Skate Fresh 2006, Holland Highlights Tour (320km) (may 9th- 14- 2006)
V0020013.JPG (8614 bytes)What a beautiful Skate Fresh edition it was this year! Wonderful skaters from all over the globe, nice tracks and above all, no shivering in our tents at zero degrees Celsius as in Skate Fresh 2005!!! A nice and warm five days of skating through Holland. Skate Fresh is an organisation led by skate-crazy volunteers. Have a look at the Skate Fresh site for more information.

(Due to lack of time, in this report I didn't write texts with every picture as I used to do, but I will refer to index pages occasionally, see for more pictures below this report.)

The actual event was in contrast to the route explorations we did at the beginning of the year in cold weather conditions. Just until a week before Skate Fresh the weather was not so good, but the side effect was that the tulips were late this year as well. Colourful flowerbeds were just in time to blossom for the skaters. ...At least that was the situation when we started. However, due to the very warm days we enjoyed, the flowers were gone by the time we reached the tulip fields :-( I guess you can't have it all.

The group gathered in Wassenaar near The Hague, the same place where we would end Skate Fresh five days later. Many new faces, but also many familiar ones from last years edition. Again about 20 nationalities participated. From Tokio to San Francisco and everything in-between. In the evening Wout held the welcome speech and we divided the 100 skaters in smaller groups according to expected speed levels.

V0040028.JPG (8959 bytes)Early Wednesday morning we boarded the two chartered busses to bring us to the secret starting location. After 1.5 hours we arrived at Zyfflich, just across the border in Germany! To prevent the locals over there not to get scared by this international invasion, we had warned the village in advance. To our surprise a police car was waiting for us to escort us. This was funny, because it was just 500m till the border.


I planned to shoot pictures and video of every group. So first, I joined group 1, the fast group lead by Astrid. This group took off so fast that it broke up till only three skaters were left! So we regrouped and proceeded at a moderate speed towards the city of Nijmegen. Here I left group 1 and waited on the bridge for the next groups and joined them. At the first water supply, it turned out that Bart's group (3) was to big and had to split it up and I got group 3b. From this point, you'll see mainly the same faces in my pictures as I was leading this group for five days.

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From Nijmegen we skated on the "Waalband" dike of the river "Waal" (as the main part of the Rhine is called in Holland). With a little tail wind this was really a pleasure (index 2 and 3 of the pictures). At Druten we crossed the river by a chartered boat to Beneden Leeuwen where we had our lunch break. This part of the route was filled with cattle barriers which are definitely not skater friendly. At Tiel we crossed the river back to the north of it. After another 10km of skating we arrived at the campsite in Maurik at the river Lek/NederRijn. (Index 4). At building our base camp you could see that the popularity of the "two-seconds" tents had increased. All the luggage was transported in a big truck thanks to Martin, who offered his holidays to make this possible (and he doesn't even skate!)

The next morning, the first awards were given to skaters who have been extremely helpful, social, or energetic. See Ilian from Israel getting his one (Index 5, pic 70). Right after the start, again a ferry to bring us across a river. We skated the castle route to Utrecht. Just outside Utrecht we had pancakes for lunch. (Index 6). Later we followed the river Vecht with it's beautiful houses and skated to the campsite at the lakes around Loosdrecht.

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On day three the distance was shorter, because we had to save energy for the Amsterdam Friday Night Skate (FNS). After pitching our tents, each of the Skate Fresh guides offered a special route in the centre of Amsterdam: the route along the markets, the touristic highlight route, or the Red-light district route. In the evening we got ready for the FNS. At last, just in time,  the specially designed Skate Fresh shirt arrived, so we were very noticeable (great work Martine!). Paul from the UK, had brought his incredible sound monsters Thumper 1&2, from the UK to provide the right party atmosphere. After the FNS, Skate Fresh had arranged a boot that brought us back to the campsite (many thanks to Jolanda! the captain). (Index10)

On Saturday the tour lead us from Amsterdam, guided by Schiphol airplanes, via Haarlem to Heemstede where we were treated on a bit of rain. When we entered the flower bed area, it was sad to notice that the warm days had burned almost all the flowers, or they were just harvested. :-( For dinner, we had ordered about 100 pizza's. (Index 11). That must have been a great day for the delivery service :-) We spend the evening around a campfire, drinking and chatting.

On Sunday, our final stage, led us through the "Dutch mountains", the dunes along the coast. So we got to see the Northsea. We ended the trip at Scheveningen at the Kurhause. The last day is always a bit hectic, because some people have to catch trains, plains, etc. so not all the groups ended here. It's always sad to say goodbye to the people who skated with you for five days. But we will meet again.

The organisation decided to skip Skate Fresh 2007. It's just to much work doing all the formalities with every city we pass though. When we come up with a solution for this, who knows there will be another edition :-)

IMG_4192.JPG (10720 bytes)Thanks to all the guides: Wout, Martine, Bart, Erwin, Edwin, Jan, Peter S, Ronald, Martin, Jolanda, Astrid. And also many thanks to all our international skating friends who made this possible by participating with lot of enthusiasm. Also thanks for the gift the organisation received. We've spend it nice BBQ-party in August.

Peter (guide group 3b)

The video has not been edited yet. But I didn't want to delay the pictures anymore. Besides, Dirk from Düsseldorf already made a great video (offline).

Pictures by others: Arno, Angelique, Kirstin, Rick, Franklin1, Franklin2, Hans, Chris, Tjerk, ChristianDUSFOR, Anke, Bianca, Hubert, Chris, Tommy 

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Peter Nikkel.