Category Archives: North America

The Frozen Underpants

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Putting years of effort in dreaming about the Icefield Parkways finally resulted in a visit to this incredible scenic road! At dawn, coffee was consumed in Lake Louise and with the first light, we went north. The rental car was packed with food, drinks, outdoor stuff, cameras and empty memory cards. The road through the valley of the Bow River and along the Athabasca River was so beautiful. Leaning over the dashboard of the car with our noses fixed to the windshield made driving uneasy, but for sure nothing was missed of this stretch of rocking beauty. But it was cold. Very cold outside!

Driving many miles through the unscathed Canada makes you often say ‘Wow!’ or ‘Awesome!’ And it actually makes you very thirsty after a while. I asked my map-reading best driver’s mate to have a zip of water to have some soothing relief in my throat. Cycling bottles are very handy when you’re on the road. Such a bottle has a very convenient small opening in the middle of the lid so you don’t have to unscrew the whole lid when cycling. You can easily take a zip without losing water or time in the process. My co-pilot saw I was very thirsty, and unscrewed the entire lid of the bottle, without me noticing this little detail. Being thirsty and driving at the same time, I took the bottle and a deep breath, and a zip of water. I emptied half the content on my shirt, mainly collecting all the fluid into my crotch before comprehending the unusual extra wide opening of the bottle… Being wet is acceptable when it’s hot outside, but it was freezing and the water which had been in the trunk was seriously cold. We also had scheduled two small hikes between Lake Louise and Jasper. It was fun but only for one of us. The only thing my best friend was doing was laughing as loud as she could and she couldn’t stop so after a while I overcame the cold shock and began laughing too…

We went out of the car along the road halfway the Icefield Parkways for having a fresh nose. The only thing I felt was a very fresh and frozen underpants. Walking near the Columbia Icefield, I looked like a small outdoor boy with a stiff diaper reaching the impressive tongue of the Athabasca Glacier. Nothing was left of my outdoor courage and the small piece of manhood I was carrying with me. Further north, my igloo underpants was a bit less unnerving reaching the whimsical frozen world of the Athabasca Falls as a second stop. A local beer accompanied with a vast bowl of nachos put us back at ease in Jasper!

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In between Dusk and Dawn

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True love never grows old! Finishing the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route few years ago in Banff, located in the Canadian Rockies, left deep memories and true love for this part of the world on the border of Alberta and British Columbia. Leaving Amsterdam around lunchtime in December sets the plane more or less on the line between dusk and dawn. That sounds weird but it is kind of true. From mainland Europe to southwestern Canada, the plane flies in such a way that the dusk phase in Europe transits to the dawn phase in North America. The colors belonging to this sunset were splendidly spread across the horizon in a very very broad way. Incredible lights! It seemed so unreal! The light you would almost expect in a fairy tale. This surreal view was completed by the fantastic fjords of the coast of Greenland fully covered in X-mas’ whites and colds. This memory will be floating in my mind for a very long time.  Continuing over Canada, the landscape of Baffin Island was really fictional, while in the meantime, dawn was moving gently into daylight before arriving in Calgary.

After touching the holy Calgarian ground, life went back to what it should be! The first impressions of the Canadian Rockies in the winter were so perfect. Snowshoeing to the Chester Lake in the Spray Valley, close to Canmore, was of absolute beauty. When entering the parking lot of the trailhead, no one was there except one big female moose. Somehow this animal of scary proportions decided to have her salt lick on the rental car so within few minutes she approached the car and licked it pretty clean! Big female nature! On the same day, the Canadian wildlife stroke again with the amazing species called the mountain goat. Being from Europe, we are used to seeing mountain goats having the size of a domestic goat. But when encountering, in not such a feel-safe distance, this huge white animal trudging in the snow, the first reaction was ‘ARE THERE POLAR BEARS IN ALBERTA?’ Knowing perfectly that it didn’t make sense, this creature nevertheless dominated the whole hike until Google finally gave the answer. After this day of wildlife, it was time for some cross country skiing on the nicely groomed lanes at the Canmore Nordic Centre, including the 1988 Olympic cross country track! Personal records were set! The views around Canmore and Banff were incredibly awesome! It was a very intense visual pleasure to be traveling around here! Time to go further north!

 

There Will Be Blood…

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I had a fantastic start of my trip by having breakfast in Amsterdam with Great Divide riders! I met Patti in New Mexico in 2011 and few days later I slept at Patti and Gary’s place in Del Norte, Colorado. They’re biking a whole year with no planning: rolling with the moment. Very cool! And then it begun: Amsterdam to Istanbul. After the first 100k’s, the only thing I thought of was ‘What the hell have I gotten myself into?!’ A quote recently encountered on the big net, but so true. The rest, I’ll tell you later.

On day two, I picked up my dad and we made it through the barren country of Twente, all the way to Germany. At Munster, we joined the Europa-Radweg R1, a route from the Netherlands via Berlin to St. Petersburg, Russia. Bikeline has a decent collection of routes, including this R1, and it’s nicely written down in a practical booklet. Four days had passed by smoothly through the land of corn, grains, and lovely cherries when it happened on the fifth day. A downhill gravel road through a beautiful forest along the Harz National Park. Patches of sunshine everywhere and one small tiny shallow pothole. I said ‘watch out!’, but too late of course. Losing control was easy. Even more easy was the fate of gravity. My dad hit the gravel with his left side and kissed the rocks in the shoulder of the road with his helmet. The helmet cracked, the head and rocks are still ok. Finally some true adventure… O yeah, he’s fine of course now!

See you in Berlin, M

Transcontinental Crossing

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‘Not all who wander are lost’, was the motto of my last big adventure on the bike. This amazingly satisfying adventure has ended more than a year ago, so it was about time to seek another great taste of the living life on cycling tubes. Somewhere in 2013, Europe will be crossed by bike from Amsterdam to Istanbul in a big five weeks. It sounds crazy to you, doesn’t it!? Well, I’ll tell you eventually. At the moment, the only item which is heavily ready for it, is my mind. The rest will follow, hopefully…

In few words, the plan is as follows: the first small 1000k involves one of my male ancestors. I’ll be followed by my semi-old but fit dad! All the way from Amsterdam, the Netherlands to Berlin, Germany, he will share his intoxicating wisdoms of life with me. Hopefully, the more asphalt we conquer the shallower will be the depth of common sense… Anyway, after the enlightenment of age is put in the train back to the flattest country ever, I’ll be on my own, immersing myself and my new Thorn, Zedd, in I don’t know exactly what yet. With my devoted on-wheels companion, I’ll cross Poland, Ukraine, Moldavia, Romania, Bulgaria to end up in Istanbul, Turkey. It will be a hell of a ride. I’ll tell you afterwards where the daydreaming is best. No promises. It’s probably too far for one human bag of bones and one bike in five weeks, but it’s just a plan to catch fresh air and have exultant happiness. And plans can change so easily. This adventure of cycling along Europe’s best sausages is called the ‘Transcontinental Crossing’, an amazing original designation, isn’t it!?

Flowers at sunset during training…

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Sharing the good stuff. Marveling through summer time. Continental food. Outdoor pain. Big sky horizons. Rains drops as big as cats and dogs. Smooth tailwind. Nothing but dominant nature. Overwhelming descends. Fantastic smiles.  Open air fires with great conversations. And above all the cherished butt pain… Excited!? Then settle down and let me know (travelingcycles@yahoo.com). This blog is about sharing adventures, stories, and passions, inspired by whatever they are. Few words, a sentence, a colorful photo, that’s all I can give you via this interface. I’m happy to announce that I’ll take the opportunity to add a new human-powered outdoor adventure to my young life!