One of the top items on my summer travel list, every year for the last 15, has been a bicycle tour of that natural habitat for two-wheelers, the Netherlands. The idea came the first time I laid eyes on the dutch countryside and beheld the mercifully flat terrain, the separate bike paths market Wielrjder , but one thing or another has kept me away. Until a bright morning in April
In truth I didn't leave my apartment, but I did the next best thing: I accompanied a Dutch-born, bikewise visitor named Frank Behrendt on an imaginary two-week cycling tour, the kind of tour he maps out and leads each summer to the Netherlands. Mr. Behrendt, 40, spent his first 26 years in Holland, which is to say he grew up on a bike, and he is director if International Bicycle Tours, Inc. out of his house at 12 Mid Place, Chappaqua, N.Y. 1051
"Holland is a nation of bike riders," he said, unfolding a Dutch map. "Juliana, the abicated Queen, bikes to church; the whole royal family rides bicycles. In the province of Drente where I taught physical education, the kids bike 10 or 15 kilometers to school. On a windy day they ride in a tight line bent low over their handlebars, and the boy or girl in front catches the wind to protect. After a while the one in back -the 'sweep' -will pull up to the front and take a turn."
Each September Mr. Behrendt personally leads three 2-week tours of Holland, a package he has arranged with Finnair, the Finnish national airline which flies from the US to Amsterdam en route to Helsinki. Why September? "It's the best time to bike," he said. "Schools are back in session, the factories are in swing so people are off the roads, and there's less chance of rain."
Mr. Behrendt also sets up week-long unescorted tours throughout the summer. And the Netherlands National Tourist Office has published a booklet, "Holland Holiday on Two Wheels," with a list of packaged tours of one to nine days, much of the action concentrated in the bucolic eastern provinces, Gelderland and Overijssel. [TEXT OMITTED]