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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Washington state
    Posts
    12

    Talking Bruges to Amsterdam - what to wear and bring along?

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    I'll be spending the second week of August riding from Bruges to Amsterdam with my mom and sister. We are going with a barge-and-boat company so we sleep on the boat, and meet it after riding to a new location every day (with a guide, along flat canal paths). Our longest day is 35 miles, the shortest is 12 miles, and I suspect we will stop often to be enthusiastic tourists. It's going to be fun! However, I am still thinking through what to bring along and wear and could use some advice.

    I know what I need to be happy for big organized rides (50-200 miles/day) and commuting (8 miles roundtrip), and I have also ridden one supported tour but it was similar to a series of event rides (Ride Idaho, 400 miles, 6 days), but this is a new sort of ride for me and requires a different approach! I am perfectly happy wearing head to toe lycra if I'm in a pack of similarly dressed cyclists, but that will not be the case on this ride. For commuting I wear whatever bottoms I am going to wear at work or generic fitness capris, and a high-viz quick-drying shirt/jacket.

    The tour company provides a bike with flat pedals and panniers. I know I need a saddle with a cutout so I will bring a spare along. I am also going to pick up some sturdy Keen shoes to wear for cycling and walking. I am leaning towards wearing cycling shorts/knickers with a chamois, and bringing along a couple of packable skirts as cover-ups for sight-seeing breaks. I also have cycling capris with liner shorts (Pearl Izumi Impact). For the shortest days I could just wear running capris. I'm a bit of an amazon (5'11", Terry shorts size XXL, shoe size men's 10.5 or women's 11-12ww) so shopping is always a challenge! Skorts don't work for me due to my amazingly curvaceous rear but I can sew and am thinking of putting together a custom-sized wrapper or a-line miniskirt to wear on the bike in case I feel awkward in cycling shorts. I sunburn very easily so I will bring sunsleeves or maybe a bolero (haven't tried a bolero yet but I hear good things).

    Has anyone done this sort of tour before? Any gear or clothing you found especially helpful? Any words of wisdom regarding lessons learned or perils to avoid? This corner of the forum is geared toward more intense trips but I thought I'd check anyway...I'm happy to delete and repost if there's a better place!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Utah
    Posts
    548
    What a fun trip that wil be! Hope you'll have a few extra days for sightseeing on both ends, so much to see!

    Clothing like those Pearl Izumi Impact capris will be perfect. You won't see much Lycra or high-viz being worn in Belgium and the Netherlands. Even for trips like this many people just bike in street clothes. Stores like REI carry a lot of casual cycling clothes these days - not Lycra but looking more like regular street clothes with a comfortable cut designed for casual cycling. Sometimes with chamois. That kind of stuff will blend right in and be comfy to ride in. Don't forget to pack some rain gear.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Pacific Northwest
    Posts
    543
    esoteric what a great tour that will be, that is close to our dream trip of cycling in the Netherlands...never would have thought of bringing my own saddle, but that is a great idea. Seems like you have all your bases covered really. Sounds like you won't be packing your own belongings, the tour company will do that for you?? That will make it so much easier. Good luck and let us know how it goes.
    "Don't go too fast, but I go pretty far"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,143
    We always pack our own saddles and pedals for tours.
    A different bike is bad enough!
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
    Specialized Oura

    2011 Guru Praemio
    Specialized Oura

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Washington state
    Posts
    12
    All of our gear stays on the boat and it moves with us so we don't even have to pack up in the morning!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    DE
    Posts
    1,221
    Quote Originally Posted by esoterrica View Post
    All of our gear stays on the boat and it moves with us so we don't even have to pack up in the morning!
    I did a bike and barge trip from Brugges to Amsterdam a few years ago in late Sept/early Oct with VBT. It was fabulous.

    We had our choice of bikes - road bikes or hybrids, and we chose road bikes since that is what we all used at home. We took our own pedals and seats however. Fortunately our guides were smarter than we were - yes they brought 3 road bikes for us in the appropriate sizes, but they also brought hybrids for us as well. Knowing the terrain, some of the areas we were riding had cobblestones, a couple unpaved paths. We used the hybrids but we did use our pedals. The 3 of us all used Frogs, so we were able to clip in, and still walk around for the sightseeing parts.

    THe cycling was really nice, and you'll be there at a time when there will be more gardens to view. I have just moved to a new house, and if I could find my notes/itinerary I'd give you some of the highlights, but you may be enroute before that happens.

    The UNESCO National Heritage Site where all the windmills are is especially beautiful, I forget the name right now. The ride into Ghent was good. The actual ride into Amsterdam was a little hectic - crowds, traffic, confusing but we made it.

    There was one instance where the boat was not able to meet us at the appointed location - was not able to "lock-through" in time with the tide so we had a detour that day. The sag wagon would take you if you were too tired to ride.

    One thing you might want to think about - our cue sheets were all in kilometers, and the bikes did not have computers. They are cheap enough that at least one in your group ought to bring a wireless computer set to km to help you navigate. We got lost a few times and had to ask for help more than once. When the cue sheet says go 7km and turn left at the trashcan on to an unmarked street you can see the potential for getting lost when you have no idea if you are at 6 or 8km. Your tour group may provide computers - ask.

    The food was great, especially in Belgium. I wish I was going with you. Have fun!
    Martha
    Work hard, be nice.
    Read a book.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    california
    Posts
    1,204
    Quote Originally Posted by withm View Post
    The UNESCO National Heritage Site where all the windmills are is especially beautiful, I forget the name right now.
    the Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout ?

    I'll second BikeDutchess' recommendation for light rain gear.

    Have a great time!!!!
    ‘The negative feelings we all have can be addictive…just as the positive…it’s up to
    us to decide which ones we want to choose and feed”… Pema Chodron

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    DE
    Posts
    1,221
    Quote Originally Posted by rebeccaC View Post
    the Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout ?

    I'll second BikeDutchess' recommendation for light rain gear.

    Have a great time!!!!
    Yes that's it. And definitely bring rain gear, including pants. I think we wore rain gear for some portion of almost every day. We all brought saddles but I don't think any of us bothered to install them. The hybrids provided were really nice.

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    Oh, and it's flat, but with flatness comes a price. Very windy!
    Last edited by withm; 07-05-2014 at 06:17 AM.
    Martha
    Work hard, be nice.
    Read a book.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    11
    I did a tour like this a few year back. I wore nice workout t-shirts, lycra bike shorts and sneakers. To be honest, I wish I had just worn regular street clothes each day (maybe chamois underwear) and mtn bike short on the longest day which was probably in the 35 mile range too. I found that I was never on the bike for a long stretch at a time so the bike shorts were overkill... we were constantly stopping for coffee, explore a market, village, etc. I typically like to try and blend in with the community I'm visiting and not stand out head-to-toe in spandex. Unless I'm on one of those mega bike tours where we are really clocking tons of miles each day!

    The other thing I wish I had done differently was to have a lightweight backpack/tote bag. I kept my rain jacket, sunscreen and other daily gear in the panniers they supplied. Most of the time when we'd lock our bikes while exploring, I'd feel comfortable leaving things in the pannier(never my wallet). A tote would have come in handy if I felt I needed to carry more items while off the bike. Guess what I am trying to say is the things I needed during the day were floating freely in the pannier. I wish I had a tote/backpack to carry those things around if need be.

    Have a fabulous time! Although I don't even need to say it because it's going to be wonderful!!!!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Washington state
    Posts
    12
    It was a great trip! Most of the group wore jerseys and shorts with chamois, and had full raingear, but I took a different approach and I'm glad I did:
    Cycling briefs with small chamois, by Novara but no longer online
    Quick-dry pants - Columbia Just Right straight leg pants or Pearl Izumi capris
    Quick-drying fitness tees (REI, North Face, Champion by way of Target, nothing special)
    Sport bra
    Leather Keen shoes w/ toe guard
    Baseball-style cap (no helmet)
    Usual cycling gear - raincoat and light jacket

    I brought some comfy knit dresses, cardigans, and sandals to wear on the boat or walking afterward.

    I stood out somewhat but not as much as the spandex crowd. The bikes had waterproof panniers so I also brought along a small purse for my wallet, camera, and phone, and a lightweight tote bag to hold a long-sleeve quick-drying tee, raincoat, light jacket, sunscreen, umbrella, and a bandana for drying saddles and handlebars. PortlandKelly, the tote was very helpful--I always took my purse along when we stopped, and unpacking the bike at the end of the day (and repacking in the morning) was much faster with the tote. It rained every afternoon but never cold enough to warrant rain pants, so I just tossed my raincoat on and waited for everyone else to put on their rain pants...then take off their rain pants...ad nauseum. I also brought along a saddle with a cutout, but didn't use it: I was able to grab a bike with a wider saddle and adjust the angle, and we stopped very frequently so my butt was tired by the end of the trip but never sore. Each day was 20-30 miles.

    The whole group rode with the guide (10-12mph), and if there was a long stretch with no pavement I would sprint ahead with the boys, which was fun. I found riding into Antwerp and Ghent a little scary--I am accustomed to riding with traffic and was not unusually concerned about my own safety, but some of the people in the group were inexperienced and I was worried about them. I skipped the last day of riding into Amsterdam (had too much fun the night before, I do NOT recommend being hungover on a boat).

    The countryside was beautiful, even in the rain. We did go through the windmill site, which was gorgeous. One of the highlights for me was pulling my sisters for a few miles along the sea--serious winds from the side, it was as hard as hill-climbing and a nice break from toddling along. I also enjoyed the lovely bicycle trails in the Netherlands...it was hard to come back to the US and commute on potholed roads with oblivious drivers, and I miss the delicious chocolate.

    The boat was very comfortable, the captain was charming, and the meals served on the boat were delicious--look for the barge Sailing Home if you are interested in your own bike/barge tour!

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  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Utah
    Posts
    548
    So nice that you circled back with your ride report, and great to read that you had such a good time! Sounds like your plans on clothing logistics worked out well.

    I'm headed for the Netherlands soon, and can't wait to ride those bike paths again, with the wind whipping through my hear (no helmet, yay!).

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Folsom CA
    Posts
    5,672
    Oh that sounded wonderful, thanks for the report!

    2009 Lynskey R230 Houseblend - Brooks Team Pro
    2007 Rivendell Bleriot - Rivet Pearl

 

 

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