Monday, February 11, 2013

Zondag op De Heuvel

Yesterday was gorgeous, and Amsterdam knew it.  Both of us biked cautiously south through the melting ice and slush with cameras in tow; Ed to his gym and me to Amsterdamse Bos in search of De Heuvel (The Hill).  

Hills are important to my psychological well-being.  I grew up in one of the moundiest regions of the U.S. Northwest, so every once in a while, my legs and soul itch for climbing and vantage.  Chicago had One Hill, which I visited at least once a week while living in that city.  Amsterdam also has its Een Heuvel.  It also has the Nesciobrug, referenced in October, which is slightly closer to our house than De Heuvel and whose ramps I can, in a pinch, run up and down until I get bored and wind-beaten (about twice).  De Heuvel, however, is the real deal, and can be summited via five or more approach routes.  Depending on your, or your coach's, or the race organizer's, degree of masochism, the approach may take anywhere from 45 seconds to two minutes, and your shoes may arrive at the top clean and dry, or saturated with mud and ice water.  Since I spent last Saturday choofing up and down and around De Heuvel at a pitiful distance behind my deer-like 19-year-old teammates, I decided to make my peace with De Heuvel on this visit.

After some minor fishtailing and average roostertailing (no fenders yet), I made it to the bike path behind (west) of Olympish Stadion.  There's a tiny, mounded island back there with no apparent name, but if I had to guess, I'd venture "Eilandje."  

I don't know the "deal" with the stumps, but it seems like a fitting memorial to the Hongerwinter.
 My next landmark after the island is the running track and voetball fields/pitches at the ASV Arsenal clubhouse.  It's a pretty nice, four-lane, 400m track, and only about a five minute jog from Olympisch Stadion.  There was a girl practicing goal kicks in the snow and pumping her arms in the air victoriously whenever she made one.  No picture, sorry.  I did finally take a picture of the Peeing Guy statue, though.

Gets me every time.
The Amsterdamse Bosbaan is only another 5-10 minutes from the Olympisch Stadion.  I locked my bike and stuffed my coat and pannier bags into one of the public lockers, put my euro in the slot, tied the key to my shoelace, and transitioned to a slow, ice-dodging jog into the Bos.  There were a lot of people, a lot of kids, a lot of dogs, and a lot of snowmen.

"YES!  A whole field to myself!"
 After about ten minutes of mincing jog and fotos-maken, I arrived.

There's De Heuvel... and it looks almost... friendly?  
When I volunteered for the Boscross on January 6, this field looked much different.
It looked like this. (Photo by Phanos)
There's me in the yellow vest, standing next to a guy I like to call the "Do you know/Have you seen Dave Baars?" guy.  I've met him twice in the Bos in the last month, and each time he asks. (Photo by Phanos)
Back to the present.
After a very light, easy, no-pressure jog to the top of De Heuvel, I was able to enjoy the scenery.

On the other side of De Heuvel, some less social Amsterdammers were romping in the mud and snow.  I was glad to not be running up it.

I took the asphalt trail down, and retraced my steps to my bike, which is much in need of cleaning.

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