If you want to optimally enjoy Holland and become part of the community, get on your bike! That’s the message of the new book The Cycling Paradise by Peter de Lange and Robert van Weperen. Peter de Lange shares the story behind the book with us.
Tell us about yourself. Who are you and what made you write The Cycling Paradise?
My name is Peter de Lange. I am a journalist and love cycling. For me these two things are related: they are both ways to discover and understand the world. You don’t need to travel to the other side of the planet to go on a voyage of discovery. You can also feel a long way from home in your own country or in neighbouring countries.
At least once a year I go on a cycling trip of several hundred kilometres in an unknown area in the Netherlands or beyond – alone, or with friends. As you travel at a nice slow pace, you are able to soak up your surroundings and contemplate what you see. As a cyclist it is also very easy to get in contact with other people, and thus also with yourself. In your hectic daily life there is little time for self-reflection, cycling clears your mind. I would like to share this experience with others.
What is The Cycling Paradise about?
The Cycling Paradise is the English follow-up of my book Fietsgek (Cycling Mad) published in 2018. That book is about the unconditional love of the Dutch for the bike and the many types of bikes and uses for bikes that we have come up with. This new book acquaints expats and immigrants with the Dutch cycling culture. The message is: if you want to really enjoy this country and become part of the community, get on your bike!
The visitors to our website are expats living in Holland and tourists from abroad who come to Holland to cycle. Why should they read your book?
Many newcomers in Holland don’t dare to get on their bike because they think the traffic situation is chaotic and difficult to oversee. The book describes the experiences of other immigrants and how they overcame their fear. Their verdict: it is a lot less hard than it appears. Relaxed cycling is mainly a matter of learning the right body language.
The book also includes tips on buying, renting and leasing a bike, it explains how the signposting of the extensive network of cycle paths works and where you can find cheap places to spend the night during a multi-day bike tour. Finally, Robert van Weperen presents various cycle routes in relatively unknown areas where you can cycle at your leisure and enjoy nature.
The Cycling Paradise is actually two books in one, by two authors. The first showcases Holland as a cycling paradise. The second is series of ten cycle routes. Why this choice?
The book shows newcomers that the bike is used for a variety of purposes. In many countries the bike is not seen as a serious mode of transport; it’s just intended for sports or recreation. In Holland you go to work by bike, you use the bike to take your children to school and you transport your crate of beer that you’ve bought in the supermarket on your rear bike rack. Many foreigners are flabbergasted by this. According to the book, this is one side of our cycling paradise. Another side is this country’s beautiful landscape, and the best way to enjoy it is by bike.
The ten cycle routes in your book do not take you to see the obvious touristic locations: tulip fields, windmills and polders. Why these ten routes?
The Dutch landscape has a lot more to offer than windmills and tulips. The routes that Robert gives show a bit of the great diversity. We hope this choice works as an eye opener and inspires curious cyclists to explore beyond the well-trodden paths.
The Cycling Paradise is not the most practical book to take with you on a cycle ride and the practical information for cycling the routes is quite limited. Where can cyclists go for more detailed information? Is it the intention that people actually cycle your routes, or are they just meant to give an impression of how varied the cycling options in Holland are?
The book aims to give a good first impression of Holland as a cycling country. Those who are inspired by it to actively take part in the cycling paradise, will find a list of useful websites of bike rental shops, cycle cafes, bike museums, accommodation and apps with routes you can download on your mobile phone or tablet. [Note by the editor: Of course, you will also find a link to our Day trips!] The routes that have been included in the book are a pretty random selection. Other parts of Holland are equally well worth a visit.
How can people get hold of your book?
The Cycling Paradise is available at all major Dutch bookshops or can be ordered online via hollandbooks.nl.
The Cycling Paradise
With its flat countryside, stunning nature parks, green meadows, canalside paths, seaside vistas and cyclist-friendly villages and cities, it is no wonder that the Netherlands has more bicycles than inhabitants. Peter de Lange – a bicycle enthusiast who knows the bicycle routes through the country like the back of his hand – has created a book that not only explains how cycling became an intrinsic part of Dutch culture, but also makes it impossible for those who did not grow up on spokes and saddles to resist the urge to join the locals – from primary school children to prime ministers – on the more than 37,000 kilometres of bicycle paths that criss-cross the country.
In the Netherlands, bicycles are for everyone – tall people, small people, people with physical challenges, racing enthusiasts – and they are welcome everywhere; ranging from Veluwe National Park, where you can pick up a bicycle for free to roam its extensive woodlands and heaths; to fietscafés, where you can meet people who share your passion; to the foundation Vrienden op de Fiets, which offers a network of cheap and welcoming places throughout the country to spend the night, exclusively for cyclists and hikers.
Throughout the book you are treated to a feast of photographs showcasing the beloved wheels of the Dutch, while forty pages are dedicated to a selection of the most beautiful cycling routes in the Netherlands, ready and waiting for you to explore!
The Cycling Paradise
by Peter de Lange & Robert van Weperen
ISBN: 978 94 6319 216 3
Price: € 17.50