitor center in the middle of town and biked around the immediate surrounding area, which was an outdoor mall complex with residences on the upper floors. Leaving the mall area I found “The Wave” residences and beyond that was a dock jutting out into the lake where I joined a group of boys in jumping into a small lake in the town. Continuing on to the next location on my bike route, I quickly realized that this leg of the journey was where most of the distance would be. A 9 mile bike ride to Muiderslot—a castle located about halfway between Amsterdam and Almere—was the goal. The one obstacle I had was time, as the visitor center where I rented the bike closed at 6 pm and it was already 3 pm when I left the dock. I was determined, but this architectural bike tour had now turned into a cycling workout.
I reached the town of Muiderberg, which was almost ¾ of the way to the castle. The bike path ran along Ijmeer, another body of water connected to Lake Ijssel. This place was amazing. The beach was covered with people and the water was covered with windsurfers. The water though, was only about 2-3 feet deep for at least 50 yards from the shore! It was a great place to learn wind surfing because you could easily get back on the board if you fell off. I would have stuck around if not for the fact that I was racing the clock.
Finally arriving at Muiderslot at 4:30, I was not able to go in because they were closing in a half hour. I instead biked down the path through the small town to a bakery where I had the most delicious meat pastries, a slice of carrot cake, and an espresso doppio. Life was good. I made it back to the visitor center with 15 minutes to spare after speeding back and unfortunately having to skip the last visit of the bike tour.