The netherlands

Ok, so I know I’m a bit late here.  We’re now in France, yet I’m still only posting 3 week old events. I’ll be clearing my backlog in the next several days.

So far, the Netherlands has been the best place to cycle, and still holds that place. We were well received in the Netherlands.  From Bremen, we eventually rode into Essen, and were hosted by another cyclist Marianne.

Marianne and her friend

Having only toured for 6 years, she’s cycled from her home, to eastern Turkey.  Every year, she takes 5 weeks to ride, resuming from the city she’d finished the previous year.  She was very kind in hosting us, more than anticipated.  She cooked, and we had a meal with her husband and her daughter.  He’d been cycling with her as well, as was very enthusiastic about his cycling experiences.  Having done some of the smaller cycle routes in Holland, they pointed us doing some nice routes to Amsterdam.

Leaving Emmen, we rode to Zwolle through the lavender fields and some of the cycle paths through the local forest reserve.
Cycle paths west of Zwolle

  There are hundreds of kilometres of cycle routes networked in this park.  It’s popular among the Dutch, and there were a lot of people out on day trips.  We had another warmshowers host in Zwolle, a cool guy by the name of George.  Unfortunately, this is the only photo I have of George.

George

George is also a cycle fanatic.  He works at the bike shop in Zwolle, and has a closet full of bikes.  This makes me feel very at home.  He is also into racing vintage bikes, and is doing the eroica this year. Looks like a lot of vintage fun. This is what his bike closet looks like:

George's shop

George and his girlfriend, Iris, live in a pretty neat apartment near the city center. The place used to be a bakery, so the layout is a bit different.  Kitchen downstairs, living room and bike storage on the main floor.  They also had many cats.

George's cats

His girlfriend Iris is into books as much as he is into bikes.  Pretty neat woman, she works for random house US, putting american literature into European book stores.  Conveniently, she reads a lot of English literature, so we were able to trade books.  I gave her my Dave Eggers book, and she gave me another Eggers book that I hadn’t yet read.  This strikes me as so improbable it couldn’t resist happening.

Us and Iris

Soest turned out to be our next surprise.  Astrid, whom we found on warmshowers, hosted us Friday night.
Talking cycling trash

It was a pleasant evening, we cooked some stirfry and talked shop about cycling.  This girl is quite the cycling enthusiast.  Who else would have light fixtures like this?

When you're very enthusiastic about cycling

She happened to work for a local government organization that was publishing and promoting cycling in the Netherlands.  It turns out they have a website that will generate a cycling route for you where ever you want to go in the country.  Her and her former boyfriend had also spent 11 months cycling in south america.

She plotted us out a scenic route to Amsterdam, and then rode with us half way into the city. That route planning made all of the difference.

Amsterdam, as yes.  We arrive on the 2nd day of the gay parade.  Unplanned, I swear.
Drag Queen

We’d booked a hostel in Rembrant Square, as I thought it’s centrality would be convenient.  The canal parade was on as we arrived, and the hostel was in the middle of the loop they did.  I hadn’t really anticipated this, but it turned out to be pretty fun.  Quite a few freaks on the streets.  There were a couple DJ’s in the streets that were half decent.  We ended up drinking and walking around a fair bit, soaking in the 1990 rhythm is a dancer ish music. After half a night anticipated groping, and I had to turn it in.  Too much for this straight cat.  We did the usual in Amsterdam, I don’t feel I need to elaborate here.  The unusual things we did included a visit to a fixie museum:
A track for fixies in the bike museum.

and a visit to the world cyclist shop world cyclist shop:
The vacation cycler
Given the cyclist culture here, this was not entirely unprecedented.  The guy who ran the shop had cycled to the Himalayas, from his home in Amsterdam.  He has stocked his shop with items of particular interest to cycle touring.  He claims to try out everything in the shop, including rubber belt drive train bikes, and skeletal saddles.

Astrid, who we’d met earlier, was at the start of a two week off holiday and currently had no plans.  She decided that she’d ride south into France to meet her sister at name of the place.  Since we’d plans to go south to visit Nico, a friend of mine, we invited her along to come with us.  We plotted out a nice route down the LF2 into northern Belgium.  We were blessed with the weather, no rain, only dreamy skies.

On the way to the campsite

That’s all for now. I’ll be doing my Belgian homework soon.

Peace, love, and bicycle grease,
-jeremie