Holland Cycle Tour 2006

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Sunday 27 April 2014

Holland Cycle Tour 2006

Over the past 12 years we've spent a lot of time in Holland and, as Holland is famous for it's cycling, it's probably no big surprise that we've done a couple of cycle tours there ourselves.

Our short trip to Scotland
Our first trip to Holland that included a bike tour was in August 2006. After 4 consecutive summers travelling in Europe we found ourselves in 2006, having just moved to Durham that year, without any summer holiday plans. Our trip to Holland followed a very brief, unsuccessful trip to Scotland where we had just hopped in our Nissan Micra and headed north. We hadn't made any plans at all but threw a tent and some food in the car and strapped our bikes to the bike rack and off we went. To cut a long story short, after 2 nights spent sleeping in the Micra as all of the campings were full, getting drained dry by the Highland midge trying to cook dinner and just one lovely walk in the hills we decided to call it quits and headed home, Esther driving through the night, arriving back in Durham exhausted and vowing never to sleep in a Micra again.
On the road again

About a week later, still wanting a summer holiday, we flew to Holland instead and spent a fortnight there with Esther's family and squeezed in a short cycle tour. We didn't have any bikes with us but were able to borrow 2 sit up and beg, wide saddled, traditional Dutch bikes. Mine even had back peddle brakes! We loaded up the panniers Esther's grandad's had given us for our Norway trip, popped Badger the tent on the back rack using a bungee and left the Hague heading North.

The road to Texel (is windy!)
The west coast of Holland is part of the North Sea Cycle Route and you can ride the whole length of the country staying almost entirely within the sand dunes on the dune paths that form part of the country's incredible cycle network. We followed the path north, crossed the North Sea Canal and camped our first night near Castricum on a muncipal camping. The following day we made it right to the top of this stretch of coast and caught the boat to Texel, the closest island to the mainland.

Texel farm camping
We found a simple farm camping to spend the night and pitched up just as the sun was setting. The next morning we were greeted by a beautiful sunny day and we took the time to cycle around the Island stopping at the various beaches, including the incredible sand flats on the south part of the island where the tide retreats hundreds of metres of almost flat beach. We left it a bit late for the final boat to the mainland, so having packed up our gear that morning we found ourselves back at the same camping we'd started the day at. Never mind.

Sand flats of Texel
So far we had been lucky with the weather, but sure enough when we landed on the mainland the next morning it started to rain, but not before I'd got a puncture. Fortunately a passing helicopter airmen helped us out by taking us to the nearby air base, giving us food, fixing our puncture for us and giving us a tour of the base!

The kindness of strangers!
By now my bum was chafing from 3 days on a saddle as wide as my hips, so we made the decision to stick to the straighter roads and push on all the way back to the Hague. We made it, just, but 120 miles on a single speed bike almost killed me.

Even though we'd only been on road for 4 days we'd covered a lot of ground and accomplished a lot for an unplanned, impromptu excursion into the dunes.   Definitely a good trip for a long weekend in future as well.

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