Jon Woodroof's Ride
This Route us one of the - more or less - standard routes that we ride with RollCallAmsterdam. It will take you north on the ferry, past the now defunct RIH workshop where Lester had taken over the torch from old Mr. van der Kaaij, and then continued on into the polders. People are always amazed that a fifteen minute bike ride can take you out of the city so quickly, but it does. I’ve thrown a few short gravel sections in for good measure. You’ll pass through or by the towns of Purmerend, Wormerveer and Zaandam, before returning to the city. Watch out for the headwinds in those flat polders, or you’ll get a taste of what a ‘Dutch col’ feels like.
Estimated time: 2-3 hrs
Download the GPX route
“My first ride in Amsterdam was hardly 48 hours after we landed here.”
It was more of a coincidence that we ended up in Amsterdam. I travelled and my wife and I wanted to move to Europe, and I had a link with Germany and even spoke some German. I was working for a company that merged with a bigger company and they had an office in Amsterdam, and then things fell into place. At that point I didn’t even know Amsterdam was such a cool place to live.
It’s a perfect place to live with a family, just perfect. We don’t ever want to move back. Both my kids – they’re four and seven – can ride here and be safe. That isn’t possible anywhere else. Many business relationships and friendships have come through cycling. To the Dutch that’s nothing special, but to me it’s great!
I also love our camping trips together, we pack the kids and everything else up and head out on the bike. In the US I would be an irresponsible dad. This way we have slowly but surely discovered our surroundings. When we just moved here I definitely needed the first few weeks to start finding my way around. Especially as all the canals looked so similar. You couldn’t make me happier than when I had found my way to my next business appointment without looking at the map. Just to figure out if I could find it. Nowadays I can surprise some of my Amsterdam friends with creative routes to a certain place in the city.
I almost never ride alone. I totally get the people that do, that feel the need for the headspace or reflection. But for me it’s like killing two birds with one stone. I stay fit, see cool stuff, and have talks or even meetings on the bike. When I go out for a ride the expectation is that I’m meeting other people to ride with. I have this group that joins for riding every Friday morning very early, called RollCallAmsterdam. Last Friday two award-winning war photographers, fellow RCC Members showed up. They’ve shot all kinds of wars, and we got to show them around. Even my current business, connecting people for sales and PR, always comes back to biking. So that’s why I always ride in groups.
“In the US I’d be an irresponsible dad, but here my four and seven year old can ride safely in the street.”
Straight out of the gate, the first ride I did in Amsterdam was within 48 hours after I landed here. Keng, Sammy, and Frank took me on a ride to Ronde Hoep. A staple loop for roadies from Amsterdam. They were founders of the fixed gear shop Pristine that later morphed to Meesterknecht, and I was in touch with them because I used to have a fixed gear shop in Atlanta.
One thing I do often, and with most visitors coming into Amsterdam, is to take the ferry to the north side of the city. Vondelpark, Jordaan neighbourhood, you’d pass it by without help. There’s the national Film Archive and FC Hyena, an old movie theatre. RIH, the classic Amsterdam frame builder used to be there. And you can ride out of town to the historic city of Monnickendam. There are so many spots where people don’t end up if you leave them to their own devices.
My favourite spot in the city centre is a really small canal, de Recht Boomsloot, that is awesome. It really is the most picturesque canal in Amsterdam. Most large canals have hordes of tourists on them, but here everything is serene and pretty. Well, that and everything in the Jordaan area. The funny thing about riding around in this city is that you always run into more people than you think. That’s the greatest thing about Amsterdam.