Start at the Gouda cheese market and go in any direction for about 25 km (15 miles). This is the region where the Gouda cheese is produced. Today we’re cycling to a Gouda cheese farm in the village of Bodegraven for a proper tour. We begin at the cheese market of another Rhine village. Read more
I wake up early. All soreness, sleepiness and muscles aching is forgotten. It’s a brand new, extremely warm day and I am ready for the last stretch of my cycle holiday Holland. The cycle route from Nijkerk to Zwolle is about 60 km, the longest distance so far. I thought I would be exhausted, that I wouldn’t be able to even get out of bed. But, at the end it’s all about the mindset. Now that I’ve made it to Nijkerk, I’m not going to give up. Then again, there’s still a whisper in my head. If I don’t make it, it’s ok. I can park the bike at the station of Nunspeet and take the train to Zwolle.
Ok, I do have to mention that I made a miscalculation. I had not read the invitation of the Zwolle site visit. Thought that the overnight stay in Zwolle was on Friday evening. So I had planned to cycle from Nijkerk to Nunspeet on Thursday and then book an overnight stay in Nunspeet. Well, found that out on Wednesday, when I had the little set back and was all hesitative whether I should go on with the impulsive act or not.
Veluwe nature bike ride
Now there was no going back, and this was the best part of my cycle holiday Holland. Nijkerk is just a stone’s throw away from one of the most beautiful parts of the Veluwe. The forest of Speulder and Nunspeet is just fabulous. Enroute you pass the Staverden Estate which truly looks like a fairytale castle. Right next to it is a farmers shop, which they call ‘landscape’ shop here. They sell regional products and can give you loads of information on the area. You can also book a tour in a horse and wagon. Within no time you’re in Hattem – well, it took me a full day, 6 hours- but as you’re in the middle of nature with hardly any people around time really does fly.
River IJssel panoramics
In the cute little Hanseatic village of Hattem I have to find my way over the river again. Yesterday it was the Eem, today it is the better known Ijssel. This time I don’t get lost. Well, not until I reach the other side and Google Maps/ GPS lets me know I still need to cross the river. I’m confused, but determined to reach my goal. Via a detour I reach another Farmers Shop – Yes, by after my last post you know how much I like them-. Somehow, something lead me in this direction. I buy fruit & drinks and ask for directions. The shop assistant is very helpful, but has difficulty explaining how I can reach my destination. Interesting enough, she doesn’t give directions for the car, but immediately starts explaining the directions for the bike. A wave of hot air passes us as another client enters the airconditioned shop. She hears our conversation and offers to guide me in direction of the hotel. I’m saved!
The end of my cycle holiday Holland?
In another half hour I reach Hotel Lumen, right behind the football stadion. My room looks out on a huge outdoor swimming pool, which with this weather is very attractive. But, I’m exhausted and the bed looks terribly good. Another half hour later I’m in my fresh piji and a thunderstorm passes Zwolle. Hopefully it’s dry tomorrow. There quite some outdoor activities planned for the Zwolle site visit. And… I still have to think how I’ll get back to The Hague/ Delft/ Rijswijk. Well, home.
Was this a Holland cycle holiday? A long distance bike tour? A cycling adventure? I’m not quite sure how to call my 6 day journey by bike from Rijswijk (The Hague) to Zwolle & Lunteren. It was a challenge, something I had wanted to do for a long time, but somehow didn’t dare. Would I be able to pull it off? Cycle 200 kilometre on my regular city bike all alone? What if something would happen enroute? I was clearly waiting for a sign. Thé sign.
The foreign Velo-citizens who inspired me
The sign came during Velocity, the conference on cycling, cycles, cyclists – where else?-. I met American, English, Belgian who covered amazing distances by bike with the Velocity conference in Nijmegen as final destination. They told me what they saw on their bike ride; the brass bands of the small town communities, the typical Dutch traditional festivals, the new cycle and pedestrian bridge in Utrecht. They were so relaxed, made a long distance cycle tour seem so easy. All my ‘what ifs’ disappeared in thin air.
Long distance bike tour Netherlands
The week after, adrenaline ran through my veins. I wanted to make a long distance bike tour. At that very moment. If I would wait, I would postpone and everyone knows what happens if you postpone things. The weather was fantastic, for a full week. High temperatures, lots of sun. Quite exceptional for the Netherlands. Plus, I already had a destination: Zwolle. I had to be in the Hanseatic city on Friday for an inspiration day for event managers organised by Congresregio Zwolle. This was thé moment. The light for my longest cycle tour turned green!
The Dutch cycle adventure begins
The cycle route from Rijswijk to Gouda was familiar and a piece of cake. Or should I say: piece of cucumber, cherry tomatoes and loads of cherries? Let me explain. Around the Rottemeren, the lakes near Rotterdam, you’ll find greenhouses growing fruit & vegetables. Several greenhouses have placed vending machines in front of their doors. This way you can buy delicious cherries & strawberries and fresh cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes enroute for a great picnic.
Wake me up for a local product
You can wake me up in the middle of the night for a visit to a miller, a farmer or a fruit/ vegetable grower. The very reason for making the detour via the Rottemeren was to visit the cherry grower Jomajole in Moerkapelle. Passing through the centre of this town I was happily surprised to find a Farmershop selling local cheese, juices, jams, fruit & vegetables. Of course they had cherries, but I already had my mind set on a visit to the cherry farm.
Jomajole is a big greenhouse. To be honest I was expecting a garden full of cherry trees, but once I entered the greenhouse I felt like I was in the garden of Eden. Besides different types of cherries, Jomajole also grows peaches, figs and other fruit. Just looking at all those different fruit trees made my mouth water. So I bought some 500 grams of cherries and had a little picnic.
The cycle route Moerkapelle – Gouda via Waddinxveen is a bit disappointing. I love cycling throught the Dutch countryside and enjoy the silence, but around Waddinxveen are just roads, traffic and lots of noise. Was quite happy to reach Gouda, sit down in a lovely park near the train station and have my favourite stroopwafels. – Sorry, ate them all before I even thought of taking a picture-.
At Gouda train station I parked my bike, hopped into a train back home and smiled. I was already looking forward to the next day.
I had to meet him. The bike tour Delft countryside was already confirmed and I knew I was going to take my participants in the direction of Maasland, where he, Roel van Buuren had his farm Landlust. I met him at the International City Podium, just before he did his elevator pitch. He was so easy going, the date was fixed in no time.
There we were. The inspiring mother with her Dutch looking, daughter. Both amazingly fit. I had thought the bike ride would take much longer, but we were at farm Landlust within 45 minutes. Roel showed us his Jersey cows, told us everything about his biological farm and offered us some fresh, unpasteurised milk. It tasted amazing. We were amazed by the work Roel did all by himself and left completely impressed by his story.
In the next farm we did a photo hunt game, tried a very cool swing on the playground, petted some animals and enjoyed an ice-cream made of fresh farmers’ milk on the terrace.
The bike ride continued through the polders, along canals until we came at this special hand operated bike ferry. We pulled and we pushed – actually the strong mother did all the work- and we managed to cross the water. With my arm muscles aching from the work I didn’t do we sat down on a boat terrace overlooking the wetland. Our bellies filled with beer & bitterballen ( & sprite) we headed back to Delft.