You Trek Utrecht?

Photo: Alper Çuğun

OK, shockingly, I seem to have originated this terrible pun.  Moving along, the Dutch city of Utrecht gained some fame in 2015, hosting the Grand Depart of the Tour de France.  As with most Dutch cities, bicycles are the most common mode of transport, with a third of journeys being taken via bike.  The city also boasts the world’s largest in-door bicycle parking lot.

However, only one of the three Utrecht bike tour companies seems to be currently operating:

  • Vintage Bike Tours is currently “not organizing any tours due to personal reasons“.  Here’s hoping that’s temporary.
  • One of Utrecht Bike Tours’ websites is down and their Facebook page hasn’t been updated since mid-summer 2016.  However this page is up and perhaps tours will resume on Saturdays this summer?
  • Fortunately, it appears to be business-as-usual over at Color Bike Tours.

But here’s something truly unique about Utrecht…they now have an entire book devoted to a bike tour.  “Rietveld in Utrecht. A heritage cycle tour” has been released to celebrate Gerrit Rietveld’s contributions to “the Style” during the 100th anniversary of de Stijl.

Photo: Arjandb

So consider putting the book into your Winkelwagen,   You can rent a bike right from the Centraal Museum.

New Cities and Experience Sharing

By WiDi [CC BY-SA 3.0]
We’ve just updated the tour directories and added some new cities, like Provo, Eindhoven, Koblenz, Ghent, Johannesburg and Soweto.  In Eindhoven, much like Memphis, there isn’t an bike tour company, but bike tours are available from experience-sharing site Withlocals (which is similar to Vayable, but currently focused on Asia and Europe).

We talked about Vayable a couple months back.  After poring over both company’s listings, we’ve concluded that:

  • They have some cool bike tours
  • They serve some cities that don’t have commercial tours
  • The providers are, mostly, not actual companies and likely to come and go more often than a bike tour company (we found a few commercial tours using Vayable for promotion)
  • Since both Vayable and Withlocals provide their own search capability by city, it seems redundant to reflect all of their listings in BTBT’s directories

That said…there are some gems, like the Memphis and Eindhoven tours, that we do want to reflect in our tour directories.  These tours are marked with this symbol: 💬  as a reminder that these are hand-picked from the “experience-sharing” sites.

Bicycle Tours of Atlanta – Fall in Love with Atlanta Tour

While visiting family in Atlanta, an extended BTBT team rode the Fall in Love with Atlanta tour from Bicycle Tours of Atlanta along with a few other guests.  When we arrived, all eight bikes were ready to go, identified with name tags for each rider.  BTofA’s website asks for height and age info when booking to provide an appropriate bike for each rider.  That’s not only helpful to find your bike, but doubly nice since it makes it easy for the guide and riders to learn one another’s names.

After a brief test ride and a few fit adjustments in the parking lot, we rolled out toward the historic shotgun houses near the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.  From there we began a rambling clockwise route roughly encircling the Little Five Points, Inman Park, and Cabbagetown neighborhoods.

After stopping for an iconic downtown Atlanta photo, we paused again to explore street art along a short section of the Atlanta Beltline (including one of three “tiny doors” that we encountered).  From there, we rode the Freedom Park Trail passing by The Carter Center.  A few shady streets later, we arrived at Little Five Points, Atlanta’s “answer to Haight-Ashbury”.  Little Five Points is proud to have exactly three non-local establishments:  The post office, a Starbucks, and an American Apparel.

After more shady residential streets and another short stint on the Freedom Park Trail, we entered Inman Park proper. Sadly, we rolled PAST the King of Pops HQ & Walk Up Window. (“Mmmm, popsicles…”)  Several blocks later, we stopped for a story about a pair of iconic houses, and their connections to the Coca-Cola company.  A bit further on, we discovered the butterfly flags marking the first neighborhood in Altanta to gentrify.

Next up, a fast, dark ride through the heavily graffitied Krog Street Tunnel followed by a photo taking break at the Cabbagetown terminus.  Heading west along Wylie Street, we encountered more murals along the concrete railroad embankment.  We then circled back to Sweet Cheats for a brief cupcake and bio-break.

Following the break, we pedaled a short distance to the site of the Fullton Bag and Cotton Mills.  A portion of the historic mill was converted to loft apartments in the late 90s.  Hundred year old walls overlook the inviting modern pool.  Just around the corner, we rode through a residence of a different sort, the Historic Oakland Cemetery.  The cemetery predates the Civil War and serves as both a final resting place and peaceful city park.

The final leg of the tour took us past the Ebenezer Baptist Church and the King Center, once again, before returning to the bike shop.

What We Liked

  • Just about everything.  The location of the shop and tour route are nearly ideal to experience a cross-section of Atlanta.
  • The bikes were in very good condition (a couple were brand new) and set up for us in advance.  The name tags were a nice touch.
  • Walt was an enthusiastic, knowledgeable guide.  Sara was learning the ropes and having a second guide to help with intersections in busy Atlanta added to our safety.
  • Plenty of water provided before and after the ride.

What Could be Better

  • One of our riders had requested an e-bike.  She wasn’t able to use the throttle, but the pedal assist worked fine.  Kudos to Walt for emailing us after the ride to explain the quirks of how that bike usually works.
  • I sure could have gone for that King of Pops popsicle  🙂

Should You Go?

Absolutely, highly recommended!  

Of note, Bicycle Tours of Atlanta also runs “Street Art” and “Twilight” tours.