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Nice, easy ride from the docks at IJmuiden to Amsterdam this morning, with only one route-finding error leading us onto a path not designed for bikes(take a bow, Google maps). Sunny and warm here with not much wind. A very Dutch scene above: windmills turning lazily and the wide, twin-lane bike path shaded and screened from the main road by trees. 

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Along the way we met Dennis from Atlanta, Georgia, who has done a lot of cycle touring in Europe.  The black lines on the map in the photo are his routes on previous trips. This time he had started in Stockholm (9 days ago!) and was on his way to Newcastle by the ferry, with a plan to cycle across to catch a ferry to Belfast.  He has a blog about his cycle and hiking trips.  If you read this, Dennis, all the very best with your trip and it was a real pleasure to meet you.  I love the random encounters with other cyclists on these trips.

I always get a kind of culture shock arriving in Amsterdam by bike. The cycling is great until you reach the city centre, then suddenly there are so many people everywhere – on two wheels or two feet or some other configuration – all mingling with very little regard to details like traffic signs or rights of way. We are so obviously tourists from our use of hand signals to stopping at the zebra crossings to our bike helmets. 

Today there were even more people than I remembered and navigating the bike through the crowds and the heat seemed almost impossible. It turns out that we have arrived in Amsterdam at the end of Pride week and everyone was gathering to watch the parade round the canals. Some of the outfits were amazing but I couldn’t steer the bike and get to the phone quickly enough to get photos. Bruce got into the spirit, though, and put on his Edinburgh Pride t-shirt. 

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First bike shop visit of the trip today to replace Bruce’s pedals which were making a horrible grinding noise due to some combination of old age and yesterday’s rain. We fortunately had not gone far from the bike shop when I realised that the fastening of my handlebar bag had given up completely, so I was able to double-back and replace it. Many thanks to Presto Cycle Sport for friendly and efficient service. 

Now we are at Amsterdam Centraal Station waiting for the first leg of the train journey to Arnhem – where we change for Duisberg, then an overnight train to Basel. Onwards!

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