5 reasons why you should ditch the train and rent a touring bike
Tucked away between Germany and Belgium, it’s easy to think there’s only just enough space for your plane to make a safe landing in the Netherlands. You may or may not be surprised to hear that there’s also space to fit in sandy beaches, tulip fields, and sprawling national parks, plus thousands of kilometres of dedicated cycle lanes linking it all together.
On your bike, son. Why, you ask? Well…
#1 It's flat - like, really flat
You come from somewhere mountainous. We only know this because pretty much everywhere else is hilly compared to the Netherlands: the aptly named ‘Low Countries’. Even its highest point, Vaaselburg, is only 322m above sea level – a mere 27 times shorter than Everest. Staggering, we know, and that’s basically in Belgium anyway.
You know how the Netherlands is famous for its canals? Well, canals don’t really like slopes. We don’t much either. If you identify with the waterways stretching across the country, and prefer inclines you can measure with a spirit level, you’ve come to the right place.
Because it’s so flat, travelling from place to place is quick and painless. We rent touring bikes. Rather good ones. With our 30-gear, top-of-the-line Victoria Touring Bikes, you can pick your own pace. Speed along like an intercity train or ease your way down the cycle paths, pausing to take in the landscape and pose for envy-inspiring snaps with the fields, tulips, and forests.
And if the hill ascent stage of the Tour de France doesn’t fill you with dread, there’s a couple of ‘mountain’ challenges that give you the chance to work up the lactic acid. There’s some hilly terrain along the Belgium border such as in Limburg, the site of the legendary Amstel Gold Race. Or you could brave the Vaaselburg ascent and perch atop the highest point in the country.
#2 The touring bike routes are simple and easy to follow
Dutch cities are built around the bicycle. So is its countryside. Around 27% of all journeys in the Netherlands are made on a bike, and that includes longer commutes between towns and cities. The country promotes biking to such a degree, that cycle routes are usually more direct than roads for motorised vehicles.
This is all possible because of the 4,500 kilometres of dedicated cycle paths, linking together villages, towns, and cities. These ‘LF routes’ are clearly signposted in both directions. They have numbers telling you which road you are on, and which you should take whenever you meet an intersection. If you’re good with the alphabet, the numbers 1-100, and aced your way through dot-to-dot books, then you’ll know exactly where you are and exactly where you’re going.
The best part, is that you don’t even have to share the space with cars, and whenever the route meets a highway, there are dedicated crossing points, which often give right of way to cyclists. Please still look both ways though – we’d rather our rental bikes came back in one piece. And you too, of course!
#3 Touring the countryside by bike is beautiful
Most of the LF routes are surrounded by stunning countryside. You’ll soon forget about the sound of engines and the smell of exhaust fumes. You’re much more likely to be hearing birds, and breathing in the nature around you.
The Dutch, unsurprisingly, are big on promoting cycling through their national parks. Hoge Veluwe in Gelderland, boasting 55 square kilometres of sand dunes, heath, and woodland, is also furnished with 40 kilometres of cycle paths. A place to experience nature at its most peaceful, and perhaps hear the distant cry of a wild boar.
And you don’t even need to go far from Amsterdam. Take the Afsluitdijk, for instance, a 32km sea-dyke, water spreading out on either side, and a whole lane of glossy tarmac just for those on two wheels. Or perhaps Lisse, where row after row of tulips stretch towards the horizon. Even half an hour from Amsterdam and you’re in Waterland, host to the seafaring communities by the Markermeer, including the ancient village of Edam.
We’re not just trying to get all gooshy over some cheese and tulips, the point is that you are surrounded by stuff that would make a pair of clogs come second in a Dutch-ness contest. With thousands of kilometres of paths to explore it by, the country is your Gouda.
Yes, this is Northern Europe, and it might rain, but to recreate a favourite Dutch saying ‘jij bent niet van suiker gemaakt’, or, ‘you’re not made of sugar’, and you won’t dissolve (we promise – we’ve checked).
#4 There’s more to The Netherlands than Amsterdam
You could spend weeks in Amsterdam and still keep discovering. But props to anyone who dons their Pith helmet and sets off in search of adventures beyond the A10 ring.
Zandvoort Beach, with its campfires and watersports, Leiden’s rich academic heritage, the little brother of Amsterdam – Utrecht, or the ever sleepy Den Haag: all are within a leisurely day’s cycle. In fact, getting to the furthest of these – The Hague – would take you just over three hours, but I challenge you to show me the person who can do that journey without stopping for a nice beer, a slice of gouda, or a picture by a windmill.
Let’s also remember, it’s about the journey, not the destination. Being teleported by train from one place to another is convenient for the commuter. But think of what you miss as those images flash by your window. Around the LF routes, many bike-friendly hotels and restaurants have sprung up – some in the middle of nowhere, and others in little villages you’d never have given second thought to had you been riding the train.
We love it when people return from their tour and tell us about places we’d never heard of. See what you can find along the way.
#5 Never toured before? We’ll sort you out
If this is your first mid/long distance trip on a bike, you’ve chosen a great place. At YourCityBike, we’re used to helping people with any concerns or queries they might have about their journey. And that’s not only when you rent your bikes. We’re at the end of the phone 9:00-21:00, 7 days a week if you have any questions, concerns, or even if you’re just sitting in a lovely tree watching the sunset and fancy a chat.
We rent high-end touring bikes. They come complete with 30 gears, lightweight aluminium frame, front suspension, hydraulic brakes, panier rack, and anti-puncture tyres. There are both gentlemen’s and ladies’ bikes in a number of frame sizes, and adjust them to fit you perfectly. We can also provide you with panier bags, phone/GPS mount, and helmets to suit your needs. Free of charge, we throw in a repair kit and inner tube for any hiccoughs along the way.
We’ll be more than happy to look through your route with you. Staff can advise on what to expect, and suggest places to visit along the way. In short – we’ve got you covered.