It’s almost that time again, when the annual Fietsenwandelbeurs takes place in Amsterdam.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of going, let us explain. This is a huge two-day exposition, dedicated to everything for cyclists and hikers. We go every year to check out new gear, the latest bikes and of course to get inspiration for future bike tours.
Ahead of the fair, the Fietsenwandelbeurs nominates bike routes for the “Route of the Year” award. This year there are four nominees:
#1. The Pirinexus (through Spain and France)
The Pirinexus is a 350km loop, of which 280km are in Spain and 80km are on the French side of the Pyrenees.
At the moment, it’s southern Europe’s longest marked bicycle route. The route is mostly flat, taking in a part of the Costa Brava and former railway lines. That said, you will have to climb a couple mountains with peaks of 1,000-1,500 meters. The roads leading up these mountains aren’t too steep, however. Part of the Pirinexus also tracks EuroVelo 8 from Athens to Cádiz. Read more…
#2. The Tour de Manche (France and England)
The Tour de Manche is a bike route around the English Channel. Ferry services help you make the connection between England and France. In total it’s a route of 1,200km but there’s also a smaller version of 440km, which takes in the Channel Islands.
The Tour de Manche doesn’t always follow the coast. Sometimes it uses old railway lines and small tracks to cut across Normandy. The English section involves a few steep climbs. On the return leg, you get a wonderful view over the cliffs. You can also use the Tour de Manche route to hook up with the Vélodyssée, which runs down the coast of France towards Spain. Read more…
#3. Valsugana (Trentino, Italy)
The Valsugana route follows the Brenta river valley between Pergine Valsugana and Bassano del Grappa. It’s fairly short at just 80km. You bike nearly entirely on dedicated bike paths. The route climbs very gently (you’ll barely notice it). It the Western part you can take on some extra loops around local lakes.
The Valsugana connects to the Adige (Etsch) cycle path from Austria to Verona and the Via Claudia Augusta, going towards the Adriatic coastline. Read more…
#4. Vennbahn (Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg)
The Vennbahn is a dedicated bike path that follows old railway lines from Troisvierges (Luxembourg) to Aachen (Germany). It’s 125 km long.
Leaving Aachen, the route climbs to 500 meters but the grade is never more than 2% so it’s a gentle climb. Save your energy! There’s a 10% climb just before the Luxembourg border. As far as the landscape goes, the bike path mostly goes through green areas and there are many signs of the area’s railway history. We’ll be cycling this route over Easter, so there’s more information to come! Read more…
5th February 2014 at 5:27 am #
If you had a month in May, would you do the The Tour de Manche or Portugal?
We had our minds set on Portugal, but the Tour de Manche has a certain appeal to it.
RE: Portugal, have enjoyed your write up – I am interested to hear if you had considered Parque Natural do Vale do Guadiana when you were picking your route north?
27th February 2014 at 2:35 pm #
Im planning to ride the Pirinexus in mid March this year and hoping the weather will be good enough for camping. Anyone else doing it or done it?
27th March 2014 at 10:01 am #
Just back from the Pirinexus – beautiful countryside (certainly not flat!). Would recommend using fatter tyres than the 1″ I used as the surface is a little rough, and a decent map as the route seems to lose its way in towns. Oh also worth noting very few campsites on the route and most were closed for winter still in March.
11th September 2014 at 9:53 pm #
David, did you see many opportunities for free/wild camping? I’m thinking about making my way over there in the next few months.
8th October 2016 at 12:37 pm #
I know this is an old post but we are planning to cycle the Pirinexus next May. What map did you use as I am struggling to find one. Any other tips?
12th September 2014 at 9:09 am #
Hi Josh, yes there were plenty of empty spaces where you could hide your tent, no problem
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