We woke up on the morning of the 22nd of June and rushed straight to the train station to grab the first train to Purmerend, our bagpack filled with the leftovers from our sugar binge-shop from the previous day. After nearly missing our train switch at Zaandem and trying extremely hard not to fall asleep, we reached our destination with every finger, nipple and toe crossed that our bakfiets was still there and hadn’t been stolen by some local hooligans or a deceptively innocent looking Dutch mother. By some stroke of fortune (or misfortune), our not-so-beloved bicycle was still there and so we hopped on, took a quick selfie, and started out on our 17km journey to reach Amsterdam. The plan when we reached the capitol was to get on the ferry to bring us to the correct side of the city. We had told ourselves that once we could reach Amsterdam as soon as possible, our journey was as good as over and it would be a simple journey home from there.
As Jacob had done the majority of the cycling on the first day, I had volunteered to cycle from Purmerend to Amsterdam where we would stop and re-fuel before continuing on our journey. After cycling out of Purmerend and hitting the open road, we were both full of the excitement and joy of the prospect of our journey and we took many happy selfies and pictures for the first 9km. To our horror, the remaining 8km revealed that our physical condition had deteriorated quite significantly from the previous day. At any moment on my cycle to Amsterdam, I was expecting my knee caps to explode, showering the cyclist path and wandering ducks with cartridge and bone. I tried to stay positive with the “no pain, no gain” motto running through my mind, hoping that I would have the thighs and calves of a Grecian goddess or at the very least, Beyoncé, upon returning to Utrecht. However the thighs of Beyoncé can only hold so much promise and Jacob soon diagnosed me as being in a critical stage of the bakfiets-induced bad mood and prescribed that my only chance of survival was to get a Big Mac as soon as humanly possible.
Little under an hour later we reached Amsterdam in record time! Unfortunately we knew that our speedy time was too good to be true and alas, we were in Amsterdam North and needed to travel south to catch the ferry towards the city. With Amsterdam Centraal in sight, we boarded the ferry for the quick three minute crossing and parked the bikes on the other side before heading into the city to grab some food. Wet, cold and hungry just fifteen minutes after finishing our McDonalds, we decided to try and check with the NS staff in the station if it was possible to bring the bakfiets on the train. We hoped that our story and how ugly and tired we looked would touch a nerve and that they would make an exception and send us home in style. Our eyes glittered at the prospect of hauling this mighty beast up onto the platform and onto the train so we could sit our tired butts in the not-so-luxurious comfort of the second class seats for the twenty minutes that it would take to get us back to Utrecht Centraal.
If our story was a movie we would have encountered the nicest NS worker in the entire universe who would have carried our bakfiets up the stairs to the platform and onto the train while we followed behind, shaking hands and signing autographs for the millions of fans applauding our arrival into the station whilst spraying confetti and popping champagne. However, this is not a movie and instead we stood for half an hour at a customer service desk while some short Indian man attempted to find an answer to our question “can we bring the bakfiets on the train?” To say this man was incompetent was a mild understatement and it took him the first fifteen minutes to try and type the question INTO THE SEARCH BAR OF THE NS WEBSITE. Now I’m going to go out on a (tired and weary) limb here and suggest that someone who works for the NS should know what you can and cannot bring on the trains in Holland, especially someone working the biggest train station in the country’s capitol!! Anyway after thirty minutes had passed he informed us that this was not possible and so we left the station extremely annoyed, grabbed the bikes and made our way out of the city.
As it turned out, the cycle from Amsterdam to Utrecht is very straightforward and all you need to do is follow the cyclist path by the Amsterdam Grand Canal for 45km. There was only one problem with this: you need to follow the cyclist path by the Amsterdam Grand Canal for 45km….. There is perhaps nothing more disheartening in the world than staring ahead in the distance and seeing the same sight for 30km straight. When we were just out of Amsterdam we faced the gargantuan task of scaling a very, very high railway bridge only to find out on the other side that we had taken a wrong turn and should go back the way we came. -_- The only plus side was that we got to stop at the top of the bridge, have a break and take some pretty pictures.
Another 10km into the journey our legs were even more tired and it had begun to get cold and windy. After only 24km my body had had enough and I was diagnosed with a full on bakfiets-induced breakdown. Hopping off the bike and kicking the tires I broke down crying and started shouting at the bike while Jacob looked on in bewilderment. After composing myself by eating some jellies (naturally) Jacob came up with an idea: he would use the lock off my bike to tie the bikes together and he would cycle in front, pulling me along behind him.
As it turned out, this was the best idea that he could’ve come up with. I was psychologically tricked into thinking that Jacob was dragging me along when in fact I was pushing the bakfiets at a far quicker pace than I had been when I was feeling sorry for myself cycling on my own. Before long we reached the Amsterdamsesstraatweg in Utrecht and it looked like we would soon be home, right? WRONG! The Amsterdamsestraatweg is the LONGEST STREET IN THE WORLD – approximately 7km long – and I was soon near another mental breakdown before I saw the beautiful sight of Utrecht Centraal in the distance.
Arriving at our apartment was perhaps the most rewarding experience of a lifetime. We had made it. We had won the bakfiets game.
*Two weeks later we sold the bakfiets as it had served its purpose for us. Of course we did not mention our journey to our buyer as who in their right mind would buy a bakfiets that had been on a hellish 105km journey? So, if you are reading this buyer, we are very sorry that we lied.
**DISCLAIMER: No bakfiets was injured in the making of this article.