Axel Schoevers; © A. de KrookAxel SchoeversNico Middelkoop; © C. Ruyter-SpiraNico Middelkoop
After extensive solo backpacking trips in the western and northwestern states of the USA, Canada and Alaska between 1988 and 1993 Axel took up kayaking in 1994. In that year he paddled from his home town of Rijswijk all the way to the tidal harbor of Noordpolderzijl in the northeast along inland waterways; a 21 day and 650 km solo trip.

In 1995 he started sea kayaking with the national Peddelpraat (translates as "Paddle Talk") club and attended their sea camps ever since.

From 1997 he organised his own trips and expeditons with friends to Isle of Mull (1997), Shetland (1998), West coast of Chichagof and Yakobi Island in Alaska (1999), German Bight (2000), Islay (2001) and Outer Hebrides (2002).

By assisting at sea camps and club trips he got into coaching. He became a Dutch sea kayaking instructor in 2001. At about the same time, during visits to the Anglesey Sea Symposium, he entered the BCU coaching scheme to become a Level-4 sea coach holding 5-star sea at this moment. He is an instructor at his local club "de Windhappers". He is a member of both Peddelpraat and NKB sea kayaking committees.

He likes photograpy and he wrote articles for Peddelpraat, NKB KanoSport and Sea Kayaker magazine and he gives lectures about his trips. Many of his trip reports and pictures are now on-line at
For many years Nico combined cycling and nature observation. He cycled all the roads in the Netherlands, but also cycled down under in New Zealand and Australia.

In 1990 he changed the pedal for a paddle. He started kayaking on the river Rhine with the local club "de Bovenste Polder" and soon he broke the record of capsizing in winter. He paddled a lot of the inland waters of the Netherlands and Western Germany.

In 1993 he started white water kayaking in France. Since then he has run rivers in France, Italy, Switzerland, Slovenia and Nepal.

Sea kayaking started in 1997. Mostly in the Zeeland estuaries and the Waddenzee in the Netherlands. But the last few years also in Wales, Scotland and Australia.

In 1997 he became an inland kayaking instructor. Since then he did a lot of coaching for his club and elsewhere in the Netherlands. But he also worked for a few month as a volunteer in Wales and Tasmania.

He became a member of the NKB coaching committee and coordinates the inland instructor courses.

Since 2001 he is an sea kayak instructor and an open canoe instructor as well.
Axel; © G. Grobben Nico; © G. Grobben

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