A nice vid about developments in what has to be the cycling capital of the Netherlands, Utrecht. Great to see the changes in just 10 years!
The first genuine cycle superhighway I've encountered. This bit of the 'F 261' (F for Fietspad, cycle way) I pictured between Loon op Zand and Kaatsheuvel, along the Efteling theme/amusement park is brilliant!
the whole path:
That is really inspiring.
Well done the electors and Council of Utrecht.
Looks like you have a new TT venue!
This is all making me want to go on a cycling holiday with the family so much!
Mini tour this weekend in the south of Holland! Was just perfect weather.
Some pictures of along the way:
blissful! you picked the right weekend, ticked all the Dutch Windmill boxes ;-)
Sorry for the late reply. Camping owner was extra hospital! Definitely didn't miss sitting on the ground that evening.
Camping owner was extra hospital!
Camping owner was extra hospital!
I always like an extra hospital.
I, on the other hand, try to have as little hospital as possible.
Nice piece on the Rotterdam Maastunnel for bikes
Here are some notes from a ride I did back in May 2017 that we called the Tour of the Low Countries or Four Countries in One Day
Starting from Epsom just outside south London the plan was for a massive loop taking us across to France then into Belgium and Holland where we caught the overnight ferry back to Harwich and then rode back home to London
Distance: 550 km over three days
Late on a Thursday evening in April having commuted home from a day's work in Canary Wharf we left my house on the edge of Greater London at 23.00 for an overnight ride to Dover.
We arrived in Dover circa 05-30 Friday morning and found a petrol station with a Costa Coffee bar to give us a caffeine buzz to wake us up. My contact lenses were feeling dry and gritty and I was shivering in the dawn light as we queued up with the cars and articulated lorries in Dover harbour.
It's a short two hour crossing from Dover to Dunkirk and we had booked ourselves into the Premier lounge for some peace and quiet, free coffee and pastries, USB charging ports and comfortable chairs to stretch out and catch some zzzz's.
All too soon we arrived in Dunkirk and navigated ourselves out of the port and onto familiar roads as we had tackled this particular section 12 months earlier on another trip.
We had ridden overnight in England, landed in France and ridden into Belgium and I was starting to feel it in my legs and my head after the previous day's work in the office, the missing of a night's sleep and the 265km we had tackled as we crossed the border into Holland for our fourth country in one day.
Sluis is one of the first towns you come across in Holland and after a quick meal my head hit the pillow at 21-00 and I was asleep before the lights were out for a glorious 12 hours sleep.
Saturday morning in a small town in Holland and this was the fun section of the route as we joined the North Sea Route and crossed bridges, dykes and sea inlets in a series of ferries mixed in with some gravel type trails heading towards the Hook of Holland. There are cafe's galore en route and at the various ferry terminals and we hit the caffeine and waffles hard.
Fortunately the famed coastal winds were either low or in our backs and we made good time arriving early evening for loading onto the overnight ferry to Harwich.
The overnight ferry booking includes a cabin and again after filling our faces with carbs in the onboard restaurant the lights went out as the ferry chugged it's way slowly westwards across the North Sea. I didn't sleep particularly well, perhaps because of the movement of the ferry or perhaps because of all the caffeine and sugar taken on board during the day but I had a restless night.
Another bright but chilly morning as we disembarked in a bleak looking Harwich at 06:00 on a Sunday morning and headed westwards in the quiet country lanes of Essex.
A couple of hours into the route and we arrived in Colchester and were queuing outside a Cafe Nero waiting for it to open to get our fix.
After the poor night's sleep on the ferry, the continuing input of caffeine and sugar and the continuous turning of the pedals my mind was feeling fuzzy to say the least. I was awake but not particularly aware of what was going on.
This was fine for the quiet backwaters of Essex but as we entered London we hit the mean streets of Stratford, Bow and Mile End. After the wide open spaces and laid back approach of the previous few days I was struggling.
We had intended to ride through London and head south on our familiar cycle commute but we had both had enough of the traffic, the huge volume of people enjoying a sunny Sunday and the familiar broken glass on the cycle routes and so we headed to London Waterloo for the 30 minute train back to Surrey with yes, another coffee in our hands.
So a tough end to the trip but this was an epic ride and looking back on it now the memories are amazing,
Day 1 to Dover https://www.strava.com/routes/28714939
Day 1 Dunkirk to Sluis https://www.strava.com/routes/28714991
Day 2 Sluis to Hook of Holland https://www.strava.com/routes/28715090
Day 3 Harwich to London Waterloo https://www.strava.com/routes/28715138
Here's some GoPro footage I edited consisting mainly of the Dutch section of the trip although there is a bit of France and Belgium in there too.
In Hell I'll Be in Good Company
it's great you barely got over 15m during your whole time in belgium france and holland
my kind of cycling, screw the alps !
indeed. In fact just outside the Hook of Holland is what someone told us is called the Dutch mountain which is a pile of earth with grass over it and a path. We rode up it for literally the highest point of the trip at 18 metres.
haha, i know that 'hill'. Lived over there for a bit.
The tunnel where cycling is mandatory
Walking in the cycling tunnel was prohibited!
And we have the Greenwich/Woolwich tunnels 🙄
Hoping this is the right place for it... Anyone with some advice on planning a good London to Amsterdam route? Will probably want to stop overnight in Bruges after landing (and possibly staying?) at Dunkirk and then possibly Delft or Den Haag to leave the last day a short one from a cycling point of view and have some extra time to roam in Amsterdam.
Not that I expect to be able to do this anytime too soon, but I'm starting to dream about things I'd like to do once we get some normality back in lieu of actual travelling and that's a trip I'd love to do!
I've done the Dunkirk through Belgium trip a bunch of times but not gone further than Antwerp. I'd suggest Dunkirk > Bruges > Ghent > Antwerp.
My question is, are you a fast road tourer or a soak in the scenery, stop at a bakery type? I can't vouch much for fast road stuff as I'm in the latter camp, but once you get to Veurne from Dunkirk it's 85% canalside stuff to Bruges and Ghent. Ghent to Antwerp by the F4 route is pretty dull, more or less 30 miles traffic free next to the same railway.
If you can wangle it, I'd stay in Dover the night before and get a nice early ferry so you can smash out a day when you arrive. Dunkirk is 'orrible and the northern part of Belgium is pancake flat, and if you don't have a mean headwind you can really eat up the miles.
There's so many options and loads of good paths in Belgium, just take a look at the routes and you can't really go wrong.
I've done a North Sea loop which included these two sections which should be quite useful.
Dunkirk to Sluis (first town in Holland) but passes through Brugge.
The route: https://www.strava.com/routes/28714991
Care re getting out of Dunkirk port, it can be difficult to navigate
The video is actually of us riding Dunkirk to Brugge on a different trip but is the same roads and I like the vid: Let Me Go
Sluis to Hook of Holland, a great day that involves island hopping, crossing bridges & dykes and jumping on and off ferries
The route: https://www.strava.com/routes/28715090
The video: In Hell I'll be in Good Company
other tips, hmmm..let me think
we stayed at the Lace Hotel in Brugge which features at the end of the first video. Bike friendly with overnight secure bike storage http://www.lacehotel.com/index-en.aspx
we sent a box of stuff by courier to the Lace Hotel to save us carrying too much. Again in the first vid note only one of us is carrying a rucksack. The other two of us have nothing. The box was an A3 photocopier box from work and contained some t-shirts and footwear, grundies, washgear etc. most of which we used then threw away or carried on us the next day. Split between 3 the price was less than £20 per head.
we pre-booked a table at Ribs n' Beer in Brugge. We went for the all you can eat option and given that we had left Epsom at 4 a.m. that morning and ridden to Dover and then Brugge we ate a lot. So much in fact that they started making excuses about not being able to serve us anymore
on another trip we pushed on past Brugge and stayed in Sluis, trying to find the name of the hotel but I'm pushing the bike out of the door at the start of the second vid. Again bike friendly, secure storage and a massive breakfast the next day. Very reasonable price too
if using the ferry from Dover to Dunkirk really, really try not to miss the ferry. We did on one trip due to a mechanical and the ferries are 2 hours apart meaning a pleasant late afternoon arrival in Brugge turned into a mad dash to make it for 9pm
again if using the ferry pay the c. €14 upgrade for the lounge. it's quiet, you get a very comfortable seat and all the tea, coffee, pastries, biscuits etc you can eat, charging points for your phone, Garmin etc. and a chance to shut your eyes for a few winks during the crossing
we have tried two options to get from Epsom to Dover (150km & 2,000 metres of climbing)
leave at 04:00 for the 10 am ferry. one mate blew four spokes on his rear wheel and we had to stop at a bike shop in Kent who were very good and fixed it but it took about an hours careful riding to nurse him to the shop and then an hour to fix it which meant we missed the 10 am ferry and had to get on the midday ferry instead. Very stressful
leave at 23:00 the night before and ride overnight to Dover for the 08:00 ferry. Much better in terms of timing and we made the ferry easily but you miss a night's sleep and it gets very cold in deepest Kent (near Tunbridge Wells) circa 3 a.m.
Dover hill is a real pig. you get to Folkstone and think you are pretty much there but then have to climb up a really tough climb on a fast A-road when you are at your lowest ebb. We haven't found a decent way of avoiding it yet
@MTB-Idle @se1derful wow guys, thank you so much for all the information! All very helpful 👍
My plan around the crossing was to probably try and leave London nice and early to cross in the late afternoon and sleep in Dunkirk to be able to get going nice and sharp the day after without giving up too much sleep.
I'd be quite happy to go a more scenic way rather that a pretty monotone (if quick) railway side route and definitely up for the odd stop in villages to have a nose around and fill the bottle, so will keep an eye on the routes which do get through towns. That second day of island hopping looks a bit further away from towns but should be made up by the coast/islands/bridges/ferries and I'd be happy to do that as perhaps a slightly quicker day.
Ghent and Antwerp are definitely options and places I'd love to visit, though I'd have to weigh in time etc and I'm not sure I could trust myself to be sensible enough to avoid cobbled climbs with a loaded bike which might ultimately prove miserable 😂
Amazing food for thoughts though and I sure am very grateful for your inputs! Now just the small matter of getting past a global pandemic...
No problem, it's a pleasure!
One final thing I should add, if you do decide to go the coastal route, headwinds are legendary and could turn an easy day into misery. There are dutch forumers knocking around who could give you more info on it than me!
That's a very good point and begs the question, would it be worth to have two routes planned out as weather dependent options? I can hear a windswept me shouting "yes it is" right now...!
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