Friday, September 4, 2009

Amsterdam and Boatspotting: The Vuelta Gets Closer...


After the 200k+ ride on Wednesday I was pretty beat. I also hadn’t had adequate protein, due to neglect not my vegetarianism (I know what you’re thinking Jim), so I was feeling weak. I ate a few Nutella sandwiches and headed out for a ride.

Utrecht is about 35k from Amsterdam so I figured I’d ride over.

I rode around a bit.

Oh, who’s this? Could these guys be in transit to La Vuelta?

I stopped to have a peek. Sandy Casar was nowhere in sight. I wouldn’t have recognized him if he had been.

Thirty minutes later I was starving again and had to stop for reinforcements. I sat in the park and ate some lox on croissants.

I got back on the bike and headed toward Amsterdam. I made it to the Amsterdam canal and rode alongside for 30 minutes or so. I was still really drained and the cool grass looked inviting. I laid my jacket down, took off my shoes and helmet, and went to sleep.

An hour or so later I began to stir. I got back on the bike and made it to Amsterdam.

What a place! Really, it was off the hook. Canals everywhere, bike lanes packed with cyclists. Unreal.

Again I stopped for reinforcements. After badgering the troops all day on Wednesday it was the least I could do.

After the ho-hum falafel I had had enough of Amsterdam. I hopped back on my steed and got the heck out of dodge. I’m sure there are many great falafels in Amsterdam and I would have loved to see the Van Gogh museum but I just didn’t have the energy. (Insert joke about cutting off my ear…)

I rode back home along the Amsterdam canal. Along the way I spotted this guy:

Recently, the discussion of “trainspotting” (the hobby not the movie) came up between Steve, the Scouse, and I. Steve said, yes, there really are people who sit and watch trains. This piqued my interest so I looked it up and found this. Over the course of my investigation I also discovered a guy named Darius McCollum. The guy apparently had the whole NYC metro memorized by the age of seven! He also has been in jail for impersonating employees so he could drive the trains.

Thus, with my interest in trainspotting recently piqued, I thought I had found my first trainspotter (the canal was right next to railroad tracks).

I went up and had a chat with him. It turns out he was from Germany and was actually boatspotting. Boatspotting! On vacation from Germany! So goofy.

Then, it dawned on me: I’m a cyclespotter. All I really care about is bikes, with a few other outside things. I think about them most of the day. I watch for them. I got to bike shops to see them. I go places specifically just to see people race them. I could go on ad finitum . I think the only real difference between the two hobbies is cycling fans like to see pain. Am I right? Well, and maybe well defined legs but that’s neither here nor there.

I rode the rest of the way along the canal contemplating trainspotting.

Near Utrecht I was feeling a bit replenished. A moped passed me and I jumped. I got on its wheel and rode along at 50kph. Near my turn off I did a few sprints off the side then got back on. I really need to find someone back home who has a moped.

On the way home I stopped to get some groceries for dinner. While waiting in line a cute Dutch girl got in line after me. We smiled at each other. Outside the store we got on our bikes and headed the same way. I wanted to talk to her so I asked her for directions.

“Well, it’s hard to explain, but I’m going there so you can follow me if you like.”
I did.

She was a Dutch college student in her third year. I told her I was following the Vuelta and she mentioned having seen stages of the Tour while living in France.

Eventually we got where she was going and she pointed me in the direction I needed to go. I asked for her email, so smooth, but she preferred to give me her phone number. She mentioned there was a party on campus later that night. I said I’d see what I could do then peaced out.

I grinned my way back to the campus and took some pics of the buildings.

This is the one I was staying in.

When Karlijn got home we went for a ride. I was happy to let her ride my bike since I got to ride her commuter.

Around 11 I went to meet the Dutchess, Louise, at the “Campus Bar.” The theme for the party had something to do with cops and bikinis. Fortunately, Louise had brought a bikini top for me.

The party was good fun. It reminded me a bit of “Rules of Attraction” with all the drunk college kids. I didn’t go to sleep until 5 so I decided to just take the train up to Groningen.

La Vuelta was getting closer…

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