Suppose you’re looking for some peace or feel the need to give your body some rigorous exercise. Driving a bicycle out of the city around the nearby countryside can be quite a refreshing experience. You’ll see so much more than when you take the car. There are all kinds of cute villages around the city that an icicle can easily reach.
The area around the Northern district of Amsterdam that used to comprise the villages of Buiksloot, Nieuwendam, Zunderdorp and Ransdorp is now brought under Amsterdam’s authority. On the north side, the villages are adjacent to the Amsterdam ring road known as the A10.
The Nieuwerdammerdijk is famous for its old wooden houses that date back to the 16th century. Take a ferry from behind the central station and aim for Nieuwendam; follow the Noord Holland canal; it starts on your right 100 meters after you’ve come off the ferry. Ride up to the bridge, cross it and continue in the same direction on the other side of the canal. In the end, you’ll come to a roundabout. The Nieuwerdammerdijk runs of this on the opposite side; it’s a narrow street. After you’ve crossed the bridge and even locks, I believe (there’s an ancient pub there where you can stop for coffee or tea if you like.) Continue till you come up to the Beemster straat; it will lead the dike to the left. Go down the Beemster straat all the way to the end, and it should bring you to your first village called Zunderdorp. The Beemster straat will change names twice, I think, but it will take you to Zunderdorp. There’s not a lot to the place, but as you turn right at the beginning of the village and head for Ransdorp, that will change, you’ll meet cows, and Ransdorp is a nice village with a nice pub to have something to eat in and perhaps a second cup of tea. It’s easy to spot from a distance as its church tower was never finished and indeed looks that way. Turn right at the end of the village and head for Amsterdam. You’ll be crossing a large bridge; it’s the city’s ring road. You can either get on it and get back to the city and enter it from the Eastside or continue and get back on the Nieuwerdammerdijk, ride it to its end and go back the same way you came.
Another great ride is the Southern route. Find the Amstel river, not that difficult and ride down its Southern side; at one stage, you’ll be leaving the city and come across a windmill; this is a tourist spot and features besides the mill a statue of Rembrandt. A bit further there’s a bar-restaurant where you might have some hot chocolate, tea or coffee, it’s a place to rest, and you might take the opportunity as there won’t be any other places for a while. There are, however, benches for people to rest on all along the river. Eventually, you’ll reach the old village of Oudekerk (old church); if you’re a seasoned cyclist, you could try the “Ronde Loop.” It’s a 15 km drive where you leave Ouderkerk on one side and come back to it on the other. Ask the locals for directions. Now, if you’re not going to do that, cross the bridge over the river at the beginning of the village and ride back to Amsterdam on its other bank. Your ride will take you underneath a motorway; this is at the beginning of Amsterdam. It would be best if you rode up the ramp “before” you pass underneath it. The road will take you across the river and back into town. If you continue in the same direction as you were on the bridge, you’ll eventually end up on Dam square; you can also choose to follow the river, which will get you there, but you may have to cross over a few times here and there.