Gravel heaven


Late October, in The Netherlands. It has been raining daily for almost a full week now. A scenario we had been fearing when we were planning the second edition of our Van Nicholas ‘come ride with us’ Social Ride. We pre-rode the routes in the weeks before the event, but every time in dry weather, so we didn’t know just how bad it could get. This is going to be exciting!

Saturday, 23 October 2021

On Saturday we’ll be exploring the region around the city of Ede, on the edge of the Veluwe national park. You can expect a mix of flowing single track, forest roads and gravel paths. With over 75% of the route being off road, we do recommend tires with a bit of grip and lower tire pressure.


Day 1


We meet up in the morning at ‘De Fietser’ in Ede. An experience center worthy of the name. Amongst hundreds of brand new bikes, waiting to be tried and tested, we enjoy a nice cup of coffee while everybody arrives. While most of us are now getting to know each other, discussing the day ahead, the bikes they brought and whether or not to take that extra rain jacket, I am stressing out. Somehow I’ve put off changing the slick tires on my Rowtag gravel bike to that very morning. People looking, time flying by, I’m struggling. I end up having to ask my friends to help to get the new tires on. “Great start, awesome first impression” I sarcastically tell myself. But hey, you know what they say; the right tire is the difference between suffering and glory on an off-road ride.

Everybody high on caffeine and me still pumped up from the adrenaline, we head out. Looking around me and seeing the group, I know it’s going to be a great day. The weather seems to be sharing my feeling and decides we’ve had enough rain for now.

The route of today takes us along the edge of the Veluwe and proves to be a real showcase for what a gravel bike is capable of. One moment cruising along a well maintained gravel path, the next plowing over a grassy field and then diving into a technical single track section.

Just like the route, the group has a little bit of everything. People going off road on their gravel bikes for the first time and Xterra champions. Kids going through the ranks in youth racing as well as established racers and former professionals, now enjoying retirement. Time after time I’m impressed with how the bike can bring people together. 

My mind occupied by talking to all these wonderful people, the miles fly by and before I know it we’re back at “De fietser” where a shower for both myself and the bike are awaiting me.

What started as a group of likeminded individuals in the morning ends up as a group of friends, sharing their love for the bike and life stories over a hot cup of soup in the evening. A last little walk around the giant experience center and it’s to time to say goodbye.

Today had it all. Everything.

Sunday, 24 October 2021

We start the day with a gentle climb on forest roads. The route mixes long, straight gravel lanes with gentle rolling terrain and some opportunities to test your gravel bike’s agility on flow single track. I haven’t been able to stop smiling since I went to pre-ride the entire course last weekend. You’re up for a treat! The number of options for a quick stop are more limited than on Saturday’s ride, but we do pass some restaurants and a camp ground where they have a supermarket.


Day 2


Sunshine. The first thing I see in the morning when I look out the window. I can’t wait to get on my bike.

I’ve pre-ridden this course the week before and I know what’s to come. Miles and miles of smooth gravel roads and winding, flowing broad singletrack.

Heaven for gravel bikes.



A new day, new faces, new stories, but the same passion and enthusiasm. One, two, three coffees, a quick bike check and we’re ready to roll. Today the entire group is on a Rowtag. What a magical sight to see. It’s login to be another great day.

The pale blue autumn sky and broad views are a photographer’s dream and I use every little bit of energy I have in my legs to get in front of the group, get off the bike, capture some shots, get back on the bike and get back to the group.

Turning today’s Social Ride into somewhat of an high intensity interval training. “Pics or it didn’t happen” I tell myself as I prepare for another jump of the front of the group.

Today’s route makes for fast miles, and gives us the time for a quick coffee stop when we pass by a nice little terrace in the sun. A platter of “broodje kroket” reminds me I’m not actually in heaven today, but in The Netherlands.

More sun, more fun, more miles and more smiles. I’m having the time of my life. Hearing ride stories from the Transcontinental and the Atlas Mountain Race have me daydreaming of adventures to come. I wish this day could last forever.

Back at “De Fietser”, over some “saucijzenbroodjes” and beers we’re already making plans for the next edition. I can’t wait!

A big thank you, once more, to everybody who joined us. You are all amazing. See you next time!

Nothing looks, Rides, Lasts like a Van Nicholas