•   
  •   
  •   
 

You Are Viewing Netherlands

Cycling The Netherlands

Posted February 1st, 2012

Cycling past the windmills of KinderdijkThe Netherlands (or Holland, as it’s commonly known) is arguably the best country in the world for a bicycle tour.

It’s a nation that’s absolutely crazy about the bicycle, with more bikes than people!

As a visiting bike tourist, this means you can benefit from a phenomenally well developed bicycle network, including thousands of dedicated paths and free guarded bike parking in cities.

While you’re here, you can also:

  • Brush up on the Dutch master painters. Museums across the country feature paintings by Rembrandt and Vermeer.
  • Sun yourself on the beaches of the North Sea. Or simply ride along the dunes on tranquil bike paths.
  • Waltz through the tulip fields. Come in mid April or early May for the best display of colour! Read more.
  • Fill up on apple cake and pancakes. Traditional Dutch food is hearty and comforting.

We’re so crazy about cycling here, that we created a free eBook with 20 Tips For Bike Touring In The Netherlands.

20 Tips For Bike Touring In The Netherlands

Simply click on the book to download your free copy.

More information about bike touring in The Netherlands:

 

Posted in Map, Netherlands

A Weekend Bike Tour To The Dutch Island Of Texel

Posted November 13th, 2011

With a major life change rapidly approaching, and winter closing in, every weekend has suddenly become precious. If it’s sunny, then cycling we shall go.

This ‘carpe diem’ attitude sparked the latest mini adventure: a tour to northern Holland and the island of Texel. This picture sums up the trip: gorgeous.

Alicia on her Brompton

In case you don’t know where Texel is, this map should help orient you. Amsterdam is down in the bottom left corner. The route is about 120km in total, and easily done in a couple of days. You can ride on dedicated bike paths for almost the entire time.

Map of Our Tour

And who was cycling, exactly? Well, this time your trusty cyclists were Friedel & Alicia – not Andrew, because he was away in Germany. A girl’s weekend out. Fun! Even more fun was the fact that we both had new Brompton folding bikes, so we decided to test their touring credentials. Here we are, with our almost-matching bikes.

Brompton Geekery

In the summer, the area we rode through would be heaving with tourists. Happily, in November, it was desolate and beautiful. We rode through empty forests…

A Forest Outside Alkmaar

And alongside sand dunes (the ocean is just on the other side)…

Bicycle Path in the Netherlands!

And sometimes we stopped at a farm stall to pick up treats, like blackberry jam. If we’d been here in the summer, we might have also bought strawberries, honey or even wool!

Time to buy some jam!

The whole weekend turned out to be a bit of a culinary adventure. Cheese, potatoes and Texel beer were quickly added to our small bags.

Cheese shop

Who can resist a farm stall? Not me!

We also got up extra early on Saturday, to photograph the sunrise, with Alicia’s medium-format camera.

Last moon, first light

On sunny autumn weekends, Texel is a landscape photographer’s dream.

Early morning photographer

From there, it was on to see some friendly seals at an aquarium and seal refuge.

Baby sea lions

And finally back home again, via a beautiful lighthouse.

De Cocksdorp Lighthouse

A short trip, but a very rewarding one – and through all of it the Brompton bikes held up admirably. We were impressed at how comfortable they were to ride over long distances, even on some unpaved paths. And there’s no arguing with the ease of putting them on the train compared to other bikes. No extra bike ticket. No time restrictions. Perfect! Other Brompton trips are almost certainly in the planning for the future.

Photo Essay: Autumn Cycling In The Netherlands

Posted October 24th, 2011

If we had to pick a favourite season for bike touring, autumn would be it.

Summers are too hot, and the bike paths too crowded. Spring is too wet, and winter too icy. But autumn? It’s perfect. Who could argue with a ride along a misty, tree-lined road like this, on a Sunday morning in late October?

Beautiful Sunday Cycling

All around us, colours are popping – not least in the ripe corn, just waiting for the farmer to come and pluck it off the stalk.

Corn

The beauty of the surrounding landscape, and the good company, give us plenty of reasons to smile, as we ride along nearly deserted bike paths.

Alicia

Darkness falls early in October, so by 5pm we’re setting up camp. We’re the only tenters in a huge campground.

Setting up camp

We spread a phenomenal amount of food out on the picnic table. Will 3 people really eat all this? Yes, as it turns out. It’s going to be cold tonight, you know – below freezing. We need insulation! From this pile of food, we make a vegetable curry, rice, smores over the campfire and an apple desert. Yum!

We do eat a lot of food for 3 people...

Before supper, however, we cut wood for the campfire and laugh – a lot. Some of us (Andrew) end up working more than others. Well, there should be at least a few benefits to being 6 months pregnant!

Sawing Wood - a team effort :-)

As night falls, we stoke the campfire, roast marshmallows and talk, until only coals are left, and we wonder if autumn will be kind enough to give us just one more weekend like this, before winter really sets in.

Campfire at the natuurcamping in Sellingen

Our Second Test Ride On Recumbent Bikes & Trikes

Posted September 4th, 2011

One day. Six different bicycles to test out, and a bright summer’s day with beautiful blue skies.

If it sounds like a perfect combination, that’s because it was. After our first test of recumbent bikes a few weeks ago, this time we were on our way to Maia Ligfietsen in the Dutch city of Dordrecht. To get there, we biked 30km and then took the Waterbus ferry. What a gorgeous ride and a bargain for just €4.

P1030171

We were on a mission to test the Gekko fx folding trike in particular (Friedel’s current obsession), but someone hadn’t returned it on time, so instead we got to test some other bikes.

We started with the fun Pino tandem, from another renowned German bicycle maker, Hase. It’s not a bicycle we’d ever buy (unless we win the lottery) because we can’t see ourselves using it that often, but it’s a blast to ride. And with one person sitting low down in front, everyone has the perfect view.

P1030246

Maybe we’ll rent it for a short tour next summer…

While we were testing the Pino, Alicia was trying out a folding Brompton bike.

P1030219

We briefly tried it and found it a little twitchy to ride but Alicia told us that she soon got used to it. There’s no doubt that a Brompton is ultra practical in Europe for hopping on and off public transport, and the folks from Path Less Pedaled have certainly gone far on them.

Trevor, meanwhile, was still trying to find his perfect recumbent bike. He tried one from Nazca but it was the GreenMachine from Flevobike that really made him fall in love.

P1030282

Andrew hopped on briefly and loved it as well. It’s a beautiful bike to ride. If only that price tag weren’t so steep - €3,800 (about $5,500 U.S.)!

In the afternoon, we turned our attention to some trikes. Not the Gekko fx that we wanted to test, but the Scorpion fx from HP Velotechnik for Andrew and the Kettwiesel from Hase for Friedel. We both had a lot of fun in these ultra-comfortable trikes, and we discovered a few leg muscles that we don’t normally use.

P1030293

Turning around took a bit of practice…

What a fun day.

P1030280

Followed by an equally fun over-crowded boat ride to a campsite on an island.

P1030298

It’s just too bad the campsite didn’t tell us they were planning an all-night party, with the main music tent set up right beside our tents. Not exactly what you expect from a Nature Camping Site (campgrounds that are supposed to be quiet). We packed up and left at 9pm, and we’ll be asking for our money back…

Next up? Well, the bicycle store has kindly offered to let us borrow the Gekko fx for a few days at home, so Friedel will be trying it out on her daily commute plus some shorter rides over the coming days; possibly including an S240. After that, we’ll put together some more thoughts on touring on a recumbent tricycle.

A Beer-Tasting Bicycle Tour In Belgium

Posted August 16th, 2011

If you thought that bicycle touring was our only passion, you’d be wrong. We have many loves, and near the top of the list is a good beer.

Lucky for us, we live just a hop, skip and a jump from Belgium – probably the best beer-making country in the world. So, in August 2011, we set off to explore the beers of Belgium by bicycle. We gathered up 4 other friends (all newbie bike tourists but definite beer lovers) and started mapping out a weekend jaunt.

Planning the route was challenging. Many breweries aren’t open to the public, and Belgium doesn’t have good online bicycle route information. Thankfully our friend Alicia (an experienced beer cyclist) came to the rescue with a 90km route from the Belgian city of Antwerp to the Dutch city of Tilburg, passing the Westmalle and La Trappe trappist breweries along the way.

Beer cycling map
A map of our route. You can download the GPS track.

To get started, we had to take the train to Antwerp. We live in Holland, and it’s normally easy to take the train because there’s always a bicycle car. On this train, it wasn’t so easy. One minute we were waiting in the late afternoon sun. The next we were frantically trying to find our place on an outdated Belgian train, with no bicycle signs on any of the doors.

Waiting for the train; Holland Spoor
Waiting for the train at Holland Spoor. Photo by Jane Starz.

Only after we crowded onto an ordinary entrance did we discover there was actually a bike carriage one wagon further down, so we changed at the next station. Later, we asked the conductor why it wasn’t more clearly marked. He didn’t really answer, and he told us that in future there might not be any bike space at all on this route. Hummmmm.

No matter. We made it to Antwerp, and started with beers of course in the main square. De Koninck was the beer of choice. It’s made in Antwerp, so it’s the obvious local choice.

De Koninck
Li drinking a De Koninck beer.

Next was a great meal at De 7 Schaken, a casual gastro-pub just off Antwerp’s main square. After a few more beers, we settled down for a night at ‘t Katshuis (a remarkably good value B&B). By Saturday morning, we were ready to go, but not before we packed our panniers with Elisa chocolates.

Aside from the chocolates, Andrew put an empty beer crate on the back of his bike, just in case we found anything tasty along the way.

Andrew with empty beer crate

It wasn’t long, of course, before we found a pub and stopped for beer. This time, it was the delectable Corsendonk that made the grade. Their dark beer was later voted best of the trip. Everyone gave it a raving review but who needs words? The smiles say it all really.

Erik & Andrew with Corsendonk Beer

The strawberry waffles weren’t half bad either.

Strawberry Waffles

From there, we pedalled along quite Belgian lanes and bicycle paths to the Westmalle Trappist brewery. There are nearly 200 Trappist monasteries around the world but only 7 produce beer, and this is one of them. They aren’t open for visitors, but we had our picture taken at the entrance anyway, and then we hit the nearby Cafe Trappisten for a sample of the local brew, fresh from the tap.

At the entrance to Westmalle Trappist Brewery

When we got hungry, we stopped for strawberries – from a vending machine, of course! Put in a couple coins and out comes a box of refrigerated, luscious berries. The Belgiums seem to like their vending machines. We also saw bread and meat products (outside a butcher’s shop) being dispensed from similar machines.

Strawberry Automat!

Now we were near the border, and it was time for a stop at what turned out to be the highlight of the trip: a beer shop literally on the Dutch-Belgian border. The border line ran right through the shop, and they had the most amazing selection of beers you’ve ever seen. Andrew’s beer crate was suddenly full.

Beer bicycle loaded and ready to go
With the right crate, you can easily carry 24 bottles of beer on your bicycle. Photo by Li.

We also wanted to stop at the Dochter van de Korenaar brewery but it was closed for vacation. Next time. Instead, the weekend ended with a quick stop at La Trappe and then beers on the train home. Yes, you can crack open a couple beers on the train. It’s no problem in the Netherlands (although it seemed odd at first to our no-drinking-in-public Canadian mentality).

Beers On The Train

Beer Cycling Tips:

  • Go slowly. About 30-40km a day is ideal for tasting lots of beer, while still doing a bit of cycling at the same time.
  • Consider leaving your camping gear behind, so that you’ll have more room for beer (and don’t forget the crate on the back of the bicycle!)
  • Research, research, research. Make sure you know the opening times of the breweries, and see if you need to call ahead to visit. Book your accommodation too because at least in this part of Belgium there are a lot of private B&Bs that you won’t find by chance as you’re passing through.
  • Stop to enjoy some Belgian food too. Waffles, chocolates and french fries are ideal for soaking up all that beer!