Lincolnshire 2000
Brighton HPV world championships 2001
Cyclevision 2002 / 2003
Netherlands 2003
Velorama 2005
Land's End to John O'Groats 2006
Netherlands 2010





Also see:

The Dutch Bike Bits blog includes comparisons and reviews of cycling components.

The Hembrow Cycling Holidays blog has stories about cycle routes in Drenthe.

We organize Study Tours to show off the best cycling infrastructure in the world.

Holiday 2003 - The Netherlands

In 2003 we were looking for somewhere pleasant to go on holiday with the children, then aged 7 and 9. We like cycling, but it can be very difficult to cycle with children in the UK due to the ever present threat of traffic.

Having made a few trips to the Netherlands previously, sometimes in order to go cycle racing, it seemed a good idea to take kids there. Not only is their infrastructure suitable for the fast cyclist, it's also suitable for the smallest of children.

We were to cycle and take trains within the Netherlands, but when we looked at different ways of getting there we surprisingly came to the conclusion that the cheapest and most environmentally friendly form of transport open to us was to fly as the train was rather indirect and ferries use an enormous amount of fuel. Finding bikes in the Netherlands is no problem as it is possible to hire bikes at railway stations in any city.

The plan was to drive from Cambridge to Stansted, fly with Ryanair to Eindhoven for a couple of days, take the train to Haarlem for a couple of days and then take the train to Groningen and spend a couple of days there. It was then possible to take Ryanair directly back from Groningen to Stansted in order to get home again.

Wednesday 6th August 2003

The day started very early as we had a flight at 7 am which was to arrive at 9 am in Eindhoven.

Having arrived at Eindhoven we took the guided bus to the Centraal station in Eindhoven where we hired bikes.

We rode from the station south through Eindhoven, stopping at Genneper Parken for the kids to play and to visit the Historial Open Air Museum.

It was a scorching hot day.

Left to Right. Myself, Alice in the stocks, Both children in a reconstruction of an old school, Eliza cycling.

Left to right: Eliza riding towards Valkenswaard, Alice and Judy riding, Eliza and Alice in Valkenswaard outside the Stayokay youth hostel.

Just beside the hostel was an outside fun pool which was a great place to cool down.

Thursday 7th August 2003

Having had a good night's sleep in the hostel we set off today to ride to Belgium. We had heard of a trappist monastery with a brewery which was just over the border so we went looking for it. We found the brewery and the beer was marvellous.

The children didn't really have beer, but they thought it was fun to pretend for the photo.

The Valkenswaard hostel was very comfortable and I'd recommend it.

Friday 8th / Saturday 9th August 2003

On Friday we rode back into Eindhoven to the train station. We found that Zomertoer tickets were perfect for us. They were fabulously inexpensive, being around €50 for unlimited train travel for both adults and both children for 2 days. This would take us to Haarlem today and then to Groningen the day after tomorrow.

Haarlem is a pretty town to the west of Amsterdam with many museums and beautiful buildings. It is near the coastal town of Zandvoort.

We didn't hire bikes in Haarlem and walked around instead. This was a bit of a mistake as it was rather a long way from the centre out to the Stayokay hostel and we spent a lot of time just moving around.

Pretty Haarlem street... Alice met Appelflap - she wanted one from first seeing it... Eliza by a canal...

In Haarlem we visited a couple of different museums. The weather was pretty dreadful for most of our time in Haarlem, overcast and a bit foggy. It turned out that this was due to being so close to the sea. When we went to Groningen we found that was just as sunny as Eindhoven had been.

Sunday 10th August

Today we left Haarlem on our way to Groningen. However, the train went through Amsterdam and we stopped there for lunch and to visit the Anne Frank Huis. It's a very moving place to visit which I really can't do justice to. Their website is very good.

From Amsterdam we took the train to Groningen. While waiting in the Centraal Station, a family asked us to accompany their child to a village just short of Groningen itself. It turned out that a family could take additional children in addition to the 2 covered by the Zomertoer ticket for €1 a child - hence the motivation to convince a stranger to look after your child on the train.

The guard didn't seem particularly interested in why two English parents would have 3 children - one of whom speaks Dutch much better than the rest of the family.

Luckily for us, on arrival at Groningen the weather was once again fabulous. We hired bikes at the station, found our hostel (The Simplon hostel - an independent as Stayokay don't have a hostel in Groningen. It was very good) and then set off for the day to ride around and see the countryside.

Various photos of riding along paths by the canals...

We stopped for a drink then went to a local supermarket to buy supplies for lunch and ate them in the sunshine by the side of one of the paths through the countryside.

On returning to Groningen we found a restaurant somewhere near the Grote Markt (the main square in the centre) and then went back to the hostel for the night.

There was a paddling pool at the hostel, which bizarrely had signs advising guests that smoking was not permitted underwater. The wall looks a bit rough in the photo. It's painted quite well, and the photo does not do it justice. The inside walls of the hostel were similar painted.

Monday 11th of August

Today we visited a kinderboederij (child's farm. It's sort of a petting zoo, and they seem to exist in every Dutch city) and also went up the Martinitoren (Martini Tower), the highest church tower in Groningen. It's got nothing whatever to do with the alcoholic drink with a similar name, but is the tower connected to the Martinikerk.

Pictures of goats at the kinderboederij (someone likes goats, so we mainly got photos of goats) and the children posing with a statue of a man helping his child to learn to ride a bike.

Climbing the martinitoren. Yes, it's a long way up. Pressing buttons which made the various different bell sounds.

Views from the top of the tower. You get a great view of Groningen from the 97 metre high tower.

And now our holiday was over. After these few busy days we flew back to Stansted from Groningen Airport.

Fast forward to the present time and we now live in Assen, a lovely city just south of Groningen and run cycling holidays from this location.

Note that Ryanair no longer fly to Groningen Eelde. However, VLM now provide a service from London City airport to Groningen Eelde.

Other webpages on this site which could be of interest:

The bicycles index which contains other ride stories, bicycle reviews etc.

The 2001 HPV world championships in Brighton.
An adventure when a group of us went cycle racing in The Netherlands.
The Dutch national bicycle museum.
An earlier cycle tour with Judy and David in Lincolnshire.

Other links:
Cycling holidays in the Netherlands.
Cycling conditions in the Netherlands.
Eindhoven official website, Haarlem official website, Groningen official website.
Stayokay youth hostels which are in many places across the Netherlands, but not in Groningen.
Simplon Youth Hostel in Groningen.
Anne Frank Huis
Official martinikerk website.

Take a look at Bike baskets which start their journey to you by bicycle
Netherlands Cycling Holiday