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Markerwaard

July 8, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Last spin through the Flevopolder was so good, I decided to do it again. But this time, I wanted to add something on top of it: riding across the Markerwaarddijk to Enkhuizen. As you can read at the wiki link, the Dutch thought they needed more land and raised this dike. Everything southwest of this dike was going to become artificial land of 410 square kilometers, a polder like the Flevopolder. Due to various reasons, this never came to be. There were typical dutch environmental concerns, like the ground levels in the bordering province of Noord-Holland. Surface water there would flow east towards the newly-made polder and the ground in Noord-Holland would lower itself. Wooden foundations would rot. Also, there were concerns about the bird population and about the possibilities for recreation. All in all, the plans to create a new polder were put to a halt in the 1980s.

What remains now is the dike. You can ride from Lelystad to Enkhuizen across the lake, by car or by bike. The cycling lane runs next to the road, about two meters below it, right next to the water. I imagine a headwind can be murderous here (I had a slight tailwind, fortunately). It’s surreal to ride across this lake. The landscape is empty. To the left is the raised road. To the right there is water and nothingness. Boats glide across the blue surface. There are many birds. Occasionally, you pass a fish trap. The colour scheme is green, gray, white and predominantly one of two shades of blue. The emptiness is rare in a place like the Netherlands. I suppose it is even better without the cars screaming by on the raised roads (actually, it was OK).

I provided some pictures, hoping to capture the emptiness and the peaceful atmosphere. Again this was a great ride. 128 kms too, and no knee problems. My confidence for the Great Divide is building. Cycling in the mountains will be a big culture shock, though.

At the start of the dike.

Flevopolder

July 2, 2012 at 7:12 pm

The other day, I went for a spin through the Dutch Flevopolder. Now, the Flevopolder is a particular piece of our country. According to the wiki, it’s in fact the world’s largest artificial island. While I don’t really know about that, I do know that a polder is a piece of land which was reclaimed from the sea. Many dutch people live in such a polder. It is characterized by being completely flat, by being surrounded by dikes and often by being below sea level.

The Flevopolder is extremely flat and, although it is in my backyard, I have never cycled through it. I figured “you don’t want to have a headwind in polder country” (especially not with a painful left knee, a residual injury from a running event two weeks earlier) so last Friday, when I saw that there were predominant southeasterlies sweeping the country, I made my move. Onwards to the northeast, to Lelystad!

It was a terrific ride. I admit, I was prejudiced. I thought it would be a boring slog through endless flatland, but no. I could view the scenery for miles and miles. The horizon was dotted with spinning windmills. Green fields, billowing in the strong wind. There were many clusters of planted forest. Not a soul was encountered on the many bike paths. The sun often peeked through huge cloud formations. Rainshowers were visible in the distance. I tried to predict where they would go.

After a while, the ride evolved into a bizarre version of Pac-Man (me being Pac-Man), trying to dodge the evil rainclouds. I lost in the end, but I really didn’t mind. Soaking wet and feeling quite contented, I checked in at the Lelystad railway station to take the train back home. Fortunately, I didn’t have any knee problems. Great day. Great ride.

 

Flevo1

“Dutch skyline” by Rembrandt van Rijn