I can open a barrel full of clichés and prejudices about croquettes from the wall, far too noisy people, and that eternal frugality. But of course, I'm not going to commit to that. Fact is that, if you would like to take your big adventure bike on a big trip, the Netherlands is not exactly the first destination that comes into mind. Still. And although the unpaved roads are not always easy to find, there are still very interesting places to look for adventure. Like Drenthe.
Motorbiking through Drenthe: A Dutch Countryside ExperienceMotorcycle Diaries
The Netherlands... our northern neighbours.
Drenthe is the primeval province of the Netherlands, located in the northeast of the country.
You will encounter a lot of prehistoric sites and hear interesting stories; it is the least populated province of the Netherlands. The capital and largest city is Assen, well-known for its TT-race and the annual passage of the MotoGP.
During the last ice age, the land surface of Drenthe was covered with glaciers and ice, slowly moving in from Scandinavia. This shift of stone and ice resulted in the creation of the Hondsrug, an elevation at the centre of Drenthe. It gave Drenthe somewhat of a ‘upside down soup plate’-look. The lower, wet parts of Drenthe became covered with thick layers of peat and large swamp areas.
At the centre of this primeval nature you will find a beautiful – mainly - dirt road stretch that forms a loop through the area. 200 kilometres of challenging roads and trails? I’d be glad to explore it with my Husqvarna 701.
The village of Ruinen is my starting point. After a refreshing night's sleep and a hearty breakfast I jump into the saddle of my motorcycle. The morning is still fresh. The sun makes desperate efforts to pierce through the mist. It is wonderfully quiet on the roads.
Easy does it. Along small asphalt roads lined with trees and via wide sandy paths I can calmly get into my rhythm.
The route runs through the beautiful and picturesque Dwingeloo, a village with a pleasant market square. This remarkable spot is adjacent to the Dwingerveld National Park.
If you like astronomy, you should halt here.: National Park Dwingelderveld, together with National Park Drents-Friese Wold, belongs to the darkest places in the Netherlands. On a clear night you can see an exceptionally large number of stars. The telescope adds to the overall awe.
I keep my eyes fixed on the road and trails. And although I do not encounter any hard enduro tracks, there are quite a few deep puddles and mud puddles. I need to hold the steering wheel with both hands.
I ride through tiny villages like Frederiksoord and Vledderveen and cross the province Friesland’s border. Waterways, lakes, moorland, heath and forests … even though the landscape is as flat as a pancake, it is very varied. I enjoy it to the fullest.
The “Stroovledder”, a 3 km long winding tarmac road lined by big trees, gives me quite the thrill.
Since there is a light drizzle, my ride becomes juicier and a little less pleasant, be it only for a short period. An hour later I park my motorcycle on the edge of the Fochteroërveen, a 2500-hectare nature reserve on the border of the provinces of Friesland and Drenthe. It is one of the few areas in the Netherlands where you’ll find living raised bog. It enjoys national and European protection.
start my Husqvarna and continue my way towards Groningen. The route runs just below this larger town and heads south again from there. We are halfway there, and the day is already ending. I should not delay too much if I want to complete the entire route before dark.
The route does not change too much: on my path there is an alternation of sand and small asphalt roads with the occasional passage through a small village centre. Because of the rain earlier, some places are really wet and slippery. But that's just part of the fun for sure.
Along 'de Hondsrug'-area I find a hidden gem: a small tarmac road that meanders through the forest. The “Staatsbos road” is about 7 km long, has perfect asphalt and provides you wit a shady ride through the mighty forest. There is little place to stop, so I just enjoy the smooth ride. At the end of this delightful road, I turn right into the “Steenhopenweg, a cobblestone stretch bathing in afternoon autumn light. I’m impressed by the big trees, and it feels as if I’m driving through a tunnel of branches and leaves.
An hour later, in the twilight of the evening, I arrive at the end point of the route.
I still have about 50 km to return to the hotel along major roads. With a tired body, great hunger, and an empty gas tank, I am sheltered again just before dark.
Looking back it is certainly doable in 1 day. If you would like to stop for a coffee and an extensive lunch break in between, take two days.
In any case, it is a nice, varied ride that you can do with any type of all-road motorcycle. But as it goes for any trip on the unpaved, decent tires are a must! And if you would ride your heavier all road moto it is advisable not to do it alone.
However, don't let that deter or stop you from driving this route. Be surprised by this unique region and the varied route!