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TET Netherlands - Rookie impressions


Tenerider
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Since I've had my mind set on getting my rider's license last year, one point on my bucket list has been "ride some TET". I think it might even have been the TET which has drawn me to dual sport/ADV bikes - at first I had my eyes set on a 690/701, but as time went on I more and more got in love with the T7.

 

Being a newly licensed rider, this means of course that my offroad experience on motorized two wheels is zero. The German TET sections are at least 300 km from me, and are said to have only about 9% of unpaved roads - I needed something closer to my home in Western Germany to get my bike into the dirt.

Luckily, the Dutch (and also belgian) border is only 100 km west of my location - and they have just added a new section (section 11) to TET NL which starts in that area, South Limburg.

Double luck: This is @Ray Ride4life 's backyard, and he has already uploaded quite a lot footage of this area (and of TET NL) to his YT channel https://www.youtube.com/user/ZX750Ray

 

Ray got back to me as soon as he read about my plans here in the forum, and confirmed to me that this section is definitely rideable with a more or less stock T7 (tires, shocks), taking into account that I am an unexperienced rider. Furthermore, he even made a "little test ride" (roughly 1/3 of the section) on Sunday and sent me his comments and routing alternatives - which turned out to be very helpful.

 

I felt prepared and decided to take off on Tuesday (yesterday), although weather forecast predicted 30° C (86° F) for the afternoon. But I recently got some new riding gear from Bowtex (Standard R shirt/pants):

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 which was said to be great for higher temperatures (that's why I bought it), while still offering premium protection. Until now, I only had "one gear for every season", which works up to 20°C - somehow, as long as you are riding. If temperature hits 25°C, I couldn't ride slower than 80 km/h; every stop caused massive sweating. Not cool 😉

 

I took off around 7:30 AM, temperature was 15°C, and I was cruising on the highway at 90-100 km/h (speedo reading). Average fuel consumption was lower than usual: 3.1 l/100 km! I really think this might be due to the Bowtex shirt/pants tight fit, causing significantly less drag than my regular garment. I did not notice any tailwind. Normally, she needs around 3.3 l/100km at the same speed.

After some time, I arrived at the starting point of TET NL-11:

20220803_122130.jpg.561960915fbd7282d3472092022ff310.jpg

 

I aired down to 2.0 bars front / 2.2 bars rear and put on my new (cheap) MX goggles, since it was already getting hot under my helmet. Yes, it doesn't look very special there - I assumed there would still be lots of tarmac until the fun parts began.

But I was wrong, just a couple of wheel revolutions later the first (admittedly short) gravel road came, leading to a small village, after which the trail roughly followed the line of Julianakanaal, a canal bypassing river Meuse between the cities of Maastricht and Maasbracht.

Small paved twisties and gravel roads (mostly smooth fine hardpack with good grip) took turns, a pleasant mixture:

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I took it easy, since I neither wanted to disturb pedestrians nor cyclists, nor did I want to crash due to my low experience.

I was using OsmAnd (Android GPS app) for navigating, which is GREAT: Turn-by-turn navigation from GPX track worked very well, never annoyed me, and even altered the route when needed, so I could skip two short sections easily (trucks were blocking both).

 

Temperatures were constantly rising, but even in standstill the Bowtex gear was quite comfortable. When riding, I had a constant air flow which really helped staying focused and fit. The Level 2 protectors are highly flexible, moving around the bike was a no-brainer. Over the time, I got more and more accustomed to controlling clutch/throttle  while standing on the pegs. After roughly 1,5 hours, I made a short stop in the shade:

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The goggles and new jacket/pants were a good choice already, otherwise it would have been too hot to ride for me. Those kind of roads could of course easily be ridden with any bike, but it wouldn't stay like that 😄

 

The Netherlands suffer from drought (just like almost every country in Europe), in many parts the weeds next to the trail were completely dried out - I was a bit scared of causing a wildfire, so I took extra care not to fall and had a look in the mirrors from time to time.

Some (small) parts of the trail got really bumpy (good!), and I found the suspension to do its job quite well (at least I wasn't thrown off the bike, and it didn't bottom out 😄). These parts definitely require a bike with sufficient suspension travel and decent tires.

Some short stretches are on loose sand (man I was scared, but luckily, my steering or braking inputs showed no effort, so I had to go on :D). And some gravel roads have recently been re-covered with fine round stones, where my rear tire was swimming left and right all the time - funny feeling. Was busy with riding, so I didn't take pictures of these parts.

 

The area south of Roermond was most interesting for me: Long, fast gravel parts mixed with grassy surface and smaller, narrower trails (not shown):

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Around this area I met two fellow trail riders (both rode the opposite direction), at first one on an Africa Twin (I think an XRV 750), the other guy later on a CRF 250L or 300L - great bike! I envied him a bit for his light, lean offroad weapon...

 

I was riding on the trail for roughly 4 hours (yes, I'm slow...) when I reached a beautiful café/deli north of Roermond in the Meinweg national park area (beautiful heath/forest area):

Highly recommended! It is more or less in the middle of the trail. Had some "Toast Hawaii" there (if you don't know, this is a European invention from the 50's, sandwich with ham, cheese and pineapple. I guess nobody in Hawai'i has ever heard of it):

20220802_132233.jpg.4d19841b8d0c62cb394e9c6838833083.jpg

 

Around that time Ray had sent me a message so we could meet for coffee, unfortunately I read it too late 😞

 

After this stop, the trail led me over paved roads at first, which was welcome for me. Nice little towns and places like this one:

20220802_141848.jpg.1ad8a985a86d75855ea02b26df954666.jpg

 

I already expected no more unpaved sections, but I was wrong! The offroad sections included more forest tracks like this one close to the town of Venlo:

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Note the narrower "fietspad" (bicycle lane) next to the gravel road! These are often paved, even when the road is unpaved.

In general, I found that people over there were very friendly when I approached them - in Germany, I would have been lynched several times for riding through forests. Plus scaring pedestrians and cyclists. A few people were less friendly, I am quite sure they were German tourists (honestly).

 

Probably the most beautiful part of this section runs through De Hamert national park, passing the heather-covered slopes (not really visible in the photo :-/):

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This slowly twisting gravel road is the final offroad part, very close to the section's end point:

 

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This ride was a fantastic experience, both in terms of landscape and of riding. I got a lot more confident offroad, and still think the T7 is the right bike for what I want to do.

Back home, the trip meter showed 405 km - including breaks, it took me close to 10 hours. Time well spent!

 

Especially I would like to thank @Ray Ride4life again for providing excellent information about the trail and for his scouting. Thanks man, looking forward to meeting you in person!

 

 

Edited by Tenerider
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You're welcome, always nice when i can help someone out and make them feel better.
Today i had to do some shopping in Heinsberg so i took a detour and took the TET until Posterholt and hopefully the rest of that new section soon. The rest of the TET NL i already did, even a big part of section 2 on the Crosstourer and then i knew i needed a lighter bike leading me to the T7.

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Great photographs of the countryside!  Thanks for posting them.  

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Just now, Eric W. said:

Great photographs of the countryside!  Thanks for posting them.  

You're welcome! I like the pics others here post of their rides, this inspired me a bit.

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