The Netherlands (Hague) this summer - arrghh! What am I going to do?!
I am probably going to be spending summer 2011 in The Hague, Netherlands on a short-term contract. This is great for my career but seems like a DISASTER for my mountain-biking!
In case people don't know, Holland is as flat as a *&^@^!* pancake! I mean, we are talking SERIOUSLY flat!
So what am I supposed to do?! I typically spend summer XC training, say, at least 10 hours/week, in the fantastic hills near where I live currently (Serbia) and racing every few weekends too. I don't see how this will be possible in the Hague area, so I really hope there are some Dutch members here who can help me rescue my summer from disaster!
I have looked at some of the offroad trails that are around the area of The Hague, and there ARE some - the sand dunes along the coast, a 40km trail around the Zoetermeer area, and they seem great. But man, it's hardly what you call MOUNTAIN biking! Is that the most I can hope for? And is there any amateur XC racing going on in the area? I read that the Dutch national championship was at Zoetermeer - is there a permanent circuit there, can us amateurs get a bit of that action too?!
Thanks for any help!
Get a car in your job package that can handle your bike. AS you say, its flat here. So yu will need to travel a bit.
For local training, go to Bergschenhoek just above Rotterdam, its short (7,3k) but the best in the area for an evening.
here is a page with info and address, use google translator
Try to get usesd to this website, gives all MTB routes in the Netherlands, www.mtbroutes.nl
Then visit Westenschouwen (Zeeland), its an hour by car... short track but again, its free to ride it ten times.
Then try Drunense Duinen (1,5 hr drive max), longer and quit special dune area inland. (special area, permit 5 Euro a yr 1,5 for one ride, but hey your foreign, they will not hassle you
So far the good& fun marked trails in your area.
Then the next option is to go to marked trails in Belgium, Houffalize, Spa, Theux etc are great spots, Its a 4 hr drive. Lots of B&B for overnight sleep, so make a weekend of it.
www.mtbroutes.be (then the countys Luxemburg and Luik, forget the rest)
Alternative, ride with us, based in Bergen Op Zoom, we have a morning group on Sundays, and we ride in an area with lots of forest, a few steep short climbs (nice interval training) but mainly flat single tracks.
Or buy an GPS and from this area I can supply a lot of 40 and 60km trips. And can advise on others.
Overall, by visiting those spots you will see more from the Netherlands. It aint flat everywhere here.
About racing, I do not know anything, but there are enough races with a fun class.
You can ask on this MTB race forum, English no problem:
For posting you have to subscribe; (inloggen in Dutch)
This forum has more subfora, its the main mtb forum for all your questions.
Hey man, that's awesome, thanks for all this info! I have looked at some of the stuff already and am going to check out the rest. The Bergschenhoek circuit looks great for an evening session - the good thing is that the daylight is much longer in Holland And my single track skills are pretty weak, I am more of a mountain endurance kind of rider, maybe it's time to broaden my skills!
I have a GPS, so I may well contact you for some tracks if that is OK.
Off to join that forum - I still wish I knew Dutch, I hate being a 'foreigner'! But 3-6 months is a short stay in a country to make it worth learning the language, I guess I will have to play the 'dumb Englishman'!
Thanks again for taking the time to help out!
P.S. Bergen Op Zoom doesn't seem TOO far either, thanks for the invite! I guess I will see how the job will be as regards time - and I have a family too. Guess I will drive them around the country, they shouldn't mind too much, my wife loves Holland
Dutch are nice people, and many of them speak english, and are pretty understanding that you don't speak dutch... So long as you always have the humility to remember that it's YOU who speaks the foreign language, not them! lol
Another thing you could do is take up cyclocross racing. Cyclocross is HUGE in the netherlands and belgium. I know people who travel five hours or more form here in Germany to go participate in cyclocross races in BENELUX (belgium netherlands luxembourg).
Just a thought.
Finally, a pitch for my club... if you are ever in or near Kaiserslautern, Germany, look us up at www.kmccycling.com . Sign up to our forum there and link up with us for a ride.... there is a tone of great MTB riding here in the Kaiserslautenr area.... might even be worth the ride for a weekend trip if you have something else to do uin the area as well...
I am a slow rider but keep it up for hours, while most of my buddies are the sprint types
Yep, you can ask for tracks. And willing to play buddy for the Westerschouwen and Drunnense duinen. Both are good for wife and kids too, one you drop them on the beach, the other one, there are 3 cafe/restaurants near the track, one very childfriendly.
I have been an expat for 12 yrs, in 7 countries, and been helped a lot like this. So Karma said I should pay back some.
I promise you that it will not be a disaster for your Mtb time
And if all the netherlands are flat, I see 30 Meter pancakes every week.... we got minor hills here... just a few.
And to pitch my club, we aint a club but we just ride together for fun. Called the Mellowbikers, name says enough...
Hey, forgot to say thanks to you too! Guess I will be in touch nearer the time Not sure when this will happen exactly but have to be prepared!
Originally Posted by leov
By the way, does anyone know about my question about Zoetermeer - the Dutch National Championships were held there, but I was wondering if that was a specially-made course or if there is something there that can be ridden (apart from the big 41km recreational circuit)?
I think the Championsship is on that track.But I am allergic to Zoetermeer area, so I really do not know.
And contact me when your settled. What kind of bike are you bringing ?
(and you thanked me already )
OK, no more thanks
I will be in touch, I am thinking probably it will be March sometime.
My bike is kind of a mess right now from winter riding, so I may have to do a major overhaul on it when I come (parts are much cheaper in the EU than where I am so it makes sense), but it's pretty much a regular XC hardtail, fairly low-budget, Giant frame, XT-level parts mostly, BB5 brakes, Rockshox Tora forks. Does me fine, though it's very heavy and in bad condition right now, like I said. If the pay turns out as good as I hope (and I can convince my fairer half of the wisdom of it!) maybe I can 'treat myself' to something entirely new
That bike is good enough for here. And this country is great for experimenting single speed
Was afraid you would come with a big heavy 140mm monster...
Hi Markowe, the race scene isn't huge in Holland but there are enough races!
The 2011 mtb-races in Holland:
05.03 - 06.03 Baggelhuizerplas MTB weekend - Assen (nationaal-A1)
13.03 - 13.03 GP Kivada wielersport/Focus bikes/van Hout installaties - Berlicum (nationaal-A1)
27.03 - 27.03 Bergrace off the Road - Wageningen (bergrace)
10.04 - 10.04 15e wollebrand MTB Wedstrijd - Honselersdijk (nationaal-A2)
17.04 - 17.04 Noordelijke ATB Trophy - Norg (nationaal-A1)
25.04 - 25.04 Rabobank Bikecenter van Tuyl Paasbike - Nieuwkuijk (UCI)
08.05 - 08.05 Arend Benthem cup - Havelterberg (UCI)
15.05 - 15.05 Stappenbelt Rabobank MTB Trophy - Apeldoorn (UCI)
22.05 - 22.05 Holten (nationaal-A1)
29.05 - 29.05 Bergrace off the Road - Arnhem (bergrace)
11.06 - 12.06 Lakebike 24 - Best
12.06 - 12.06 Internationale MTB Zoetermeer (Beneluxkampioenschap)- Zoetermeer (UCI)
19.06 - 19.06 Bergrace off the Road - Oosterbeek (bergrace)
26.06 - 26.06 Nissim Yabo Bike Trophy - Groesbeek (UCI)
16.07 - 17.07 Dutch MTB National Championships - (UCI)
21.08 - 21.08 1e Snowworld MTB-wedstrijd - Landgraaf (nationaal-A1)
28.08 - 28.08 Grote prijs Steenwijkerland - Steenwijk (UCI)
04.09 - 04.09 Bergrace off the Road - Lunteren (bergrace)
11.09 - 11.09 Bikers MTB Cup - Heeswijk Dinther (nationaal-A2)
18.09 - 18.09 Flexpoint MTB - Roermond (nationaal-A1)
24.09 - 24.09 Hel van Groesbeek - Groesbeek marathon (nationaal-A1)
02.10 - 02.10 Hondsrug Classic - Gieten (UCI)
09.10 - 09.10 Dutch MTB National Championships - marathon - Eijsden (UCI)
UCI - nationaal - bergraces
Did you already move to the Hague? I'm a local rider, so it might be fun to show you around some of the better places here. But as others have mentioned, it's better to take the car and drive for an hour to better suited places.
The Hague is a great place: Nice to live at good international standards and the beach around the corner is a good plus - but not suitable for mountainbiking
And get yourself a roadbike
Thanks for getting back to me guys - the epilogue to the very long story was that I did not get the job (in the ICTY), which I was kind of relieved about because a) it was a bit too much like a "real" job and b) I would have had to... arrghh... buy a road bike...!
Anyway, as it turns out, I broke my leg, so I will be doing neither MTB nor road, nor any other cycling, and especially not in the Netherlands.
Thanks a lot though!