A recreational area with a lake surrounded by a park like landscape, forests and fields would not be complete if it didn’t have a wonderful and fast MTB track. Recreational park Geestmerambacht has it. An 8 km long track that will feed your hunger for mud.
Between Alkmaar, Heerhugowaard and Langedijk you will find recreational park Geestmerambacht. Including a big lake it offers the possibility to relax on and besides the water. It’s the perfect place for some swimming, surfing, walking and biking. In fact, there is an entire walk and bike route network.
And of course there is the MTB track. The track has a length of 8 km and is mostly a single track route. The route is signed using the international mountainbike symbol, indication the direction of the track. In the case of this track it’s counter-clockwise.
Man made Geestmerambacht
Geesmerambacht does not truly look like a forest. Even though the paths wind their way trough the trees, there are many signs that give away that it’s a man made park.
In the middle ages the local inhabitants, called ‘Geestmannen’, made the marshy land suitable for agriculture. When in 1800 the cow plague struck, people moved to horticulture. For the fields fertile mud was very important. The ditches around the fields became wider due to all the dredging and soon the area was called the realm of the thousand islands.
In the 50’s organized agriculture, horticulture and municipalities put heavy pressure on the national and provincial government to provide funds for reconstruction of the area. In 1962, the government took the decision to, through land consolidation, reconstruct Geestmerambacht. For land consolidation sand was extracted for roads and residential areas. As a result, the pond ‘The Zomerdel’ arose, making it a beautiful recreational area for young and old.
Cross what? Cyclocross!
Yes, if a course is set out in muddy terrain, it’s 9 out of 10 times called an MTB track. This doesn’t mean that it’s only accessible by MTB though. Many times the courses lend itself for cyclocross too!
For those unfamiliar, cyclocross, popular in Belgium and the Netherlands, but spreading quickly, may be seen as a bridge between road cycling and mountain biking. The bike looks like a ‘roady’, but is more stiff and has wider tires that usually run on very low pressure to maintain grip (think 1.5 to max 2 bar!). It’s also a much more uncomfortable ride and requires a lot of technique. Just as with MTB, lowering the center point of gravity is extremely important to keep grip and stay seated. Cyclocross is less forgiving, so it’s important to stay focused on technique and your set out line trough the trail.
We will cover the aspects of cyclocross during our MTB adventures. At most, we look at the track itself for potential pinch flats from tree roots and sections that are just too much for cyclocross.
Crossing the Geestmerambacht trail
Geestmerambacht wouldn’t be complete with a MTB trail, and so there is an 8 km. long trail. While mostly single track on dirt trails, there are some cool obstacles and challenges. This trail won’t tire you for it’s high-meters as even the advertised 55 m. seems a bit more than reality.
What does make this trail tough is the amount of corners. You will be going back and forward many times forcing you to focus on your position and lines. It’s for that reason that in your first full circle you should be careful and slow, some of the turns are surprisingly sharp and unclear.
On a mountainbike this trail will bring you a lot of fun and, if you’re hammering it, a heavy interval training with a lot of focus on technique and position on the bike. For cyclocross, the track is very challenging in finding the right lines and position.
While lacking some typical cross barriers, sand and very little grass, the good news is that it will be though getting pinch flats on this track. There are little to no exposed roots and there is no stone to be seen, which makes sense considering the history of Geestmerambacht.
Most of the year, especially in summer time, you can expect this track to be rock solid hard. In rainy periods, this track can drown. In fact, when it has been raining for consecutive days in a row, it’s probably not much fun as you’ll be sucked into the mud until a the point of not being able to move anymore. In those cases, if you really want to go out, go by MTB.
How to get there
By far the easiest by car. Point your navigation to Klaregroetweg in Noord-Scharwoude. From Alkmaar, go north on the N245 towards Schagen. Go the last left before reaching the crossing between the N245 and N504.
A very good bike rental shop can be found in Bergen, close to the Schoorl MTB track. For more information, visit their website (dutch only).
Combine the trip with the MTB track in Schoorl. This track in the dunes and forest of Noord Holland is double the distance but probably also double the trouble on a cyclocross bike. With long sand stretches and rough forest trails, you’re up for quite a battle. On an mountainbike though, it’s the best possible fun you can find in Noord Holland.