The Hunebedden Overnighter
131 Mi.(211 KM)
% Rideable (time)
Technical Difficulty: 7•
Physical Demand: 8•
Elise fell in love with bikepacking after her first trip in Oregon, right after she quit riding as a competitive road cyclist. According to the saying by Socrates, “He who can live with little is very rich,” she prefers to go on an adventure carrying very little yet feeling incredibly rich. Follow Elise’s adventures on strava and flickr.
Mountain biking in perhaps the flattest country in the world might leave a lot to the imagination. Nevertheless, the Netherlands offers many great mountain bike routes. Just don’t take the word mountain in “mountain biking” too literally.
The Hunebedden Overnighter follows cycling paths, gravel forest roads, many singletrack trails, and even some cobblestones. One of the highlights is ‘t Nije Hemelriekje. This recreational lake near Gasselte in the Gieten-Borger forestry is surrounded by technical singletrack. Also, you’ll be passing some fantastic cycling and espresso bars, a brewery, and the hunebedden, which are megalithes that are more than 5,000 years old—older than the Egyptian pyramids! They’re built of huge granite stones dragged to the spot and piled up to form a stonegrave. Unbelievable, but true.
Approximately halfway through, you’ll be riding Col du Vam, which is located on a former landfill site. It’s the perfect place to have a bicycle course, considering this “mountain” is the highest point in the whole of Drenthe. The challenging bicycle course there is the Dutchest thing ever, with an altitude of 4,800 centimetres above sea level. The last stop before finishing is Maallust Brewery. They made the best beer of 2022, and you can either have a tour or just drink a beer. After the brewery, it’s an easy stretch back to Groningen, usually with a tailwind.
The route as a whole is rated as a 6 out of 10. How hard it is largely depends on your luck with the rain. When it has been dry, this route is rated 6 out of 10. When conditions are less favorable, it can be an 8, mainly due to the muddy route. The Hunebedden Overnighter is mainly demanding because of the distance, so it gets an 8 out of 10 for physical demand. If you stay at the campsite in Odoorn, your second day will be a long day in the saddle. The route will be more challenging when it’s rainy (and it often is in the Netherlands), and the amount of mud makes for a much tougher and more difficult ride.
It gets a 7 out of 10 for technical difficulty. The singletrack can be challenging, especially if you carry a lot of luggage. Having a light setup will help you through the technical sections. Some trails will even offer some serious drops and wall rides, but you can easily avoid them.
Overall, logistics are simple, with the route starting and finishing in Groningen, which is a two-hour train ride from Amsterdam. There is no need to carry a huge amount of water; there are plenty of opportunities to refill. The same goes for food. Also, you can consider camping halfway, and you’ll find a campsite along the route every 20-30 kilometres.
Route development: The Hunebedden Overnighter connects the finest mountain bike routes in the north of the Netherlands. Recreatieschap Drenthe and Wieler Sport Vereniging Ooststellingwerf (WSVO) have created these routes and they are maintained completely by volunteers.
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- Klasbak Zuidlaren: Klasbak is the Dutch word for a clever and strong rider, great place to have some good coffee and cake.
- Hunebedden: Megaliths that are more than 5,000 years old. Built of huge granite stones, some of them weighing over 25,000 kilograms, they were dragged to the spot and piled up to form a stonegrave.
- Col du Vam bicycle course.
- Maallust Brewery: They made the best beer of 2022. After the brewery, it is an easy stretch back to Groningen, usually with a tailwind.
- Velodroom: The largest bike and repair shop in the Northern Netherlands, they serve great coffee and cake too!
- Spaak: This is both an espresso bar and bike repair shop. They also serve really good lunch and great IPA.
- This route is best ridden from May to September when temperatures are usually between 18- 25 degrees celsius. In August and September, the heather is in bloom, which provides beautiful views. As far as rain is concerned, be prepared for it at any time of year.
- Logistics are simple, with the route starting and finishing in Groningen, a two-hour train ride from Amsterdam.
- There are several park and ride areas around the city where you can park your car for free and ride to the start.
- The Netherlands is not familiar with wild animals. Until recently, at least, when the first wolf population in 140 years found residence in the northern Netherlands.
- Most travelers can stay in the Netherlands without a visa for a maximum of 90 days in a 180-day period.
- Wild camping is prohibited in the Netherlands.
- All of the route is rideable.
- Camping Vlintenholt is a car-free campsite 70 kilometers in that offers clean toilets and showers, which are included in the price. A wifi network is only available at the reception. This campsite is open from the 27th of March until the 15th of September, and during summer break (July and August) it is recommended to make a reservation. More info is available at Vlintenholt.nl.
- Hotel & Restaurant Wesseling in Dwingeloo (130 kilometers in) is the second-oldest family business in the Netherlands. The owner is an avid cyclist himself, and you and your bike will be well taken care of here. Try the home-brewed beer called Wesseling’s 1662.
- Camping Diever is a family campsite along the route offering several cabins, many pitches for (cara)vans, and a few pitches for hikers and bikepackers. During summer break (July and August), it is recommended to make a reservation at this campsite. This campsite is open from the 1st of April until the 1st of October and has clean toilets and showers (you need a special card for the shower), which can be bought at the reception. More info is available at CampingDiever.nl
- Tap water is generally good in the Netherlands, and you can fill your water bottle at any bar or restaurant.
- Each village also has a supermarket where you can buy food and drinks. Check the opening hours of supermarkets online when you’re riding on Sunday.
- Hotel & Restaurant Wesseling in Dwingeloo (130 kilometers), as mentioned under Camping and Lodging, is a great place to stop for a beer and some food.
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