Every wanted to ride through the beautiful floral fields of the Netherlands? To cruise into Amsterdam – having cycled all the way from London with a group of strangers that are now friends?
In 2018 I organised a charity bike ride from London to Paris with friends and strangers from the KBB (Kitchen Bathrooms & Bedrooms) industry. The outcome was incredible! Pretty much everyone who joined me on that trip has badgered me ever since to organise another one, and if you take a look through the photos of the previous ride you can see why.
Of course we couldn’t just repeat the same trip, we had to think of somewhere new. Amsterdam is the cycling capital of Europe, and as we all know, one of the most beautiful too. To get there we will cycle along beautiful canals, through picturesque villages and past farmlands famous for their springtime tulips.
Why am I doing this? Quite simply to ensure that the charity Sanitation First, who do incredible work across India and other countries, can make more progress in their drive to provide valuable sanitation to those that don’t have the luxury that we enjoy. Let’s be honest, that sentence sounds a bit lame on it’s own and I could easily write a 1,000 words on the subject and not do it justice. The last ride we organised raised over £20,000 and as a result there is now a disabled school in India that has a brand new toilet block for the 120 children. It’s quite special and I can promise you when the riders of this trip read about the project coming to completion some were quite overwhelmed.
So it’s a charity bike ride and the money raised must go to Sanitation First.
Below is an overview of the trip and as much information we can offer at this time. Interested? Simply register your details and I will stay in touch.
- 4 days of cycling
- 286 miles (463km) trip
- Average daily distance 71 miles (116 km)
- Low cost entry circa £500-£600 for the trip itself
- You must raise a minimum of £500 for charity Sanitation First before the event
- Support Vehicle to carry bags etc.
This is a wonderful cycle challenge taking in four different countries and cycling through fascinating countryside. Starting at the famous Greenwich Observatory, the ride passes through the cycle-friendly cities of Bruges and The Hague finishing in the very heart of Amsterdam at the Klonjkleik Paleis. We’ll cycle past the long beaches of Dunkirk, along waterways and tree-lined canals and through pretty farmland dotted with windmills as we make our way northwards along the coast towards Amsterdam. The feeling of the wind in your face and sense of achievement as you make the final ride into Amsterdam is very special indeed.
We will run this cycle event over 4 nights, 5 days (4 cycling days), perhaps a Wednesday to Sunday. An expected itinerary looks like this:
Day 1 – London – Dover: The route takes in Greenwich Park, Shooters Hill and then follows the Thames corridor through to Dartford. From there you skirt Maidstone passing through Coxheath, Lenham and over the Kent Downs towards Folkestone. From Folkestone the route follows the coast northwards to Dover, where you will stay the night.
79 miles (129km)
Day 2 – Calais to Bruges: Three countries in one day. The day starts with an early morning ferry crossing and then we enjoy easy cycling on the lowlands of the Pas de Calais and the Flanders region of Belgium. Cycling via quiet country lanes, charming coastline, tree-lined canals and the historic town of Dunkirk we cross the border into Belgium finishing the day in the pretty town of Bruges.
73 miles (118km)
Day 3 – Bruges to Hellevoetsluis: From Bruges we enter the Netherlands, the ultimate cycling nation and head towards the coast cycling via the charming town of Sluis and past fields famous for their springtime tulips dotted with the odd windmill. Stopping at Breskens we take the small ferry to Vlissingen and cycle over the many waterways to Hellevoetsluis.
73 miles (118km)
Day 4 – Hellevoetsluis to Amsterdam: Cycling past long beaches, sand dunes and polders we ride on flat terrain on Holland’s excellent cycle network in this fascinating region almost all artificially created by huge dikes holding back the sea. Soon the Amsterdam is in our sights as we enter this cycle-friendly city riding beside beautiful canals and interesting buildings to our final stop at the grand Koninklijk Paleis.
61 miles (98km)
Day 5 – Amsterdam Free morning in Amsterdam before returning to London by Eurostar to collect your bikes from St Pancras.
Please note: This itinerary is a guide only. It can be subject to change dependent upon viability, and weather conditions or for any other reason.
As mentioned above, this ride is in aid of Sanitation First. Sanitation First has a vision of everyone having access to a safe and hygienic toilet. Toilets are the stepping-stones towards a better future for people living in acute poverty, as basic sanitation is the linchpin that connects all other forms of development. Without improved sanitation, poverty will not be eradicated. For more details about their work, please visit their web page at: http://sanitationfirst.org
Below is a list of the key things included in the package.
- 4 nights’ accommodation in good quality B&Bs or hotels with ensuite or private bathroom and breakfast
- Experienced cycle leader(s)
- Support vehicle
- All luggage transfers on cycle days
- Ferry crossings (Dove to Calais and Breskens to Vlissingen)
- Return transport to Eurostar (St Pancras) London
- Transport for bikes back to London
- All pre-planned routes (in printed & GPX format)
- Detailed Rider Pack
- A whole load of fun and sense of personal achievement!
What’s Not Included
The most important thing to note here is that this is not a cycling trip organised by professionals. They would cost a minimum of £1,000 and would obviously do a better job. This is a cycling trip organised by a single individual, with a lot of help from others, and one that you have to accept comes with compromises. It’s not for profit, it’s a best endeavours exercise. Or in simple terms, I am doing the ride and you have decided to come with me.
Whilst every effort will be made to ensure this is a stress free and well organised trip, you’ll be signing every disclaimer possible to make sure you don’t sue me if you get lost, didn’t like the rain, or your hotel room had a damp patch in the ceiling! All riders, including the organiser, are using the same hotels, ferries and routes and are motivated to get you there in one piece and with a smile in your face. I promise!
More precisely, just so you are aware the following isn’t included:
- Group leaders that will always know where they are going (don’t worry we made it to Paris ok)
- Official first aiders or emergency back-up
- Bike mechanics (but many riders interested sure are handy with bikes)
- Lunches and evening meals
- Personal insurance (for cancellation, accident, health, emergency evacuation and loss, theft of or damage to baggage and personal effects) although we can point you towards companies that will offer this for you.
- Bike and bike equipment
- Other such luxuries
Oh wow where do we start? Helen said she would struggle with the London to Paris and she did. But tell that to her as she rode in to Paris grinning from ear to ear and she’ll laugh with you. Let’s say as a minimum you need:
- To be on a road bike and you must know how to handle it
- To be able to ride for at least five hours in one day
- To be able to ride at least 50 miles prior to the trip and to do so with an average speed of 13mph or over.
Equally, we are not looking for the fast lycra brigade who think it’s a race to Amsterdam. We like to take photographs, to enjoy an espresso, to use our bike computers for tracking our ride and for directions, not for competition. If you are super fit and enjoy cycling – great, you are more than welcome, just make sure you realise you will be asked to ride with the group (or a part of it) at all times and because of your experience I will need you to help lead those that are less experienced.