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)
|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|
|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)|
|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.