Monday, 15 January 2018

Cycling between cities in the Netherlands - Part Thirteen: Utrecht to Nijmegen via Veenendaal, Ede and Arnhem

I cycled from Nijmegen to Utrecht in 2016 and so, almost exactly a year later, I decided to cycle in the opposite direction, from Utrecht to Nijmegen. Obviously I wanted to take a different route and chose to go through Veenendaal, which I'd previously read about on Mark Treasures blog, and also use the fast cycle route from Arnhem to Nijmegen. This would be a long ride and so I scheduled it for Wednesday, knowing that I wouldn't have any other rides between cities left after this. Accommodation for these trips is booked months in advance and so the dates are fixed as to when I ride, which means I ride whatever the weather. Had I done this trip a week earlier, as I was originally planning to do, then I would have been cycling through very high temperatures as the Netherlands was experiencing a European wide heatwave. Every time I told anyone in Utrecht I was planning to cycle to Nijmegen the following day they responded that I would get caught up in thunderstorms. Thankfully after getting wet on the ride from Nijmegen last year I had come back equipped with waterproof overalls.

I began my journey out of Utrecht along Voorstraat, a street I had already had a bad experience on during my time in the City. This time was no different as I and others had to pause whilst a bus drove on the cycleway. I continued along Biltstraat with light rain beginning, not heavy enough for me to get my waterproofs out but it was for others. I cycled under the large roundabout where it met the ring road and came out on the other side of the road, as I exited Utrecht.

 I could also see from here there was another bidirectional cycle track on the opposite side of the road as well, and it was being well used, despite the rain and the frequent buses along here. The cycle track continued behind a petrol station, briefly becoming a service road for houses alongside afterwards, but then reverting back to a cycle track. I passed by a bus stop, with ample bicycle parking spaces provided for local residents in this rural area cycling to the bus from their homes. I cycled through an underpass as I passed under the N412, and thanks to google maps I can travel back in time to see before this was built and cyclists had to wait at the lights to cross, rather than the much more convenient grade separation that exists today. 

The cycle track ended after here to become a service road alongside the main road, although I noticed that a cycle track continued on the opposite side of the carriageway. Whilst the road continued straight ahead to go into Zeist the N237 made a left turn here to bypass he town, as did I. I continued along a bidirectional cycle track alongside the road, with light rain continuing but not heavy enough for me to get my waterproofs out of my bag. I took the first right, bypassing the traffic lights, to cycle along Panweg towards Zeist. As I passed over the A27 motorway I couldn't help be impressed by the gigantic sound barrier that existed here and stretched well into the distance to protect the residents of this town from the noise of the motorway. 

As I entered Zeist I came to a roundabout with a bidirectional cycle track running around it. I was to turn left here and did so by going the "correct way" around 75% of it, rather than just turning left - I still can't quite get used to going the "wrong way" around a roundabout! A used a bidirectional cycle track alongside the road for a short while before I turned right where it lead me onto a minor road. At the end this joined up with a cycle track running along the N224, which cars could use for a short while to access a couple of properties before a barrier stopped them going any furtherThis route would continue for the next ten kilometres, a very pleasant route with a smooth, well maintained cycle track with a busy road on one side and forest on the other

The rain soon stopped and I thought about how lucky I was that I had managed to escape the promised thunderstorms, in the end it was just a light shower from Utrecht to here that simply kept me cool and didn't get me too wet. As I arrived on the edge of the town of Woudenberg, my planned route was to continue south along the N224 but I decided to head into the town to have a quick look instead. For the first time in the Netherlands I used British style "staggered" crossings with barriers, but for bikes, rather than for pedestrians. I was now on the most direct road running through the middle of Woudenberg, and what presumably would have been the main road for many years, before the N224 was built to bypass the town to the South. The first section of this road had wide cycle tracks alongside both sides and then a "fietsstraat" sign to indicate cars were guests as I reached the centre of the town, with a traffic calming layout. As I came to the centre of the town and the junction with the N226, the main route north / south of the town, only people cycling or walking could continue across it. 

I turned right here on to a tiled cycle track, which then became a service road and crossed over the road onto another service road which took me out of the town. Turning left I used a series of country lanes to serve a small amount of houses and farms, before it became a cycle track which ran alongside the railway and then joining up with another country lane. At the end of this road I came to a T junction and turned right onto another country lane but with a narrow bidirectional cycle track running alongside it. I stopped for a spot of lunch at a bench alongside here, right next to where the A12 motorway passed ahead and as I sat there I was impressed by how many teenagers were out cycling along this road, a constant stream of small groups of them, presumably heading to or from college in Veenendaal, which was still a few miles away. After I had finished my food I set off again behind three teenage boys cycling ahead of me, we all turned left after a short while to cycle along a road, turning right onto another road and then left onto a cycle track. I was now on the outskirts of Veenendaal and the route took me through residential areas on quiet residential streets that were not through routes for motor vehicles but were for people on bike or foot, and also along cycle tracks, direct and separate from the road network. 

At this point I was still, by pure coincidence, following the same three boys that I had first cycled behind over three miles away but decided to head south as I reached a main road in the town, just to have a look at the suburbs, and cycled along some cycle streets and roads with cycle tracks. I then took a direct cycle route into the centre of the city and onto the main shopping street, open only to those walking, cycling or vehicles loading at the shops. I briefly headed into a shopping centre at this point to grab a coffee and emerged to the street where the promised thunderstorms had suddenly appeared. Exceptionally heavy rain was pounding the streets outside 

Barely anyone was cycling but barely anyone was walking either, as we all huddled under the canopy by the entrance to the shopping centre to escape the torrential downpour. After around 20 minutes the rain eased slightly (but it was still raining hard) and I put my waterproofs on and set off again down the main shopping street. As it was raining so hard I didn't take my camera out too much for the rest of the journey. I turned left at a terrible junction with ASL and a cycle lane in the middle. I cycled along a tiled cycle track, which then became a smooth bidirectional cycle track before it peeled away from the main road and turned south. It then became a road leading to some residential properties and then turned left, as I exited Veenendaal. I headed east along some country lanes, a pretty unpleasant ride but more to do with the constant rain. I then reached the outskirts of Ede and took shelter under a bridge at a large motorway intersection. Whilst my waterproofs were keeping most of me dry my trainers, socks and feet were soaked through and I just needed a rest from the constants rain pounding my face. After a while I carried on and cycled over the A12 motorway on a cycling bridge alongside the N781. The original plan was to spend an hour or so exploring Ede but as the rain was heavy and the streets were so empty it seemed best just to push on towards Nijmegen. I cycled through Ede on a combination of cycle streets and cycle tracks and a fairly long section on a stepped cycle track, which is a rare sight in the Netherlands, just a shame it was too wet to get any decent pictures of it! I passed by De Fietser, a gigantic bicycle warehouse showroom where you can go to try and buy all sorts of bikes. I had intended to go in and have a look but due to the weather I'll have to make do with looking at the inside of it on streetview instead. I cycled alongside the railway out of Ede and then onto a path through the forests. 

Now, this was an excellent route and would have been a fun ride but at this point it once again started to pour down with torrential rain, so I couldn't enjoy it as much as I should have done. The route continued like this for the next ten kilometres, a really pleasant route through the forests but the rain was constant here so I didn't enjoy my surroundings as much as I'd have liked to. The path was puddle free though, despite the terrible conditions and so cycling through the forest was pleasant and not like your typical British National cycle route! 

As I approached the town of Oosterbeek the cycle track went onto a road, but so wet was it I couldn't even risk getting my camera out so here is a streetview link of the location instead. I soon arrived in Arnhem, where there was little appetite from me to explore the city in this weather, and so I crossed over the railway tracks and soon found my way onto the fast cycle route to Nijmegen. Once out of Arnhem the rain thankfully stopped and I was able to enjoy the ride again, although with a very wet bike and feet! 

I soon arrived in Nijmegen and was happy to have both ended my ride and also to be be back in this great city, which is always a pleasure to cycle through

Distance: Approx 86km / 55 miles
Time: Approx seven and a half hours
Photos taken: 470
Map of the route
Gallery:  70 photos here

An analysis of this trip by Jitensha Oni:

Previous Posts:

Part One - Hook of Holland to Rotterdam / Photo gallery of this journey
Part Two - Rotterdam to Gouda via Delft / Photo gallery of this journey
Part Three - Gouda to Utrecht / Photo gallery of this journey
Part Four - Utrecht to Amsterdam / Photo Gallery of this journey
Part Five - Amsterdam to Hook of Holland via The Hague / Photo gallery of this journey
Part Six - Hook of Holland to Breda / Photo gallery of this journey
Part Seven - Breda to Eindhoven via Tilburg / Photo gallery of this journey
Part Eight: Eindhoven to 's-Hertogenbosch / Photo gallery of this journey
Part Nine: 's-Hertogenbosch to Nijmegen / Photo gallery of this journey
Part Ten: Nijmegen to Utrecht / Photo gallery of this journey
Part Eleven: Hook of Holland to Gouda via Delft and Zoetermeer / Photo gallery of this journey
Part Twelve: Gouda to Utrecht, via a different route / Photo gallery of this journey

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