Cycling in Paris

Octobre 2016 my youngest son pictured me on  the “Axe Historique” in Paris. The  “Axe Historique” is a line of monuments, buildings and thoroughfares that extends from the centre of Paris, to the west. It is also known as the Voie Triomphale (“triumphal way”). Both “la Grande Arche” and the “Arc de Triomphe” are part of it.

I do find it a beautiful picture. And historic too. On the horizon, you see a glimpse of “la Grande Arche” in la Defense. Looking into the opposite direction one can see the “Arc de Triomphe”.

Historically also because I had been photographed there 42 years earlier.
During a cycling holiday with my sister in 1975.
My sister then took this picture of me:
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We took the train from Roosendaal (NL) to Gare du Nord, Paris (F). To make a tour about 1000 kilometers, following the river “la Loire”.  This tour you can see below, on the road map we used :

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October 2016, 41 years later,  my youngest son visited me in Paris. On the “Avenue de la Grand Armée”,  41 years later, here again with the “Arc de Triomphe” :

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Tips for cycling holiday in NL

Are you planning to have a cycle holiday in the Netherlands?

Here you find most of the advice I have been given over the years.
In France I am often being asked for on cycling issues.
Moreoften by people who wanted to cycle in the Netherlands.

Often I am asked for advice on cycling in my home country.

Often my first advice is to check the cycle path network : “LF-routes” pictured in red here below. This is a network of long distance bicycle routes. (note that practicallly all bicycle paths can be found on routeplanner.fietsersbond.nl, which is in dutch,”in Deutsch” et “en Français“.) :

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LF-routes = Langeafstand (long distance) Fietsroutes

An attractive cycle path I find the LF1 Noordzee-route / Dutch Coastal Route (Part of the international track which is connecting Boulogne-sur-Mer in France, with Germany). However you can reach any destination via good cycle paths, using this network. See the read network in the picture above.

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The LF1 “Noordzee-route”/”Dutch Costal Route”. You cycle along the sea. You’ll meet not too much cars. You’ll smell a lot of nature.

 About the dutch weather

Statistics learn that it rains, during a year, on average 7% of time in the Netherlands. Do you find that much? Sure it will not always be bright sunshine as on the picture above. Some times, but not very often, it can be like this   :

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If it rains : you just wait :).  This cabin is a “trekkershut”/”hiker’s cabin”. You can hire here : www.trekkershutten.nl/en/.
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No rain, no sun. Perfect for cycling!

If you do not like cycling against the wind, I think it is the best to cycle the LF1 from south to north. As most of the time wind is coming from the south west.

How does the LF1 looks like?

Some impressions of cycle path LF1 :

  1. See some some video-impressions (5 minutes) of 2 Dutch coureurs doing the 460 km between Duinkerken/Dunkirk/Dunkerque and Den Helder in 3 days. The first minutes are in Belgian. It is in the second part where you will see the famous high quality cycling lanes : flat asphalt, only bicycles. Along the coast the best parts are looking like : lf1 zeeland
  2. A Belgian mother with her daughter and her parents, did it far more easy as pictured in this slide show (2 minutes)  (with well chosen music).
  3. 6 minutes of video, no music, no words  … very good impression on the experience and quality of the LF1.
  4. And a 15 minute video where you see even more variation (wait for the nice sandy  beaches).

To reach the LF1 from Lille : one can start following the river “la Lys“/”de Leie” up to Deinze (or even to Genth). On Google Maps one can find this route from Lille (F) to Sluis (NL) Especially following this really good cycling path next to the Leie from Menen (F) up till Genth (B) is very quiet. However nearly no signs. For the good signs you have to wait untill you are in the Netherlands. Between Deinze and Sluis I think it is not that beautiful … I did not take this route. Most of the time I cycle Genth – Bergen op Zoom (30 km north of Antwerp. A lot of bad cycling paths … but as soon as you enter the Netherlands infrastructure for cyclists is just great. Not only on the LF1, but everywhere in the Netherlands.

Where to sleep? (and about a good map!)

A lot of possibilities to stay overnight are found on the LF1 Basiskaart (it costs about €25 in the Netherlands). You will find more possibilities to stay overnight, which are not indicated on this map. Finding a B&B, hostel, hotel is not to difficult. I do not like to make reservations. When cycling it is not that easy to plan. In the end there is always a place to lay your head down. Personnaly I like these 22 maps of the LF1 Basiskaart. They cover the whole of the Netherlands. And they are protected against rain. I like to have a map in my hand. As it is nice to be able to see what kind of routes and landscapes are in front of me. I like computers, but when I am cycling I like to have a map next to my coffee. Just for imagining a bit on what is coming up that day. Open windy roads? Trees? Nature? How to avoid cities and industrial zones?

When searching for a place to sleep, I do have most confidence on ending your day for a village/city at the coast. In villages and cities you’ll find people with the sign “zimmer frei” (= room available). As a lot of Germans are coming to the Dutch coast. I have an idea the prices will be acceptable. You knock on the door, see the room, hear the price. A good method. Reserving in advance? It is not easy to plan, when cycling! A lot of cyclists must be following this method.

Another possibility is to check http://www.warmshowers.org. The site is self explaining. And my experiences are that you’ll find people who love to cycle long distances. So they know what cyclists are in need of.
It is a bit of planning in advance. However I do find it a very attractive way of finding a place to stay. And to participate the joy of cycling.

And another possibility is to join the association “Vrienden op de fiets“. Membership is €10 per year. You can stay with members, at their homes. You pay about €20 per night, per person. Members(often active cyclists theirselves) prepare a good breakfast. There is also the possibility of having a lunch packet being  prepared for about €5.  Members will be sent  get a guide, with the adresses and telephone numbers. You can also use the web site. I entered the web site, the route between Hoek van Holland and The Hague. Resulting in following map (I choose for French language here!) :

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screenprint of the website vriendenopdefiets.nl (french version)

The circles with numbers show the amount of adresses of members in that village. So in Hoek van Holland there are 2 addresses. In ‘s-Gravenzande 10. And in The Hague 38 people who offer a room to stay. So as soon as you have an idea when you will be arriving in a certain area, you choose an address from the supplied guide (or from the web site) and you pass a telephone call. And you’re sleeping place is arranged! (En Français toute l’information à : www.vriendenopdefiets.nl/fr/ .

Visiting the “Waddeneilanden”

The “Wadden-eilanden” are  the islands in the north of the Netherlands.

From Den Helder, you can take the ferry to the biggest island Texel. All info at www.teso.nl (also in english).

From Texel you can take, with your bicycle, a boat to Vlieland. It is a small boat, and maybe you have to wait for the next boat as there are many people. Or in case of bad weather. All info (only in dutch!) : www.waddenveer.nl. I did this trip with my children and their mother, with bicycles. During  a summer holiday following the LF1. In this video (6 minutes) one can discover the passage with the boat “De vriendschap” and the truck which brings you and your bicycles from Texel to Vlieland (Or Vlieland to Texel). You might have to watch the video a few times to really have an idea of how it works.

Between the two islands named Vlieland, Terschelling and the town Harlingen, there is this ferry : www.rederij-doeksen.nl (also in english).

Taking the train

Taking the train in the Netherlands is not that difficult. And sure you can take your bicycle (which needs to be payed for, €6,10 in 2016. You can not take a bicycle during rush hours. Search the following web site. All possibilities, all schedules, all prices, you find on www.ns.nl (also in english).  (To see where you can find all train stations go to trein-kaart.nl.)

You like to see another video of how cycle paths can look like? See my short trip in Zeeland.

More tips?

I would like to write on why I advice to avoid Amsterdam. And do some suggestions on other places. For cities which I personaly more appreciate than Amsterdam. Like Haarlem, Leiden, Rotterdam, Dordrecht, Bergen op Zoom, s’-Hertogenbosch, Eindhoven or Groningen.
If you are interested in other places than Amsterdam, it might help if you agree with me that Lille is a more pleasant place to stay than Paris …
So I like Lille more than Paris.
We can discuss on this issue.
Come to visit me in Ronchin. And we could cycle to the Palais de Beaux Arts. We could cycle to the café “Poand d’Or”, ordering a bottle of “Trois Monts” and share it.
Like I did with my brothers.(still have te publsh a photo of this come together)

contact me for specific questions –

Buck : Tour de France in Lille

Buck the system!
(Remembering the Stones singing “Star star“, also known as “Starbucker“)
Today the Tour the France passes here.
In Lille.

Shit! (Merde! Comme vous voulez) : at the supermarket I can’t even find a place to park my bicycle!

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This is not for bicycles …
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… here one can smoke a cigarette

At the stadium where the Tour de France passes today, I counted about some 100 places to park bicycles. This multi-use stadium “Stade Pierre Mauroy” has a capacity of 50,000 people.  And in the end about 100 places to park bicycles. Project has been costing €618 million.

Although this bicycle parking is a vast improvement, in comparision to bicycle parking at the above mentioned supermarket: Buck the system! (“Fique le système” ?)

GAZELLE Champion Mondial and le Grand Stade
My GAZELLE Champion Mondial + Le Grand Stade, capacity 50,000 persons. In between: about 100 places to park bicycles

Cycling from Lille to NL, in 1 day

I regularly cycle: Lille-Netherlands (NL) vice versa (v.v.).
It became my goal to cycle in 1 day: Lille-Vught (NL). (I was born in Vught. And my mother lives there.)
This is a distance of 220 km. With sufficient training, it seems feasible to me.
In order to avoid injuries, I often cycled the 220 km in 2 days.
Staying overnight halfway.
Regularly I had to do some parts with the train. In case of insufficient weather and/or physical conditions.

In order to see if it is feasible to do 220 km in a day I listed the cycle trips I made in this blog post.
Plus I regularly update this list with the recent cycle trips.
In order to see how many kilometres I can do.
The actual findings are that I really improved in the period since 2010 when I start cycling between NL and Lille. Back in 2010 I remember those bike rides where at the end of the day I had to stop en recover at almost every bus stop between Sint Niklaas and Genth. I felt exhausted in these occasions. So I felt the need of training. Sitting on a racing bike needs for example, good trained neck- and back muscles. All day keeping my head in this up worth position causes is tiring. And in the end it hurts. The pain can stay for several days after the bike ride. So I start training, to slowly getting into shape for my goal of 220 km in 1 day.

Below I list my training progress. And experiments of how fast and how far I can cycle.

Cycle trips since my youth

Summer 1975: Paris-Angers v.v. 1030 km in 15 days, so 70 km/day
Summer 1977: Vught-Belgian Ardennes v.v. with my brother, who pictured me down hill:

me in Belgian Ardennes in 1977
Down hill in Belgian Ardennes, 1977

Summer 1981: Wageningen-Den Bosch (with fellow student Mark Daemen)
Summer 1984: Eindhoven-Groningen v.v. (with mother of my children)
Summer 1995: Nuenen-Ossendrecht (with family of 3 children + 2 tents)
Summer 2000: Ossendrecht-Vlieland v.v. (with family of 2 children + 2 tents)
Autumn 2006: Ossendrecht-London v.v. (visiting Nick-Drupal)
… and since 2010: NL-Lille v.v. … the first trips I suffered from pain in:
. Wrists
. Legs
. And rest of my body.
My muscles in my back were not enough trained to be in racing bike-position during several hours.
It needs training to ride several hours a racing bike.
I remember cycle trips where by the end of the day I had to take a lot of breaks to recover.
I have been feeling exhausted.
And kept having problems with my body due to those cycling tours.
During the years I improved my condition by regurlary training.
So it became my goal to cycle Lille to Bergen op Zoom in the NL (=180 km) in 1 day.
Therefore I cycle as much as I can!
Below, I keep track of the various training courses since 2014.
Before 2010 I cycled less regularly and intense.
It feels really great to have trained muscles like that!

Training trips since 2014.

Training in 2014
I got a GAZELLE Champion Mondial (1985) racing bike.
My oldest son Ruud refurbished it:

I started cycling on this steel racing bike on a daily basis.
To get in shape for longer distances.
June 2014 I cycled Lille-Netherlands (NL).
First to my mother in Vught.
Afterwards to my son Ruud in Bergen op Zoom.
A total of 530 kilometers :

  1. Lille -> Bruxelles 125 km
  2. Bruxelles -> Vught 137 km
  3. Vught -> Bergen op Zoom 84 km
  4. Due to lack of time I took the train from Bergen op Zoom -> Lille 180 km

The trip Lille-Vught (NL) on video:


Cycling Flanders to Brabant from roel guldemond on Vimeo.

Training in 2015
Spring 2015 I bought a lighter racing bike.
A JAN JANSSEN Futural by Vitus (1987).
Pictures and descriptions of this aluminum racing bike: here.
Summer 2015 I bought a second GAZELLE Champion Mondial (1981), with frame sizes better adapted to me.
Pictures and description of this steel racing bike: here.
Overview of progress during 2015:
40 km at 20 km/h on JAN JANSSEN Futural (1987)
40 km at 10 km/h on JAN JANSSEN Futural (1987)
35 km at 19 km/h on JAN JANSSEN Futural (1987)
70 km at 18 km/h on JAN JANSSEN Futural (1987)
35 km at 28 km/h on GAZELLE Champion Mondial (1981)
35 km at 23 km/h on cycling GAZELLE Champion Mondial (1981)
100 km at 20 km/h on cycling GAZELLE Champion Mondial (1981)

Training in 2016
48 km at 18 km/h on SIMPLEX (1954) Austerlitz-Bilthoven
60 km at 13 km/h on SIMPLEX (1954) Bilthoven-Amsterdam CS, in low gear, due hurting knee on 2nd day
60 km at 15 km/h on SIMPLEX (1954) Amsterdam CS-Austerlitz
60 km at 10 km/h on GAZELLE Champion Mondial (1985) along northern french canals (partly on unpaved bicycle routes). At the end in poring rain, so I got on the train to reach my destination. Great for bicycles the regional TER-trains in France! Easily and for free one takes a bicycle with you
60 km at 15 km/h on GAZELLE Champion Mondial (1985) on the road to Soissons, with quite some hills

Training in 2017
I think I need about 12 hours to cycle 180 km.
9 hours of cycling at 20 km/h.
3 hours of eating & resting.
Or will it more be 10 hours of 18 km/h?
I did 2 times 70 km at 18 km/h in 2015!
So as will be more towards 18 km/h, it will take more than 12 hours …
… to be continued, after 2016?

100 km at 11 km/h on Le Porteur 5V (BoZ>De Pinte, with quite a lot of headwind)
90 km at 9 km/h on Le Porteur 5V (De Pinte>Ronchin, with quite a lot of and cold headwind, suffering saddle pain begin of the day)
16 km at 19 km/h on GAZELLE Champion Mondial (1985) (Rue Louis Montois>Rue Augste Renoir, la Chapelle Armentieres, ew days after BoZ>Ronchin)
23 km at 23 km/h on light MOTOBECANE Vitus/Columbus Ronchin-Mouscron
36 km at 18 km/h on light MOTOBECANE Vitus/Columbus Antwerpen CS-Klimopstraat BoZ
22 km at 19 km/h on rusty randonneur MOTOBECANE ’70 Leiden-Den Haag
22 km at 19 km/h on rusty randonneur MOTOBECANE ’70 Leiden-Den Haag
22 km at 21 km/h on rusty randonneur MOTOBECANE ’70 Leiden-Den Haag

Training in 2018
Beginning of January, about 6 degrees Celsius:
35 km on folding bike Dahon Vitesse 3V Utrecht-Amsterdam little rain, and heavy hailstorm, luckily bit of tail wind
48 km at 19 km/h on folding bike Dahon Vitesse 3V Calfven-Genth
35 km at 14 km/h on folding bike Dahon Vitesse 3V Genth-Waregem
25 km at 10 km/h on folding bike Dahon Vitesse 3V Waregem-Halluin, got on the Liane-bus, unless all Belgian fries my not so well trained body got exhausted.

Plus I would like to find out, what my brother mentioned. He stated that following subject is important : cadence (here an English wikipedia-article) (And an article in dutch on “letten-op-je-cadans”). So 100 per minute > 25 per 15 seconds. Hope really pay attention to this. A lot of times I just grab my bicycle, not making time to do all preparations which one can do. Anyway, since I am living in Lille my preparations for cycling trips are improving. Plus my fysical cycling condition. The french have this saying: « Qui veut aller loin ménage sa monture! » (Citation de Jean Racine (1639-1699), dramaturge français, dans Les Plaideurs.)

Stan heading south, on bicycle

My youngest son Stan finished design school Grafisch Lyceum Rotterdam 2 years ago. Followed first year of a psychology-bachelor. Realising finishing this bachelor is not what he wants, he decided to go on bicycle direction Spain.

Remarkably I found Stan, ever since, gifted in as well designing in all kind of media (more specific choosing colors and music, drawings, very nice drawings as a child for example), as in insight in inter-human relations.

Heading for Spain. For half a year. Passing Lille where he stayed with Patricia and me. Here you see Stan joining a dinner made by Patricia. The very first dinner we had in the new part of our house -under construction-.

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Aside from searching a good road map. Succesfull geo caching. Testing camping burner. Adjust bicycles. We visit the B’TWIN-bicycle store and repair centre. An enormous store in the former Gauloises cigarettes factory in Lille. This atelier de vélo is a competitor for his brothers “Fietsatelier Guldemond”. B’TWIN is multinational Decathlon/Auchan (?) The group is growing. In Eindhoven they opened a big store.

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I think he did a splendid preparation.

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And off he goes. After a mutual “A bientôt!” …

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… I had a lot of different feelings. As “Partir, c’est mourir un peu”. And I like it to see him go in his own way. Not following all the advice he is getting. Try to practise what I learned in 2001 from a colleague-teacher. This colleague told me: “Children and students should not listen to their parents and teachers. Do you know what it means if your students and children are following their parents and teachers? End of innovation Roel!”

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