Europe 2015

I found myself back in Europe again this summer for a wedding.  This seems to be happening to me with some frequency, not that I can complain about it.  The people getting married this time were Tim and Tine, a Belgian couple I had cycled with from Uzbekistan to China.  Tim is second from the left, and Tine on the right.

One of the highest passes in Tajikistan, 4200m

Having spent five weeks cycling some of the most difficult terrain in the world, I identify closely with these people.   As the years pass, I relish our time in Tajikistan.  It was one of the most amazing and difficult journeys, certainly the experience of a lifetime.

Climbing yet another pass in the Pamir. The Hindu Kush, Afghanistan in the background.
Stopping for lunch
We look a little tired in this photo. I guess we should be…
Off to find a camping site.  Not that it was hard…

As Sabine was also coming from Switzerland, it was a unique opportunity to have 4/5 of us in the same place, and we’d get to spend some quality time together.

In true spirit, just like I seem to do every couple months, I asked Isaac what he was up to.  Of course, he was interested in going doing to Le Bourg-D’Oisans (where he had been two years earlier).  I was able to convince him to bring two bikes, a road bike and a mountain bike, so we could get in maximum riding.  He agreed to fly into Belgium the same day, where we met up, rented a car, threw four bikes into it, and rolled into Ghent.  When we arrived in Ghent, we met Sabine and her boyfriend Tinu.  We stayed in Ghent for some time, visiting and exchanging stories.  It was an amazing experience to sit around with Sabine, Tim, and Tine to reminisce about the experiences we’d had on the road.  So many stories and details that I’d forgotten about.

The wedding ceremony was something new to me.  The sort of thing where a couple shows up to get married every fifteen minutes, and that’s it, you’re done.  It was pretty casual, the ceremony was quick and simple.  The reception was held at a farm in the forest not far from Ghent.  We played games, drank beer, and danced the night away.  It was an amazing time, thank you Tim and Tine.

Click on any of the photos, and use the <- and -> arrows to scroll.

Other than the wedding, we spent some time hanging out in Belgium.  Mostly we were just lazy.  Toured around Ghent a little bit, went to Brugges for a day.  Drank beer, shot the breeze.  Generally, relaxed the shit out of Belgium.  Good times.

Getting on the road a couple days later, we ended up in Switzerland.  Sabine’s boyfriend Tinu is a teacher, but often guides mountain bike trips.  He was kind enough to bring us along for a trip to the Aletsch glacier in Valais.  Sabine took us for a trip near Thun, where we got high up in Bernese Oberland.  The trail wasn’t what we really thought it would be, but it was still nice to be out in the “Swiss wilderness” :)  Leaving Bern, we made our way back down to Valais and had an epic weekend of cycling with Yves.  I met him the last time I was cycling in Swiss, back in 2013.  I also met a cow named Margarite… but that’s another story…

Good luck.
Margarite. She makes the best raclette.

Here are some photos from some of the most epic riding in Swiss.

Yves parents were nice enough to host us in Nax, in the spare apartment they had.  Thank you Yves and your family for your hospitality.  You must come to Canada for the skiing.  I heard it’s good.

After a fun packed weekend, Isaac and I drove down to Alpe D’Huez.  He had been there in 2013 to watch the tour de France, and wanted to go back without the crowds.  So we rented a house on Airbnb, and spent the week punching out large road rides in the French Alps.  We’d cycle early in the morning most days, and come back to the house in the afternoon to drink beer and watch the tour.  Best. Vacation. Ever.

Thank you Isaac, Sabine, Tinu, Tim, Tine, Yves, and everyone else along the way who made our visit more memorable.  To my fellow world travelers, Maurizio, JoJo, Antoine, Christian, Noami, Astrid, and Nico, my apologies I couldn’t see you all.  It was too tight of a timeline… I guess I’ll have to come back another time.  Or you’ll have to come to Canada.