Cycle 100 km to the woods, heath, sea and lakes. Hinder your opponents with flat tyres, head winds and other inconveniences. Stap Op is a classic Dutch card game about one of Holland's favourite pastimes: cycling.
Stap Op is a classic Dutch card game about cycling. Photo © Holland-Cycling.com
In the days before television and computer games, Dutch families loved to gather around the dinner table on dark winter days to play all kind of board and card games. One of the games they would have played is the card game Stap Op, which could be translated as ‘Hop On (your bike)'.
Stap Op is actually an adaptation of the US car racing game Touring (1906), only in the Dutch version the automobile has been replaced by the bike. It is not clear when Stap Op first came on the market. The general consensus among board game enthusiasts seems to be that Stap Op, 'the new cycling game', was originally released in the 1950s by toy producer Sio. However, in its collection Museum Rotterdam has an earlier version by Perry’s Engros Bedrijf dated 1930-1940. Stap Op has been reissued several times and is still available today.
Playing Stap Op
Stap Op is all about completing a 100-km bike journey. The first to have collected all the sets of mileage cards wins. The rules are simple. All players receive five cards. Every turn a player lays out a card and takes one from the draw pile. To start the journey you need to hop on your bike by laying out a Stap Op card. Now you can start cycling. There are four distances: 5 km to the woods (total 40 km), 6 km to the heath (total 24 km), 8 km to the sea (total 16 km) and 10 km to the lakes (total 20 km).
To cycle the two longest distances, you need a Tailwind card. Now this is where the fun starts. You can hinder your opponents by dealing them a Headwind card. To continue the longer distances they will first have to lay out a Tailwind card. In turn your opponents will try to slow you down with a puncture, closed railway crossing or youth hostel. You have to lay out a special card - e.g. a bike repair shop card - and a Stap Op card before you can continue your journey.
Stap Op still has the original pictures from the 1930s. Photo © Holland-Cycling.com
Stap Op might not be the most popular game ever, but it's so typically Dutch you can't help liking it. We considered making a Holland-Cycling.com version of the game with photos from our gallery, but decided against it. Part of the charm of Stap Op lies in the old-fashioned pictures that haven't changed since the game was first produced. Without this nostalgia, Stap Op wouldn't be the same.
Would you like to have a go at playing Stap Op? As Stap Op is aimed at the Dutch market, you might have difficulties ordering the game abroad. If you want to give it a try, here's a link to Goliath, the current producer of Stap Op. If you happen to be in Holland for a cycling holiday this summer, you should be able to find Stap Op in the major toy shops. What better souvenir to bring home for yourself and your cycling friends!