First time in Netherlands on a road bike

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Tonje
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First time in Netherlands on a road bike

Postby Tonje » 5 Aug 2018, 11:51pm

Hi, I am cycling from Hoek van Holland to Utrecht later this month and need some advice on which route to pick. I'm on a road bike and would prefer to stick to tarmac and avoid dirt roads/gravelly paths. The LF network seems great in terms of finding your way (LF1 and LF4 to Utrecht, if I'm not wrong), but I am a bit concerned of what kind of roads they are, and I can't seem to find any information on this online... Any advice from people who have cycled on LF1/4 or elsewhere between these two points would be greatly appreciated!

wisdish
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Re: First time in Netherlands on a road bike

Postby wisdish » 6 Aug 2018, 7:21am

Hi
We have done sections of both these routes in the last 2 weeks both contained short sections of gravel but nothing that our touring bikes even with narrow road bike tyres couldn’t cope with while fully loaded. Well over 95% are tarmac.
Worth buying the map book “Basiskaart network LF routes” as it has amazing maps with roads and cycle routes shown. You might need to buy online from Netherlands but it usually comes within a few days.

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Liz
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Vorpal
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Re: First time in Netherlands on a road bike

Postby Vorpal » 6 Aug 2018, 7:24am

I haven't done the whole route, but all of the packed gravel paths I've come across in the Netherlands were old cross-country paths going between rural villages, and all were doable with a road bike.
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JakobW
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Re: First time in Netherlands on a road bike

Postby JakobW » 6 Aug 2018, 12:14pm

I did Hook-Utrecht and back a month ago; though I had a cycle map with knooppunt system nodes marked, and was planning on following LF2/LF4, I found it easiest to just make a note of intermediate destinations and follow the signs for those on the cycle path. I decided not to go up the coast on LF1 before turning east and just go cross-country, as the coastal route would add extra distance, and I'd heard parts can get sandy.
I went roughly Delft-Zoetermeer-Alphen a/d Rijn-Woerden-Utrecht, which was just over 100K; all bar a couple of hundred metres was on paved paths, and my companion was fine on his road bike with 25mm tyres.

m-gineering
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Re: First time in Netherlands on a road bike

Postby m-gineering » 6 Aug 2018, 1:11pm

Use the routeplanner on https://en.routeplanner.fietsersbond.nl/
You can tailor the route to taste (scenic/tarmac/short/easy etc) and if you don't do GPS you can print it out and transfer it to your maps.
Marten

Touring advice for NL: www.m-gineering.nl/touringg.htm

Tonje
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Re: First time in Netherlands on a road bike

Postby Tonje » 6 Aug 2018, 5:27pm

Thanks all for your great advice - it is really helpful!

Psamathe
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Re: First time in Netherlands on a road bike

Postby Psamathe » 6 Aug 2018, 6:10pm

JakobW wrote:.... though I had a cycle map with knooppunt system nodes marked, and was planning on following LF2/LF4, I found it easiest to just make a note of intermediate destinations and follow the signs for those on the cycle path...

What I’ve seen some people doing is to have a strip of paper about an inch wide, they write all the knooppunt numbers in sequence then tape the strip of paper into a loop on their handle bars.

Ian

JakobW
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Re: First time in Netherlands on a road bike

Postby JakobW » 6 Aug 2018, 10:09pm

Psamathe wrote:What I’ve seen some people doing is to have a strip of paper about an inch wide, they write all the knooppunt numbers in sequence then tape the strip of paper into a loop on their handle bars.

Ian


Depends on how particular about the route you are; I found some of the knooppunt signage was a bit hit and miss, and that it was easier to have a list of destinations (both minor and major - very occasionally the signs would give you options for local hamlets with no indication as to which one was on the way to where you wanted to go). I used the Valk fietsatlas, which covers the whole of the Netherlands at 1:75K, but found it a bit annoying; it was large-scale enough that you were constantly flipping pages (not helped by the ring binding), but not quite detailed enough for navigating towns and cities. I wasn't camping on this trip, but it doesn't have campsites marked, which I thought it would have from a review of a previous edition. Next time I'd probably make do with a 1:200K or so map and navigate by place name - I didn't have a single bad experience with cycle tracks while I was there.

Vorpal
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Re: First time in Netherlands on a road bike

Postby Vorpal » 7 Aug 2018, 7:42am

I think at a minimum you need both knooppunt numbers and destinations. Although on rural intracity routes, the knooppunt numbers are probably enough, any time you encounter other routes, sign posting can be a little inconsistent, and the busier and more populated an area is, the more a map is likely to be needed. Many routes going into & out of cities, for example, are poorly signed.

I've missed my way more than once going into or out of Amsterdam, even with a map. It's not hard to sort it out again, and I don't usually get far before I realised what I've done. But if the routes had been as well signed as the rural ones, it would not have happened.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

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foxyrider
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Re: First time in Netherlands on a road bike

Postby foxyrider » 7 Aug 2018, 8:37am

Psamathe wrote:
JakobW wrote:.... though I had a cycle map with knooppunt system nodes marked, and was planning on following LF2/LF4, I found it easiest to just make a note of intermediate destinations and follow the signs for those on the cycle path...

What I’ve seen some people doing is to have a strip of paper about an inch wide, they write all the knooppunt numbers in sequence then tape the strip of paper into a loop on their handle bars.

Ian

I've used mini post it's to do the same - spend time over breakfast sorting out the route - in places a place name for confirmation.

Just a slight complication when crossing regional boundaries - in some places you can get the same number popping up in two regions quite close to each other!

Whilst i've generally found the system very good it's worth checking the map thoroughly - there are places where they take you on rather pointless diversions around villages some of which can be difficult on say a recumbent or tandem and not exactly road bike friendly! So slavish following of the signs isn't always recommended.
Convention? what's that then?

Airnimal Chameleon touring, Orbit Pro hack, Orbit Photon audax, Focus Mares AX tour, Peugeot Carbon sportive, Owen Blower vintage race - all running Tulio's finest!

Psamathe
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Re: First time in Netherlands on a road bike

Postby Psamathe » 7 Aug 2018, 3:25pm

foxyrider wrote:
Psamathe wrote:
JakobW wrote:.... though I had a cycle map with knooppunt system nodes marked, and was planning on following LF2/LF4, I found it easiest to just make a note of intermediate destinations and follow the signs for those on the cycle path...

What I’ve seen some people doing is to have a strip of paper about an inch wide, they write all the knooppunt numbers in sequence then tape the strip of paper into a loop on their handle bars.

Ian

I've used mini post it's to do the same - spend time over breakfast sorting out the route - in places a place name for confirmation.

Just a slight complication when crossing regional boundaries - in some places you can get the same number popping up in two regions quite close to each other!

Whilst i've generally found the system very good it's worth checking the map thoroughly - there are places where they take you on rather pointless diversions around villages some of which can be difficult on say a recumbent or tandem and not exactly road bike friendly! So slavish following of the signs isn't always recommended.

Last week I did a needless experiment using knooppunt to get into Breskens. Complete failure. The issue was that the map I was using was the free giveaway from the campsite showing where restaurants are, where the swimming is, etc. and they only gave about a tenth of the knooppunt numbers. Maybe my lesson is that because a map has a few knooppunt numbers not to assume it becomes a reliable reaource for navigating using that system.

Most of the time I’m using GPS with directions that makes the knooppunt a bit redundant (but still a good idea).

Ian

HobbesOnTour
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Re: First time in Netherlands on a road bike

Postby HobbesOnTour » 7 Aug 2018, 3:58pm

I live here, in NL and have used the knooppunten to navigate for years.

When they work, they're great.

For anyone who isn't aware, they are never the most direct route from A to B, but they are on routes very suited for bikes. They may involve forest paths, loose gravel, but nothing that is dangerous or unusable for anyone on a roadbike (in my opinion).
In cities, they can be hard to see and take you around, rather than directly through.

However....
The knoopunten network is always in a state of change! If you're going to use a book, it needs to be an up to date book!
The online mapping sources are better, but not always 100%!
In some provinces there are lots of maps that you can stop and get your reference, in others, not so much. Sometimes these maps have been vandalised (rarely), but other times, they have been worn away in the area you are by people tracing routes with their fingers! So you can see where to go, just not where you are.

Sometimes signs are "lost" behind vegetation, parked vans or just plainly "adjusted" by kids. Handy tip if you turn following a number is to look behind you after the turn to check that the corresponding number is valid in the opposite direction.

The location of signs can vary from one province to another. You can cycle for a couple of hours and every sign is head high, large, on the right hand side. You can pass into a different province and the next sign is half the size, knee-high, on a wooden post on the opposite side of the road.

When you get lost using knooppunten... you are lost! If you miss a turn you can cycle for a long time until the next number - and that will bear no relation to your desired number. At that point you'll need a map to see where you are, or a calm attitude to not give a damn :D That's the disadvantage of just using a piece of paper with the numbers on it.

What I find useful is to plan a route using knoppunten, create a gpx track and download that to my Wahoo. All the benefits of the knoopunt network without the hassle of slowing down at every junction hunting a number.

As for the Op, the knoopunten network will not be the most direct route for you. There will be red & white signposts from major town to town that will keep you on tarmac, however, in the bigger cities, these can be a bit hit and miss. Between cities they're pretty good, if a little boring - typically beside a busy road. Handy hint if you get lost ina town/city is to head to the train station (NS). There's always a full complement of signposts there.

There are also little "mushroom" signs in many areas with directions and distances to the smaller villages. Also red and white, but low to the ground.

Just bear in mind that the LF routes and the knoop-punten routes can get busy with day cyclists, especially at the weekend. If you're speedy, you may have to deal with relatively heavy traffic on those paths.

In any case, the cycling is easy. Navigation isn't too much of an issue. A simple list of towns on your route to follow will get you there.

Enjoy!