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!


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.

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.


Veluwe Challenge 2012

My goodness, what a lot of mud! Veluwe ChallengeThe 'Wielervereneging Ede' (Ede cycling club) organised the 'Veluwe Challenge', with routes of 30, 50 and 70 kms. It had been raining pretty steadily the last week or so and there were incredible quantities of wet slippery mud.  That meant it was a lot of hard work, so very tiring, and especially going uphill sometime your wheel just spun round.  Especially in the first half (of the 50 km route) quite a few people (myself included) had to walk up some hills.  And talking of people, the strong winds and plentiful rain did not seem to put anyone off, apparently there were an incredible 792 participants. All in all a great tour, well organised, and with the conditions we had today certainly a challenge.
Here is a report in Dutch.


Until a week or so ago it was still autumn.Wet and not too cold.  WinterBut this week, winter has arrived with a vengence.  Last night was the coldest in nearly 30 years and when I went to the shops this morning it was -16 degrees C (and the local tour club sensibly cancelled the last winter tour). However, in the afternoon it had warmed up to 'only' - 5, and the sun was shining. Out in the woods it was spectacular with fresh snow, blue skies and sunshine.  The only problem was the cold.  No ice in the woods. And we saw lots of footprints of rabbits and deer, which was nice. There was only one disadvantage.  We got back to learn that we had just missed the spectacle of a sparrowhawk devouring a sparrow in our back garden. The cold weather has meant that the birds have been flocking to our feeders, and on this occasion the bird of prey was apparently also hungry enough to venture into the suburbs.

Autumn again

After a few days of cycling to work at -15 C, all of us a sudden it became warm again. Autumn again The snow melted. So did the mud.  The ground remained frozen a few centimeters below the surface, trapping the water, so that meant that even the sandy paths were transformed into a muddy mess.  Worse than that, in a few places there were large puddles, and I discovered that this meant it was 10 cm of water on top of ice.  The ice was not even even, so that meant that despite my best efforts, it was not possible to stay upright, and over I went into iced water.  Fortunately the air was so warm that I did not have long trousers on, so dried off reasonably quickly. The nice thing about the warm weather is that the squirrels have woken up from hibernation.  One ran in front of my wheel, and we also had one in the garden. I hope we don't have another cold spell, or they will have no energy reserves left if they need to hibernate again.