Market Garden cycling routes
Leopoldsburg - Arnhem
Cycling Operation Market Garden
The 135 to 220 km (83 - 137 miles) Market Garden bicycle routes are designed as one day rides at moderate pace. The estimated time for a cyclist with average stamina (incl. short stops at sites and a lunch break) is between 9 and 14 hours.
However, Operation Market Garden itself did not turn out to be a one day affair. It took the Allied forces more than a few days to 'complete'. Eventually never reaching Arnhem as intended. Market Garden dates are recorded as September 17 to 25, 1944. Therefore, it is also possible to split the routes up into two or three day rides at a more leisurely pace.
GPX and historical markers
All these routes set off from Leopoldsburg in Belgium and end at Arnhem's Airborneplein, just over the infamous John Frost Bridge. Each route is well described and is foreseen of detailed historical markers and cues so the rider is aware when closing in on an historical site. Additionally, all points of interest are foreseen with links to background information and podcasts.
The original Thunder Road
The 135 km route is probably closest to the original road taken in September 1944. However, it lacks some of the key points of interest that can be found by making small deviations. If you are looking for the easiest way to tick the box, this is your ride. If, however, you are looking for a deeper dive into history, any of the other routes are recommended.
Please be mindful that as the landscape, infrastructure, and roads network have changed considerably since 1944, some parts of the HH 130 route go parallel to larger and busier roads. No kilometre cues, point of interests, and background media have been added for this route.
The more traditional Hell's Highway route
The 180 km route starts in Leopoldsburg (Bourg-Léopold, Belgium) where Horrocks' XXX Corps was stationed, and ends on the Airboneplein in Arnhem. The route is carefully designed to pass along some of the main points of interest of Operation Market Garden. From the city centre of Leopoldsburg, it takes the rider to the border crossing at Lommel, and then on to Valkenswaard, Eindhoven, Son, Sint-Oedenrode, Veghel, Zeeland, Grave, Nijmegen, Driel, with a final westerly approach over the dykes of the Nederrijn towards Arnhem. If you have to choose one of the variations on this website, see this as the 'cover-all-bases-option'.
In effect, the first 100 km are the same as the HH 195 route.
The Eastern route to Arnhem
The 195 km (121 miles) route is carefully designed to pass along some of the main points of interest of Operation Market Garden, but also crosses the border into Germany in the latter third of the route; effectively cycling through three countries in one day! From the city centre of Leopoldsburg, it takes the rider to the border crossing at Lommel, and then on to Valkenswaard, Eindhoven, Son, Sint-Oedenrode, Veghel, Zeeland. From there it deviates Eastwards towards Cuijk, and across the border into Germany (Reichswald). After about 13 km -and two points of interest- the route rolls back into Holland were it crosses the Waal river at Nijmegen, and continues on an Easterly approach to Arnhem.
Westerly winds to Arnhem
The 210 km (130 miles) route is effectively double the distance operation Garden had planned. From the city centre of Leopoldsburg, it takes the rider over Joe's Bridge, but crosses the border at a more eastern point (not the original border crossing as used by XXX Corps) to make use of a beautiful forest bike path in near Borkel en Schaft. It meets up with the main Hell's Highway before Valkenswaard. The route continues to Eindhoven, Best, Son, Sint-Oedenrode, and then deviates in the direction of 's-Hertongenbosch towards the misdrop at Heeswijk-Dinther. It meets up again around Veghel (does not go through), goes to Mill and then onto the J.S. Thompson Bridge at Grave. After the bridge, it makes a sharp right eastwards along the northern banks of the Maas river (great with a westerly wind!!!) towards Heumen. The crossing of the Waal is made more westerly than Nijmegen (so not the original crossing), to finally approach Arnhem from the western banks.
Where Market Garden meets Operation Aintree
The 220 km (137 miles) route is more than double the distance operation Garden had planned. It sets off differently to HH 180, HH 195, and HH 210 right from the start as it takes the rider to a unique cycling experience on an iconic landmark that has nothing to do with Operation Market Garden, 'Fietsen door de Bomen'; a cycle path that safely takes you into the tree tops at a height of 10 metres.
On this route, Joe's Bridge is skipped in favour of the more westerly crossing of the Bocholt-Herentals Canal via the Old Bailey bridge at Mol.
The route goes eastwards at Eindhoven, unlocking the flanks of the Operation Market Garden route towards Overloon. Here, the route will guide you on the cycle path that runs literally through Overloon War Museum. Please take note that the Sonsebrug, St.Oedenrode, Veghel, Zeeland, and Grave are therefore NOT part of this route.
The route goes eastwards towards Nuenen, Venray, Overloon, Cuijk, towards Mook, and Nijmegen. Once in the province of Gelderland, it will follow through to Driel, with a final westerly approach to Arnhem.