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We had a fairly slow start but better than the previous day, unfortunately our efforts to get ahead of the heat of the day were foiled by the sun and it was already quite warm when under its rays. We kept shuffling to keep under the shade as we packed up camp and then we sought refuge under the cool canopy of the trees of the Hoge Veluwe, finally rolling for the day.

It was a lovely ride on car-free pathways, some paved, some packed dirt, some crushed gravel, as well as quieter roads. We made decent time to Hoenderloo where we stopped for the first ice cream of the day. After an hour’s rest in the shade, eating and playing, we rode across this small town to the National Park gates for the Hoge Veluwe. This is the only national park that we have had to pay an entrance fee for and we also paid to go to the Kröller-Müller Museum because I wanted to at least see part of the outdoor sculpture garden.

If I could have a repeat of today, I would have snagged a spot at the National Park campground in Hoenderloo (even though it looked like a frying pan, to be honest), ditched our gear and then gone off to explore for the day – or at least as much as we could in the heat – including a solid visit to the Kröller-Müller Museum, which apparently houses one of the best art collections in the country.

Hoge Veluwe National Park

Right after the gates of the park is a paid parking lot on your left, for cars, and on your right there is the most magnificent sight: a large area full of free white bikes for anyone to use within the park. These queues of bikes are at every entrance to the park. The are first come first serve. Each one has a rear seat. Some also have front infant seats and there are some child-sized models available, too. There are also adaptive bikes for elderly or disabled visitors; we saw cargo trikes, where the passenger sat in front between two wheels and the rider pedalled and steered behind them. It was magical and seemed to signal such real intent towards the park’s commitment to biodiversity. It really lifted me up to see this and the seemingly hundreds of park users taking advantage of it.

I don’t know the history of these bikes, but I wonder if it was part of the original free white bicycle scheme in the country that my father-in-law told me about. Unfortunately, the concept didn’t pan out as many bikes were vandalized or dumped in canals, according to him, but I wonder if these bikes are vestiges of that initiative from the ‘70s.

From here we went to the visitor centre, got popsicles, and then went in to check out the interesting natural history museum therein for the region. The kids loved it. There was one blurb that I really liked whereby the park acknowledged that much of the sand dune area is a result of humans overusing those spots, and it was so honest. The other piece of writing that sat well with me was their acknowledgement of that abject destruction, but how as a nation, the Dutch currently desire to increase biodiversity. They made a clear thesis statement of sorts, outlining the intentions of the park as supported by society’s goals. I feel like Parks Canada lacks that clear direction. As a layman, I can never tell if our national parks system is there to support biodiversity or recreation. For example, they recently kiboshed a cycle pathway through a national park that has high RV traffic and instead of creating this pathway for zero emissions bicycles and restricting polluting RV traffic, they choose to continue to support the latter.

Next we went off searching for the Kröller-Müller Museum outdoor sculpture garden and one of the rear entrances happened to be right there, much closer than expected. So we locked our bikes together, took our valuables, kept our fingers crossed, and entered into the serenity of the sculpture garden. I could have spent at least half a day here but the kids were roasting so we did a short loop and used our imaginations for the rest. There is something extremely gratifying about viewing art in a natural setting.

Time and heat were starting to make us feel as though we needed to push on to the campground, so we did.

And it was hot. So hot. It maxed out at 34C actual temperature today. I don’t know if there was a “feels like” with humidex.

The next section was partly in the trees but a lot of it was in a sand dune stretch that was highly exposed to both wind and heat. We did see a herd of deer though! And so much heather that must be quite stunning when blooming, which I believe is later in the summer, August or so.

We made it across the park and then had to keep going, meandering through a mix of pathways adjacent to busier roads and darling ones adjacent to what must have been dirt logging roads for the managed forests in the area and farm tracks. My eldest was getting tired at this point as we had crossed the 30 km mark, so we hooked her up to the FollowMe Tandem.

Natuurcamping Landgoed Quadenoord Bosbeek

At one point we were on a pathway in a field and then we found our campsite for the night, quaintly tucked away in the woods by an old mill. If you wanted, you could pre-order some breakfast items to be delivered, pastries and the like — I’m in love with this idea, what service!

This campground (Natuurcamping Landgoed Quadenoord Bosbeek) was pretty, in the trees, adjacent to a very springlike green field, but the facilities were not charming at all. There was a fence with barbed wire at the top around the sink/bathroom/shower area and you had to use a code to get in and out. There was no toilet paper (which is apparently common but was the only place we stayed at that didn’t have any). The guy running the place, however, seemed nice enough and his girlfriend lived in Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada, so that was kind of fun. There was also a café on the premises, but by the time we set up camp it had closed.

I pulled out the dry-cured salami and Brie. They looked questionable for eating after a day sweating in my pannier. We ate some and seemed to be okay, but the next night my littlest was not okay so perhaps this is where it started (I don’t know if she ate any nor how much). Thankfully, pasta does not suffer under heat, but it is very boring if you do not have toppings that do survive!

We had our first thunderstorm here, but it hardly rained nor did it do so for long, plus we were well protected in the trees.

All in all, a great and very full second day of riding. This was the end of our very forested and serene section of travel, away from major cities and the busier western portion of the Netherlands. Things were only going to get busier from here and I felt reluctant to leave the security of this vast greenspace that had really grown on me over the past few days.

Our trip