Fancy a taste of Dutch cycling?

Dronten

In some parts of the Netherlands, 59% of all journeys are made by bicycle. (image: Mark Ahsmann CC BY-SA 3.0)

For several years now, the Netherlands have been a popular choice with British cyclists looking for a short break. There are several very good reasons for that: the country and its towns and villages are beautiful, the people are friendly (and apparently all speak fluent English), it’s easy and cheap to get there and no other nation has done quite as much to make cycling the most practical form of transport.

Neutral Service contributor Sarah lives in Leiden, in the province of South Holland. She’s been taking a look at various cycling events that could form the centrepiece of a short trip – perhaps combined with a visit to one of the country’s professional races.

I won’t pretend to know anything about racing or cycling in general, says Sarah; I’m just an amateur enthusiast who happens to bike on an almost daily basis. It can be therapeutic, almost meditative… unless it’s windy and rainy. Then it’s like a slap in the face. With the famous raw herring.

There are a few events beginning to fill up the calendar, with the season changing and Spring getting under way; we haven’t actually had a Winter here yet, just this rather bizarre heatwave. This has meant an early blooming of brightly-coloured pelotons flashing through the highways and byways, not to mention dazzling displays of thigh and calf. If you’re planning a break, or simply fancy doing something different, why not consider a trip over?

The events up until May as follows (some elastic translating may be involved)

March

16 Boxmeerse bos en heide tocht The Boxmeer wood and heath tour
16 Moekotte ATB-tocht Veendam The Veendam ATB tour
23 Jo Muller Veldtoertocht            The Jo Muller Field Tour
27 t/m 29 E-bikeshow Wolvega                Wolvega Electric Bike show
30 GoossensAchterhoekWielertoertochten in Borculo

April

6 MTB toertocht voor het goede doel  Drenthe charity ride
12 Rabobank-Grensheuvelentocht   The Border/Hills tour
12 Schwalbe Lentetocht                  The Schwalbe Spring Tour
12 Trap es deur Reimerswaal         Steps through the Reimerswaal
13 ATB Romeinentocht                    The Romans Tour
13 Fletcher Hotels Kop van Drenthe veldtoertocht  Drenthe Cup, field tour
19 Revalidatiefietstochten Friesland The 15th Rehabilitation Tour.  Charity event for disabled, to take part and to benefit. Sets up programmes for people with disabilities to take part in many sports.
21 Paastoertocht.nl                Easter Tour
21 Paas Toer Tocht                A different Easter Tour
26 Zandhazentocht                Sand Hares Tour – probably Easter ish too
27 Fietsculinair Voorschoten / Leiden / Wassenaar This is close to my heart, a Culinary Tour of the area in South Holland; plenty of food related fun.
27 Bike Classic Beuningen Gezinstocht   A Family/Leisure Tour
29 Bollenstreek-3-Daagse       Three Days in the Bulb Region (sounds like an unpleasant affliction, but might be quite beautiful)

Mei

2 Fiets4Daagse Hoorn         Four days in the Hoorn area; beautiful reclaimed land
3 Rabobank-Kleppertocht    Clapper tour – as in going like the..?
4 AB Oost Asbestsanering ATB tocht  Pretty sure it isn’t asbestos.
4 Rondje Tilburg                Around the Tilburg area
13 Lente Fiets 4 daagse        Spring 4 day Tour
13 Avondfietsvierdaagse       Evening Four Days. Uncertain if that means you only cycle in the evenings, sorry
18 Rondje Zelhem                       Around Zelhem 
18 Bakkerij van Heeswijk veldtoertocht Heeswijk Bakery Field tour
19 Fietsvierdaagse                Four day event in Leeuwarden
20 Fietsdriedaagse                Three day event in Schaaijk, North Brabant
24 Sram MTB Toertocht Nijkerk    Nijkerk Tour
25 Tour for life                              Drenthe Tour for Life; presume a charity event
27 Asperge Fiets Vierdaagse Arcen   Asparagus related four day tour hi jinks in Arcen
28 Fietswandelmeerdaagse Stap en Trap  Mixed walking and cycling four day tour
28 Tour de Benelux     5 Day event encompassing South Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Luxemburg. Some hills. 
28 Eifelfietsweekend    event in the Eifel volcano region (yes, it is)
29 Betuwse Fietsvierdaagse  Tour in Gelderland
29 Hemelvaart Fiets4daagse    Ascension weekend in Overijssel
29 43ste FIETSVIERDAAGSE HOEVEN  43rd tour of North Brabant
29 Fietsen ohne Grenzen  cycling without borders, Drenthe area
   
31 Rabobank Omloop Flevoland
31 Rabobank Omloop Flevoland ATB These two are in the Lelystad/Flevoland area; be sure to check out the amazing Antony Gormley sculpture on the coast here

 

Accommodation is easy to find, with nine new camping grounds this year. They are: Natuurkampeerterrein Denemarken in Slochteren (Groningen), De Reidplûm in Eernewoude (Friesland), Ruinen in Ruinen (Drenthe), Klein Groenbergen in Leersum (Utrecht), De Kersengaard in Zuidland (South-Holland) and Hoeve Batenburg in Ellemeet (Zeeland). There are also new “group camping sites/nature grounds”. Here you’ll find the same characteristics as the ‘normal’ sites (spacious lots, in the middle of nature, no swimming pools or discos), but with facilities for large groups. Three completely new grounds are Oostermaet in Okkenbroek (Overijssel), De Abbert in Dronten and De Altena in Zeewolde (Flevoland). De Jarden in Nietap (Drenthe) and Jena in Hummelo (Gelderland) are this year turned over to ‘normal’ Nature campsites on GroepsNatuurkampeerterrein.

An oversight of all the recognised camp sites can be found (in English) here: http://www.natuurkampeerterreinen.nl/en/

If you are considering coming for the first time, don’t be nervous or shy. It’s quite an easy place to get around, the public transport is easy to use and cheap; not to mention readily available. You can take bikes on trains and trams, and there is a vast range of hire bikes to choose from, from folding to bakfiets if you just want to cruise in a leisurely fashion with the family rather than race. Ask me anything.