In a lull between a hectic period at work and the frenetic chaos of NaNoWriMo, I took my bike on the ferry to the Netherlands in late October last year—mainly so I could decompress by being forced to do nothing but concentrate on the road.
This time I went a bit further south than I had before, staying with a friend who lives near ‘s-Hertogenbosch before heading south into Limburg, a region which spans the Netherlands and part of Belgium. The Belgian part of Limburg has made a significant effort to attract cycle tourism, and this has meant the creation of two attractions: Fietsen Door Het Water (cycling through water) and Fietsen Door De Bomen (cycling through the trees.)
I’ve passed through Paris a few times en route to somewhere else. All I’ve had the chance to explore has been in the context of a cramped RER train, a missed alarm and a dash to Gare de l’Est to catch an early morning ICE to Germany, and (a few times) a gentle pootle, on foot or on a hired Vélib’, killing time between connections.
Spending a week there with my partner has strengthened my resolve to go back. As someone who’s spent the best part of a decade living in London, it was fascinating to compare and contrast the two cities; the shared problems (pollution, poverty, inequality) and the differing scales and solutions. I was especially interested in Paris’s streestscape and might write another blog post about that in future. For now, these are some of my favourite pictures from the week.
I am not a sports cyclist at all. I am slow. Most days I ride a Gazelle (a Dutch granny bike with a massive crate on the front) to work, at an average speed of around 13km/hr. That’s fine. But I’m also someone who likes doing stupid things occasionally.
I first heard about the Dunwich Dynamo, an annual, semi-organised overnight ride from London to Dunwich in Suffolk several years ago. This year seemed like as good a time as any to actually attempt it: I had a free weekend, I’d done some longer rides in the run-up and wasn’t concerned about my ability to not complete the ride. Paul Battley’s and Nat Buckley’s write-ups of the 2016 ride were helpful, as was the advice I got from various folks on Twitter when I sent out a call for suggestions.
It was fun! It was exhausting. It was also a bit of a disaster for me: it took me longer than I expected to get to Dunwich, I took more than I really needed, and I left later than planned, so I only arrived at around 11:45am. But I made it. I’m writing these notes up for the benefit of anyone else who wants to try it, and for myself when I inevitably try and do it again.