If you think the Netherlands is just cities like Amsterdam and flat polders filled with tulips, think again. In the East of the Netherlands there are huge areas of sandy woodlands. If you cycle north of Wageningen for just ten minutes you are in the woods, and you can then cycle, off-road, for hours, with large areas of forest, heathland and inland dunes. You are in the Veluwe, an area popular with Dutch tourists, but little-known outside the Netherlands. For much of the area there are few restrictions on where you can go. You do not have to stick to waymarked tracks (although they do exist if you prefer that). There are restrictions in 2 areas near Wageningen, south of Wolfheze (where there are vulnerable areas with rare plants and animals) and the Utrechtse Heuvelrug (the moraine area west of Veenedaal and North of Rhenen), where mountain bikers are restricted to the official routes apparently because of the high recreative pressure on the area.
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Without doubt, one of the best official mountain bike routes in the area is the Posbank, officially known as the Rheden mountain bike route. It is 52 km long and over 500 m of elevation. For the Netherlands, that is very hilly! Not suprisingly then, it is very popular, so when I took my daughter we made sure that we kept away from the weekend and bank holidays, instead going on the Friday between Ascension day (a holiday here) and the weekend. We had chosen a good day, it was dry but not too warm, and indeed there were not too many mountain bikers on the trail. 52 kms was a bit long, so we cut across the middle, taking a shorter route which was about 35 kms. The area can be divided into a relatively flat northern half and a hilly southern half. The latter of course is much more fun, so we missed out the northern part, which meant that in our 35 km we still had over 460 m of elevation. The route was very well signposted (apparently there are over 1000 boards), but one or two crucial ones were missing (and then it would have helped if my GPS device did not display the route I had uploaded to it in exactly the same way as the alternative routes show on the base map). Although none of the ascents were really long, there is a whole succession of one after the other, so that by the time we got back to our starting point our legs were certainly feeling a bit weary. The landscape was looking quite spectacular, with the fresh new green leaves of the beech and oak trees looking wonderful, and the gorse coming into flower on the heathland. A great ride!