Saturday morning, shortly after breakfast on the ferry, we disembarked and all met up outside the passport control area for a debriefing and to fill up our water bottles, etc. At around 8.30am (Holland time) a local tour guide sets off on his own to place the arrows for our navigation, and at around 8.45am we set off on the first leg in three separate groups, with a local tour guide in front of each.
I set off in the first (faster) group with Lee (the Norwich City fan) and soon ended up catching up to the guy putting up the signs. We had to stop and wait for a while to give him chance to get ahead.
This first stage was on the cycle paths through the sand dunes - and, wow, it was awesome! A cyclist's dream… We went 17 miles before finding our first pot hole! Very, very pleasant to ride on…
The local tour guide got himself (and us) lost a few times but nothing more than a couple of miles out of the way each time and to be fair we seen more scenery and punched in a few more miles so it’s all good! At approximately 10.45am we hit our first water and snack stop at Fletcher Hotel Restaurant Duinoord and stopped there for 20 minutes or so to let the stragglers catch up.
After 20 minutes had passed, most of the stragglers had caught up but there was still a few lagging behind with one of the local tour guides – so the rest of us set off in one large group with a tour guide at each end to make sure we didn’t get lost (and again, the tour guide got lost!), along the sand dunes again.
These cycle paths along the sand dunes were very busy as it was one of the hottest days so far in Holland and there were hundreds - maybe even thousands - of cyclists using these paths, so we had to remain alert and watch what was going on.
Around lunch time we stopped at Centre De Nachtegaal, Hotel–Restaurant in Lisse where they slapped on a magnificent buffet for us all… Swedish meatballs, steak in gravy, salmon, kippers… Who could ask for more!
After a short break to settle our stomachs we set off once more for the last leg which took us past a huge, busy lake on the outskirts of Amsterdam near to the airport. Again, because of the great weather (27C) the lake and the roadside were extremely busy and so we had to be cautious.
After we passed the lake it was a short journey through a park to Ajax - the finish line - where we arrived around 3.45pm. As I and a few of the other lads were some of the first ones there, the rest came in bit by bit over the next 30-40 minutes; all applauding the cyclists as the finished their ride.
What a great feeling this was to accomplish such a distance on a bicycle! We then, a few at a time, visited the Ajax club shop where some of us bought some merchandise and then had a group photo.
We then cycled a short 7km to the hotel room where we put our bicycles down for the last time that weekend, where they would be stored for the night before being transported back to England for us to pick up the next day. We then were given a free beer before checking into our hotel rooms…