It wasn’t as difficult as one would think. It wasn’t even the goal I had in mind on that first day in April when I picked up my new to me 2nd hand bicycle. No, that day I just needed to go pick up some shoes from a town 35km away. That is how it started for me. That’s what made it work, it wasn’t me telling myself I needed to exercise more, it wasn’t me telling myself I needed to get outside more. It was pure utilitarian, I needed to get from point A to point B and the easiest way was with my bicycle. So that is exactly what I did, and 3 weeks in I realized just how many kilometers I had been making and I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be cool if I could cycle 1000km in 4 weeks, I only needed another 250km at that moment in time. So that’s what I did, cycled. People often ask me, what do I take with me on a long bike ride? Do I take sandwiches?Do I have a map? Do I first look up a route and then follow it? How do I manage to cover so many kilometers without getting lost? Well, mostly, I do not look up a route before I ride it. It really depends on where I am headed and how long I’ll be gone. More often than not I look up the names of towns and follow the signs to get there. That is one of the great things about The Netherlands, it is a cycling nation. There is much consideration taken into for bicycle roads, routes, paths and signs to direct your way. There are different kinds of signs, the ones you see here on the right are the most common on the main roads. There are also these little mushroom things you see on the smaller country roads, like in the image here on the left. Plus on almost every street corner you will find a picknick table or a park bench to rest upon. Cycling in the Netherlands is really easy. That being said, it is also very easy to get lost. I have spent many an hour cycling around small villages and towns trying to find my way back to the route I intended to be on. Even this last week, during my last long ride towards this goal, I found myself lost, again.
It is ok though, to be lost on your bicycle. It will take you to some of the most beautiful places, and as long as you are prepared for whatever life may throw at you, being lost is part of the adventure. In the case that I am really lost, too lost to find my way, I always take my iPhone with me which has access to GPS and maps should I need it. I do my best not to need it. My iPhone doubles as my camera, and I have an extra set of lenses for wide-angle shots and the like.
I do not take sandwiches with me, I find they get squished and gross. I to take protein bars with me, which you don’t see in this photo because they are all finished. Time to buy some more. I also take 2 liters of a high quality endurance sport drink with me in a camelpack on my back. The protien in the drink helps my muscles while I’m cycling and the salts, minerals and vitamins keep me going. Not to mention, plain water makes me pee. A lot. Too much, too often, it makes it difficult for me to enjoy my ride. I do not experience that with Prolong, and that is worth every penny to me. I never leave home without my multitool and a tire repair kit. You just never know when you are going to need them.
Most importantly, I take a smile with me. I need it the first 55 minutes on my bike. I am cranky and tired and my body is protesting, but my smile makes sure that I make it through the first hour, to that point where the endorphins break free and my body has found the rhythm and I can go on cycling for hours. I love that place on my bike. No matter where in the world it is, it is the moment that I am free.
Setting goals is wonderful, it helps you gain direction in your life. Reaching goals is better, it gives you the opportunity to reward yourself. Which I did, with a big smile and funny faces. After having reached the goal I set for myself, for no other reason than that I wanted to, I treated myself to a visit to the horses, and a day at the sauna. (I’ll spare you pictures of the sauna. 😉 )
It was a beautiful goal, and it felt good to achieve it. I learned my way around where I live, I branched out and learned new places I want to visit, I felt good, I felt free.
I hope the sun comes back soon so that I can make some more beautiful pictures of this lovely countryside to share with you. Until next time.