A Holland-touring newbie seeks wisdom...

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Northumberlander
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Joined: 31 Aug 2010, 5:09pm

A Holland-touring newbie seeks wisdom...

Postby Northumberlander » 4 Sep 2018, 10:31pm

In three weeks from now, I'll ride 60 miles from home to the DFDS ferry terminal at North Tyne, and take the overnight ferry to Ijmuiden. I'm grabbing the opportunity for a short five-day circular tour in Holland before sailing/riding home again. I'm looking forward to my first tour 'abroad' in many years!

My plan is to ride north from Ijmuiden to Alkmaar, then east to pick up the Zuiderzee route, which I'll broadly follow for my tour. I'm not fanatical about staying 'on route' and am confident (from what I've read) that route-finding will be relatively straightforward. But I've resisted buying maps or guidebooks, mainly because I keep reading that the LF route network is under major review - and specifically that the Zuiderzee route 'will undergo major revision in 2018'. However, I can find no information about what that revision entails, or how it is progressing, or whether I can expect to follow it now that we are three quarters of the way through 2018! The routeplanner.fietsersbond.nl site seems to show the route without any significant revisions. Maps and gpx planning might be a waste of money and time, if I find the route on the ground has changed... So I'm intending to 'wing it' and will hope to follow some signage!

So after waffling on about my 'plan', I have a few questions which I'm hoping to garner some wisdom about:

1. Does anyone know whether the Zuiderzee route is a) revised yet, and b) easy to follow right now?! Is winging it re route-finding likely to cause me any significant problems?

2. Are there any Holland-experts who would advocate a different/better/quieter route for a 400-500km 5-day circular tour? (I need to start and finish at the ferry terminal in Ijmuiden!) I'm riding midweek, and I'm hoping for a quiet ride, not dodging other bikes all day long...

3. I've registered with the vriendenopdefiets.nl organisation, and plan to use it for accommodation along my route. It looks interesting, intriguing even - does it have a 'good reputation'? I can find very little information other than on their own site... I have the book listing all the available accommodation, but it's 'pot luck' whether you pick a beauty! And of course Tripadvisor has ruined the thrill of potluck accommodation, in the modern age :wink:

4. I'm surprised to read the same message on many sites, that bike theft seems to be a significant problem, even in such a bike-friendly culture. That has me just a little worried. Is this something to worry about - everywhere? I hope to explore some of the towns I will pass through, on foot for an hour or two perhaps. Is it safe to leave the bike, locked up? What do tourists in the Netherlands do about bike baggage? Lugging it around town will be a pain... (I know what you're thinking; but yes, I'll have a large saddlebag, and a bar bag.)

5. Can anyone advise which towns along the Zuiderzee route are 'must-visit', even if it means diverting from the LF route in order to do so?

Perhaps I will stop now, as I'm probably asking too many questions in one post already! Thanks for your patience. And any wisdom.

MrsHJ
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Location: Dartmouth, Devon.

Re: A Holland-touring newbie seeks wisdom...

Postby MrsHJ » 4 Sep 2018, 10:57pm

I've done the zuider zee route. I did a truncated version of round the NL route with a friend one September that covered the top of the ZZ route and two years ago my son and I went in August and did the ZZ route but chopped off the top by getting the ferry from Stavoren to Enkhuizen. The signage is very good but doesn't say the ZZ route. Cycling in the Netherlands is outstanding and very easy. Sometimes it's a bit fiddly just following all the links but generally not especially in the countryside.

When I cycled in late September it was very wet so good rain gear helps (although we got ours in the Netherlands and are still using it-many. Ike shops with good kit).

My son says that at one point it will be very rainy and windy (this was August 2016) [now he's taking over the keyboard] sometimes like not all the time but a bit of the time it won't be the nicest weather but hey that's just part of the experience and i enjoyed seeing the different places (towns, country side and the people there) but I say that about everywhere I go :)

Good towns more in the west. North and east is more polders with newer towns (but it depends- the towns on the east side of the big dike are lovely. The view could be monotonous in the countryside-dike for the waterside, road, field always to our left! However in the eastern and southern sectiOn you are not next to the water so that changes the dimensiOn. The east has a nice section up through marshland. The south as we did it was polder cycling.
Last edited by MrsHJ on 4 Sep 2018, 11:10pm, edited 4 times in total.

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foxyrider
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Location: Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Re: A Holland-touring newbie seeks wisdom...

Postby foxyrider » 4 Sep 2018, 10:58pm

Do buy a map/maps, IME you could end up going well wrong otherwise, a lot of junctions don't have a signpost to help. Apart from busy times in the towns you'll likely have the lanes almost to yourself.

There may be bike crime but providing you take reasonable precaution you shouldn't have an issue - just avoid the huge station bike parks!

I can't think of a more boring tour than around the See but if that floats your boat so to say. Going up to Harlingen and maybe a trip out to Terschelling is good. The Windmill Museum i'm told is excellent, its on my list of 'to do's'.

Instead of going north you could go south, Delft, Den Haag, Gouda etc along with a some good museums and stonking dune riding!
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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Joined: 10 Jan 2014, 8:56pm

Re: A Holland-touring newbie seeks wisdom...

Postby Psamathe » 4 Sep 2018, 11:01pm

My advice ... refer to the country as the Netherlands. Something I learnt years ago and I had a couple of people thank me and comment “I live in the Netherlands not Holland”

‘Cos I expect your distance will be taking you outside Holland.

Ian

HobbesOnTour
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Joined: 20 Feb 2017, 5:12pm

Re: A Holland-touring newbie seeks wisdom...

Postby HobbesOnTour » 4 Sep 2018, 11:22pm

Northumberlander wrote:1. Does anyone know whether the Zuiderzee route is a) revised yet, and b) easy to follow right now?! Is winging it re route-finding likely to cause me any significant problems?

Given the efficiency of the Dutch, I can't imagine a scenario where the route has been changed and the signs haven't. You'll be fine. As for maps or GPS, you won't need them. The route will be well signposted and easy to follow. If you want to wander off route, or find your accommodation, they might come in handy then. Or just use your phone.
Northumberlander wrote:2. Are there any Holland-experts who would advocate a different/better/quieter route for a 400-500km 5-day circular tour? (I need to start and finish at the ferry terminal in Ijmuiden!) I'm riding midweek, and I'm hoping for a quiet ride, not dodging other bikes all day long...

I did most of that route (stuck to the coast on the eastern side) in february.... and I really enjoyed it. There's some lovely towns with a lot of history on the western side.
Northumberlander wrote:3. I've registered with the vriendenopdefiets.nl organisation, and plan to use it for accommodation along my route. It looks interesting, intriguing even - does it have a 'good reputation'? I can find very little information other than on their own site... I have the book listing all the available accommodation, but it's 'pot luck' whether you pick a beauty! And of course Tripadvisor has ruined the thrill of potluck accommodation, in the modern age :wink:

Never used it - I prefer to camp - but I've never heard anything bad.
Northumberlander wrote:4. I'm surprised to read the same message on many sites, that bike theft seems to be a significant problem, even in such a bike-friendly culture. That has me just a little worried. Is this something to worry about - everywhere? I hope to explore some of the towns I will pass through, on foot for an hour or two perhaps. Is it safe to leave the bike, locked up? What do tourists in the Netherlands do about bike baggage? Lugging it around town will be a pain... (I know what you're thinking; but yes, I'll have a large saddlebag, and a bar bag.)

Theft is an issue in the bigger cities, especially for high spec bikes, but apart from Amsterdam, you won't be in too many big cities. Just wheel or cycle the bike around. There's bike paths everywhere in the towns. Most bars/cafes/restaurants have outside terraces where you can keep an eye on it. As for your gear? Keep your valuables with you.
Northumberlander wrote:5. Can anyone advise which towns along the Zuiderzee route are 'must-visit', even if it means diverting from the LF route in order to do so?

One man's "must visit" is another man's "meh". You'll hit some interesting places on the western coast. You'll go close to Zwolle on the eastern side - that's a nice town. I'd recommend Arnhem and Utrecht as good places to visit, although they're a bit out of your way. Lots of WW2 history in and around Arnhem. If history is your thing you could pick out a nice route from Arnhem, via Wageningen (where the German surrender was signed and on to Utrecht.
Northumberlander wrote:Perhaps I will stop now, as I'm probably asking too many questions in one post already! Thanks for your patience. And any wisdom.

Navigation is pretty easy, most people speak English to an excellent level, there's cycle paths everywhere..... you're in for a great trip!
Enjoy

Jezrant
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Joined: 14 Dec 2007, 8:11pm

Re: A Holland-touring newbie seeks wisdom...

Postby Jezrant » 4 Sep 2018, 11:27pm

I'm not a Holland expert especially as I don't speak the language, but I did that route about ten years ago, and I enjoyed it. Can't advise on current status though. The ride across the Afsluitdijk felt interminable. There's some monument halfway across that seemed to be a pilgrimage site for the Dutch. The route is particularly interesting if you're into how the Dutch created the strange landscape. Zwolle is nice. Harlaam is worth the detour. I've also done a couple of other multi-day tours in Holland. TBH, I've enjoyed them all and can't say any one was particularly better than another although the Frisian islands further up the coast are beautiful, and the interior to the east seemed to me generally quieter. These trips were just me and a Dutch friend who did all of the organising (I'd done the same for him for a trip across the Outer Hebrides and another around the Yorkshire Dales). We always used the cyclist-friendly accommodation of vriendenopdefiets.nl. Never had a bad experience with that but they do vary a lot from really exceptional to rather ordinary, mostly the latter in my experience. I was often surprised by how little English was spoken in the countryside and at some of the accommodation. We also often left our luggage on our bikes when visiting places during the day and never had a problem with that either, however if it's something in town you want to see like a museum, you can always leave your bike at the bike parking at the train station if worried about theft. I hasten to add that we always toured Holland with anonymous-looking Dutch bikes with pretty shabby-looking luggage. :lol:
Here's a photo from that tour of my Dutch friend, our fancy equipment, and the host at one of those Dutch cyclist B&B's. This one was a particularly beautiful home, can't remember where it was off the top of my head, but we had lucked out on that one.
Image Attachments
Dutch cyclist welcome B and b.jpg

m-gineering
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Joined: 23 May 2015, 12:01pm

Re: A Holland-touring newbie seeks wisdom...

Postby m-gineering » 5 Sep 2018, 11:15am

Northumberlander wrote:In three weeks from now, I'll ride 60 miles from home to the DFDS ferry terminal at North Tyne, and take the overnight ferry to Ijmuiden. I'm grabbing the opportunity for a short five-day circular tour in Holland before sailing/riding home again. I'm looking forward to my first tour 'abroad' in many years!
and I'm hoping for a quiet ride, not dodging other bikes all day long...


Holidays will be over, and unless it is a particular sunny weekend, it should be quiet enough everywhere outside the 'randstad' cycling wise. But fit a bell for overtaking. Noisy nearby motor traffic might spoil the ride though if the track follows a main road too close.
I'd be more inclined to ride east. Higher grounds and sandy soil will be more pleasant in September than the damp below sealevel country side of Noord Holland. If you want to use LF routes, you'll need a map to find it again when you've missed a sign
Marten

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

brynpoeth
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Re: A Holland-touring newbie seeks wisdom...

Postby brynpoeth » 5 Sep 2018, 11:24am

The cycle museum at Nijmegen and the railway museum at Utrecht are very good, there is a book town Bredevoort

I think NL is like UK, there are so many interesting towns, no need to visit big famous ones, Amsterdam is overrun with tourists and in a big town there is far too much to see, small towns are much better

You could probably leave your luggage in a locker at the train station

Some modern towns are interesting too if you like that sort of thing :wink:
Cycling-of course, but it is far better on a Gillott

lhaberman
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Joined: 5 Sep 2018, 3:46pm

Re: A Holland-touring newbie seeks wisdom...

Postby lhaberman » 5 Sep 2018, 3:50pm

Hi,
Have a great trip!
I don't know about your route, but cycling in the Netherlands is fantastic! The bike roads are safe and people are very friendly.
vriendenopdefiets.nl is great. We also used booking.com
I highly recommend mapping out your trip on google maps (click the bike route). It's really useful and gives a few options for routes and lets you know about elevation (not much in the Netherlands) too!
Have fun!

Northumberlander
Posts: 13
Joined: 31 Aug 2010, 5:09pm

Re: A Holland-touring newbie seeks wisdom...

Postby Northumberlander » 5 Sep 2018, 5:33pm

Thank you, all, very much. Some really helpful insights there. I was completely oblivious to the possibility of causing offence by calling it 'Holland'! I wonder how and why the name associated with just two provinces became so widely used when referring the whole country... But I shall avoid that mistook now.

The advice to head east is also interesting. I live (and cycle most days) by England's most beautiful coastline (imho 8) ) here in Northumberland, and so cycling by the Zuiderzee doesn't hold any specific attraction. I chose it mainly because of easy route planning and (hopefully) easy navigation. But if navigation around the whole cycle network is as easy as many folks say it is, then perhaps that's not so important. (And I've read about cycling across the long dikes being 'boring' or 'interminable' - not what I'm looking for!) Heading inland, away from below-sea-level stretches of exposed water with potentially strong winds does carry some attraction. I may go back to the route-planners. A tour incorporating a loop around Amsterdam - Apeldoorn - Arnhem - Gouda - Ijmuiden might work. If anyone has any experiences of cycling in those areas, I'd be glad to hear - enthusiasm or caution!

Thanks again for your helpful contributions. Much appreciated.

Psamathe
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Joined: 10 Jan 2014, 8:56pm

Re: A Holland-touring newbie seeks wisdom...

Postby Psamathe » 5 Sep 2018, 5:54pm

Northumberlander wrote:Thank you, all, very much. Some really helpful insights there. I was completely oblivious to the possibility of causing offence by calling it 'Holland'! I wonder how and why the name associated with just two provinces became so widely used when referring the whole country... But I shall avoid that mistook now......

They wont be offended to the point of causing issues. So don't worry too much. It's a weird thing and I wonder if it's a generational thing where people of my generation had the "Holland" being used when younger so find it harder to switch - do today's youngsters default to Holland or Netherlands.

Main one I remember was a campsite reception person (big campsite in a city) where I fortunately did use Netherlands but my being British prompted him to raise the issue and comment along the lines of "... I live in the Netherlands". But I'm one of those people who chat with people rather than just focusing on the matter in hand (e.g. getting/booking in to the campsite).

Ian

willem jongman
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Re: A Holland-touring newbie seeks wisdom...

Postby willem jongman » 5 Sep 2018, 6:01pm

I cannot repeat it often enough: plan your routes with the Fietsersbond routeplanner: https://en.routeplanner.fietsersbond.nl/ The interface works in a number of different languages, including English. You can specify what type of route you want (fast, nature etc) and you can download the gpx tracks. This is what I do (I am Dutch) and I do discover new things all the time.

Northumberlander
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Joined: 31 Aug 2010, 5:09pm

Re: A Holland-touring newbie seeks wisdom...

Postby Northumberlander » 5 Sep 2018, 6:03pm

willem jongman wrote:I cannot repeat it often enough: plan your routes with the Fietsersbond routeplanner: https://en.routeplanner.fietsersbond.nl/ The interface works in a number of different languages, including English. You can specify what type of route you want (fast, nature etc) and you can download the gpx tracks. This is what I do (I am Dutch) and I do discover new things all the time.


Yep, that's the one I'm constantly poring over!

Psamathe
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Re: A Holland-touring newbie seeks wisdom...

Postby Psamathe » 5 Sep 2018, 6:27pm

Northumberlander wrote:.... (And I've read about cycling across the long dikes being 'boring' or 'interminable' - not what I'm looking for!) Heading inland, away from below-sea-level stretches of exposed water with potentially strong winds does carry some attraction. I may go back to the route-planners. A tour incorporating a loop around Amsterdam - Apeldoorn - Arnhem - Gouda - Ijmuiden might work. If anyone has any experiences of cycling in those areas, I'd be glad to hear - enthusiasm or caution!
....

(I'm not an expert and can only comment based on my recent experiences)
I did the Houtribdijk but not the Afsluitdijk (I was surprised that the Houtribdijk was only a couple of miles shorter than the Afsluitdijk) and I expected it to be really dull, but I actually enjoyed the ride; maybe because it was a sunny calm day and there were quite a few boats out. And they are not that long anyway.

One thing I did find in southern Netherlands was traffic. I was on dedicated cycle paths and my comment might relate more because I was using routes created by my Garmin locally on the GPS and particularly to the northers part of the area you mention I seemed to end up doing a lot of riding alongside busy roads with continual traffic. I don't know if it was just because it is such a densely populated area, just because of my departure/destinations or because of the routing algorithms my GPS used to create routes.

My favourite areas were the southern Zeeland e.g. Middleburg heading east then up to Arnhem and Friesland. But (big but) that is a personal thing from a month spent cycling round the country. And things like nice sunny weather in one area vs miserable weather in a different area or nice campsites vs real dumps can colour opinions and are unrelated to the cycling.

Another thing I found (mainly in S) was that I'd create a route and set it to go via a town that maybe looked an interesting detour and I'd not look at where I'd be cycling through and on occasions I'd end-up cycling through miles and miles of built-up areas (housing, business parks, more housing, retail ...). On one ride I had 18 miles continuous built-up areas. So in creating your routes do look at what you are cycling through.

Ian

willem jongman
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Re: A Holland-touring newbie seeks wisdom...

Postby willem jongman » 5 Sep 2018, 8:25pm

That is precisely why I recommended the Fietsersbond routeplanner.