Just a weekend in July. The weather forecast is great and makes my cycling/camping blood run through my vessels again. And so I start packing, put the route on my GPS and book a campsite at a farmer. This time I will travel to one of my favorite provinces: Limburg. At the Southernmost point of the Netherlands it is a bit hilly. That is what the Mergellandroute is about. Driving the hills, roughly following the route of the Amstel Gold Race.
"It giet oan" (It goes ahead) - famous frysian words to mark the 11 city tour is going to happen
The "Elfstedentocht" or eleven cities tour is a famous ice skating tour of app. 200km, called "the tour of all tours". It has been held for just 15 times since 1909 and as such is a rare event. It needs at least 15cms of ice on the various canals, rivers and lakes. As soon as it starts freezing, the Dutch people start dreaming of a new version of the race. It is a fever running throuh our veins.
"There is no such hill as a Limburg hill" - Scubajo
After almost a week I enter the 2 provinces where my parents were born and where basically my history started. First I cycle through a small bit of Limburg.
"A bicycle ride around the world begins with a single pedal stroke"
I started in the province of Groningen and passed Drenthe. My ride through Niedersachsen in Germany I will forget. That was somehow one of the least impressive parts if you ask me. Gas installations, empty villages, the route went over grassy paths, tractor tracks and gravel roads. Okay, the most interesting thing was the fabulous 'Kuchen' (cake) on a terrace in Uelsen.
"Don't limit your challenges - Challenge your limits"
I have this long distance cycling tour in my mind for some years now, I even bought the route book already. In 2017 I finally decide to go for it. I start in Pieterburen in the North of Groningen, on the coast of the Waddenzee, and I will cycle all the way to Withuis in the South of Limburg, at the border with Belgium. The end will be on the Pietersberg ('mountain') in Maastricht. All in all a distance of roughly 670 km, which I cycle in 10 consecutive days. The route I take from the book "Het Fietserpad". This is part 1 of my adventures.
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