On Cycling Season
With a lightweight backpack containing only a t-shirt, shorts, sandals and a few tools, I flew with my road bike to Amsterdam the first week of May. Arriving at dawn, and meeting my friend Scott at Bicycle Mark’s house in town, we re-assembled our bikes and hit the road.We had no map and no itinerary; our only goal was to by in Paris at the end of the fourth day. Our journey took us south along the Dutch coast, into Belgium and finally across the French border into Dunqurque.
This part of the world is heavenly for cyclists, with bike lines beside every road and useful signs pointing the direction to the next town. Riding 50 and 85 miles per day, we would end the days tired and hungry, celebrating our accomplishment with a few beers before finding a hostel or guest house.
On most days, I would settle in behind Scott’s slipstream (he is a ridiculously powerful athlete, nearly making the Olympics in rowing), and we’d cruise through the Dutch countryside, passing old farm houses as well as historic windmills and new wind turbines.
We survived the week with only one flat tire, outside of Bruges, where a friendly fellow, whose kids were selling lemonade to cyclists, gave us directions and offered a bike pump. After 220 miles (400 km), we arrived at Dunqurque train station and took the TGV to Paris to make a Friday night party.
I spent a good amount of time on my bike in Paris as well; the city has become much friendlier to cyclists since the installation of Velib. At 5:30AM on my last day in Europe, after a long evening, I road my bike across town to Gare du Nord to catch my train back to Amsterdam. With the first hints of dawn appearing, and the roads completely desolate, Paris was mine.
Labels: off the grid