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Ideas for self-guided multi-day bicycle ride

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Ideas for self-guided multi-day bicycle ride

My second trip to Amsterdam will be next spring, May 3rd for about 12 days.

My partner and I would like to rent bikes and ride about 150+ Km in about 3 or 4 days. I want to include a couple villages in the Waterlands. I want to continue in a loop that could include several cities and towns such as Haarlem, Leiden, Rotterdam, Gouda, Utrecht....These towns are just thoughts but seem like they would make a nice loop ride.

I can't seem to find much information about multi-day ride planning.

Any route ideas or suggestions will be welcome.

Amsterdam, The...
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1. Re: Ideas for self-guided multi-day bicycle ride

A nice way to plan your route is to download the free program Basecamp from Garmin: www.garmin.com/en-US/shop/downloads/basecamp

In combination with the free bike map from openstreetmap you can plan your trip: http://www.openfietsmap.nl/

This works best in combination with a (Garmin) outdoor GPS device, but you can print a description of the route you make with Basecamp as well.

An other option is to use "fiets-knooppunten" or "bike nodes". You plan your route from node to node, and along the way at the intersections you will find signposts with the node's number and directions to other nodes. See e.g. http://www.fietseropuit.nl/



Amsterdam, The...
posts: 10,065
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2. Re: Ideas for self-guided multi-day bicycle ride

I posted detailed suggestions about biking in the Netherlands a few times, perhaps you can find it. I often do bike rides in the countryside or to other cities, or multiple day bike holidays.

Main issues for now:

- how do you plan on transporting your luggage? BikeCity rent out special hybrid bikes with panniers, not many others do. (I believe MacBike has some but not sure). BikeCity have a 7 day minimum as far as I know. You could rent ordinary bikes (but will get sore bum and wrists much quicker on those) and buy cheap panniers at HEMA.

- cities are what i try to avoid on bike holidays because bike theft is a problem, and villages and countryside tend to be so much nicer for biking.

- for routes you could do a circle, or a long distance one (LF-route) signposted in both directions, or use Knooppunten (numbered junctions). You can start in one city and endin another one that has a train station and take your bike on a train outside rush hours, for 6 euros extra per bike. More explanations about the scenic route systems in my other answers... I can try to look them up for you.

- you can sleep cheaply at Vrienden op de Fiets (friends on bikes) if you become a member beforehand. www.vriendenopdefiets.nl, there is a button for English. Great way of staying with locals for cheap and seeing the way they live (Dutch culture!).

- if you're not a trained biker I'd stick to 50km per day; on a map that will look like about 35km but you need more if you do scenic routes. You don't want to ride alongside smelly motorways (fastest but boring route). You probably want to do scenic routes and see forests, heathland, villages, farms, meadows, rivers, lakes.

- you could decide to book a Bike & Barge tour which includes bikes and takes you along scenic routes and past various highlights and saves you a lot of planning and figuring out bike signposting systems and maps.




Amsterdam, The...
posts: 10,065
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3. Re: Ideas for self-guided multi-day bicycle ride

P.S. In our super flat country the wind is a major factor. They say that biking with head wind is harder work than biking uphill even.

I always look which way the wind blows that day and try to choose my route accordingly. This means you can't plan accommodation or specific routes way in advance but I don't mind. It is much MUCH nicer to bike with the wind in your back.

Also, don't factor out rain. Cycling in the rain is NOT fun. It's best to wait and see what the weather forecasts are like a few days beforehand, and only then decide whether you're going to spend that much time cycling.

If the weather is nice it can be an amazing way of seeing and experiencing the country. If the weather is stormy or rainy it can be hell.




Amsterdam, The...
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4. Re: Ideas for self-guided multi-day bicycle ride

Since you didn't respond I won't bother looking up those other threads in which I gave loads of info about self-guided bike trips.

Have fun!

posts: 7,668
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5. Re: Ideas for self-guided multi-day bicycle ride

Hi Cecile....I wasn't ignoring you I just haven't had much time on TA the last few days.

I did look at the links provided in #1, thanks for that.

I had thought a little about luggage. I am thinking we will store luggage at CS and bike with backpacks. I think 2.5 to 3 full days and 2 nights will be about right.

I would agree that we should avoid cities and stay in the villages and countryside. I'd like to ride thru Waterland, farm fields, farm houses and windmills.

While I found the Dutch very pleasant and easy to converse with I think we will be staying in hotels. I like privacy at night. Will we have a problem getting bikes into a room?

We are bikers here at home and are very comfortable on a bike. Maybe you can come to Iowa and ride our RAGBRAI ride. http://ragbrai.com/ People come from all over the world to ride across the state.

I'm not familiar with Bike and Barge?

I have read many of your posts in the past, Cecile. Thank you for your valuable information. There is so much to read and take in.

Edited: 7:22 pm, November 12, 2013
Amsterdam, The...
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6. Re: Ideas for self-guided multi-day bicycle ride

Taking the bikes into your hotel room could be a problem. Just get a good lock!

Amsterdam, The...
posts: 10,065
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7. Re: Ideas for self-guided multi-day bicycle ride

Ah, now the picture is becoming clearer.

I would not recommend cycling with backpacks. You can buy cheap panniers to go on the back of any bike at HEMA or other shops. http://www.hema.nl/winkel?searchtext=fietstas&searchlocation=%2F%2Fnlhema%2Fnl_NL%2Fpnl_product_type%3E{books%3Bexoot%3Bshop}

Even though they may not be very streamlined like the real sporty panniers, it will save quite some energy as opposed to having a backpack on the whole time; not only the weight can become a nuisance but the warmth of it too (it blocking air circulation).

Note that if you rent the most basic bike in the Netherlands it will be without gears, and backward pedaling break (no handbreaks).

You'd probably prefer at least 3 gears (again, wind is a big factor!), and handbrakes... and a rather more sporty model on which you can distribute your weight a bit more (not sitting upright on your bum only > sore bum very quickly!). Look at BikeCity and MacBike for bikes other than the basic ones.

BikeCity has these with panniers: bikecity.nl/foto_album/photos/hybridefiets_0… (one week minimum)

At MacBike the 'hybrid tour bikes' could be comfortable. http://macbike.nl/en/bike-rental/

As for routes: we have various very well-developed SCENIC signposting systems.

Knoopunten was already mentioned (junctions). Especially practical for shorter rides, or to help you find where you are on a map, or in case you want to get away from another fix route.

LF-routes are long distance routes signposted in both directions (for example LF7a, and LF7b), some are over 300km long, but you can start at any point along the way. Many of the 'knooppunten' also follow LF-routes for parts.

Then there are circular day routes, or circular multiple day routes.

Personally I prefer a combination of maps and signposted LF-routes + knooppunten in case I want to digress from the LF.

I believe the link in post #1 shows you the FASTEST (boring) route, not the SCENIC one.

More info about signposting systems, scenic biking, panniers etc. in this thread: tripadvisor.com/…0

Note that Waterland is only small by comparison, I do daytrips there and back from Amsterdam. Nice towns to stop by are Durgerdam, Ransdorp, Holysloot, Broek in Waterland, Monnickendam, Marken (touristy)... and you can go a bit further to very touristy Volendam as well.

In the thread above someone asked about Drenthe which is an amazing area to cycle in. Veluwe (around Arnhem and such) is also really beautiful, and the medieval Hanze towns are great to incorporate in a multiple day ride. Of those Hanze towns, Deventer, Zwolle and Kampen have train stations so that you can start or end there, using trains to get to / from that point with your bike. http://www.hanzesteden.info/en/home/

For example I did a 4 day bike holiday once from Assen via Beilen, Zwolle, Hattem and Deventer to Arnhem, taking it nice and easy. On the map it will look like quite a stretch but we only did about 50-60km (on our bike counters, not as the crow flies!) per day. To start this holiday we took a train from Amsterdam to Assen with our bikes; and a train back from Arnhem to Amsterdam at the end 4 days later.

You could incorporate some cities like Utrecht or Gouda but I think the countryside and smaller villages are much nicer to bike through, and safer to leave your bike (and panniers) on the street while you eat lunch or have drinks. In a city you'd have to have a constant view on your bikes. In small towns you can easily just lock them with one lock and leave the panniers on the back (but take valuables with you). Nobody there will steal your dirty laundry. In cities, not so sure... :-)

This thread may also give some more info that I didn't put in the other thread. tripadvisor.com/…0

And again, I'd just like to stress the big difference between SCENIC route systems which zig zag a bit through forests, heatland, meadows, cute towns (green borders on the signs) versus the FASTEST signposting systems (red borders on the signs); the latter ones often being boring straight bike lanes alongside smelly motorways.

As for hotels, I see your point. But I don't think many will let you bring the bike into the room.

Choose hotels in smaller towns with less bike theft, and lock them well. Some hotels may have a safer area for bikes.

You could also consider renting apartments through Airbnb. That is what my friend and I did on our last bike holiday, for one night in Tilburg (and the other nights through Vrienden op de Fiets, and staying with family). An apartment gives you freedom to make your own meals and sleep in if you want. And maybe even do some laundry if there is a washing machine.

Oh - Bike & Barge aparently is an organized holiday by which your luggage goes on a boat, and you bike from A to B, the next day to C etc... and every time the boat is there in the evening so you sleep on the boat. You can google it. They seem to have really nice routes past many highlights.

Biking in Iowa sounds like fun too!

Hope this helps,



Edited: 8:05 am, November 13, 2013
Amsterdam, The...
posts: 10,065
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8. Re: Ideas for self-guided multi-day bicycle ride

P.S. At Vrienden op de Fiets addresses you will always have your own room. http://www.vriendenopdefiets.nl/en/

And breakfast is included.

In the evening you are supposed to eat outside (in town or where ever), although a few of those addresses give you your own little guesthouse even, with a kitchen and all. Most of the hosts will only chat with you for an hour or so after you arrived (early evening); then you are supposed to do your own thing, and you have your own room. In the morning you eat breakfast, some hosts chat a bit, others stay in a different room and leave you be. It also depends on how much you want to interact.

It's very cheap compared to hotels, only €19 p/p including breakfast. Personally I like mixing it a bit: a night at Vrienden op de Fiets (indeed, a bit of a social investment, but also really fun to see someone's home and way of life), apartment, hotel... sometimes even camping.

Edited: 8:10 am, November 13, 2013
posts: 7,668
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9. Re: Ideas for self-guided multi-day bicycle ride

Thanks so much for the information. The panniers are a great idea. The scenic routes are the ones we will ride with maybe a side to Gouda or another city. My laptop seems to be having issues this morning. I can't do much research on my phone. Just to much hassle. I will be doing more research and asking more questions but may need to buy a new computer first.

Edited: 10:33 am, November 13, 2013
Amsterdam, The...
posts: 10,065
reviews: 70
10. Re: Ideas for self-guided multi-day bicycle ride

If you're going to Gouda then definitely stop in the cute town of Oudewater.

Starting in Amsterdam you can follow the Amstel river, then from the bottom of Ronde Hoep you can ride alongside a long canal in pretty meadows (only slightly monotonous). Then Woerden (as far as I remember) and then follow meandering streams to get to Oudewater. This can be done in one day without exerting yourself too much (that is, if there is no strong wind). I liked that ride.

On to Gouda would perhaps be a bit much within that same day.

In that area Reeuwijkse Plassen are beautiful lakes and there are some other cute towns.