The Benelux countries are great for cycling and throw in a French river valley and a converted German railway line bike path and you are set up for 5 great days of cycling.
The ride will begin and end in The Netherlands …but the first thing to say is that if you are under the impression this part of the world is all flat, you would be mistaken. Each day of the ride is planned out to be somewhere in there region of 70 miles (just a little shorter on the final day) with mostly rolling terrain and a few proper hills.
This trip is offered with a deviation from the conventional holiday format. You will be provided with assistance to do the things that are complicated if you were riding independently – but we’d rather not get involved (and charge) for the parts that add little value. We will supply the fully researched route, transfer your luggage and have a vehicle on-call that can rescue you if you should encounter unforeseen circumstances. There are other cycling holidays that support you in a more hands-on fashion, but you will have to be clear that you sign-up not really expecting to need that kind of support. We don’t have a vehicle that will follow you all the way, but we’ll be there to call upon if, for example, you have a mechanical drama or if you have an injury.
As noted, we have set this tour up to be closer to a support service for independent cyclists rather than a fully packaged trip.
The route will link towns that are nice places to visit along a route that is good for recreational cycling. The average day is about 70 miles and we generally try to go through a town or two that have café’s or other food options.
How will it work
Each day we’ll agree collection times for bags at your hotel and your luggage will be dropped to your next hotel. We’ll give you a quick briefing about the day ahead. The route won’t be signposted but everyone will be supplied with digital route files …if you haven’t tried it, it’s pretty easy to load a course to many Garmin models (or similar products) and then you get prompted at every turn or can follow a map. We are not going to have a vehicle waiting for you at every town and every hill, but if you encounter a problem, then we’ll be able to come and help you.
It is important that you arrive with a bike in good working order and fully serviced. We are not travelling with a dedicated bike mechanic, but we’ll help you wherever we can. We will carry spares and we shouldn’t ever be too far from a bike shop. A support vehicle has to be for the things you didn’t anticipate and we’ll expect you to ride with the essentials that you’d take on a normal day ride from home.
We will run a van of boxed bikes (proper bike box or just cardboard) from North East Scotland and will identify a couple of pick-up points on the way south. If this works for you, it means your bike will depart a day or so before you and will return a day after.
In a world where you can book a Hotel in France, in 30 seconds without trying to remember any High School French, there seems little to gain by adding a middle-man to make the booking and mark-up the fee! Mostly, you can get the same deal as us. Booking a single hotel for all doesn’t satisfy individual requirements, it you want to book the spa hotel or the budget option, then that’s fine, as long as we are all staying in the designated town, that’s easy – your bag will be delivered to your accommodation.
5 nations in 5 days, means we have to start close to a border! Our tour will begin in Maastricht in the Nethlands, which means probably means a flight/train journey for most. You can choose from flights to Amsterdam, Brussels or Dusseldorf. From both Amsterdam Schiphol and Brussels you can take a train from the airport and have to make one change for Maastricht. Amsterdam is probably the most likely route and if you go via the city there is a direct train to Maastricht.
The Cycling Bit
We will set up our support to help you if you are ill or injured or have mechanical issues, but are not running a sweep vehicle that will be there for you at every hill or during every rain shower. You have to sign up being confident that riding 70-75 miles for multiple days is within your capability. Your day can begin early, so you’ll have plenty of time to ride at your leisure. Some people do underestimate the terrain in this part of the world – it is not flat! Even the corner of the Netherlands we are in is not the stereotype Dutch terrain. This is not to say that it’s mountainous, as that’s not true either. The highest roads in the Ardennes area of Belgium are higher than the highest roads in Scotland. We’ll be riding up a hairpin bend climb in Luxembourg and there will be one (maybe two) of the climbs that you might have heard of if you follow the ‘Spring Classics’ bike races from the low countries. There are much easier sections along River Valleys or former railway line paths too.
Weather is a complete unknown. It’s not a route picked for pure sunshine, but we can probably expect weather like mid-summer UK. Seasonal averages are generally about 20C.
The Group Dynamic
We will provide essential services to all, but will not attempt to group 25 people together constantly for 5 days. Everyone can make their own decision about what time they depart each morning, although we’ll suggest a meeting point for those looking to link up. We’ll suggest a lunch rendezvous point – but again you can do your own thing. We do not expect everyone to eat dinner at the same time and the same place each night (you are free to do as you please), but again we’ll help link people up should they wish to.
At the time of writing, the UK is in the midst of leaving the EU We have to assume that really isn’t going to have big implications for future holidays in Europe, but there is an element of the unknown.