Destinations: Limburg

Exporing The Bergs of Limburg

Located in the south of the Netherlands is a small but beautiful place called Limburg, with its rolling hills, scenic routes, and cycling-friendly culture, its also is a world leader when it comes to cycling. In 2018, the province hosted the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships, and the city of Valkenburg - at the heart of the region Its home to the Amstel Gold Race and Amstel Gold Race Ladies. Over 50 cycling competitions take place in the province each year, and 100 cyclo-sportives are organised with 75,000 participants of all ages taking part on courses that cross Limburg. So it would have been rude not to travel down here in our Label Collective camper to test out the bergs and coffee shops.

Day 1: Arrival

The weekend weather forecast in our base of Amsterdam was rain, so we were relieved to see only a 19% chance down in Limburg. We packed up and drove 235 km southeast and arrived at our campsite called Camping De Bosrand, which we highly recommend if you are visiting, as it has everything cyclists need, including a bike wash area and showers.

We had left early as we wanted to get at least a 50 km ride in, and it did not disappoint. We headed out with a small bit of spitting rain which soon cleared up, and we were greeted by our first proper climb of the day up to Vijlenerbos. The climb was 4.18 km with a 162 m elevation gain and an average gradient of 3.9%. It doesn't seem like much, but for the Netherlands, this is a rarity.

The landscape in Limburg is rolling; you don't get huge climbs, but they are punchy and often the "Bergs," as they call them, go up to a max of 24% at times. If you get cobbles too, it's doubly hard. As we continued, we slowly started to fall in love with the area more and more. It's a different scenery. Ten months of the year, we are in Spain, so it's a stark contrast to the rough and ruggedness we are used to. Farmers' fields stretch for kilometers, and there are more cows than you have ever seen, while you swoop through the designated bike lanes feeling more protected than ever.

We were greeted by a real kicker of a small, punchy climb at one point in our ride. We cannot for the life of us remember what it was called or where it was. However, just think: small ring and clicking your gear to find out there are none left...

Rolling Hills and Panoramic Vistas

Just to dive back into the scenery more, as well its important when your riding to enjoy what you see. Unlike the flat terrain typical of the Netherlands, Limburg is characterised by its gently rolling hills. These undulating landscapes create a dynamic backdrop for your rides, offering panoramic vistas that stretch far into the distance. The climbs and descents provide both a physical challenge and a feast for the eyes, with every summit rewarding you with sweeping views over the lush countryside. As mentioned you'll traverse extensive farmlands and orchards. Fields of vibrant green crops stretch out in neat rows, punctuated by the occasional tractor or farm building. In spring and summer, even though its June now, the weather was definitely not spring summer for us, the orchards were still in bloom with delicate blossoms, and after talking to some of those we met on our trip the autumn brings a harvest of apples, pears, and cherries, painting the landscape with rich, warm colours, so forsure we would love to stick this back on the map for a return later in the year.

Day 2: Famous climbs and coffee stops

Complete honesty is that we had no idea we would ride the Cauberg today, a famous climb in the area, but we will get into that later. Our plan was to head out towards Valkenburg for coffee at Fixed Gear. Now, Valkenburg, a picturesque town nestled in the rolling hills of southern Limburg, has long been a cornerstone of Dutch cycling culture. Its history is steeped in cycling tradition, making it a revered destination for cyclists from around the world. Why? Mainly because of professional cycling.

The Amstel Gold Race

One of the most iconic events associated with Valkenburg is the Amstel Gold Race. First held in 1966, this prestigious one-day classic is part of the UCI World Tour and is the only Dutch race of its kind. The race typically features a challenging course that winds through the hilly terrain of Limburg, with Valkenburg often playing a central role in the route.

The Cauberg

The Cauberg, the climb we talked about—or as Google would tell you, “a steep hill in Valkenburg”—is perhaps the most famous climb in Dutch cycling. It has been a decisive element in the Amstel Gold Race, with its tough gradient and strategic position near the finish line often determining the race's outcome. Cyclists from around the world come to test their mettle on this legendary climb. It's somehow a rite of passage but not really, depending on how you define your cycling goals.

Lastly, Valkenburg's challenging terrain has been featured in grand tours as well. The Tour de France has passed through Valkenburg on several occasions, most notably using the Cauberg climb to add an extra layer of difficulty to its stages. The Vuelta a España, another grand tour, has also included stages in this cycling-friendly region, so you can see it has some roots.

Anyways, putting that aside, when we arrived in Valkenburg and descended the Cauberg to Fixed Gear Coffee, it did not disappoint. The decor is beautifully done with wooden, old classic bikes in their purest form hanging from the walls. Every cake is homemade and the coffee is sensational. It's more than enough reason to ride out here, and we would have been content with that being the day done. However, we still had 70 km to go on our 90-something-kilometer day.

Poppies lined the sides of the roads as we climbed around the region towards the German and Belgian border. We pushed through, feeling like there were no flat sections on our route—up and down, up and down—until we approached the lookout tower of the Three Countries, a place where the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium intersect and you can see all from the top of the tower.

Now, we don't know how true this is, but we've heard Vaalserberg is the longest climb in the Netherlands, but a Google search threw up the Tafelberg, so maybe it was just our legs doing the talking from the day's adventure as it was only 3.6 km.

As we mentioned, we were at the intersection of the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium, in Vaalserberg, the highest point in mainland Netherlands, standing at 322.7 metres (1,059 feet) above sea level. This tripoint, known locally as the "Drielandenpunt" or "Dreiländereck" (Three-Country Point), is a fascinating destination for cyclists of all types—Dutch bikes, e-bikes, and more—regardless of age. It embodies what cycling should be about.

We didn't feel like carrying our bikes to the top of the tower, but if you go, the highlight of the Vaalserberg area is the Dreiländereck Tower, also known as the "Wilhelmina Tower." This observation tower offers an epic panoramic view of the surrounding landscapes of all three countries.

Passing up that opportunity, we descended into Belgium for a quick skirmish with some climbs that looped back on each other before heading back into the Netherlands for a 30 km ride back to our van, but not before enjoying a post-ride beverage at the café.

Shortly after, Julian was caught napping from the day's adventure, and we soon called it a night. This would be our last night in Limburg as we had a 3-hour drive back the next day to Amsterdam. With some questionable weather forecasted for the next day's ride, we decided to call it off—just because, why push it if you don't have to?

Our Takeaway

Short and sweet, If you have a chance to put this beautiful region on your map, definitely do, there are routes for everyone of all levels, all types of bikes and 2000 km squared are cycle lanes, after all, it's the netherlands. 

So until the next adventure, see you on the road.