Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Fiets4daagse - a Drents phenomena

Fietsvierdaagse start. Peter's bike and mine amongst
thousands of others (mostly behind the people on the right ;-)
A four day organised bicycle ride, the Fietsvierdaagse, is organised in Drenthe every year. It's a social event, not a race and around 15000 people take part each year. A variety of different length routes are available every day, varying from 25 km for the RollOn Route (aimed at people with disabilities and guaranteed accessible by any type of assisted bicycle) through to the 100 km Sport edition. It's something to look forward to every year and we've taken part in this event most years that we've lived in Assen, usually taking our time and riding one of the most popular distances (40 and 60 km each day).

Though 15000 people are taking part, on the 100 km route
you see relatively few other cyclists except at places where
this route overlaps one of the others.
Judy and I couldn't possibly do the whole ride this year because a study tour which we're hosting for a group of students from an American university overlaps with the days of the Fietsvierdaagse, but it's a shame to miss the event altogether so I wanted to do at least a part of it.

On the more popular distances, the Fiets4daagse is all about gezelligheid. Speeds are low and it can take quite a while to cover a short distance. The longer routes attract fewer / sportier people so it's possible to take part without the ride taking all day. It was a 100 km route which I rode around with a friend this morning, lots of discussion along the way, still gezellig, but as this took less than four hours we were back in time to finish eating lunch at home. It was a different way to enjoy the event and a lot of fun. The weather was fabulous, but I did slightly underestimate how much I'd drink at a temperature of 34 C so I was a little dehydrated by the end.
What do you get ? A flag for your bike, and a card to get stamped at each organised stop.
However, as explained above, for most people the Fiets4daagse isn't normally about getting around in any hurry at all.

After the 50th edition of the Fiets4daagse, our local TV station made a really nice documentary last year (in Dutch of course). This features footage from the first event, in 1966 with just 239 riders up until last year. Look out also for such things as footage of cycle-path construction in the 1960s, members of the royal family taking part and "borrowing" a large decorative steel bicycle from elsewhere in the country:

And here's my impression of the event from 2012 when we rode the 40 km route each day with family, including my mother who visited from the UK to take part:

The wonderful conditions for cycling through the countryside here are a large part of the reason why we chose to live in Assen.

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