A ride to Vlijmen into the wind

When you don’t own a car you need to consider how to take every single journey. Is the place I need to go to at cycling distance or can I go by train and cycle the final distance on a rental bicycle? On June 6th I was invited to a friend’s house in Vlijmen. That is a 9 kilometre distance and normally that is no big deal to cycle. On this particular day there were weather warnings for a very strong wind, right at the time I would be cycling. I didn’t think that would be a problem, but cycling into such a strong headwind turned out to be a challenge. This is the sixth in my series of nine rides in extra posts. I publish one of these rides every Monday in October and November 2020.

The railway station of ʼs-Hertogenbosch is where I started to record this ride to Vlijmen.

The ride to Vlijmen is not unfamiliar to me. This trip would normally cost 20 to 25 minutes at most. Yet this time it took me 36 minutes. The stills in this post don’t capture the wind, but the video does. The wind slowed me down so much that it is hard to watch the video at real speed for me: it is so terribly slow. I comfort myself that I am not really overtaken by other people, only by a racer and a girl pushed by a guy on a moped (yes, that is indeed illegal). People going the opposite way seem to fly. The only times I pick up some speed is in the parts where the route is shielded from the wind. It may be interesting for you to see what a struggle the wind can be, but I can feel it a bit too much. Enjoy!

The weather looks fine from here, but you can’t see the wind. Note how the people waiting for the traffic lights are completely out of the way in a safe space.
This part of the route is on a former railway line and very high up. This is where I was completely exposed to the wind. It was very hard to get up onto this dike in the first place. The road on the right is the south circular road around ʼs-Hertogenbosch.
This is where the route comes out of an underpass that is relatively recent. On the left hand side a big parking garage for people from outside the city who want to visit the centre of ʼs-Hertogenbosch. I described this park-and-ride parking garage in an earlier post.
The municipal border between ʼs-Hertogenbosch and Heusden (to which Vlijmen belongs) is clearly visible. The cycle street stays the same width but the side strip gets narrower and has a different design. The red of the asphalt is also slightly different, partly because the asphalt itself is of another type.
This is a cycle road in Vlijmen with no end-destinations for motor traffic. Only agricultural vehicles use it, sometimes. This cycle route passes a nature reserve and that is why there is dynamic lighting here. I wrote a post about those lights before.
At this location the cycle route is elevated on an old dike alongside the A59 motorway. (Really catching all the wind there was!) This will become the F59 fast cycle route from ʼs-Hertogenbosch to Waalwijk in the coming years. See my earlier post about the F59.
This man was able to cycle a lot faster into the wind than I was.
At this location I left the route of the future F59. This is a narrow recreational path. It just happened to be the more convenient route for this particular destination on the south side of Vlijmen.
Some sports cyclists who maybe saw this windy afternoon as an extra challenge to practice. If they wanted to practice cycling into the headwind they were going the wrong way though…
The final part into Vlijmen was on a 60km/h road, that is the lowest possible speed limit for rural areas. At the border of the built-up area that road immediately became a 30km/h zone, the lowest possible speed-limit inside the built-up area.
My end-destination was in one of these residential streets. They are all part of the 30km/h zone, which you can also tell by the bricks. The street is clearly older and designed when the speed for such streets was still 50km/h. It would have been designed a bit narrower nowadays, but the volume of motor traffic is very low. In such zones there is no need for separated cycling infrastructure.

Map of this 9 kilometre long ride.

Video of the ride.
(if it is too slow to watch you can try it at double speed on YouTube.)

5 thoughts on “A ride to Vlijmen into the wind

  1. Thank you for another great video! I used to do this trip daily back in the nineties to get to the train to what’s now called BUAS. A lot has improved since then 🙂

  2. “If they wanted to practice cycling into the headwind they were going the wrong way though…” : so funny! 🤣
    Your comment is so “pince-sans-rire” as we say in French (deadpan sense of humour).

  3. Only a fool would try to teach Dutch folk about riding into the wind, but this may enlighten a few other nationalities, and trigger discussion.
    Below is adapted from part of my response to https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2019/05/22/whats-worse-dutch-winds-or-hills/ .

    A partial solution to Dutch headwinds?
    Aim to modify your route to obtain a degree of shelter. Maybe plot a route through woods, between hedges, or (if desperate) via narrow streets, where the surroundings provide shelter, or at least some friction to reduce the wind speed. Riding on the slightly more sheltered side of a hedge can help, or downwind of a raised dike.
    Sailors (does that include most Dutchmen?) understand “tacking into the wind”. Adapting this to cycling, a well selected ziz-zag route eliminates the tedium of an otherwise head-on wind. The longer ride can be more than rewarded by easier pedalling.
    Local knowledge helps, but for the rest of us, close inspection of GOOD maps (eg OsmAnd) aids route-planning anytime, particularly when a headwind is inevitable.

  4. What an amazing ride. I rode with a Dutch friend in the “Before Times” outside of Amsterdam, and he consulted wind speeds before we started. I thought he was kind of cowardly – until we hit some wind. And this wasn’t even bad wind! But out on the dikes, he says he sometimes has to stand on the pedals just to stay upright! I much prefer hills, and my hat’s off to you for doing this. Hoping you flew home easily, tho I know from my friend that the wind can just as easily reverse and fight you all the way back(!).

  5. We had some windy days here in the English Midlands back in the Summer. I was cycling back from our allotment garden with panniers and baskets full of harvested vegetables. It was a hard slog against the wind and I was surprised to find that I couldn’t freewheel down a hill: the wind acted as a brake and brought the bike to a standstill after a few metres!

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