The Netherlands is not particularly well-known among cyclists as a great place for climbing. But if you look carefully, especially in South Limburg, there are a host of gnarly inclines to challenge even the most seasoned rider.
A long weekend in South Limburg is music to the ears of many a (well-trained) Dutch cyclist. Although the region isn’t very big, it’s certainly never boring thanks to a multitude of short, sharp climbs known as kuitenbijters (calf-biters). We’ve compiled a list of our favourite, inclined training routes.
The Cauberg simply can’t be ignored. For years, the summit of this climb marked the finish of the Amstel Gold Race, making this slope internationally famous. Despite the fact that it’s called a berg (a mountain) it’s not—it’s a hill, but still not a hill that one should underestimate. The gradient at the start of the climb increases gradually, and then half-way up it rears to 14%, marking the spot where you either implode or go for gold. After roughly 100 metres it flattens out a bit, but the end is not yet in sight. If you want to break the Cauberg KOM on Strava here, you can make the difference by attacking the steep part and the section which follows. Make sure you attack the toughest sections as fast as possible, but keep some gas in the tank for the final couple of hundred metres.
Most people who have climbed the Cauberg will have ridden either up or down the Daalhemerweg. This hill is the descent which the pros in the Amstel Gold Race dash down before turning left to climb up the Cauberg. If you opt to go up the other way, the incline is gradual and reaches a maximum of about 7%. The whole hill, however, is about double the length of the Cauberg, making this climb ideal for punchers using sheer power to grind their way up.
For riders who prefer short, sharp climbs, there’s plenty to choose from in South Limburg—the Gulpenberg fits the bill perfectly. The climb on the eastern flank is 600 metres long, and with a maximum incline of 15% it’s a great place to leave your mates in the dust. Make sure you know beforehand where to attack and let your legs do the talking. Once you hit the summit and have regained your breath, don’t forget to enjoy the view, which is not bad at all from this spot.
The Eyserbosweg is one for the fans of short, sharp workouts. It all seems relatively harmless as you turn off the main street in Eys and turn onto the Eyserbosweg. But suddenly, halfway up the 900-metre-long climb, you start to understand how it achieves its average gradient of 11%. Ow! Fun fact: Laurens ten Dam uses this climb to test out his climbing legs every now and then…
This climb starts just after the village of Epen, if you ride in the direction of the Vijlenerbos. At 4.4 kilometres long, it’s one of the longest climbs in South Limburg. And if you turn left at the T-junction at the top you can even add a couple more kilometres to your climb. This is the perfect place to test yourself and find out whether or not your climbing legs are in order. If the weather’s good, treat yourself at the bottom to a delicious waffle and ice cream—but only if you’ve already climbed the Camerig, of course. And then you have to go back up it again, to burn off all those calories…