Are you a cyclist with an interest in WWII history? Do you want to follow in the footsteps of an ancestor who fought in Operation Market Garden? A new website Hell's Highway - Operation Market Garden by Bicycle provides information, tips and cycle routes that will take you to the key points of interest of this historic military operation.
Remembering the fallen soldiers at the War Cemetery in Oosterbeek. Photo © Holland-Cycling.com
When we started this website ten years ago, one of the first day trips we published was the Arnhem Airborne Cycle Route, a scenic route that takes you to the major landmarks of the Battle of Arnhem.
The Battle of Arnhem is an important part of my family history - an uncle of mine had to fight in the battle and after the war my father regularly led the annual remembrance service for the veterans at the church in Oosterbeek. But of course the Battle of Arnhem was the pinnacle of a larger military effort, Operation Market Garden which took place from 17-25 September 1944.
Operation Market Garden is also part of the family history of another keen cyclist: Bart Verhulst. It was his family history too that inspired him to share his "love for cycling and fascination with the Hell's Highway route, its history, and admiration for the daring men that once rolled their tanks northwards" on his new website.
Hell's Highway cycle routes
Bart’s website, Hell's Highway - Operation Market Garden by Bicycle, provides background information on Operation Market Garden, the use of the bike in the army and a list of resources.
More importantly, the website gives 5 cycle routes that all start in Leopoldsburg (Belgium) and end at the Airborneplein in Arnhem. All routes come with a short description, list of points of interest and (free) downloadable GPX or TCX files.
As Operation Market Garden didn't advance in a straight line, the routes vary in length (from 135 km to 220 km) and, although there are some overlaps, they take alternative ways showing you different points of interest.
What's the best route depends on the individual cyclist's "personal preference for certain points of interest and the stamina of the rider to be able and willing to go over 150 km in the saddle". Interestingly, the routes are classed as one day routes. However, I expect most cyclists would like to include 1 or maybe even 2 overnight stays.
The website comes in plenty of time for the 80th anniversary of Operation Market in September 2024. Many visitors are expected to take part in the celebrations. If you want to be kept up to date on the celebrations for the 80th anniversary and/or new Hell's Highway routes, there's a newsletter you can subscribe to via the Hell's Highway website.