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Touring The Netherlands: Newbie with lotsa questions.

Holland2011-11-29 22:21:01 +0000 #1
Hi!

I'm brand new to touring, and I'm planning a solo trip covering the country of The Netherlands. I appreciate any advices and/or experiences you can provide.

My Cycling Experience:

I spent two months cycling to work on a mountain bike; kept on the same gear of 2 and 5 on a 21-speed. Each way, it took me ½ hour covering 7 miles, including a very steep bridge. The longest trip I'd ever biked was 9 hrs; it was a rental bike, one gear with coastal brake. I was tired by the end but I wasn't burnt out; with a few short stop-overs, it was enjoyable riding. That is the extend of my riding experience. That said, I am healthy and athletically built. I don't know how long and fast I would ride with full panniers, does 100km a day sound unreasonable?

Time Needed:

How much time is necessary to cycle through all 12 provinces? Let's say if one cycled, on average 6 hours or 100km a day, not including stop/rest time, how long would it hypothetically take? What was your experience? Would 2 months be enough time to cover The Netherlands?

Bike and Equipment:

1. I'm considering buying a used bike once I reached Netherlands. Must I have a touring bike or a city bike could work? I prefer coastal brake, do you think I could get away with only one gear? The country is said to be fairly flat except for two provinces: Overijssel and Limburg. Also, I prefer occassionally riding standing-up, I don't know if this is possible with full panniers.

2. Is there a ratio formula of gear/pannier:body weight:bike weight? For example: If I weigh 120 lbs (54 kilos), my personal possession (not including pannier weight,) should not exceed X number of pounds?

3. Are cycling shoes necessary? I'll be cycling leisurely but I also want to use my energy efficiently.

4. I read that all restaurants carry bike repair kits throughout the country. What items do I need to keep in my personal repair kit anyway?

Gear Protection:

1. My Dutch friends warned that bike and personal stuff crime is high, even in smaller towns and villages. Is that true, even in small towns/villages? I just thought my friends were paranoid.

2. When you go inside somewhere for an hour or so (supermarkets, cafes, restaurants, hostels, etc...), how do lock up your stuff inside the panniers, or do you bring every thing with you in a backpack?

3. What type of lock(s) do you use to secure your bike and belongings?

Accommodations and Camping:

1. I plan on bringing my camping gear. What is the weather like in August and September? How cold does it get? Should I bring a 4C (40F) synthetic sleeping bag or a -17C (0F) down sleeping bag?

2. Are campgrounds easy to find along bike routes?

3. Has anyone stayed with Vrienden op de Fiets?

4. Or camped with the Stichting Natuurkampeerterreinen? What was your experience? Do you recommend staying with any of them?

Eating and Drinking:

1. I understand the public water is generally safe to drink, do I need to bring a water filter anyway?

How many water bottles would you bring? How easy is it to get them refilled?

Packing:

1. Let's say, 2 front panniers and 2 back panniers, how would you pack? Camping gear in one back pannier, clothes in the other back pannier; food in one front pannier, flashlight/everything else in the other front pannier? What has worked for you?

2. What are some things you packed for a trip that you regret taking? What are some "common sense" things that people take on a trip but don't make sense for touring?

3. Can anyone explain what chamois cream is and how it is used? Is it necessary? What other things are necessary?

Cycling Clothes:

1. I am clueless about cycling shorts. Where I'm traveling may rain often, and I likely won't have a place to dry my shorts properly. How many pair of cycling shorts do you suggest? Are they meant to be washed everyday?

2. I read that cycling shorts may not be necessary on touring saddles, that they are needed more on road bike saddles. Is that true?

3. What articles of clothing would you pack for a two month trip?

4. How does one wash their clothes on the road? What do you bring with you?

Cycling Routes:

I don't really know how to plan out my trip. There are so many options and I get confused by where to start once I depart from Amsterdam. Where would you start off the trip, what routes would you take, and where will your trip end? Bear in mind I want to cover quaint villages, castles and nature (but not necessarily going to every forests or heath.) And I don't want to find myself back-tracking all the time.

I have the Noord and Zuid De Sterkste fietskaarts, Landelijke Fietskaart, the ANWB Fietsroutebox and a few other map books. If you want to suggest some routes, it's possible I can follow what you're saying on my maps. I also have Lonely Planet and Insight Guides.

I apologize for such a long post. Thank you for taking the time to read this and for responding!

Regards,

Holland


shootingstar2011-11-29 22:22:47 +0000 #2
Quote:

Is there a ratio formula of gear/pannier:body weight:bike weight? For example: If I weigh 120 lbs (54 kilos), my personal possession (not including pannier weight,) should not exceed X number of pounds?

I've never heard of a bodyweight vs. pannier weight ratio but judging from the plethora of questions, you've asked, you strike one as a person who is super conscientious....and maybe easily discouraged if things don't happen as expected = it's better you cycle with less weight than your body weight.

I weigh 98-100 lbs. I think I might have cycled at most 40-45 lbs. on my bike for 2-3 wk. camping and cycling trips. But over the years I've gotten smarter and smarter and really reduce the amount of clothing.

Before you go on such a trip, you need to seriously take longer trip rides of at least 2-3 or 4 days back in your home province /state. Simpply ride longer distances every month locally, do it nearly every day now in snowy weather.

I would also on a regular basis every week, cycle with pannier weight by going shopping and build in extra long distances before getting home.

Netherlands is flat but I understand of course, windy.

Be light as you can be with layered clothing. You will want to cycle-carry some food with you also during the trips.

Cycling shoes: at least mountain bike like cycling shoes. You will be able to push harder and with the weight, you will thank yourself.

Water filter ...well, if you are drinking from tapwater.... What do your Dutch friends recommend? I wouldn't be drinking out of their streams and rivers. I would buy bottled water. Remember, Europe is not quite like North America. North America has real wilderness, wild large, dangerous animals, lots of wild fish in rivers. Alot less left in Europe now.
tangentgirl2011-11-29 22:34:43 +0000 #3
Welcome, Holland!

Quote:

Bike and Equipment:

1. I'm considering buying a used bike once I reached Netherlands. Must I have a touring bike or a city bike could work? I prefer coastal brake, do you think I could get away with only one gear? The country is said to be fairly flat except for two provinces: Overijssel and Limburg. Also, I prefer occassionally riding standing-up, I don't know if this is possible with full panniers.

You will ultimately be more comfortable, and able to enjoy your travels, if you ride a lighter bike with gears.

Also, while it's an extra cost and a little extra work to pack, unpack and repack, consider bringing your own bike. That way you will be familiar with it and comfortable on it.

Finally, think about taking your bike to a good LBS and getting a bike fit. Explain the kind of touring you want to do. Small adjustments can make a big difference in how good you feel at the end of the day, and how eager you are to jump back on the bike the next day.

Quote:

4. I read that all restaurants carry bike repair kits throughout the country. What items do I need to keep in my personal repair kit anyway?

Tire tubes

Tire levers

A good multitool

Patch kit

Emergency ID/contact

Small bottle of chain/gear lubricant

Some type of bicycle pump, either attached to your frame or in your repair bag

On a ride of this sort you might want some sort of chair repair mechanism, although I don't know much about that. <--I'm sure someone else here does.

Even if every restaurant in the country has bike repair kits, if you are 10, 20 or 50 miles from the nearest restaurant, walking your bike there would be a bummer! Also, learn how to change your tire and practice a few times before you leave.

Luckily, there are all kinds of seat packs: www.teamestrogen.com.../c0-c60-c61-c65.html that fit nicely under your seat. It's not that much extra weight, and it's well worth it.

Have fun!
Holland2011-11-29 23:00:11 +0000 #4
Ladies, thank you very much for your input; you make a lot of sense. I'll be going to a bike shop tomorrow to get fitted and pick up a few things so I can start training.

I spent the past two days reading and mapping out an itinerary. Exciting and stressful. Shootingstar, "super conscientious" is a nice way of putting it, type double-A would be more like it.

I'm trying to prepare as much as possible so I could enjoy once I'm on the road.
shootingstar2011-11-29 23:33:49 +0000 #5
Quote:

Originally Posted by Holland

Ladies, thank you very much for your input; you make a lot of sense. I'll be going to a bike shop tomorrow to get fitted and pick up a few things so I can start training.

I spent the past two days reading and mapping out an itinerary. Exciting and stressful. Shootingstar, "super conscientious" is a nice way of putting it, type double-A would be more like it.

I'm trying to prepare as much as possible so I could enjoy once I'm on the road.

Do plan carefully what to carry but don't carry too much. You are cycling in a country with access to buy stuff in an emergency. You won't be in the Sahara Desert.

Otherwise you'll regret cycling too much weight for stuff that you may not use or barely use during the trip.
malkin2011-11-29 23:23:43 +0000 #6
Quote:

Originally Posted by Holland

My Cycling Experience:

I spent two months cycling to work on a mountain bike; kept on the same gear of 2 and 5 on a 21-speed. Each way, it took me ½ hour covering 7 miles, including a very steep bridge. The longest trip I'd ever biked was 9 hrs; it was a rental bike, one gear with coastal brake. I was tired by the end but I wasn't burnt out; with a few short stop-overs, it was enjoyable riding. That is the extend of my riding experience. That said, I am healthy and athletically built. I don't know how long and fast I would ride with full panniers, does 100km a day sound unreasonable?

Why not try some rides that are somewhere between than 9 hours and 2 months before you set out on your tour?

After a few days you could probably answer most of your own questions about equipment and distances.

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