Saturday, 1 November 2014

The joys of riding a banana bike!


British people of a certain age will probably remember the revolutionary SinclairC5 electric bicycle (see picture on right). Invented by eccentric Clive Sinclair, this recumbent electric bike looked very much as a mini-car. The Sinclair C5 very quickly became the laughing stock of the country, as British people just didn’t want to ride the thing due to safety concerns.

Had Clive Sinclair brought his C5 to The Netherlands, it might well have worked. Back in the 1980s, the astonishing cycle network of The Netherlands was already very much established and Dutch people may well have gone for it, as they didn’t have to fear for riding among motorised traffic as the British C5-rider had to do.  

Today, we see regularly C5-inspired bikes on their way in The Netherlands. Some are also nicknamed banana bikes, due to their shape and colour. A cross over between recumbent bike and the C5 concepts, it is a distinguished feature on Dutch cycle paths. Wytze Bijleveld is a happy Dutch banana bike owner and in this month’s guest blog, he tells the story of his banana bike:

"The purchase of a banana bike was a logical progression for me. After riding a sitting bike, my first recumbent (Flevo Bike) and  a recumbent racer (Challenge Hurricane), I was simply ready to ride an enclosed recumbent bike. The ability to make longer journeys and the joy to be less affected by rain and wind were the main reasons to get a banana bike. I haven’t looked back since.

The official name for a banana bike is a Velomobiel (either the Quest or Mango model) or Sunrider, depending on the brand. Its riders form a small community in which people know each other very well. You are either part of the “open” recumbent rider’s community or the “enclosed” recumbent group (such as the banana). I don’t keep up with their events regularly, but I try to visit the annual Cycle Vision event, just to keep an eye out for the latest innovations. My main interest  though is the relaxation that cycling brings.

The banana can cater for daily commutes up to 40 kms (25 miles) one way. This distance would take you about an hour on the flat. Longer journeys are easily possible too, but could be tiresome on a daily basis. I have done family visits with rides up to 100 kms (65 miles) each way. Such a distance only takes me 2.5 hours. On a normal bike, it would have taken me five to six hours.

Spring 2014 I did a circular ride through The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, mostly following the Rhine River routes. The banana bike proved to offer plenty of space to bring a tent and cooking utensils, especially if you pack everything in various smaller items, allowing you to use every inch of space on the inside. I quickly became a sight anywhere where I stopped. When pausing on Cologne’s Central Square, I found myself surrounded by a crowd admiring my banana. With so much interest from the locals, I decided to park it up safely for the night in a car parking garage. As the banana fitted under the car park barrier, I managed to park for free!

The banana is holding itself together on hills just as well. Obviously the speed drops, but that is mainly because of the weight (especially when riding with all the camping gear). It is easily possible to ride a very low gear without getting wobbly. I found the sensation similar to riding a normal bike up hill. Going downhill is a different story; you can go fast, very fast! I don’t let go the speed above 80 km/h (50 mph), but I know other banana riders who let it go to 100 km/h (65 mph). I think that is irresponsible. Personally, I keep a close watch on the performance of my brakes. I didn’t have any issues with them so far.

The banana bike remains a special sight on Dutch cycle paths and roads, although nearly everyone I speak has seen one around or says to know a banana rider. About 2000 banana bikes have been sold in The Netherlands so far. On a total bicycle population of 14 million, its market share is still very tiny!

So what is the general perception of the public in response to my appearance with the banana bike? Well, I have been called a “lazy git”, a “dodger”, an “idiot”, a “green freak” and obviously an irresponsible person making our roads extremely dangerous! Fortunately, my banana gives me also plenty of spontaneous encounters with interested and open-minded people, who secretly might want to own a banana too!

For next spring, I am looking at a longer international camping trip again, possibly north to Denmark or further south into Germany from Cologne, so look out for that banana bike!"

Wytze Bijleveld, Lelystad, The Netherlands

What about possibly encountering a banana bike yourself with a high quality "Cycling Dutchman" guidebook?


Cycling in  Amsterdam and The Netherlands - The very best routes in the cyclist's paradise makes you travel beyond Dutch cliches like clogs, windmills and the Amsterdam red light district, allowing you to truly explore the lowlands. The book features 1064 kms of routes and has special chapters explaining the unique Dutch cycling-minded traffic rules and its cycle route signage systems; 164 pages, colour, wiro bound, fits in standard handlebar bag.

Buy it now and also receive GPS-tracks of all routes!

The London - Land's End Cycle Route Book is designed for those who LOVE cycling, but don't like traffic. The book takes you onto the most beautiful cycle routes of southern England, including the Camel Trail, Devon Coast to Coast Route, Bristol and Bath Railway path, Thames Valley route and many more! What makes the book unique is that the route is completely continuous, including detailed directions and local knowledge all the way. Get inspired; choose your favourite route sections or go for a full summer holiday adventure; 164 pages, colour, wiro bound, fits in standard handlebar bag.


Buy it now and also receive GPS-tracks of all routes!

The Devon Coast to Coast is southern England's best developed cycle route. Traffic-free paths on former railway lines, such as the Tarka TrailGranite WayDrake's Trail and Plym Valley Way, allow you to explore Devon's stunning countryside at an easy pace. Whether you are young or old, fast or slow, the limited mileage and stunning countryside makes the Devon Coast to Coast an adventure suitable for all! If you love sightseeing from your bike, you can't go wrong with my latest guidebook; 40 pages, colour, wiro bound, fits in standard handlebar bag.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Long distance cycling with two toddlers!

How did you do it? What did you bring? Which routes did you take? How much distance did you cover in a day? These are all regular questions to be answered by those who completed any long-distance multiple day cycle trip. I can usually answer such questions myself, but when talking long distance cycling with toddlers I have to turn to a friend of mine. Tom Burslem is a GIS and mapping specialist who spent the summer of 2014 cycling across The Netherlands, Germany and Denmarktogether with his wife and two small children. This is their story:

We have always enjoyed cycle touring, and have undertaken numerous trips both in the UK and Europe. However since having children we’ve had to hang up our panniers thinking that touring with babies, toddlers and the associated paraphernalia which goes with little ones would be too difficult.

Emily (3) and Sebastian (15 months) are both very used to travelling on bikes in either a seat mounted to the rear rack or in a trailer, and they seemed to be happy to be transported this way for just as long as they are willing to sit in a pushchair. This got us thinking - maybe a cycle tour would be possible.

We were still put off a bit by thinking about how much stuff we would have to take. Clothes alone for 4 people would require pairing down to the bare minimum. But what is the bare minimum? How many t-shirts do you take for a 15 month-old boy who has a magnetic attraction to all things messy? With this, and a thousand other questions in mind, we did a mini cycle tour close to home and decided what was essential and what wasn’t. This trip gave us confidence and we started to think about where else we could go. It needed to be easy to get to. It needed to be flat, and there needed to be plenty of campsites and playgrounds. 


We plumped for the Hook of Holland to Denmark for a number of reasons, the main one being the cycle friendliness of the countries we would go through. With this in mind we booked a one-way ticket from Harwich to the Hook and started worrying about how long we would be able to last. From the Hook we travelled north up the Dutch coast, via the Afsluitdijk to the Frisian part of the Netherlands, and then via Groningen into Germany


In Germany, we took ferries across the Weser and Elbe rivers and then headed north to Flensburg, where we crossed into Denmark. In Denmark we cycled and took ferries via Sonderborg and Svendborg to end up in Rodbyhaven. We then took the ferry back to Germany, got a train back to the Hook and a ferry back to the UK. We cycled just under 1000 km (over 600 miles) and were away 6 weeks.

Equipment

Travelling with kids meant taking a lot of stuff – hence the need for a flat route! We took a bike seat for the back of Tania's bike and a 2 berth trailer (Burley d'lite for those interested in such details) which I towed. Our trial runs taught us that it would be good to have options in swapping the kids around, and they tend to start unsuitable hitting competitions if they are both in the trailer. The Burley was excellent, but not perfect. It is waterproof but water does get in when it is raining very hard. The straps are a bit fiddly and the tyres supplied aren’t great. However the kids are happy in it so must be comfy, and the boot is nice and big, even with two children in the front.

Our decision to take a bike seat in addition to a trailer meant that we could not take rear panniers for Tania’s bike. We therefore needed the boot space in the trailer. We also took a rucksack which we attached to the bike seat when both kids were in the trailer. We allowed Emily one bag of toys and books, which she chose when we were packing. Space was also made for two favourite soft toys, both of which very much enjoyed the experience.

A typical day

We very quickly established a daily routine. Seb usually wakes us up at about 6:15. He is very vocal until he has breakfast so we rush to do this before he wakes the whole campsite. We then packed up and were away by 9:00. Both kids loved camping. However Seb got very nervous when he saw us packing up in the morning. He worried that he would be forgotten so we put him in a sling to assure him he wouldn’t be left behind. This made packing quite a time consuming process.

In the morning Seb went in the trailer and Emily in the bike seat. Seb went straight to sleep and we cycled until he woke up. We tried to get the majority of mileage done while he was asleep. He could easily do 90 minutes. Emily loved the bike seat and was constantly asking questions about the passing scenery, most of which started with 'why'. 

When Seb woke up we would have a long break at a playground and lunch, and then they swapped berths for the much shorter afternoon cycle. The daily distances covered were typically 30 to 40 km. We would arrive at the campsite early which meant we could put the tents up, make dinner, find yet more playgrounds, wash and get the kids to sleep by about 7pm.

The kids' appetites increased hugely on this trip and they started eating - something we didn’t anticipate, and our small Trangia stove wasn’t big enough to cook a meal in one go so we ended up cooking and eating in shifts.

I love cycling in The Netherlands. There cycling is the norm and you become one of the crowd. You don’t get strange looks from onlookers, and your fellow road users are so polite. We’ve never experienced threatening behaviour from drivers, or the impatient revving that you get in the UK. We put this down to cyclists having their own space and the fact that most motorists are also cyclists, but maybe it is just because the Dutch as a nation are not in so much of a hurry to get from A to B.

I find crossing borders very exciting, but the crossing from the Netherlands into Germany was a bit of an anti-climax. It was nothing more than a bridge over a canal and a man gave us a very strange look as we stopped to take a photo. There wasn’t even a sign mentioning the fact we were going from one country to the next. 

I'm always surprised how different things are immediately after you cross a border. The scenery was the same (flat and agricultural) but everything else was completely different. In the Netherlands most villages have a playground, whereas in Germany it is rare to find one. The campsites have a very different feel to them as well. The Dutch use campsites as places to spend a family holiday, but in Germany were quieter and a little run down.

The other main difference was of course the language. We immediately went from being understood by nearly everyone to being understood by almost no one. The Dutch spoke English very well, which made us very lazy about learning their language. We were just catching on to saying ‘hello’, ‘thank you’ and simple phrases by the time we left. However in Germany we learnt much more very quickly.

The border between Germany and Denmark was similarly unremarkable but still an unmanned hut on both sides where once upon a time you would have had to show a passport.

The journey home

To get home we travelled by train from Puttgarden in Germany to Hook of Holland. We did it over a number of days to ease the pain. I was expecting problems travelling with two bikes and a trailer on a train, but it couldn’t have been easier. We travelled by Deutsche Bahn Regional train to Hamburg. These were double-decker trains, and they have a dedicated space for bikes on a lower deck of one carriage. You buy a ticket for your bike and can just turn up and get on. There is plenty of space and we didn’t have any problems. We then travelled from Hamburg to Amsterdam on an Intercity service. We had to book this (ourselves and the bikes) but it was not a problem either. We needed to book three bike spaces (two for the bikes and one for the trailer). Amsterdam to the Hook was also not a problem.

The most stressful part of the return journey was wondering whether the British rail network would accept two bikes and a trailer. It is not possible to book and there is nothing telling you whether you are allowed to take a trailer. We were lucky and had no problems travelling on quiet trains in the middle of the day. I would not like to travel on a crowded service however.

Would we do the trip again?


Cycle touring with toddlers is hard work. The cycling was the easy bit as they are strapped into the trailer and bike seat. However once you have done the cycling, they jump off the bikes full of energy, wanting to run around and play just when we wanted to sit and relax.  But we had a great time. The kids were outside almost continuously for six weeks. They became urchins and looked ridiculously healthy. We stayed in 25 different campsites and visited about 50 playgrounds, and Emily learned to say thank you in three languages. We worried that the children would get both sunstroke and hypothermia (though not on the same day). We questioned our sanity on a daily basis, but are very glad we did it. Maybe next year we’ll head for France...

For a full account of the cycling trip see Tom's Cycling Toddlers Blog.

What about going for a traffic-calmed cycling holiday yourself with a high quality "Cycling Dutchman" guidebook?

Cycling in  Amsterdam and The Netherlands - The very best routes in the cyclist's paradise makes you travel beyond Dutch cliches like clogs, windmills and the Amsterdam red light district, allowing you to truly explore the lowlands. The book features 1064 kms of routes and has special chapters explaining the unique Dutch cycling-minded traffic rules and its cycle route signage systems; 164 pages, colour, wiro bound, fits in standard handlebar bag.

Buy it now and also receive GPS-tracks of all routes!

The London - Land's End Cycle Route Book is designed for those who LOVE cycling, but don't like traffic. The book takes you onto the most beautiful cycle routes of southern England, including the Camel Trail, Devon Coast to Coast Route, Bristol and Bath Railway path, Thames Valley route and many more! What makes the book unique is that the route is completely continuous, including detailed directions and local knowledge all the way. Get inspired; choose your favourite route sections or go for a full summer holiday adventure; 164 pages, colour, wiro bound, fits in standard handlebar bag.

Buy it now and also receive GPS-tracks of all routes!

The Devon Coast to Coast is southern England's best developed cycle route. Traffic-free paths on former railway lines, such as the Tarka TrailGranite WayDrake's Trail and Plym Valley Way, allow you to explore Devon's stunning countryside at an easy pace. Whether you are young or old, fast or slow, the limited mileage and stunning countryside makes the Devon Coast to Coast an adventure suitable for all! If you love sightseeing from your bike, you can't go wrong with my latest guidebook; 40 pages, colour, wiro bound, fits in standard handlebar bag.

Monday, 14 July 2014

The spirit of cycle touring: The Straight Story


“We saw castles, canals, cottages, boats, churches, Roman ruins, a steam train, ancient forests, smuggler’s towns, hedgerows, roses, butterflies and birds. We had rain, blue heat, storms and soft clouds over rolling meadows. We saw the ocean, walked beaches, headlands and woodlands. We cycled canal paths, train tracks, country lanes and hills. We met nice people, grumpy people, alien worshippers, fellow travelers, bakers, fisher folk, happy hotel keepers and cheerful folk on the side of the road wanting a chat. We freewheeled down and climbed agonizingly up. We cursed and sang and laughed and told stories. Finally, we arrived at Land’s End.”

Susan Brown who lives in Gland, Switzerland, truly has a talent to put into words what you can experience on a long-distance cycle touring journey. She cycled our London-Land’s End Cycle Route in 2013 and clearly had a great time. In 2014, we had more people on the road with our guidebooks and holiday packages than ever before. This fact fills me with feelings of pride and joy.

This mood makes me inviting you to watch a piece of art that in my opinion very well reflects the spirit of cycle touring. The film I want to write about really shows how it is to be out there on a bicycle, on your own, on the road, absorbed by the surrounding countryside.  In David Lynch's 1999 film The Straight Story, the main character Alvin Straight is on a long distance journey on a lawn-mower (!) and the are many parallels with cycling in this film... 

Although the speed of the lawn-mower (and the film itself) might be lower than the average speed of any cyclist, the film beautifully captures all issues long distance touring cyclists face. During the first half of the film, we see Alvin Straight struggling to get his long distance journey off the ground. It parallels the emotional process an individual has to go through before being mentally ready for a long distance bicycle ride. We also witness how Alvin builds his relationship with his means of transport. Don’t we all have a relationship with our bicycle too?

It is the second half of the film where the parallels with cycling really kick in. The beautiful photography and amazing soundtrack (featuring great music by composer Angelo Badalamenti) and "landscape" sound effects (by David Lynch himself) pull the viewer with great emotions into the beauty of "slow travel". The film magically shows how you can become part of your surroundings if you take the effort to t-r-a-v-e-l  s-l-o-w-l-y

The film also defines all inconveniences of being on the road. Alvin Straight and his lawn-mower have to deal with typical cyclist's issues such as  bad weather and overtaking fast moving traffic. Also that desperate desolate feeling a touring cyclist can have when his/her equipment has a serious break down is shown; Alvin's breakdowns are heartbreaking. 


The film also beautifully witnesses the daily routines of finding shelter for the night and food and drink to keep going. Last but not least, there are all those wonderful encounters with other people who either live en-route or who are on a journey too. It is all very much like how a real bike ride is. And yes, there is also an amusing scene with a stressed driver who "must drive the car to work and must drive the car home every day", as she says so to herself, oblivious to her surroundings...

Most magic moment of the film from a cycling point of view is the short scene in which Alvin and his lawn-mower are actually overtaken by a large group of cyclists 
(see also top picture of this article). This special scene with its unique sound effects and amazing imaginary should thrill every true touring cyclist, because it embraces so close the magic of cycling!

The scene of the "grand depart" (see below) gives a good idea of what The Straight Story has to offer (even when dubbed in Italian). A true touring cyclist should watch the film over its full length...



Copyright notice: this article intends to raise renewed interest for "The Straight Story". Copyright holders will hopefully excuse us for using "Straight Story" film captures and "You Tube embedding" in this article!

What about becoming a long-distance touring cyclist yourself  with one of our "Cycling Dutchman" guidebooks?


Cycling in  Amsterdam and The Netherlands - The very best routes in the cyclist's paradise makes you travel beyond Dutch cliches like clogs, windmills and the Amsterdam red light district, allowing you to truly explore the lowlands. The book features 1064 kms of routes and has special chapters explaining the unique Dutch cycling-minded traffic rules and its cycle route signage systems; 164 pages, colour, wiro bound, fits in standard handlebar bag.

Buy it now and also receive GPS-tracks of all routes!

The London - Land's End Cycle Route Book is designed for those who LOVE cycling, but don't like traffic. The book takes you onto the most beautiful cycle routes of southern England, including the Camel Trail, Devon Coast to Coast Route, Bristol and Bath Railway path, Thames Valley route and many more! What makes the book unique is that the route is completely continuous, including detailed directions and local knowledge all the way. Get inspired; choose your favourite route sections or go for a full summer holiday adventure; 164 pages, colour, wiro bound, fits in standard handlebar bag.

Buy it now and also receive GPS-tracks of all routes!

The Devon Coast to Coast is southern England's best developed cycle route. Traffic-free paths on former railway lines, such as the Tarka TrailGranite WayDrake's Trail and Plym Valley Way, allow you to explore Devon's stunning countryside at an easy pace. Whether you are young or old, fast or slow, the limited mileage and stunning countryside makes the Devon Coast to Coast an adventure suitable for all! If you love sightseeing from your bike, you can't go wrong with my latest guidebook; 40 pages, colour, wiro bound, fits in standard handlebar bag.

Monday, 9 June 2014

The Netherlands’ Top 12 Cycle Routes

The Netherlands is famous for its amazing cycling infrastructure, but what are the most amazing cycle routes which will really blow your mind and give you the very best cycling experience you can have in this world? I decided to treat you with a personal Top 12. Together, these routes represent the different types of cycle experiences you can have in The Netherlands. All listed routes are included in my Cycling in Amsterdam and The Netherlands guidebook.

1. North Sea Cycle Route: The Hague – Zandvoort

The 6000 km long North Sea Cycle Route is nowhere more splendid than on its traffic-free track across the extensive Dutch sand dune systems between The Hague and Zandvoort. On this 40 km (25 miles) stretch, cycling truly comes “home”. Whether you are on a Dutch shopper or on a racing bicycle with all the gears, this is truly one of the very best cycle paths in the world with fantastic scenery to take in. Every other mile, there is access to the beach for cyclists and pedestrians only; providing plenty of opportunities for the perfect seaside break!

2. Amsterdam Forest (Amsterdamse Bos)

With paths either dedicated to walking, cycling or horse-riding, the Amsterdam Forest (Amsterdamse Bos) is probably the best park for cycling in the world. Three times bigger than New York’s Central Park, it has 50 kms (30 miles) of smooth, wide, tarmac cycle paths, dedicated to cycling only. The routes take you through a mosaic of wooded areas, grassland, reed lands and open water. With a high density of things to see and do, it is the perfect playground for youngsters getting used to explore by bike!

3. Vecht River: Weesp – Utrecht

There are probably only a few places more tranquil in the world than the sleepy Vecht River. The merchants of the Dutch Golden Age built their country mansions on these Vecht riverbanks, in between the numerous dairy farms and windmills. The country lanes on both sides of the river are a cycling heaven, taking you through a leafy, green, Dutch landscape, with another peaceful view awaiting you every 100 metres or so. The 35 km route (22 miles) has its epic final stretch alongside Utrecht’s “Old Canal”, without doubt the most scenic canal of the country.

4. Oosterschelde Barrier

Fancying literally riding the waves on the most expensive cycle path of the world? The traffic-free cycle path on the Oosterschelde Estuary Storm Surge Barrier gives you premium sea views and a unique smell of fresh sea air while riding your bike! The average maintenance bill of this route is about 10 million Euros per year, so you better enjoy this thrill ride on the floodgates. The total length of the flood gates is about 2 miles. The experience is best the first hours after high tide, when over 800 billion litres of water squeeze through the dam, back into the North Sea.

5. Dutch cycling rush hour – Utrecht

To truly experience a Dutch cycling rush hour, you should get on the bike between 8 and 9 am on any main cycle route between a Dutch city centre and its suburbs.  To be truly amazed, head for a place where there are few alternative routes, for example the bottleneck bridge over the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal between Lombok and Terwijde in Utrecht. You’ll find yourself cycling in a fast moving cycling crowd on a truly Cycling Super Highway. Cycle route builders in London must take notice; this is what a Cycling Super Highway really looks like!

6. Waal Dyke, Nijmegen

For grant open vistas, where you can cycle high above the surrounding landscape, you should head for one of the Rhine branches in The Netherlands, such as Lek, Waal or Nederrijn. We favour the traffic-calmed dyke of the Waal River between Dodewaard and Nijmegen. On this 20 km (13 miles) dyke ride stretch, you look down on fruit orchards on one side and Europe’s busiest inland shipping lane on the other side. The views over the City of Nijmegen, with its stylish river bridges, are fabulous. The Snelbinder bridge is a truly unique way to enter a city entirely traffic-free!

7. Utrecht Ridge National Park: Hollandse Rading – Amerongen

Large parts of The Netherlands lie below sea level, but there are also a few distinctively higher lying areas, such as the Dutch Moors Veluwe and Utrecht Ridge (Utrechtse Heuvelrug). Heavily forested, both moors have an extensive network of cycle paths, well away from motorised traffic. I favour the 40 km (25 miles) section between Hollandse Rading and Amerongen. Where else can you eat as many pancakes as you like, play crazy golf on three full-size 18-hole golf courses, visit a Napoleon pyramid and ride your bike on a former NATO-airbase runway?

8. Lange Linschoten: Woerden – Gouda

The Dutch Green Heart may well be on its prettiest alongside the “Lange Linschoten” stream, on both sides lined with (knotted) weeping willows and old, scenic, dairy farms with their thatched roofs. Cows graze onto the horizon here. Buy authentic Dutch Gouda cheese straight from the barn, go for a canoe adventure on narrow countryside canals or check whether you are a witch at the old weighing table of Oudewater. Just having a pint on the medieval town square is very well possible as well. This 20 km (13 miles) stretch is a favourite among many cycling Dutchies.

9: Waterland “Sea Dyke” Amsterdam – Marken Island

A few places in this world are more wind-swept than the old man-made sea defenses alongside what is now “Lake Ijsselmeer”. Ensure only to embark on this route when winds are light or when tailwinds blow you strongly towards your destination. In direct reach from Amsterdam station, this 20 km (13 miles) route via a cycle path on the old sea defenses’ ridge provides splendid views over Lake Ijsselmeer. Marken Island, with its traditional wooden houses build on wooden pillars, represents the natural history of The Netherlands as no other.

10: Dyke Enkhuizen – Lelystad

Cycling on dams and dykes; it is a must in The Netherlands. There is one more which truly deserves a spot in our top 12. Not to be confused with the "Afsluitdijk" (between North-Holland and Friesland at the north end of Lake Ijsselmeer), the dyke Enkhuizen – Lelystad is the truly ultimate dyke ride for cyclists keen on a challenge. What makes the route special is that you’ll cycle away from the main road most of the way (which is on the other side of the dyke ridge), allowing you to feel truly on your own, cycling on a 27 km (16 miles) long cycle path in the middle of a sea.

11: Unesco World Heritage Kinderdijk Windmills

Oops; I nearly forgot. Of course you’d like to cycle by some authentic Dutch windmills! Head for Unesco World Heritage Kinderdijk for the largest conglomeration of traditional Dutch windmills. It is one of the few places in The Netherlands where you can still witness how low-lying areas are kept dry by windmills pumping water up from one canal to another. The area is only accessible on foot or by bike. A beautiful cycle path through the centre of the reserve provides stunning views.  

12: Vogelweg, Flevoland

If you enjoy cycling broad, empty stretches and like to experience cycling on the former seabed (over 4 metres below sea level), you should ride the Vogelweg in Flevoland. The scenery reminds me of grant, flat, open vistas in America’s Midwest; a crop farming landscape, interceded by long, straight roads and scattered with wind turbines. There is not much out there; large scale and very unusual. Where else can you experience such a landscape while cycling entirely traffic-free on a smooth cycle path? It can only be in the cyclist’s paradise of The Netherlands!

All routes above feature in my book Cycling in  Amsterdam and The Netherlands - The very best routes in the cyclist's paradise makes you travel beyond Dutch cliches like clogs, windmills and the Amsterdam red light district, allowing you to truly explore the lowlands. The book features 1064 kms of routes and has special chapters explaining the unique Dutch cycling-minded traffic rules and its cycle route signage systems; 164 pages, colour, wiro bound, fits in standard handlebar bag. 

Buy it now and also receive GPS-tracks of all routes!

Another guidebook by the Cycling Dutchman:

The London - Land's End Cycle Route Book is designed for those who LOVE cycling, but don't like traffic. The book takes you onto the most beautiful cycle routes of southern England, including the Camel Trail, Devon Coast to Coast Route, Bristol and Bath Railway path, Thames Valley route and many more! What makes the book unique is that the route is completely continuous, including detailed directions and local knowledge all the way. Get inspired; choose your favourite route sections or go for a full summer holiday adventure; 164 pages, colour, wiro bound, fits in standard handlebar bag.


Buy it now and also receive GPS-tracks of all routes!

The Devon Coast to Coast is southern England's best developed cycle route. Traffic-free paths on former railway lines, such as the Tarka TrailGranite WayDrake's Trail and Plym Valley Way, allow you to explore Devon's stunning countryside at an easy pace. Whether you are young or old, fast or slow, the limited mileage and stunning countryside makes the Devon Coast to Coast an adventure suitable for all! If you love sightseeing from your bike, you can't go wrong with my latest guidebook; 40 pages, colour, wiro bound, fits in standard handlebar bag.