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Netherlands, Ireland, West of England

Old 05-19-11, 03:56 PM
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Netherlands, Ireland, West of England

which would you pick for some very easy, scenic, low-stress, bike touring? Did I mention 'easy'?

Wife and I will have several weeks this summer with NO children, the first time in 20 years we'll be childless but for a long weekend. Our honeymoon long ago was three months in Greece, with lots of village-to-village hiking in the mountains, but we are not in our 20s anymore. So we want to do some kind of active trip but at an easy pace...especially important for my wife. I sold her on the idea of cycling only after showing her the thread Elev12K posted some weeks back about his trip to Zandam.

As it'll be late July when we can travel, we are aiming for Northern Europe, the UK or Ireland. We may take as long as three weeks so might be able to do two distinct stages.

We are looking at 'self guided' cycling tours, the kind you book through a company that makes arrangements, moves your bags, and rents you the bikes. Tulip Cycling in the Netherlands suggested a week long itinerary that looks nice, only about 30 miles a day so lots of time for sightseeing and Vermeer-gawking. And I have a query in to Iron Donkey in the UK about their routes in the W of England (Cotswolds) and Ireland. Another possibility is the Loire Valley in France, though somehow that does not excite me as much, I am imagining chateaux with immense parking lots full of tour buses.

If any of you have done anything similar I'd love to hear about it.

I am also going to post about this in the Touring forum but they seem a bit hard-core over there and somehow I think this is a more sympatico crowd.
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Old 05-19-11, 04:49 PM
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All of them?

My bride and I are planning a fall trip to Amsterdam and Drenthe hopefully for this year. If not Ireland next spring to visit friends (and cycle)

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Old 05-19-11, 05:12 PM
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It's not exatly the area you're talking about but this is a fantastic article that will certainly put you even more in the mood. Sounds like a great time, good luck!

https://www.bikequarterly.com/images/BQ6,2AYH.pdf
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Old 05-19-11, 05:30 PM
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Get your wife on a bike starting right now. Start VERY slowly - ride to the park, around the loop once and then back home. Repeat the following weekend. At some point, you can do it each day on the weekend. Have you walk with you when you walk the dog. <--- stuff like that will really help.
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Old 05-19-11, 08:10 PM
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My wife and I have been doing bicycle trips the last few years while we still can. We've been to Ireland, Prague/Vienna and Maine with Backroads or Vermont Bike Tours. Both very well organized, easy to harder and you can bail anytime you want. We're doing Spain in October.
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Old 05-19-11, 11:26 PM
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I have ridden a fair amount in Kent and Hampshire (S & SE of England) which is excellent & gentle riding. I always thought the closer to Wales increased the hills, sometimes dramatically.
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Old 05-19-11, 11:38 PM
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Originally Posted by dbakl
My wife and I have been doing bicycle trips the last few years while we still can. We've been to Ireland, Prague/Vienna and Maine with Backroads or Vermont Bike Tours. Both very well organized, easy to harder and you can bail anytime you want. We're doing Spain in October.
Oooh! That sounds like something I have to look into.
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Old 05-20-11, 05:34 AM
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It's a great idea to do a trip along the coast of holland, with beautiful dune landscapes, tulip fields and a little bit inland all kinds of lakes and quite cyclepaths along the water (like Zaandam in the Elev12k post). Also the cyclepaths are very well maintained and well marked. The only problem is that they can get really crowded with bikes
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Old 05-20-11, 08:27 AM
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I'm from Denmark. Finding a hill workout in my country is impossible.

The Netherlands are even flatter for the most part! But don't forget the wind. That's something to contend with.

Personally I would go with Ireland.
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Old 05-20-11, 10:42 AM
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Flat=good. My wife strenuously objected to my initial suggestion of cycling on vacation, thinking that I had the Pyrenees in mind. I have read about the winds and variable weather in the Netherlands, esp along the coast, but at 30 miles a day, we should be able to manage.

Good suggestions here; if we go for three weeks we could have two distinct stages to our trip. Cycling in Netherlands (besides requisite sightseeing, museums, etc.) for ten days and another ten days to either go cycle in Ireland (or maybe E Anglia, a suggestion from the Touring forum) or possibly the Loire Valley and a few days in Paris.

I work freelance, for almost thirty years now, and the truth is that it's not all that free. I have downtime sometimes when I don't want it, and it makes me very nervous to *plan* for being away from potential work for so long. I'll just have to get over that.

btw here's the route suggested by Tulip Cycling. (Their website says that cycling is the 'second favorite activity of tourists' to the NL.) It looks from photos and the maps like a nice mixture of seaside/dunes, countryside, towns, etc, with the option of staying a day in towns we want to explore more.

Haarlem (start)
(Zandvoort)
Leiden
(Wassenaar)
Delft
Gouda
(Kinderdijk)
Schoonhoven
(Oudewater, Montfoort)
Utrecht
Amersfoort
(Ijsselmeer, Naarden)
Weesp
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Old 05-20-11, 10:56 AM
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Northern England and West to Scotland, and the Isle of Man are ones i'd like to do.
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Old 05-20-11, 11:00 AM
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I would check out Germany, especially the Mosel region.www.biketoursdirect.com/ or bicyclegermany.com/saar-mosel.htm
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Old 05-20-11, 11:18 AM
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I rode a bit along the river in Dresden. That was almost perfectly flat. The rest of the area had some decent hills though. I didn't really get to do any riding anywhere else so I can't say.

The ride along that river was beautiful though... plenty to look at.
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Old 05-20-11, 11:36 AM
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A nice thing about touring in Holland, Belgium and Denmark is they "get it". They have respectful cycling cultures that include well marked paths, accommodations and infrastructure. These alone almost guarantee to keep your stress down to a minimum. But the south of Ireland is gorgeous and almost tropical because of the Gulf Stream. Personally I'd love to ride a bike through the Ring of Kerry but the drivers are wicked fast and definitely crazy. And I prefer Guinness to Amstel.

As Jan said...watch the wind. Travel west to east whenever possible. Personally I find guided bike tours too controlling. They always have an agenda to sell you food and stuff you may not want. And they are lowest common denominator slow.
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Old 05-20-11, 11:44 AM
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I like the itinerary through the middle of Holland. It's a picture postcard beautiful part of the world. Just tell them you don't want to buy pottery in Delft, cheese in Gouda, wooden shoes in schoonhoven etc. Unless you do of course, it's your trip.

The Railway station in Haarlem is amazing.
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Old 05-20-11, 11:47 AM
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One thing I noticed in Austria when we were there is they have a well developed set of bike lanes separate from the roads. And there are large "vacation shops" that will rent you everything you need. Quite a number of people out riding, funny to see them pull into a cafe in the village, step off their bikes and watch them start pounding cigarettes and beer!

Ireland, we were in Connemara. Can be flat, rolling or hilly, depending where you are, and quite damp. Not pouring rain but thick wet air that sometimes drips! Drivers were very respectful of bikes too.
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Old 05-20-11, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike Mills
Oooh! That sounds like something I have to look into.
Backroads is a little more upscale in the places they stay. Vermont Bike Tours is more ordinary and laid back (and a lot cheaper) Personally, I don't need the frou frou, but my wife likes it. Riding, out on the road with the sag vans I'd say they're pretty equal: good people, good support.
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Old 05-20-11, 01:51 PM
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The Cotswolds are distinctly hilly but East Anglia especially Suffolk is delightful...
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