The Route (click to navigate)
One of the greatest weeks of my life took place just over a year ago when we set off on a cycling trip across Belgium and the Netherlands, a bit of France and then onto the ferry back to Dover and London. Catching the Eurostar from St. Pancras International to Bruxelles and then getting on our bikes from there to Antwerp, to Rotterdam, to Gouda, to Amsterdam, Noordwijk, Den Haag, Brugge and Dunkerque, passing through several other lovely towns and stunning villages in the countryside and in the seaside. The mixture of exhilaration and exhaustion we felt in identical measures on a daily basis gradually neutralised our souls into a state of nothingness that only Siddhartha and his friends could ever grasp.
Back in London, however, with almost immediate effect, the enlightening experience had paradoxically triggered a rather depressive phase in our individual lives as we battled to come to terms with the appalling state of the cycling infrastructure we had to face again. This state of affairs eventually led one of the members of the glorious power trio to never touch or even come close to his bike ever again, whilst the second chap went on to work night and day in order to be able to afford a motorcycle as soon as possible so that he would only have to use his formerly beloved bicycle just for the occasional trip to the Polski sklep around the corner when in need of some kabanos to accompany his piwo, or perhaps some pierogi for dinner. I, for myself, kept calm and carried on. Nevertheless, the truth of the matter is that things have never been the same ever since our traumatic return.
Of course that what none of us pedalling prodigies had realised was that such a long-lasting dark age could have been overcome quite simply and easily with a brief visit to my hometown, the good old city of São Paulo, paired with just a single attempt at a short little bike ride around town. Shock therapy, it is called. It does work for some, or does it…
There is indeed a name for this particular type of logical fallacy narrated above, which I fail to recall right now. It is normally used as a consolation device so to speak. It is often employed towards the others, but it is also used by ourselves upon ourselves when in search of the bright side, or the half-full glass as opposed to the half-empty one. It can always get better, but it could always be worse. Is the eye of the beholder to be blamed?
Perhaps another short example of this rhetorical construct, whose technical term continues to escape me, might help to clarify what I am talking about: Do you know when someone starts whingeing about the fact that the food they’re eating tastes like nothing, to which someone else replies that at least there’s food on the table? So, there you go. I remain hopeful that someone in the near future shall be able to assist me in order to remember the name of this gracious piece of trickery.
In the meantime, though, may I leave you with a nostalgic selection of shots taken whilst on the saddle during this memorable occasion. Never mind if it gets too tedious.
A view of the friendly border between Belgium and The Netherlands or the Flemish-Dutch border as some would certainly prefer it
As good as it gets: Dutch-style segregated cycling highway
Dedicated cycling path across the Rotterdam Suburbia
Check out this commonplace cycling roundabout + bin on the right
More segregated cycling highways in the outskirts of Rotterdam
A windmill of course, not long past the lovely town of Gouda
Past Rotterdam en route to Amsterdam, getting rural
The infamous LF2 which connects Brussels and Amsterdam
Nearing the end of another rather pleasant shift
A chubby hare crosses the path completely unaware that a speeding cyclist approaches to the concern of the onlooking Dutch mare
A customary set of dedicated traffic lights for bicycles in Haarlem just past Amsterdam on the way towards the dunes of Zandvoort
A charming little bridge for bicycles built over the marshes and canals nearly halfway towards Zandvoort and the seaside
Several different signs point to a variety of cycling routes
A seagull apparently accusing us of blatantly contributing to the increasingly worrying problem of fresh fish scarcity
A threatening Dutch fox stares at the defenceless cyclists riding in despair along the path which connects Zandvoort and Noordwijk through the sand dunes as the sun quickly goes down
The sun sets in spectacular fashion as we land in Noordwijk
The weather turns dramatically and the winds worsen but the seals remain unaffected and so do the unreal segregated cycling highways
The road is long and the winds are strong but at least it’s all flat
A strong and and determined group of three resilient cyclists crosses the infamous Pijerdam over extremely rough seas while the passing cars pose absolutely no threat whatsoever to everyone’s safety
Of course it would be madness to waste the power of this windy coast
While some of us struggle with the southerly winds others get conveniently pushed by them on their rather peculiar rowing bikes
A little detour towards Brugge sounded like a good idea
A sample of a lovely pendulum bridge back in Flemish territory
The tall bridges of Zeebrugge were trying to tell us something important but we simply wouldn’t acknowledge the fact that the ferry boats which departed from that port only took cargo to Dover
Stark difference in terms of the cycling infrastructure provided as we make our way into France but still incredibly considerate motorists
The last leg of this not so gruelling challenge departing from Dunkerque towards the ferry terminal some 20km ahead
The post-apocalyptic industrial landscape is a bit of a contrast
Perhaps one should not wait for the lights
And on board we go or should we turn around
A neutralised smile as thoroughly described and explained above
A fleeting glimpse of the nearing Albion
Safely landed in Dover on our way out of the ferry terminal
The cycling path along the seafront in Dover pointing towards London did look promising especially with the then upcoming 2012 Olympiads but unfortunately it has remained a promise to this day
So this is it, or rather, some of it. All in all, as the people on this side of the pond often say: one mustn’t grumble.