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The Way Is The Goal

Tag: cycling

Home Sweet Roads

Ever since leaving Amsterdam to the 789 hitchhiking festival in the Ukraine, I didn’t stop traveling and I hitched around 8000 kilometer. I was ready for a new adventure though and wanted to give HitchBiking a try, not with a foldable bike but with the new mountain-bike that I was given in Barcelona.

My goal was to arrive in Antwerpen within 2 days, and after a short stay, to bike the last 160 kilometers to Amsterdam. The first two rides were perfect and I got close to the border with France at around six in the evening, leaving Barcelona at two in the afternoon.

So why not bike across the border, as I was on a not-so-good hitch-spot anyway? I assembled the bike, got the wheels together, the seat back up and my bags on the new bike-rack, that I had bought especially for this purpose. Just 20 meters on the road, the unfortunate happened. I was in shock looking at the front wheel axle split in two.

F***

What else to do then dump it right there and stick up the thumb again? It felt like abandoning ship but some hours later I was way into France -  tired and cold as the temperature had dropped almost 15 degrees since Barcelona. I waited 20 minutes for my Moroccan savior. He picked me up, gave me a place to sleep and fed me with breakfast before putting me back on the highway the next morning.

Three rides later I was 1000 kilometers further, on the ring of Brussels, in the middle of the highway; cars passing by in the dark with 120 kilometers an hour. It was cold and rainy. As Antwerpen was just 35 kilometers further all I could do was think back to my bike. It was as if my bike was telling me: if you leave me on the side of the road… please, enjoy my sweet revenge…

But my legs were not as broken as the bike wheels. After inner consultations, I headed back some kilometers towards the airport where I  got quickly picked up to receive a home-delivery. The nice coincidence? The driver, from the Basque countries, studied and lived in the same small city as I did in England, and we even slept in the same dorm…

Starday (the name of the bike), I do miss you.

Back in Amsterdam

City of bike-lanes and water, my small town, I am back in your streets again, smiling. It took me five years and some months, but I am surrounded by ‘my own’ four Amsterdam walls and roof-top. Por fin! Yes!

I am back loving it, I feel this is where I (well… for the moment at least) ‘belong’. There are no palmtrees here like in Barcelona, and the beach is pretty far away (1,5 hours by bike…!) but it remains one of the better places in Europe to live. And what matters most: I feel at my place and happy here.

From where I live (for now, it’s a temporary place for half a year), I bike to the center in 15 minutes. At the same time it is on the edge of town, close to the Amstel river. It takes me five minutes to be in nature, cycle along the riverbanks, to feel space or to wonder around in the forest.

So, you know how it works: feel free to come along and please stay as long as you want. Just send me a nice pigeon before you come and clean the dishes when you leave.

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