Cycling in Netherlands this summer
Replies: 16 - Last Post: Mar 5, 2012 5:30 AM Last Post By: fietslogies
Mar 1, 2012 3:21 PM
Hi and welcome to the Thorn Tree!
You don't state when you're coming over and for how long, but I'll try to answer your questions.
I’m not experienced cycler, and currently I even don’t own a bicycle, but I’m really into cycling some part of Holland, even if it requires going really small distances each day.
As a beginner, try to start with about 30-40km per day and see how it goes.
And if something looks like 40km on a map, it usually is about 60km in reality, because of curves and little detours.
I also recommend you start with a bike day - a day of rest - a bike day - a day of rest... and see how it goes. If it goes well you can do bike days without rest days inbetween.
Is it cheaper to rent a bike or buy a bike?
Depends what kind of bike! My long distance holiday bike cost around 1000 euros... but I also did short bike holidays on a 200 euro old second hand bike.
Any specific ‘type’ (racing, mountain, etc.) of bike you recommend?
As said above, a hybrid is probably most suitable. But a 'normal' city bike with 3 gears (or more if possible) could also do. Sitting upright has a higher risk of giving you a sore bum.
It's quite important the bike is the right size for you and that the saddle is at the right distance from the pedals, and the steering rod the right hight for you, ask the rental company or shop to help you adjust the adjustable parts.
I was thinking of going from Eindhoven to Utrecht and continuing to Amsterdam and then going down to Hague and Rotterdam. Is this route not interesting? Do you recommend some other more interesting route?
I like to bike in the countryside. Bikes tend to get stolen in cities. Also it's often more hassle finding the way in a city, and smellier and more crowded, than it is in the countryside.
Areas I like are:
- De Veluwe (Gelderland), the national park and the towns of Nijmegen and Arnhem and around... small hills, forests, farmland...
- Friesland, for example around Appelscha
- the area northeast of Amsterdam full of cute villages (Durgerdam, Marken etc)
- Flanders in Belgium (Ghent, Bruges)
From what I hear it can be really nice to cycle the LF-route that runs along the coastline through dunes and such, probably best to do it south to north because of the prevailing southwestern wind.
Where can I buy maps (normal or some specific cycling maps?)?
Get specific cycling maps. Buy them at VVV or ANWB shops. In smaller towns these are often combined in one shop. In Amsterdam some good map shops are Pied A Terre (Overtoom), or A La Carte (Utrechtsestraat).
There are different types of maps. If you can find one, get a map stating the LF-routes > click here for more explanation (in Dutch)... click the LF links below the map. These are long distance routes that are also signposted, and in both directions (a and b): very handy! For example all the way from the north to the south, or east to west, or themed routes past big cities or past castles. You don't have to start at the start, you can follow them from somewhere in the middle, for a bit... and then switch to another (or switch to the 'knooppunten' system).
Also try to find a map that shows 'knooppunten', also mentioned before. This is probably the easiest way to do scenic bike routes. You connect the dots to your own order and follow the signposts. You will also find a big board with a map at every knooppunt. Not every region in the Netherlands has knooppunten.
Even when doing a long or circular signposted route (say for example the Ooijroute), then the numbered 'knooppunten' can still come in handy to check if you're still on the right track (because the 'knooppunten' are often also marked in your map).
I don't know if you'll be able to use a smartphone with internet; there's also a good app to create knooppunten routes, called "Fiets!".
A handy map is the indistructable map 'de sterkste kaart' which is sort of plasticky, and shows knooppunten as well as LF routes and smaller local circular routes.
Be aware that in traffic you will see special white bike signposts with red borders: these show the shortest route, often not so pretty! I don't use these, they tend to go alongside smelly highways for cars (they are seperate lanes, but boring and smelly).
White signposts with green borders (one example in previous image) are for the scenic routes and might have names ( Midden-Betuweroute ) or numbers ( LF12b ). These could also have the shape of ' mushrooms ' low by the ground!
Scenic routes take you through forests, farmland, grassy nature, dykes and dunes, bird sanctuaries, small villages....
What is a ‘must’ bring?
- Repair kit and pump for flat tyres. If you can't fix it, some passerby is bound to be able to help.
- Water bottle.
- Energy bars, bananas or other quick energy givers (raisins, cashew nuts, cookies).
- Special bike pants with soft padding, do not wear underwear in them.
- Rain gear. But biking in the rain is not so nice...
- Sunglasses: good against sun and bugs.
- Sun lotion.
- A simple little towel (even a tea towel will do) to wipe sweat.
- Nice to have: cream for sore muscles.
I was thinking of having a small backpack, really light. Should I put it on a bike or wear it during a ride?
I recommend you get cheap special panniers to go on the back of the bike. These should easily fit on most bikes, but ask the salesperson.
A little front bag to go on the steering rod can also be very handy, for the stuff you need to get to quickly. And you can easily take that small bag off when going into a cafe, and leave the big panniers on (in small towns people will leave your stuff alone... in big cities I wouldn't leave my bike + bags out of sight). However, a small 'steering rod bag' often needs to be constructed onto it with tools... it's not one you simply buy and immediately fit on any bike.
If you can manage to find a rental bike with a water bottle holder, that would be perfect.
Cycling with a backpack on is not ideal, it unbalances you, and cuts off ventilation from your body.
Are there in Nl some specific bicycle/pedestrian parts/side of the roads or I should I use local car roads?
Use the bike lanes. Often coloured red, but not always. Follow where the other cyclists go. Stay on the right side of the street, unless a bike lane is two-way (with stripes marking the middle).
Just enter some searches in Google Images for 'bike lane holland' or 'fietspad' or stuff like that and you'll probably get many images.
I heard I can use this website ( http://www.vriendenopdefiets.nl/ ) for cheap b&bs, any other recommendations?
You need to become a member of Vrienden op de Fiets in order to use their accommodation. You have to leave early morning, so might not be handy on a rest day.
I can also recommend StayOkay hostels. They have some very nice ones. Or couchsurfing.org??
Is assume there are small shops in each residential area for food?!
Other things that are useful to know:
- You can bring your bike on a train to anywhere in the Netherlands for 6 euros extra (on top of your own train ticket). The bike ticket is valid all day.
- As mentioned by others, the wind is an important factor! Indeed the prevailing wind comes from the southwest, but not always.
- In cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, bike theft is a problem, and I wouldn't leave luggage on my bike while I go to the toilet or into a cafe (without view onto my bike). In smaller towns it's safer.
- There are Bike and Barge organised tours as well as Cycletours organised trips, might be nice to have it all arranged for you and have a guide and co-bikers?
Tnx In advance.
You're welcome, and have fun, and if you have any more questions just post them.
a bike fan from Amsterdam
Edited by: Cecilia (added some must have items :-))
Edited by: Cecilia
Mar 5, 2012 5:30 AM
Depends. While making your reservation, you can ask if there's a possibility to stay two nights, or when breakfast is served. Every house has its own rules. Sometimes, you have to leave early, in other cases, it doesn't matter at all.
Btw. More than enough hosts in Flanders (Belgium) too. So don't be afraid to cross that border! ;-)))
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