let's take it for a spin around the block

November 18th, 2006

The afermath

The walk to my front door never felt longer. I was walking at the slowest pace and panting simultaneously. So much so that I elicited some stares from people on the street, I guess they were wondering if I was okay. My legs were barely functional and the kind of pain I was feeling in my thighs I've never felt in my life. I opened the door, went upstairs, entered my room and basically collapsed on the bed. I wasn't moving a muscle. Eventually I got up and decided this would be a good time to take a bath. We have a tub, but I've never used it before. It's actually pretty useless, cause it's too small, and with the average Dutch person being insanely tall, it's a wonder how any native could fit in it. All the same, it was a nice half an hour to just lie there and let the skin feel the warm water. By the time I got out, my fingers were wrinkled. Struggling to put one foot in front of the other, I headed into the kitchen to remedy my state of famine.

I'd like to extend this tale of drama, but that's all that actually happened. Damn. :D

From the top

This afternoon I was feeling a little restless, so I thought I would take the bike for a ride to Bunnik, since I've never been there before and some people said it was nice. Yes, I'm back on the horse. The road to Bunnik is quite nice, there's a wide bikepad alongside the road and there's a long road of houses by the road. Quite a lot of people were out there cycling or jogging, so the atmosphere of that bikepad was appropriate. Bunnik itself is one of those towns that stretches the longest along the main road through it and doesn't have too many settlements deeper in. I found a little plaza with a church, but that was about it. Not really knowing what to do with myself, I noticed a sign for bicyclists that said "Zeist 3km". Well, why not. Zeist is a lot bigger than Bunnik, it's just about the biggest town of those that surround Utrecht. In Zeist, I first followed the signs to the Castle, which turned out to be a prosperous, old building surrounded by water. Then I just headed for the center, which landed me onto a very nice boulevard. I found Zeist a charming place, the boulevard stretches quite far, it was quite busy and on either side you have stores all lit up and there's also the light from street decorations. By now I noticed darkness was approaching, it would be dark in an hour tops. So what to do, should I go back? Just then I saw another sign - "Amersfort 13km". I was a little wary of going to Amersfort knowing it would be after dark and I wouldn't see that much of it anyway. But hey, here I am in Zeist and it's not that far away, why not.

The road to Amersfort led me through Soesterberg, which apparently has an airport. But the town is so small that it passes by in an instant from the main road. The road I was on is a wide, 4 lane road with bikepads on both sides. Curiously enough, rather than open fields or buildings, most of the stretch goes through a forest area. Erik said there would be hills here, but the road is as hilly as a lake. Well, not entirely, apparently there is some elevation but it's so mild you don't even notice. The road is long, though, so long I was starting to get tired. Incidentally, I wasn't in any kind of good shape today, I actually felt pretty tired after not sleeping well and the coffee was now making it's presence known by repeating on me (not the best thing to drink before you take a trip). I wanted to get to Amersfort and didn't consider turning back now, but thought that maybe I'd take a break once I got there. After much more discomfort, I finally saw the sign Amersfort and I felt like throwing my hands up in the air like they do in the Tour de France. In fact, I may have done that, I don't remember. I don't exactly remember when I left the house, but I think it was around 16:20. It was 17:35 when I got to Amersfort. I was pretty damn satisfied with the time.


Amersfort is again charming. The structure of the center is a bunch of narrow, intertwined streets dominated by stores. There were quite a few people about, although I imagine there were many more before it got dark. If I had my wallet, I may have bought something as a souvenir. Not having been there before, I headed right on through and eventually arrived at the end of the shopping alley. I turned back and was ready to head home. By now I wasn't interested in any detours, so I just picked the shortest way and took off. The sign said 17km to Utrecht, which was going to feel veeeery far. The first few of those kilometers I covered without that much effort, but the accumulated effort was taking its toll. By half time my eyes were darting around looking for the next sign to see that the distance was decreasing. I had been sweating from trying to get to Amersfort as quick as possible and now the slight breeze was making sure I stayed nice and cool, more than I needed to be. The legs were not happy, as I stretched one leg out a little, I could feel how stiff my thigh was and knowing I wasn't far away from a cramp. Of course, bicycling keeps your legs bent at all times, so you won't get a cramp, which is good to know when you're 20km away from home with no money and no tickets for transportation. :D The last 6-7km to Utrecht were indeed very trying. I hadn't eaten for a few hours before embarking on this impromptu trip and I was feeling famished now. I thought "I just have to get to Utrecht, then the last stretch home will be a piece of cake". I finally saw the sign Utrecht and headed home.

After I mapped the trip on Gmaps Pedometer, I discovered I did about 52km in 2:50h. The last comparable trip of that length took 5 hours, so the difference in pace was very visible to me throughout. Here is the full route. One lesson from today is that 50km is just about the limit for how far I can go without any kind of planning. I was so tired and hungry at the end that I couldn't go much further without taking some breaks and eating underway. Today I didn't even have a bottle of water on me.

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3 Responses to "let's take it for a spin around the block"

  1. erik says:

    I checked up on National Park Utrechtse Heuvelrug:


    Apparently only the Southern stretch is relatively hilly (Veenendaal up to just south of Zeist). I did not know that, my bad. On my defence, last time I was there I was about 10 years old.

    And 50+ kilometers? That's crazy. Next time just cycle to Amsterdam already :D Or I have a better idea: 50 kilometers can get you pretty far. So why not pick a nice one-way route and take a train back? Since you have that fancy discount pass now.

  2. numerodix says:

    Well, like I said it was a spur of the moment thing. Going to Amersfort has been on my mind for some time, ever since you mentioned. Amsterdam is further away though, but I plan to (if I still have a bike). Pretty sure I'll be taking the train back though.

    I also looked at the map and there are a bunch of cities possibly within range for me to go and see, but it requires some planning, the idea is go there, relax, look around the city and take the train back.

    Btw let me know when you want to come ;)

  3. erik says:

    The minute I found a cheap scooter, I'm game.