Flevoland used to be below the Zuiderzee but as recently as 1968, after planning and work which went back to the early 1900s, it was ready for population, bringing about some 165,000 hectares of new land. This is an island, which is some 65kms long by 20kms wide. Whats left of the Zuiderzee is now known as the Ijsselmeer, which is to the north west of Flevoland. To the east and south Flevoland is separated from the old coastal towns by the Veluwemeer and is connected by many bridges and ferries. The nearest crossing point to the Campsite at Zeewolde, which is in the southeast, is a pedestrian and cyclist ferry and the crossing takes about 20 minutes. Twenty five per cent of this new land is given over to recreational and nature reserves and the rest is predominantly agricultural. There are many huge wind generators standing sometimes alone and sometimes in rows but always looking very elegant and, contrary to views held in the UK, totally silent.
Cycling in the Netherlands is a joy as it is a way of life and cycle paths are everywhere even where there are no roads. Three different length routes were arranged for each day with plenty of refreshment stops along the way.
Day 1: Saturday, 1st June ~ Arrival and Opening Ceremony
Arrival and welcoming speeches from the Netherlands organizing team, the Mayor, the Campsite Manager and the Tandem Club Secretary. The AMVZ (the Brass Band of Zeewolde) were also in attendence to make us feel very welcome. After the speeches we were provided with ample supplies of cheese and wine (and beer).
The breakdown of attendees per country was approximately as follows:-
United Kingdom 363
Spain - 2
USA - 2
Day 2: Sunday, 2nd June ~ North Veluweroute
Today we crossed to the old land by the nearby ferry and after passing through Harderwijk and Nunspeet, spent some time cycling in the nearby moors and forests in terrain that wasnt flat. This being Sunday, a non-workday, we found many Dutch people cycling recreationally too.
Day 3: Monday, 3rd June ~ Eemlandroute
The route today, crossed the Veluwemeer by the nearest bridge and then went south along the old coastline, passing through the historic towns of Bunschoten-Spakenburg where there were lots of beautiful old watercraft in various states of repair in the shipyards. Later we had to cross a small river on a small ride-on free ferry. The return route brought us alongside the base of a long line of wind generators each painted in a slightly different pale shade to the next, of pink through yellow, green, blue and purple.
Day 4: Tuesday, 4th June ~ Flevoroute Natuurpark Lelystad
We stayed on the island today, with the main point of interest being the Natuurpark Lelystad. Its about 20 miles from the start with no intermediate refreshment stops, so, upon our arrival, the coffee shop was very well supported by tandem riders. The park is huge and contains some unusual animals (at least for visitors from the UK) including nesting Storks. Cycling around the park is the ideal way to view it as its too big to see in a day on foot and cars are not permitted.
The highlight of the evenings activities was the Tandem Limbo event. Some dubious techniques were seen in use such as the removal of saddles and the fitting (in one case) of a very small front wheel to an otherwise normal tandem! But it was only for fun
Day 5: Wednesday, 5th June ~ Lelystad Batavia Ship Yard and Museum
This was billed as a non-cycling day. Coaches had been organized to take us all to the Batavia shipyard, across the island, where, as well as the shipyard, there is the Niuew Land Polder Museum telling the history of the Zeiderzee from its perpetual flooding of surrounding land through to the successful situation now. There is also an Outlet Shopping Centre with a Pancake House - yummy.
The shipyard has 2 large sailing ships, one, the Seven Provinces, under early construction and the other, the Batavia, which is a replica of the original 1628 vessel. Very knowledgeable guides showed us around the ship in groups. It wasnt much fun being a sailor
The ship was completed in 1995 and has sailed to Australia and back since then.
Day 6: Thursday, 6th June ~ Randmerenroute - Elburg
Today, we followed the coastal cycle path northwards. The short route then crossed the Veluwemeer bridge into Elburg while the longer routes take a different bridge and then looped back to the same town. Elburg was once on the coast and is still a fishing village. It is old and picturesque with plenty of places to eat and drink. The route continued past a typical Dutch windmill, which was open to visitors. We returned to base via Harderwijk where we crossed back to the island by the bridge.
Day 7: Friday, 7th June ~ South Veluweroute
This final ride crossed to the Veluwemeer by the local ferry and looped around the farmland where we saw a variety of stock as well as cattle and sheep, ranging through llamas, peacocks and deer. Returning via Nijkerk and the bridge on which we came out on Monday.
Friday evening was the final get together and time for the barbecue, where visitors were invited by the organizers to burn meat
It looked as though everyone attended and there was certainly plenty of burning!
Day 8: Saturday, 8th June ~ Departure
After a brilliant week it was all over and we had to wend our various ways homewards.
It was a beautiful very well organized week of traffic free cycling on the excellent Dutch cycle paths.
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pictures on this page by Michael Wolf, Tricia Anderson Neville Frost