Eleven Cities Cycling Tour

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Departure of the Elfstedentocht cycling tour in 2006

The Eleven Cities Cycling Tour (Dutch: Fietselfstedentocht, Frisian: Alvestêdetocht op de fyts) was originally a bicycle race in Friesland, Netherlands, but now, due to the number of participants, has become a bicycle tour. It is the cycling counterpart of the Elfstedentocht ice-skating tour which is held irregularly on frozen waterways in the same region.


Due to the popularity of the Eleven Cities Skating tour, a similar tour was hosted for cyclist in the beginning of the 20th century. In 1912 the first cycling tour was organised. It started out as a competition, and was organised when the skating counterpart wasn't organised due to the weather. Since 1947, the tour has been organised annually on Whit Monday, a Dutch Bank holiday. Although the tour started out as a race, from 1958 it was hosted as a tour in order to prevent serious injuries.[1] Due to popular interest by non-professional cyclist, and the sometimes less-ideal conditions of the road, it was considered to be too dangerous to race. To prevent enthusiasts from racing anyway, participants are to keep in mind a maximum average speed of 25 km/h between check points.


The cycling tour's route differs from its counterpart on skates: the cycling tour starts and ends in Bolsward rather than in Leeuwarden. The tour takes the participants through the eleven ancient cities of the province of Frisia.[2] The tour is currently limited to 15,000 entrants. Between 05:00 and 08:00, entrants leave Bolsward every eight minutes in batches of 600 participants. Those who complete the 235 km tour before midnight are entitled to a medal.

Types of bicycles[edit]

While most participants use a racing bicycle, other types of bikes can be seen as well. A small percentage participates on tandem bicycles, European city bicycles both with and without gears, rowing cycles and handcycles. Even penny-farthings have been used for the tour.

External links[edit]