Gerrard (the trip leader), Phil & Nasser embarked on the Grade 4 club ride from London to Amsterdam on Thursday 31 August with Nasser catching up in Dover. It was a great trip cycling the plains and very flat terrain of France, Belgium and Holland at a liberating fast pace. The team was duly impressed by the rich cycling infrastructure culture & commitment, in Holland in particular, where we spent 100% of our cycling time in dedicated modern cycling paths.
On Thursday evening we crossed the Chunnel, and had an early evening in modest commercial accommodations in Dunkirk. Next morning we cycled through France, into Belgium and made it to Bruges, circa 100 Km later via coastal routes and enjoying great sunny perfect temperatures. We spent the night in a farm house outside of Bruges with hosts from the Vriendenopdefiets network which provides very reasonable comfortable accommodations for cyclists. We succumbed to inexpensive mediocre dinner in Bruges Centrium but with a great view of the main square, plenty of Belgium beer, including in a close by friendly bar, then more food in the form of fritas....all of which makes the ultimate tourist happy. We were adventurous with local buses and made it back at exciting early hour of 9:30 pm. Our host served us a full breakfast made of homemade baked and prepared goods followed by kind support with directions.
On Saturday we cycled on to our second stopping point of Burgh Haamstaade, circa 100km and were treated to a few hours of heavy rain but we dried up quickly thanks to the subsequent strong head wind!!! We had to use a 15 min Ferry to cross into Vlissingen, cycled along the North Sea coastal route and on a satisfying stretch of the North Sea Polders – quite an impressive engineering structure. Arriving exhausted and hungry to Burgh Haamstaade, we stayed with a Dutch host of notable quality accommodations and generous breakfast with plenty of eggs from the host's own garden chickens - we gladly devoured the breakfast and eggs despite the large dinner the night before at an odd Turkish-Italian restaurant and quite an exciting Saturday night which promptly ended again at 9:30 pm in this one horse town.
Sunday was by far our longest day at 150 km heading to Amsterdam and started shortly after 8:00 am. The Cycling route took us via the extraordinary town of Delft where we stopped for lunch and could not resist the charming youngish Dutch waiter and ordered plenty of food as a result. We also passed through Leiden and struggled navigating the outskirts of Amsterdam into the Centrum. We each had own accommodations plans for various practical reasons but met for delicious Indonesian meal with one of Nasser's local friends.
Regrettably we did not have the energy nor the time to take advantage of what Amsterdam could have offered three fit single cyclists and yet another early night.
We were treated with stunning weather on Monday – Gerard & Phil cycled to the Hague where the team reconvened and cycled on to the Hook for the overnight Stenna Ferry back to England. We found the Ferry to be very comfortable and ultra clean- after few drinks we had our fourth early night for a refreshing arrival at 6:30 am in England.
We thoroughly enjoyed the trip which was immaculately planned by Gerard, experienced amazing hill-free routes and were duly impressed by the respect the locals have for cyclists. We only wish we allowed ourselves another full day in Amsterdam and that more club members have experienced the trip as well. We recommend this trip or parts thereof to the membership.