Mike’s Bike Tours Of Amsterdam

The last time I rode a bike I was in high school. Was the rear brake on the left or right? Would my instincts take over or had I packed my wobbly boots?

While the anticipation of riding again was daunting, the quiet intrigue of taking on the city of bikes was exciting.

We met our tour guide, Pete, at the Mike’s Bike Tours rental store. After being personally fitted out with a bike and a last minute safety check, we gingerly headed off into the streets of Amsterdam. All that stood in our way of the pleasant countryside bike tour was the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam – the traffic, pedestrians and millions of bicycles.

A sense of humour doesn’t go astray when you’re in charge of a bicycle on the streets of Amsterdam. It can be quite an awakening of the senses. Pete was calm and patient, making regular stops to ensure no one was left behind. A secret bell ringing code was implemented if difficulty did strike, quickly making its way through the tour group to alert our fearless leader.

Born in Canada, Pete is of Dutch heritage and moved to Amsterdam in 1989. His knowledge of the city was inspiring. After a historical introduction dating back to the
thirteenth century, Pete continued to educate us on the history of various sights along the way.

First stop was the Skinny Bridge. A traditional double-leaf Dutch draw bridge originally built in 1670, the Skinny Bridge is the most famous of Amsterdam’s bridges, connecting the banks of the Amstel River and known as a romantic spot to steal a kiss for good luck and prosperity.

The bridge opens approximately every twenty minutes to let boats through and Pete had it timed perfectly. A short break to watch the bridge in action and we continued on our way.

As we rode along the Amstel River, passing houseboats and fisherman, the city transformed into a green, lush countryside. Pete presented a photo opportunity stop at one of the few remaining authentic windmills in Amsterdam before the tour continued to a cheese farm/clog factory. The entertaining Dutch farmer was worth a separate tour in himself.

One of only a handful of traditional clog makers in Holland, he demonstrates the traditional art of making the unique wooden shoes in his own unique way after an interesting display on cheese production. A quick hello to the cows waiting outside and we were back on our bikes heading to Vondel Park.

By this time, my instincts had kicked in and the art of bike riding had returned to me. The open country roads and bike paths through the parks made me think I was 16 again. The cool, crisp wind in my hair was exhilarating, sending the cares of the world packing. Blue eyed, blonde haired children, sitting in carts in front of their parents’ bikes, named the passing colours as they rode by. This was a great way to experience Amsterdam.

As the city reappeared before our eyes, our senses went back into overdrive as we navigated the city traffic back to the rental shop, albeit a little more confident in our ability. As the tour came to a close, leaving us a little sore in the seat department but feeling extremely invigorated, it was definitely a few hours well spent.

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