My wife I have just returned from a cycle tour of the Netherlands which for family reasons we had to curtail, allowing us only 2 days of cycling (route https://www.plotaroute.com/route/493331). Its hard to learn much about a country in just 2 days, but we did manage to cover 170km allowing us some impressions on the cycling, the landscape and the people. For anyone else thinking of cycling in the Netherlands, here is a short review.
|THE GOOD||THE NOT SO GOOD|
|Its flat! Crikey its flat. During our 170kms our maximum elevation was about 20m, the minimum -10m. No need to be superman/woman here.||No hills! Going uphill gives you a bit of variety. I found myself wishing for a bit of up. Maybe I am a bit strange.|
|Tailwinds. There is nothing nicer than a stiff breeze tailwind following you for 90km||Headwinds. Did you know that the Netherlands can be a windy place? 1200 windmills can’t be wrong. When the wind is against you it doesn’t mess about.|
|Segregated cycle routes. What can I say? They are every bit as good as advertised. What I have never seen advertised is that they are NOT potholed and NOT covered in puddles. I am so used to the indifferent surfaces on cycle facilities in the UK that the simple fact that the surfaces are good blew me away.||Loss of the unwritten fellowship of cyclists. You know how it is in the UK? When you cycle in the UK, every other cyclist you meet is another survivor of that battle against the roads system. You acknowledge this with a nod, a barely perceptible wave, or a curt greeting as you pass. Well, in the Netherlands cycling is so normal that folk just ride on by. All a bit strange if you are from Scotland but on reflection, I guess that this is a good thing. Cycling is just plain normal.|
|The landscape. Our route took us north up the North Sea Route through the dune system. It was lovely to cycle for miles through the largely unspoiled dune system on a highly engineered path miles from motor traffic. Leaving the dunes we encountered excellent cycle routes bordering the roads or used on-road cycle routes on quiet country roads. Many of the villages were picture postcard, with thatched houses next to canals.|
|“Sit-up and beg” bikes with tri bars. Sounds daft but its true. People use them to assist with the head winds. The sight of a granny on a big Dutch-style bike in a tri bar aero position is guaranteed to bring a big smile to your face.|
|The people. In our short stay we met some really friendly and helpful people|
|Coffee. Nice and strong!|
So as you see the good points are far more numerous than the “not so good”. The Netherlands is indeed a great place to cycle.
Finally I would like to give a big shout out for the Het Bos Roept campsite, probably the nicest campsite I have ever stayed in; a peaceful oasis in a woods full of dragonflies. We arrived tired in the evening and were made welcome, told that beer was in fridge (put the money in the tin) and if we wanted breakfast that would delivered in the morning, all at very reasonable prices. What could be nicer? My thanks to Gidus and Sasja for a great if short stay. If you are in the area, you should really give them a go.