Leisure Cycling Holidays In HollandPosted on February 4, 2014
Unless you have been living a hermitic existence recently you may have noticed that cycling has become a rather uber-cool pastime in the UK. Once the preserve of children the village vicar and that rather eccentric woman from number 23, everyone is now re-discovering the simple joy of riding a bike in the open air. Cycle shops have never been so busy and everywhere you look people are riding along on sleek, comfortable, lightweight bicycles that bare scant resemblance to the heavy, creaking machines of yesteryear. The sport’s renewed popularity is attributed by many to Team GB’s cycling exploits in Beijing and London but an increased awareness of the health benefits and huge improvements in cycling clothing and the bikes themselves have also contributed to cycling’s meteoric revival.
Given this renewed interest in pedal power, it’s not surprising that cycling holidays are also becoming more popular as more and more holidaymakers swap their traditional fly-and-flop holiday for something altogether more rewarding. It’s a common misconception that cycling holidays are designed solely for Bradley Wiggins wannabes, lycra clad athletes with racing snake physiques, careering across the countryside in colour coordinated pelotons scattering chickens and children in their wake. While those holidays are available, a more relaxed, accessible genre of cycling holiday designed for those who like to take things slightly easier, also exists.
Leisure cycling holidays are all about comfortable bikes and beautiful routes, fresh air and exercise. On these holidays one can take the time to stop for a coffee or to explore that gorgeous little village a bit more, before pedalling on to the next night’s stop. Lycra is optional but not mandatory and your favourite gardening shorts and some trainers will do just fine if that’s how you prefer to roll.
You can bring your own bike if you like, although the ones offered locally will be perfect for the job and equipped with useful stuff like waterproof pannier, odometer etc. Comprehensive route notes and maps as well as a number to call if you require assistance are all provided on arrival, as well as reservation vouchers for each of the hotels you are booked into along the route. And that’s it, the following morning you set off on your self-guided cycling holiday adventure.
So where to go for that all-important first foray into leisure cycling? Well, you could do a lot worse than take a short hop across the North Sea to Holland.
When it comes to leisure cycling holidays, Holland has to be in a class of its own for choice, cycling infrastructure and convenience. The Dutch love cycling and the bicycle is an integrated part of everyday life in this forward thinking country.
25,000 kms of well signposted, dedicated bike paths allow cyclists to go just about anywhere without venturing onto a road. Hills are a leisure cyclist’s natural enemy and blissfully lacking on most rides in Holland – a ride through the Dutch countryside will always be on nice level terrain. The landscape may be flat but it’s certainly not featureless, in the springtime the extensive bulb fields put on a stunning display of colour and symmetry that is so bright it could be computer generated – Our Tulip Fields Cycling Holidays focus on this annual phenomenon and run from from late March to early May. Traditional windmills work tirelessly all year round with the dykes and sea defences to keep the lush re-claimed land dry and fertile. The beautiful old towns with their canal networks and narrow townhouses are a joy to explore by bike or on foot. The Classic Dutch Cycling Holiday is a great way to discover Holland by bike.
Being a country of waterways and canals, Holland also offers a unique style of cycling holiday aboard river cruisers and converted barges. These Bike and Boat holidays allow cyclists to see more of the country than would be possible by bike power alone and are becoming very popular. Your barge follows a 7-night route through the Dutch countryside; dropping you and your fellow cyclists off somewhere new each day for enjoyable and varied leisurely rides. The Southern Holland Bike and Boat Holiday showcases many of the country’s most iconic sights, including Amsterdam, the windmills of Kinderdijk and the pottery workshops of Delft. Alternatively you may be attracted to the border crossing cycle cruise between Amsterdam and Bruges.
Holland is a relatively small country and most tours start in or near Amsterdam, which is easily reached from the UK. Schiphol Airport, just 20 minutes from the city centre, is well served by low cost carriers and the Eurostar via Brussels is another convenient option.
Watch this space for the low-down on leisure cycling holidays in other countries in Europe or get in touch with us at Flexitreks to discuss your own cycling holiday.