Short Tour, May 2003
Centuries ago, large below sea level areas of the Netherlands were flooded. It was then when dykes were constructed to enclose these areas. By constantly pumping the water out into the surrounding circle canals, new area was gained. This typically Dutch meadowland with its straight roads, old farms and pittoresque old villages, were are called polders.
My tour leads me through three of the the oldest polders of the Netherlands. Their names: Purmer, Beemster and Schermer. The first picture shows my Elystar on a dyke road, along which, 2 metres below sea level, typical "Stolp" farms can be found.
After 15km, 0h22
From my hometown Monnickendam, it's only a few kilometres into the polders. There, we find the straight roads through the meadowland. It wasn't easy to make this picture using the auto timer on my camera, but finally I managed to get onto the scooter quick enough. No time to put on the gloves and close the helmet, though. Rest asured, I usually don't ride this way.
Notice that I still don't have a new right mirror.
After 26km, 0h49
In the old days, windmills were used to pump out the water. Nowadays, computer operated electrical pumps have taken over. Many of the old mills, which were also used for sawing wood or processing grain, are still operated. Of course, they are also one of the main tourist attractions.
These three are situated near the village of Schermerhorn. The middle one was actively operated when I shot the picture.
After 30km, 1h00
Around 1600, lots of small prosperous towns could be found in this part of the Netherlands. They were centers of trade, and safe meeting places for farmers and civilians. Almost all towns have interesting buildings from that era, like Grootschermer's town hall from 1629, which was extended to the right in 1654.
Most often, these buildings are still in use by the village council. If you're lucky, you will see young couples get married when you visit these places. This time, though, there was no activity.
After 36km, 1h15
Another town between the Schermer and Beemster polders: De Rijp. This village is a bit larger, and has pittoresque canals, white wooden bridges, and a very old town center district.
Scootering through this town is an event...not only because the streets are narrow and there's more traffic than one would wish, but also because the streets appear to still have the pavement of perhaps a century ago.
After 46km, 1h35
Between De Rijp and Purmerend, many quiet roads can be found. This is the southern part of the biggest polder, the Beemster. All these roads are quite new and really great for a scooter ride. There's a 60km/h speed limit for cars, and scooters may only do 40km/h. I would like to say that I went 60km/h in order to "go with the flow", but there was hardly any traffic on this part of my tour. Instead, it was a pleasure to stop every now and then and enjoy the wonderful scenery of flat land below sea level, the cows and sheep on the meadows, and the wonderful Stolp farms, like the one on the picture below.
After 50km, 1h40
Just west of the A7 motor(high)way, I ran into this sign. It says "except for bicyclists and moped riders". Because 50cc scooters are in this category, I kept riding. There must be a way for me to cross the highway there.
Yeah, right! It will turn out to be one more example of how local government doesn't have any clue about scooterists.
After 51km, 1h41
This is where all hopes are gone. Yes, there is definitely a bridge over the highway, and pedestrians can make use of it. But the heavy metal bars prevent moped riders, and even bicyclists with grocery bags at the sides, to get onto the bridge. The space between the red bars measured 70cm (28in).
What were these geniouses having in mind when they set op the construction anyway? What are these bars good for? They were not preventing car drivers to make use of the bridge, were they? Anyway, I had to return and find another road to the other side of the highway.
After 64km, 1h56
Back in Monnickendam.
Of course, this was only a short trip. Unlike the previous one, this time I took short breaks for pictures and never hurried. Probably that's why I felt like I could do the same track once more easily. Well, the summer is around the corner, so more of these will certainly come.