The last part of our eurotrip was a week of cycling on the bikepaths in the Netherlands with friends from the US. I got the idea to organize this trip last year when I visited Holland to visit family and biked about 350 miles. This is when I discovered the vast bike path/trail network the Netherlands has.
I rented an airbnb for a week in the town of Twello near Deventer. The airbnb was an accomodation targeted at groups. It had a large kitchen, living room and 5 bedrooms.
I also rented a combi bus that seated 6 people in the front 2 rows and had a storage area that easily stored our 6 bikes and luggage. It was perfect. Besides Paula and I, we had guests Mike, Sandra, Neil and Pamela.
The week started on Friday July 29th when Paula and I picked the others up from Schiphol Airport. Neil arrived early at 8am and we met him at noon at the airport. The others arrived around 1pm and by the time everyone was through passport control, had their luggage, and most importantly, their bikes, it was about 3pm. It was a 90 minute drive from the airport to the airbnb.
Once there, it was bike assemble time. Since Paula and I already had our bikes, we went to the supermarket for groceries. By the time we returned the bikes were ready to roll. Paula had made us a quick dinner and it was followed by a sunset-lit 10mi shakeout ride.
For the next day's ride I had created a south-easterly 65 mile route where I merged in an official bike route (Eight Castles route) that visited 8 castles.
Paula, Sandra and my sister Ingrid (who joined us on some of the rides) had a remote start at the start of the castle route and the rest of the crew rode 20 miles to the remote start from the airbnb. The route started along the river the IJssel. Off course we stopped at our first windmill.
After a while we crossed the river, where we headed east towards castle Hackfort to meet the others. There we had a coffee with the whole group.
After being caffinated we followed the offical castle route, stopping at various castles and found our way to the lunch stop at Ruurlo castle.
We followed the castle route via more northerly paths back to the start of the castle route, a 24 miles loop. From here Paula, Sandra and Ingrid drove back and we rode the last 20 miles back to the airbnb.
Along the way we rode on a beautiful little trail through the fields along a stream with some natural sand "locks". After we came across a real lock we watched the whole process of a ship entering the lock, being lifted up and continue its journey.
Once we were back, we drove to Deventer and went to brewery Davo for beers and dinner.
Sunday's route lead us north and included 2 ferry crossings. The original route was 50 miles, butut since it started to rain at some point, we cut it short to 35 miles. It still included a 2nd ferry crossing. The first ferry crossing was in Deventer. The crossing cost less than 2 euro.
We rode north for a bit along the river and hit some gravel roads in the woods before returning back to the river.
At mile 15 it started to drizzle and we decided to take the closest ferry crossing (to Vaassen) for the way back. It turned out this ferry was closed as the water levels had been too low to run it.
Hence we had to go a little further to the ferry at Wijhe. This one was operational and here we crossed the river.
Since it looked like it was going to rain more we kept riding and did not stop for coffee. Only when we arrived back in Twello we stopped for coffee and cake at the local hotel / restaurant Taverne Twello.
Monday we headed west the the National Park the Veluwe. The route routed around Apeldoorn and we passed Palace "Het Loo".
It was under reconstruction so did not have its normal appeal. At mile 18 in Hoog-Soeren we met Paula and Sandra who had driven up with the van. They joined us for the section over the Veluwe.
Soon we were surrounded by heather fields. Due to the dry / hot weather the heather had started to bloom earlier.
In Uddel we passed a bakery and we stopped there for coffee and pastries. They had my favorite custard filled buns. I also bought a honey cake as bike food.
The route turned south towards Kootwijk and Garderen. Here we were mainly on paths through the farm fields.
We had a lunch stop in Otterlo. It seemed there was some kind of cycling convention going, as there were many cyclists that had stopped here for lunch.
After lunch we continued east and soon back north towards Radio Kootwijk. Radio Kootwijk is a building from the 1920's that was used as a radio station to communicate with the Dutch colonies.
It has a very distinctive art deco style and it completely constructed out of concrete. It turned out my route had not brought it completely to the place, so we had to take a short detour.
After visiting Radio Kootwijk, Paula and Sandra continued north towards the bus and the rest of went East for the last 22 miles back to the airbnb. In total we rode 72 miles.
Tuesday we did a shorter 52 mile route north west of the airbnb. The route featured a former tow path (jaag pad), now bikepath, along the Apeldoornse canal.
The tow path brought us to the town of Heerde were we had coffee and pastries.
And after some more heather fields we came through a forest towards Elspeet, the furthest west we went.
We returned again through the Veluwe on some beautiful gravel roads. Once we passed Apeldoorn we came upon a bike path that was lined with some interesting pedestrian bridges and Neil found out that were not meant for cyclists.
After we returned from our shorter ride the whole group went to Deventer with the ferry for some siteseeing and shopping. We had wanted to visit some bike stores but they were all closed. We ended up on one of the patios and sampled some delicious beers. For dinner we ended crossing the ferry back. On the dike was a beach club, overlooking the river IJssel. There we had dinner.
Wednesday was orginally going to be the longest ride with 80+ miles. The route headed north east and included two "bergen" (mountains) small hills with some climbing. But since folks were a little weary we decided to all do a remote start. Paula and Sandra joined us for a 20 mile loop back to the van and we did a 61 mile ride back to the airbnb.
The ride immediately started out in Holten with a gravel road up the Holterberg and continued along bike trails through the woods and heather fields. In the town Nijverdal Paula and Sandra broke off to ride their shorter route back to the van and we continued on towards Lemelen.
The countryside now turned into farmland and our bike path meandered along a small river called the Regge. We were not hitting any towns and there were some requests for coffee.
Fortunately we came across a "Rust" location. These are locations where folks have a little self service rest stop for cyclists and hikers where they can buy snacks, drinks and icecream. This rest stop was at a campsite and conveniently also had bathrooms.
After our stop we continued north and looped towards Lemele where we had a little climb up the Lemelerberg.
After a quick look at the top, which was adorned with a giant Lion statue we continued south. It was now getting hot and by the time we were getting hungry we found a lunch restaurant in a vacation park.
After the lunch stop we continued south west on concrete and gravel bike paths until we reached Deventer and crossed the river on the railroad bridge which has a bike path next to it.
On our last day of riding I had created a route that brought us south towards Arnhem. I had included the bridge of the movie "a bridge too far". We had two guest riders. My cousin Wim and my sister Ingrid. Paula, Sandra and Ingrid would meet us near Arnhem for the shorter loop and we would meet Wim in the town of Beekbergen about 12 miles into the ride. He would ride in from Hilversum.
Just before we met Wim we saw a field full of Walibi's, so we stopped to take some photos and videos. Soon after we met Wim, we were back in the National park the Hoge Veluwe and were riding on a gravel road through the heather fields. We stopped when a herd of longhorn cows where resting on the path and we had to slalom around them. Apparently they were used to cyclist as they seem to not care about our presence.
We continued on and when we were close to Arnhem it turned out we were already 2.5 miles past the meetingpoint. Wim continued with Mike, Neil and Pamela to find a place for coffee and I doubled back to find Paula, Sandra and Ingrid.
We all met up again in a coffeeshop in the center of Arnhem that Wim had found. After the coffee we crossed the bridge which turned out not to be the bridge from the movie, but soon after we crossed the river again on the correct bridge.
After crossing the bridge we headed east along the river the IJssel towards Doesburg a historic town along the river.
When we approached the town the sky turned dark and it started to rain a little. We decided to have our lunch break here. First we tried to huddle under the patio umbrellas but when it started pouring we went inside for lunch.
After finishing our lunch we crossed the IJssel again and headed west to ride through the Postbank which is a hilly terrain part of the National Park Veluwezoom. This was a tip from my friend Meindert. We lucked out as the heather was in full bloom and the views were beautiful.
After a short stop Ingrid, Sandra and Paula followed their route back to the cars. Wim soon after turned back home and and we continued north back to the airbnb. This was the longest ride of all with 77 miles. Since this was the last day Mike, Neil and Pamela packed up their bikes and after we dined at a local restaurant appropriately called "The Ham(m)er"
The next morning we drove everyone back to the airport. It was busy but fortunately we could drop off everyone close to the entrance. Overall a very good week of riding we rode in total 374 miles, with .... 3225ft of climbing in 7 rides. That is 8.6 feet per mile. Hence the name Flatlanders.
Here the week on Veloviewer