For those who prefer the petrol-free way of life, the land of tulips, cheese markets and perfectly frothed beer might just be paradise. Alongside Denmark, the Netherlands is the most bike-friendly nation in Europe, with 70% of all journeys in cities like Amsterdam and The Hague made on two wheels. Much of the country’s infrastructure has been designed with cyclists specifically in mind, which, combined with famously flat Dutch terrain, makes it the ideal destination for those setting off on their first cycling holiday. What’s more, this year cyclists new and old can be inspired by their heroes at the UCI World Track Championships 2018, which are set to be held in one of Holland’s quaintest locations – Apeldoorn.
Watch the UCI World Track Championships 2018 in Apeldoorn
More of an agglomerate of towns than a city, Apeldoorn is famous for its village vibe and for being home to one of the best track cycling arenas in Europe. From 28 February to 4 March, the velodrome at Omnisport Apeldoorn will be the setting for the UCI World Track Championships 2018.
Track cycling has become one of the main sporting events for Britain in recent Olympic history, with Sir Chris Hoy, Dame Sarah Storey, Laura Trott and Jason Kenny just some of the athletes bringing amazing speed, stamina, technique to the forefront. This year’s event will feature a host of international cycling legends, plus seven of Team GB’s Olympic champions, including Laura and Jason Kenny, Ed Clancy, Katie Archibald and Callum Skinner, as well as the next generation of cycling stars.
Cycling trips in Apeldoorn
Once you’ve been inspired by the pros in the velodrome, it’s time to get on your bike and test your own cycling mettle. Or, alternatively, enjoy a scenic ride through the landscapes of Veluwe, a sprawling woodland and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The largely flat circular route from the heart of Apeldoorn is a favourite among local cyclists – extending for 44km, it takes around three hours to complete, making it a manageable circuit for those looking to spend longer days in the saddle. As you pass by the beautiful Baroque grounds of the Het Loo Palace, where the Dutch royal family once lived, and down through ancient heathland, you may even catch sight of wild boar or red deer.
Why do the Dutch love cycling?
In many ways, cycling is in the blood of the Dutch. As early as 1911, the nation owned more bicycles per capita than any other country, but bike mania began in earnest around 50 years ago. Much like everywhere else in Europe, cars became more affordable and common after the Second World War and, as a result, cycling became much less popular. By the 1970s however, motorised transport fell out of favour as locals called for safer, more family-friendly streets.
Subsequently, the Dutch government began to improve cycling infrastructure across the entire country. Urban planning moved away from cars to putting bikes at the forefront, building a vast network of safe and smooth cycling paths wide enough to allow side-by-side cycling. So much is the preference for two wheels instead of four that where space is limited, you’ll see signs saying ‘Cars Are Guests’.