Amsterdam is a cosmopolitan city with a lot of activity, but what it's like outside of Centrum. Netherlands is a small country. It takes a few hours by train to get to one country to the other. In fact, I could live in Rotterdam, the country's second largest city, and commute to Amsterdam via one-hour train ride.
My younger brother, Jason, came visit me in Amsterdam, so we decided to grab our bikes and take the ferry to Amsterdam-Noord. The ferry is free for pedestrians and bikers, and there was a ferry every 5-10 minutes. After a quick crossing, we got on our bikes and started to ride out further north. Within 15 minutes, canal houses and brick buildings turned into rolling meadows and tranquil waterways.
We did not plan our route, so we initially set Zunderdorp as our first destination and eventually made our way to Ransdorp and Durgerdam. There were signs everywhere, and the residents were happy to point us in the right direction. In every village, there was only main street leading up to a small cathedral in the village square. We made a new friend in one of the villages, and he was gracious enough to let us take his portrait. On the way to Ransdorp, my handlebar decided to come loose. (Look mom! No hands!) Thankfully, my brother and I made it to Ransdorp in one piece. At the village cafe (a.k.a. bar, restaurant, civic center, etc), I found an older woman helped me fix my bike. Afterwards, we shared beers and apple pie at the bar before we made our way back through the quaint waterways and endless green fields filled with cows and sheep.
Although the paths were relatively flat, I would still recommend using road bikes versus the city cruisers we had. Regardless, a countryside bike ride is definitely a must. There is nothing quite like riding a bike through the lush farmlands while feeling the wind brush your face.