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Holland's easy on bike travelers.

Holland's easy on bike travelers

Though it's only 120 miles wide and 200 miles long, Holland has 6,000 miles of bicycle lanes--and many more of quiet country roads to explore by bicycle.

In fact, this mostly flat country seems perfectly suited to bike traveling. You shouldn't have difficulty making arrangements once you've arrived. Ordinarily, you can find good (and often surprisingly reasonable) lodging on short notice as you travel, even in midsummer.

When is the best time to go? Late spring through early fall. In midsummer, expect days in the 50s to 70s, with light to moderate winds. The weather is fickle: bring raingear (though you may not need it). Dutch sport stores sell bicycle rainsuits.

How do we get information? Local VVVs (tourist bureaus; English is spoken) supply cycling information and sell ANWB (automobile club) tourist maps; the 12 provincial VVVs do the same. VVVs in large cities can advise about cycling anywhere in the country.

The ANWB tourist maps are the best for route planning and along-the-way decision-making. Finely detailed, they show all roads, plus paths for bicycles only, bike paths also open to mopeds, road grades, vantage points, windmills, locks, and other sights. The legends are in Dutch; you may want to ask someone to translate the data most important for you.

Is it easy to rent bicycles? Yes--at numerous railroad stations and bicycle shops. One-speed coaster-brake bikes are most widely available. Three-speed bikes with hand brakes are easier to rent in provinces with hills than in the flatlands. Some bikes have side panniers.

Expect to pay 5 to 10 guilders per day ($2.75 to $5.50), or 22.50 to 35 guilders per week.

Where should we go? Each province offers excellent biking. Want to visit lots of monuments and museums, enjoy night life? Cycle near the big cities in North and South Holland. Prefer quiet? Try partially wooded Drenthe in the northeast. Like to see the widest vistas anywhere in Holland? Go to flat Friesland. Hills? Go to southern Limburg--no hills here like the Rockies, but they may seem steep after you've cycled a few days on the level.

Can we join a tour? If you'd rather not have to figure everything out by yourself, and don't want to carry your luggage on your bicycle from hotel to hotel on multiday tours, consider any of 25 three- to 10-day tours organized by local VVVs.

On these, you ride on your own--with a map and route instructions in English-- from one reserved hotel to the next, 15 to 40 miles away. Your luggage is transported. Cost averages $60 a day for hotel, two meals, and bicycle rental. Reserve several weeks in advance through the VVV.

For more on cycling (specify if you want information on these package tours), write to Netherlands Bureau of Tourism, 605 Market St., Room 401, San Francisco 94105, or call (415) 543-6772.

Photo: Bicycle routes signed by ANWB (Dutch automobile club) lace the countryside

Photo: Paddestoelen (mushrooms) have a number on top, are keyed to ANWB tourist maps

Photo: Triple-V triangle points to nearest tourist bureau, one of hundreds in Holland
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Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:May 1, 1988
Words:521
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