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November flowers

The mountain bike route over the Sallandse Heuvelrug has a number of features in its favour. Cowberry One is that it starts close to where some friends of ours live.  Another is that it has some of the best quality heathland in the country.  The flowers on the left are not the more common bilberry (which has purple fruit) but the cowberry (which as well as red berries has evergreen leves) is less common. It is of course typical of our warm autumn that they are still flowering now, when they 'ought' to have finished last month. There are also all sorts of other rare birds and plants living there.  The disadvantage of that, for the mountainbiker is that this means that a lot of the area is protected and that you can only cycle along the official route.  That also means that the tracks near to car parks for walkers are very busy with dogs, push, chairs, people spread out all over the path, etc.  Definately a route to be prefered in some nice rainy weather to scare off the crowds. Although some of the route is along straight cycle paths, there are some nice stretches of singletrack and it does include 280 of elevation. 

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Winter Tour Number One 2011

The Tour Club Wageningen organises 3 mountain bike tours every winter for non-members tcw 1and the first this year was today.The weather was perfect; cool without being cold, sunny, and dry without the ground being too loose.  Their website said there was a choice of 30 and 50 kms, but in fact the longer route turned out to be 60 km.  It was an excellent route, along many of my favourate tracks, and even better I discovered a couple of new ones. The photo on the left is going acrosss the Ginkelse Heide (heath), and instead of taking the way I normally do they cut across with a nice (and long) singletrack across the heath, ending in an incredible twisting and difficult bit through a sort of sunken passgeway (bomb craters, quarries?).  So many people turned up* (or went the longer route) that by the time I got to the second break they had run out of coffee and soup, and indeed there were a lot of people around.  Cycling through the woods you have impression there are only a few, but when I got to a level crossing and had to wait a minute for a train there were soon something like 50 people waiting with me. And on top of everything well organised and good signposting.
*520 - for more details (in Dutch) and photos see the club website

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New bridge for cyclists

Wageningen has the Veluwe to to the north and east and the Utrechtse Heuveulrug (morraine) New bridgeto the west.The area in between is called the Binnenveld, and it is an area of open fields, most of which are farmed, and a few of them are nature, including birds, orchids and rare mosses. A small river called the Grift runs down the centre of the valley (oddly enough, flowing north, away from the Rhine). A new bridge has been built across the river, connecting the cycle paths (here). Some conservationists opposed building this bridge as they think the increased numbers of cyclists will be hardful to the birdlife, but on the other hand one of biggest problems in the Binnenveld are all the cars which illegally go down the small roads, and an increased number of bikes may help against that.

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Christmas bike

Nothing says a 'Christmas' like a new (mountain) bike!Christmas bike
Maybe not the most theologically correct statement, but you cannot deny the truth of it. My daughter Suzanne is nearly 12 now, which seeing she is Dutch, means that she is already as tall as many adult women in many countries. So her first real mountainbike which was so large for her not so many years ago is now far too small, and it was definitely time for a new one. Thanks to the LBS for their help in finding a good one!

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Hoenderloo

The north side of the Veluwe is, if anything, even more beautiful than the southern edge near to Wagenignen. Hoenderloo It is just a bit more hilly, so that following the official route starting at Hoenderloo of 25 km you have about 250 m of elevation (quite a lot for round here!). Parts of it were quite tough going, firstly because a forestry machine had been along the track for a few hundred meters leaving behind a sort of quicksand to a depth of 30 cm or so. Secondly, there was quite a storm, so especially through the heathland, the headwind was so strong (and cold!) that, together with the sandy track, it was quite a fight.  And finally, no longer had we left the heathland than my tyre split open, leaving the inner tube bulging through in a balloon-like blob.  Fortunately I was able to make a temporary patch with the inner bag of my saddle bag which was good enough to get me to within 50 m of the car before it finally burst.

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Sustainable mountain biking

Whereas cycling to work is super-good for the environment, mountain biking can have a more negative impact. If you had a new-year's resolution to be more sustainable/environmentally conscious/green the coming 12 months, here are some tips to help:

  1. Reduce driving your mountainbike by car to the start of the ride. As much as possible, ride trails near to where you live. 
  2. Consider alternative means of transport. Take the train. Instead of owning a car, use a Wheels4all car.  Several have tow-hooks so you can put a bike rack on.  There are about 15 cars in and near Wageningen, easy to book via internet and much cheaper than owning a car.
  3. If you have to go somewhere anyway for work or whatever, plan in a few hours extra time, take you bike and find a local track (see links). If you do that occasionally, it will reduce the 'need' to get in your car and drive to a trail further away.
  4. When you are out mountain biking, do not ride off the trails where it can do damage.  In the woods near Wageningen, the wild boar turn over the earth so much that the odd cyclist is insignificant, but when you go further away, be careful not to ride on the sandy areas where there are lichen communities.
  5. Don't go into forbidden areas where wildlife can rest undisturbed.
  6. If you are in a group, don't shout and yell at each other.  As well as disturbing the wildlife, it gives us a bad name with other users of the woodland.
  7. If it was not for recreation such as mountain biking, areas of woodland like those close to Wageningen may well have been nibbled away at the edges for housing and industry years ago.  Make sure it stays that way! Voice your opposition to plans to encroach into the woodland.

 

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