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Touring Observations in The Netherlands

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Touring Observations in The Netherlands

Old 08-07-12, 10:51 AM
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Touring Observations in The Netherlands

We arrived at a lovely campground in The Netherlands, not far from the Rhine Route and other cycle routes, and not far from the Germany border. When we settled in, we decided to stay 3 nights ... and that gave us the opportunity to observed the other cycletourists coming through the campground.

A few observations, in no particular order, and there may be more later ...

-- Families - we've seen several families touring together ... parents and child or children. Some of the children have been quite young. One of the first of these families we observed was on the ferry crossing from the UK to The Netherlands, all there waiting with us, with their panniers etc. ready for a tour in The Netherlands ... parents and two young daughters. And then they all cycled off into the rain when we arrived in The Netherlands.

It's nice to see families all cycling together on tours like that.

-- Variety of People - all sorts of different people tour. I mentioned families above, but there were all sorts of other groupings. Couples, older people, two or three ladies together, two or three men together, people riding solo, and one group which I found entirely unexpected ... a group of 5 or 6 girls who looked like they were in their late teens. They sort of straggled into the campground quite late one evening, set everything up with much hilarity, and then stayed for a couple days. They were still there when we left this morning. It wasn't just that 5 or 6 teenage girls set out on a cycling tour, but they rode quite standard Dutch, step through bicycles, and dressed in the latest fashions here, and carried quite a bit of stuff with them (big tent, all sorts of clothing like any female teenager might bring, etc.)

It's great to see that all sorts of people are just going out and cycletouring.

-- Variety of Equipment - the Dutch stepthrough bicycles are quite popular of course, but we've seen mountain bikes and tandems and all sorts. People appear to be riding whatever they've got. And I've been rather suprised by the size of tents people are carrying (big!), and the amount of stuff. I personally wouldn't consider jeans as touring wear, but I've seen a lot of people change into jeans after cycling, if not wear jeans while cycling. Weight doesn't seem to be a huge issue.

It's interesting to see that people are touring with whatever equipment they've got at hand.

-- Casual pace - we're following touring routes, and in general the people on these touring routes don't seem in a great hurry, or ride like they are on a mission. And in the campground, we weren't the only ones who settled in for a few days before carrying on. We talked to one couple touring on a tandem. They were there for a few days, but said that the last time they were touring in that area, they just stopped at that campground for 5 days.

We like this casual approach to touring ... ride a bit, see the sights, relax a bit, stay in an area for a few days if we feel like it.
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Old 08-07-12, 11:15 AM
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Dutch cyclists have their own particular pedalling style that you can spot a mile off, very smooth and powerful.
I met a Dutch couple on their city bikes hauling a trailer with a caravan style 5kg gas bottle with double burner. Another guy had all his stuff on a massive wicker basket at the front of his butcher's bike.

My fav destination in the Netherlands was the car-free island of Vlieland, everyone is on a bike and camping is really laid back. They all seem to use the classic beige canvas DeWaard tent.
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Old 08-07-12, 11:54 AM
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Families: Independent of touring, cycling is something done by all ages in the Netherlands. For example, one of my grandmothers was cycling into her 90s. I believe she stopped more with bike maintenance issues than anything else - the other cycled into her 80s. Not particularly far and not particularly fast, but the bicycle was basic transportation to market and other places. The grandmother who cycled into her 90s never had a drivers license.

Variety: If you've got lots of people riding normally then it makes sense to just extend that in going to a kemping.

Casual Pace: you can't go too far or too fast or you'll run out of country . I rode across Netherlands east/west in two days and once rode from Schiermonnikoog an island off the north to mid-way down the country in a day. There are folks that will be out riding hard and racing - but most folks you see will be at casual pace and also not wearing a helmet. In many places you'll find a separate fietspad (bike path) system complete with lights.

One thing that took a little getting used to for me was that cars were more likely to pause and let you ride or turn. For example - coming into the Netherlands after riding near Boston I would occasionally pause since I'd expect a car to cut in front of me. This caused a temporary stop. Coming back to Boston I had to adjust the other way as almost got hit by a right hook with car that decided to turn just in front of me.
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Old 08-07-12, 12:04 PM
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Flying in to Shiphol, AMS, Landing in the afternoon , I rode a little while to
the seaside town of Zandvoort, camped there ,
and was on local body-clock time, the next morning..

i appreciated using the same bike paths the workers used to get to their Airport jobs..
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Old 08-07-12, 01:03 PM
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Maastricht, NL

From this................

To these.
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Old 08-08-12, 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
We arrived at a lovely campground in The Netherlands, not far from the Rhine Route and other cycle routes, and not far from the Germany border. When we settled in, we decided to stay 3 nights ... and that gave us the opportunity to observed the other cycletourists coming through the campground.

Those Dutch bikers are amazing. I've only been to Netherlands in the winter & didn't see any bike tourists but the commuters/city riders are unfazed by any weather. A coat & scarf & they're ready to go. While Netherlands is mostly flat I remember seeing some Dutch women on a local Wash DC bike path gamely pedaling their heavy Dutch bikes up the steep hills. A friend from Suriname spent some years in Amsterdam & made sure to teach her kids how to ride--they love biking although as American kids it's only a sometimes thing. OTOH from previous research I've noted that in Germany & Netherlands there aren't as many campgrounds as in USA & often the Euro campgrounds close somewhat early for the winter.

Well your post reminds me a bit of going (by auto) to Montreal for the Formula 1 GP race: tent-camped at a deluxe-style campground about 50 km from downtown...most of the campers were basically locals who took their RV's along or even had them stationed permanently for the summer. Had to rely on my pidgin French; later read that many working-class Quebecois are "professional" campers...sort of like some US Midwesterners they just like a break from the routine to relax.

BTW I think it's ironic that Dutch are so advanced with GPS routes. I'd have thought that in a small country with ample bike routes & tolerant motorists routing would not be a big issue but those GPS folks have everything sorted out to a "T"!
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Old 08-08-12, 11:16 PM
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Makes sense that weight of the gear would be of much less concern in an area with few substantial hills. I've towed my 100 lb. boat behind my bike without any problems as long as the route is flat (usually I've done this on roads that closely follow rivers or lakeshores). If touring along such routes I'd also be inclined to take items offering a few more luxuries in exchange for higher weight. But when faced with having to haul it up thousands of feet each day the little added luxury of a bigger tent, camp chairs, and other extras no longer seems so worthwhile.
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Old 08-11-12, 07:21 PM
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Interesting post Machka, thanks for sharing.
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