July 1-9, 2017: The Fridays Tour

In Short - 
  • A social and enjoyable week. 
  • Usual Fridays format that has worked so well three times now: you book your own travel and accommodation and the club's ride leaders (this year it's Martin's turn) suggest routes. 
  • We go in at Dunkirk and then via Maastricht and return to the UK via the Hook of Holland ferry to Harwich. 
Le Tour de Normandie © Adam Bell 2015

Details: Martin's Proposal as put forward in February - 

In all of our lives there comes a time when we must get out of the normal. We must leave the commute, the busy roads, the traffic queues and the daily toil, we must bid farewell to all this and hit the open road.

Some might get no farther than the next town. But the Fridays Tour takes you to faraway places.


This is the latest of our famous Tours - we’ve ridden to John o'Groats, taken over an entire chateau in Normandy with 50 of us, crossed France from sea to sea, and ridden from Dieppe across Belgium into the Netherlands. And the following year, on the best Tour yet, we started at the Hook of Holland and finished at Dunkirk.

Here we go - it’s the Fridays Tour 2017. You’re going to like this. A lot.


What does it have?

  • Great riding through lovely countryside
  • No day longer than 100k
  • Quiet lanes
  • Decent cycle paths
  • No hills (promise!)
  • Beautiful medieval towns
  • Coffee... CAIK
  • Bridges, canals
  • Beer (possibly)
  • Convenient start and finish
  • A day off in the beautiful city of Maastricht
  • Best of all - you’ll be with The Fridays
Le Tour de Normandie © Rebecca Olds 2015

PROPOSED ITINERARY

Each evening the group will arrive at a spot in a town that we dub “Fridays Central” and you go to your accommodation. In the morning, we leave the town from that exact same place. If you’re not riding with the group that day, just don’t bother to turn up, it’s no problem, happens all the time.

Saturday July 1 - train to Dover and ferry to Dunkirk port, then ride to Dunkirk town. We leave on a Saturday to make it easier for you to get you and the bike on a train. (If we left on a Friday night, you can't take a bike on a train out of London until after 7pm, which makes for a very late arrival in Dunkirk.) Take any ferry you like. There will probably be a general agreement to go for one particular boat, which might be the noon or 2pm boat, so you'll arrive Dunkirk at 3pm/5pm French time. Ride to town 20k. 

Sunday July 2 - Ride Dunkirk to Ostend. 50k day. This is as flat as a flat thing that is feeling particularly flat. From de Panne we'll follow the seaside promenade and it'll be a Sunday in July so lots of people about getting in our way but the promenade is divided into walking and biking sides. There'll be coffee stops and a long lunch. 

Monday July 3 - Ostend to Ghent. It’s pretty canalside riding all day, it's 70k. The plan is for a long long lunch in Bruges with time for a pootle to see the sights. Thence to Ghent, arrive maybe 6pm ish. On the outskirts of Ghent we pass a workshop where a man welds bits of bicycles together into strange shapes and contrivances. On the recce he agreed to be open for us, I need to check this.


Tuesday July 4 - Ghent to Leuven. About 99k. Lunch in the old quarter of Dendemonde, afternoon coffee in Weerde. 99k. Note this route claim to be 105k but this is because RideWithGPS won’t route underneath the autoroute on a cycle track so it includes a silly loop.

Wednesday July 5 - Leuven to Maastricht. About 93k. Finishes with a ride alongside the massive Albertkanaal, lots of sky, big ships, tress, blue skies and fluffy clouds.

Thursday July 6 - DAY OFF in Maastricht. You can either fester, see the sights, potter or do a long ride, it’s up to you. There'll be some sort of communal get-together that does not involve a long day on the bike. If you want to go for a ride, you can do it without luggage, obviously.


Friday July 7 - Maastricht-Eindhoven. 85k. Again, a day spent almost entirely off road and by the canal on perfect tarmac. The route goes through some towns and we found a really nice place for lunch.


Saturday July 8 - Eindhoven to Breda. About 70k. Coffee in the very pretty ancient medieval village of Oirschot, then on the recce we followed the canal then turned south then west and followed a cycle track (a proper Dutch one, not like we have here) then turned north and spent the afternoon on an OK and beautiful cycle track through some delightful woods. If the day is nice we'll have a picnic in the woods, it was a lovely ride.

Pay attention here - on arrival in Breda (on Saturday at about 6pm): 

  1. Some will opt to take the train that evening to the Hook of Holland. It's €14 plus the €6 bike ticket, takes 24 minutes to Rotterdam then 30 minutes to the Hook of Holland, leaves Breda every 30 minutes at 23 past the hour. The ferry from the Hook of Holland leaves on Saturday night at 10pm so there's plenty of time to get there and take the Saturday night boat.
  2. Others will opt to stay in Breda on Saturday night and ride on the Sunday to the Hook of Holland antake the Sunday night boat arriving in London Liverpool Street station about 10.30am on the Monday.

    This might allow some people to ride straight to the office in London and merely arrive at work late rather than having to take the whole day as a day of annual leave.  However, you can't take a bike on a train arriving in London until 10am, which means waiting for a while at Harwich -- or better yet, get the train to Manningtree and have breakfast at the excellent little buffet there, a favourite of long distance cyclists in the area, it has a licence to sell beer, which will not, repeat not, affect your choice I am sure.
    (If you go for Option 2, the route for the final Sunday ride to the Hook is an interesting 85k with a lovely lunch stop in an ancient town that is in an old hexagonal stone-built fort and is awfully pretty. Later we ride through some massive industrial areas, but as it's a Sunday everything is closed and the roads were empty on the recce. There's a segregated cycle path all the way through the industrial area, which I found really interesting. I loved this day.)
  3. Still others will stay in Breda on Saturday night and take the train on the Sunday to the Hook of Holland, for the 2pm boat arriving in Harwich about 9.30pm. If you live in London, this will put you into in Liverpool Street about 11pm, after the morning bike ban. You don't need a cabin for a day crossing, so this is a cheaper option to Option 2.
    REMEMBER
    • As in previous tours, it's friends together on a series of rides - and no one is leading it. 
    • There will be recce(s) of the route. On the ride you may, or may not, choose to follow the route found by the recce - if you choose to ride a different route, that’s fine. 
    • You book and pay for your own accommodation. You can stay in any hotel you wish.
    • You pay for your own food
    So... interested? E-mail fridaystour2017@gmail.com. 

    All the Tours have been fun. This should be the same.


    Looking forward to it already. 

    Martin

    Le Tour de Normandie © Adam Bell 2015

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