Posts Tagged ‘Eindhoven’


The day was surreal. Escorted by a mass of friends to the Belgian border, we sat in the sun, fearing the moment of our ways diverging. Then welcomed by more friends on arrival in Schimmert – with the Dutch flag and a glass of champagne. I still haven’t fathomed everything. That will come.

Departure in Eindhoven

Departure in Eindhoven

 

I guess it must be the excitement. 2 years in the making, the day arrives, and I have a cold. Not a bad cold, and nothing that a bit of fresh air, and 30 people with waving flags can’t fix. I walked out of my front door, and soon, the people amassed. Lots of friends, people from work, and even people that I didn’t know that had read about my departure in the newspaper. Really cool. After flying the flags of the 32 countries I will pass through, the moment came: not only am I unemployed, but I am also homeless. I handed over the keys to my apartment to the new tenants. And then the trip began – with 30 followers on their bikes. The Pied Piper of Eindhoven.

All of a sudden, cycling through the forest, I hear ‘Advance Australia Fair’. A string of flags crossed the path, and Rufus Driessen – a friend from Philips – was cheering us on. He was set up there with his stereo in the forest. How cool is that? As my webcam had decided to crash again, I wasn’t able to capture this.. But, it is stored between my ears.

The sun came out for us as we sat in the cafe just over the Belgian border. The 2 hours there was punctuated with hugs and tears between the eating and drinking, and some magic tricks by Dhemie. The time for the departing of ways finally came, and I turned towards Belgium as the friends returned into the Netherlands.

A pleasant and familiar trip along the Belgian canal followed, before my very warm welcome in Schimmert.

Welcome in Schimmert

Welcome in Schimmert

Welcome dinner in Schimmert

Welcome dinner in Schimmert


Last week I was interviewed by @SimonRood from the Eindhovens Dagblad (newspaper), and today it appeared in the paper. There’s a bit of a party atmosphere at work today. Really nice!

Article in the Eindhovens Dagblad

http://www.ed.nl/regio/eindhoven/australi%C3%ABr-fietst-vanuit-eindhoven-36-000-kilometer-naar-huis-1.4513483

Here is a pdf of the article in the Eindhovens Dagblad


It has been a long road to arrive at this point, but actually, the road is just starting. Its exciting beyond belief, and bloody scary too. In September I will be leaving my job of 16 years and cycling from Eindhoven, the Netherlands – where I now live, to Adelaide, Australia – my birthplace. There is a lot of preparation to be done. I need to shed all my worldly possessions, learn a bit more about bike maintenance, arrange all sorts of paperwork, and plan the route.

You guys all helped me with my cycle trip in 2013 to the North Cape in Norway. You gave me great tips on my planned route, and I was able to meet up with some of you. I would like to do that here again with this more ambitious trip.

Here is a rough idea of how I want to get to Adelaide.
Bildschirmfoto 2014-01-07 um 20.26.05

In the coming weeks I will be putting together a planned route through Europe. It would be great to get some feedback on the route – roads I should take, places I should go.

This dream I had always thought would remain just a dream. It is too risky, too scary, too thrilling. My life situation is such that I can do this now. I am fit enough. I don’t want to look back on my life when on my death bed and think – I had the chance, and I let it go. A good friend of mine summed it up perfectly: Life is not a dressed rehearsal. I am going to do this!

To be continued!


A cycle trip like the good old days with Ed – singing as we go. Sun, blue skies, strawberries, Rhein River in flood, motor bike cafe Schnitzel, everyone friendly. Ideal start to my cycle trip.

Day 1. 166km. Eindhoven -Sythen. Map and gpx

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Day 0. Eindhoven 0km

Posted: June 8, 2013 in Cycling
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I’m all excited. The trip is about to start. I’m sitting here, full up to pussy’s bow with pizza. A lovely farewell dinner with Jennifer, Chaitanya, Audrey, Ed and Chaitanya’s parents. Now I am carbo-loaded for the North Cape. Let the cycling begin.

Farewell dinner

Farewell dinner

Ed and me before departure

Ed and me before departure


Weekend cycles are good to get ready (mentally and physically) for my 2 month cycle to the North Cape in 6 weeks. This weekend I left my home in Eindhoven, touched French soil (in Givet), and returned to Namur in Belgium to catch the train home.

Eindhoven – Givet – Namur. Info and gpx download on EveryTrail

Flat and curvy is better than up and down, and up and down. This trip I followed the Maas River (which is flat and curvy), starting with passing through my favourite forest, then cycling along my favourite canal – a canal following the Maas on the Belgian side of the border.

Leendebos

Leendebos

The view over the canal following the Dutch - Belgian border

The view over the canal following the Dutch – Belgian border

Lovely island in the canal.

Lovely island in the canal.

I had chosen to cycle south as the wind was blowing that way. When I have no concrete destination in mind – cycle where the wind blows. I will have enough headwinds cycling to the North Cape.

After Maastricht (well, skirting around it), I entered new territory. Castles, fields and a beautiful river – the Maas (Meuse).

Border post

Border post

Castle at the Dutch-Belgian border

Castle at the Dutch-Belgian border

Meuse at Liege

Meuse at Liege

When the road was nice, it was very nice – bike paths and no cars. In Belgium (Wallonie), the cycle network is not connected. So.. When it was not nice, it was not nice. Busy roads, loud. Not fun.

I had booked a room in a castle in Huy – between Liege and Maastricht on the Maas. It was a lovely castle with friendly, helpful staff. They gave me a great tip for a cycle route the next day. And, it had an interesting view – looking out over the nuclear reactor on the other side of the street.

Domaine Du Chateau de la Neuville

Domaine Du Chateau de la Neuville

Bedroom with my bike

Bedroom with my bike

Lovely view

Lovely view

In Wallonie (the french speaking part of Belgium), they have the RAVeL network (Reseau Autonome des Voies Lents) – ravel.wallonie.be. These are separate bike roads, no cars in sight (usually), passing leisurely through the countryside. I first discovered these when I crossed the border into Belgium (there was a big sign explaining the system). In Huy, I was suggested to go on the Ligne 126 to Ciney. This followed an old train track, passing up a beautiful valley, through forests, and through a high area above the valley. And, as it followed an old train line, it was not steep. And it was empty. Beautiful.

Abandoned train station on Ligne 126

Abandoned train station on Ligne 126

Fields

Fields

Reaching the end of the path, I had to make my way uphill and down dale to the Meuse. The landscape away from the Meuse is undulating, and then a sudden steep drop to the river. Fun to cycle down, but once you’re down, its hard to leave the valley. The steep sides of the Meuse River made for some lovely cycling. I passed vertical rockfaces covered with rock climbers. Looked like fun.

Vertical cliffs on the Meuse

Vertical cliffs on the Meuse

Vertical cliffs on the Meuse

Vertical cliffs on the Meuse

View from above.

View from above.

Dinant

Dinant

The goal of the trip was to step over into France. I did.

France

France

And then cycled back to Namur to catch the train.

I learned some stuff about my equipment, remembered stuff I learned cycling in Norway last year, and remembered how important it is to cycle along a scenic road, with little traffic, and a good surface. On this trip I discovered that:

  • My phone backup batteries can discharge if something is pressing on them in the bag – at least that is my theory why they were both discharged on the last day.
  • Just like following the curves of a fjord in Norway, following the curves of the Maas River is better than taking a ‘short cut’. I learned in Norway to get mentally prepared for all places where the road deviated from the coast. Last weekend I learned that the Maas River has steep banks.
  • Unfortunately, longish stretches of cobblestones in the RAVeL network made the busy road that I was avoiding seem appealing. But then, lots of roadworks on the RAVeL routes forced me to take the main roads, after which I dreamed of hitting the cobblestones again.

The spring is here and my new bike needs to be put to the test before setting out for the North Cape in June. What better way than to return to familiar territory, visit some friends, and pass through what should be tulip territory. Last weekend I cycled 320 km from Eindhoven to Den Helder via Den Haag (The Hague).

In the early and fresh (i.e. cold) Saturday morning hours, I passed through fields, along canals and through forests, almost entirely on cycle paths far away from cars and other disturbances. The birds were chirping – something I have missed in the long colder winter that is now ending. Leaving with the conviction of warm weather (which was predicted for Sunday), it took time before I decided that, yes, may hands really were freezing off, and I really should wear my toasty warm gloves that I had bought for the North Cape. The fields were ploughed, the trees still bare, and waiting in great expectation for the burst of green.

Ploughed field

Ploughed field

Bare trees waiting

Bare trees waiting

As the day continued, the sun started to break through the clouds, but the (head) wind did not drop. I passed wide polders, along dikes, and lots of typical dutch houses and windmills.

Dutch polder and house

Dutch polder and house

IMG_5417

I avoided Rotterdam by passing to the south of it, along a thin peninsula of land, with a view to the industrial area to the north. The wind was causing me to burn extra calories, but the sun was well and truly out.

And then I passed through Delft, the town where I lived when I first came to Holland exactly 20 years ago!

Oude Kerk, Delft

Oude Kerk, Delft

Nieuwe Kerk, Delft

Nieuwe Kerk, Delft

After a lovely evening catching up with my friends in Den Haag, I continued my trip turning northwards, this time with a strong tail wind. Up through the dunes following the coast. There is nothing better than hurtling through the dunes at 40 km/h with the wind at your back.

Unfortunately, the tulips were not out – only the first of the daffodils. It has been too cold for the flowers to dare rise from the soil.

Cafe in the dunes

Cafe in the dunes

The first of the daffodils

The first of the daffodils

Watch out for wild roosters

Watch out for wild roosters

Company in the dunes

Company in the dunes

Cycling through the dunes

Cycling through the dunes

Daffodils from the dike

Daffodils from the dike

Arrival in Den Helder

Arrival in Den Helder

By the end of the trip it was quite warm – about 20C. A real summer feeling as I rode back in the train. Lovely to see all the bikes packed into the train. Back at home where cycling is loved, and there is amazing infrastructure for it!