Getting into the Groove

Starting a world cycling trip for the first time is a daunting thing. To leave family, friends, work and general social life and hit the road is a leap of faith. Faith you have in yourself, possibly your partner, the world you are going to encounter, equipment and all the other bigger and small things that keep your frame of mind sound for such an adventure.

The day we left was a bag of mixed emotions. High and lows where felt by the two of us and all the people that came to say farewell. Tears of joy and sadness complemented each other and made it an extraordinary moment that made a deep root in my being. A crazy moment in a life lived in the ease and comfort of the modern world. But isn’t that the point: getting out of the comfort zone and find a bit more meaning to life?


Gears set, feet placed firmly on our pedals… and we where off. Strange but real these first few meters and even kilometers that turned into days. It felt just like a normal bike ride which would soon end and the daily grind would start all over again. Ever so slowly it turned into “wow, we are doing it”, hold back a bit by some deadlines set to meet family and friends along the way. This set the tone as the visiting days where planned and toke over the feeling of freedom somewhat. In exchange we got a warm welcome, a bed to sleep and precious time to spend with relatives and friends we don’t see all that often.

Being out on the road for a while now fills us with a great sense of freedom. To stop at every opportunity is so different from traveling by car, bus or train which need to have a dedicated stop. No motors humming directly beneath you, so many possibilities for exploring natural areas, sidetracks or zigzagging our way to a destination. Just the two of us and the world we ride on.


Cycling 60 km a day for 5 days a week making for 300km/week average progress. Two days of for organising our stuff like washing, bike maintenance, etc. and hopefully some relaxing. That was the plan for an easy start. What sounded great on paper is a little different out on the road. We didn’t exactly planned a straight line to the first main goal a meditation course in Italy. Our route went all over the place making for a lot of extra kilometers that we didn’t count in our original planning to the centre in Florence. But that’s cycle touring I guess, you never quite know what's around the corner… exciting stuff! Edit: We decided to let this course go because it would have meant two weeks more of constant pedalling from Zurich. Through the Alps, not exactly our home turf, it would be a paradox to exhaust ourself mentally and physically to be on time for a meditation retreat.

Touring with two makes it a little difficult to find a fitting baseline day schedule. Maudi tends to sleep late and I wake early and am ready for action. She wants to snooze a little while I like to hustle and get things going. Also ideas about rest stops, when to find a suitable camping spot, eating and relaxing differ. Tempers flare here and there and we get over the inevitable arguments soon enough. The key here is to find that sweet spot where each of us can be as free as can be while still getting the milage done for our general route plan. We are working on that one…


We also had big dreams for what we could accomplish on a daily basis. I can tell you now cycle touring is a lot of work. Waking up, packing up our belongings, making breakfast, loading the bike, start the cycling day, shopping for groceries, cycling, taking photo’s, filling up our water  bottles, cycle some more… you get the picture… and the end of the day is a reverse of the morning with a night sleep as cherry on the pie. Hard and honest work, we love it more and more every day. Though our hopes were that we would have a little bit more free time to delve deeper into other hobbies like reading, wood carving, music and relaxing. Perhaps we are still to green and get more efficient with our routines in the future. Or maybe we mellow out our planning to do more other stuff.

Whatever will cross our path does so and we will try and make the best of these moments to come. Nothing is perfect, especially cycle touring. Could it be that’s why it is so addictive?





Foul Weather Tryout

Doing a tryout before a big tour is a smart way of ironing out the kinks. There is so much stuff and ideas floating around that you can not cover everything. Mistakes, forgets and the likes are going to happen and thats fine. Just like life, live and learn.

One off the things we focussed on this trip was the month november. It is one of the nastiest times to be out. Short day, first frost, fierce winds and the skies can open like no other. Would we still like to ride and camp or could this be a stop to all our plans?


Our choice of clothing was an important factor. I have heard people say there is no such thing as bad weather only bad clothing. We saw the range of seasons november had to offer and our garments where mostly up to it.

Maudi had a hard time keeping her feet warm which affected her riding pleasure. Also in the hands department there is a lot to gain. With only simple fleece gloves I couldn’t cut it. Numb fingers from wet gloves are no fun so an upgrade here is in order. I am working on a layering system but it will only be necessary when we plan to do some deep autumn / winter touring.

We were lucky with the weather albeit headwinds almost 80% of the time is no easy going. There weren’t any continuous days of heavy rain which would have locked us in the tent or big storms in which it would be to dangerous to ride. The clothing and the rest of the equipment where up to the challenge with a few minor tweaks to be made here and there. Staying warm and dry is the key to be safe. Hypothermia in these weather conditions is a real possibility.


The mental game was the big fish here. Did we like to ride? Most of the time: yes, but there where quite a few moments when we looked at each other and thought ‘what did we get ourselves into’.

The final big day was BIG indeed. From sunrise 120km, headwind all the time, rain on and off and boring scenery. From Mastenbroek to Medemblik is a long way through the flat dutch farm fields called ’polders’ and the app we used for navigation wasn’t helping putting us on the most direct route.

After that came the dike crossing the former inland sea ‘Zuiderzee’ from Lelystad to Enkhuizen. Just 25km of headwind full on, boring, cars zooming by, seeing the end but never getting there. Eventually riding in the dark with barely any lights to Medemblik.


We made it safely to our friends house and where glad this ordeal was over. Not a nice ride to do and where are not planning to do these for kicks during the big tour. But now we got a sense of our capability riding fully loaded bikes a long day in demanding conditions. These kind of days are bound to come in the future and to know we did it before give us that bit extra to get into that frame of mind needed jumping those hurdles.

So a tryout is the ultimate tool to check if you have prepared properly. Maybe you heard of the 5 P’s: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. It couldn’t be more true. Don’t get too hung up on it though, there is so much to prepare for. So we focus on the important things and the rest will come down the road.


Which aspects of preparation would you consider to be the most important for a long bicycle tour?