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Nijmegen Red route

I am always surprised at how close Nijmegen is.  If you go there from Wageningen on a weekday, odds on you will be stuck in traffic for ages, so it feels like a long way.  But on a Sunday afternoon, you are there in only half an hour.  Half an hour, but a world away.  The landscape is completely different from here because of one dominant factor - hills.  Whereas you have to go out of your way in the woods round here to gain a few meters of elevation, by Nijmegen you could almost imagine you were in another country.  Maybe that is because Germany is less than ten kilometers away, so you are almost.  The official signposted routes there, both 'red' and 'green' ('rood' and 'groen') Nijmegen Red Nijmegen rood mountainbike routemake the most of the elevation,with numerous hills and relatively few flat bits.  The tracks are in attractive woodland and it is an enjoyable route.  The routes are signposted, but unfortunately they are notorious for people thinking it is amusing to steal the signs, so if you have a GPS, taking the track file with you is a good idea.  Even if you do not normally use GPS to navigate, you can copy the track to your phone and make sure you have an app like Oryx Maps installed so that, should you miss a signpost, you can find your way back to the trail. It also makes a huge difference what time of year it is.  I was last on the Red Route a couple of years ago in December, and still have distinct memories of deep slithery slurry. Hard work. Last weekend it was completely dry. That came with its own problem.  On some of the downhills people have made little ridges, so that even mountain bikers with my level of skill can bounce into the air for a short distance with no problem all.  Great fun.  But landing on a pile of dusty sand that will just slip away from under your wheels made many of those jumps just a little too scary for me. All in all, great trails, and nice they are so close.

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Back to normal

After last week's epic ride, this week it was back to a more normal 21 km round through the woods with my daughter. Here she is coming to the top of a really steep bit, hence the low posture.

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Hell

The Jan Janssen Classic has been a tour for road bikes for 28 years, but the last few years mountain bike routes have been added, 'the hell of Ede-Wageningen'. Today about 6000 mountain bikers and road cyclists took part. So that made it quite an event! The weather was perfect (except for the strong wind); not too hot or cold and the rain held off until I was already finished. It has been quite dry here, but in the last couple of days there has been some rain, so the ground was just about perfect.  For the mountain bikes there is a choice of 56 or 95 kilometers, but 56 was quite enough for me.  The tour was very well organised, with efficient signing in using bar codes, clear and comprehensive signposting, a nicely chosen route and cuckoos and sky larks to listen to as we went along. Of course seeing it started in Wageningen I knew most of the paths, but nevertheless there were a few sections that were new to me (perhaps in the areas not normally open, I'm not sure). There was a nice friendly atmosphere - stopping for a wine-gum break it was surprising how many people asked if everything was all right and did I need any help? Even with nearly 1000 mountain bikers, it was not crowded in the woods, people set off at different times, so we were all spread out and it was only at the start and breaks that you got a sense of just how many participants there were. All in all a great tour. Maybe if I had attempted the 95 kms it would have been different, but this was more like heaven than hell!

The 'hel van Ede-Wageningen'

Official website: http://www.janjanssenclassic.nl

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Tønsberg

Tonsberg mountainbike

Tønsberg is a small town in the south of Norway, about 1/2 hour down from Oslo.  I was lucky enough to have to visit it for my work last week, and even more lucky that I had some hours free to go cycling.  I was able to hire a decent hardtail from the tourist information office, where they were also very helpful and leant me a map. The map did not really have off-road tracks on it, though some routes were on gravel. However, I had found a route on gpsies.com which looked promising, and did my best to follow that.  Mostly it was indeed an excellent route, though there were parts where either the track just did not exist, or I later concluded that I was following a more difficult route than necessary and that an easier track was running parallel to the difficult footpath I was scrambling up. As a consequence, my route was very varied including a small amount of cycle paths next to main roads, a certain amount of small asphalt lanes, some nice gravel tracks through woodland (very pretty until you stopped and the mosquitoes attacked) and some singletrack/footpaths which were, in parts, very difficult and technical (i.e. I got off and walked on the really steep bits).  All in all, a great ride.

 

 

 

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The Posbank

Without doubt, one of the best official mountain bike routes in the area is the Posbank, officially known as the Rheden mountain bike route. It is 52 km long and over 500 m of elevation.  For the Netherlands, that is very hilly! Not suprisingly then, it is very popular, so when I took my daughter we made sure that we kept away from the weekend and bank holidays, instead going on the Friday between Ascension day (a holiday here) and the weekend. We had chosen a good day, it was dry but not too warm, and indeed there were not too many mountain bikers on the trail. 52 kms was a bit long, so we cut across the middle, taking a shorter route which was about 35 kms. The area can be divided into a relatively flat northern half and a hilly southern half. The latter of course is much more fun, so we missed out the northern part, which meant that in our 35 km we still had over 460 m of elevation. The route was very well signposted (apparently there are over 1000 boards), but one or two crucial ones were missing (and then it would have helped if my GPS device did not display the route I had uploaded to it in exactly the same way as the alternative routes show on the base map). It is well-maintained, and you have to pay for that buy buying a permit (you can get it online here). Although none of the ascents were really long, there is a whole succession of one after the other, so that by the time we got back to our starting point our legs were certainly feeling a bit weary.  The landscape was looking quite spectacular, with the fresh new green leaves of the beech and oak trees looking wonderful, and the gorse coming into flower on the heathland. A great ride!

 

Posbank mountainbike

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