With a major life change rapidly approaching, and winter closing in, every weekend has suddenly become precious. If it’s sunny, then cycling we shall go.
This ‘carpe diem’ attitude sparked the latest mini adventure: a tour to northern Holland and the island of Texel. This picture sums up the trip: gorgeous.
In case you don’t know where Texel is, this map should help orient you. Amsterdam is down in the bottom left corner. The route is about 120km in total, and easily done in a couple of days. You can ride on dedicated bike paths for almost the entire time.
And who was cycling, exactly? Well, this time your trusty cyclists were Friedel & Alicia – not Andrew, because he was away in Germany. A girl’s weekend out. Fun! Even more fun was the fact that we both had new Brompton folding bikes, so we decided to test their touring credentials. Here we are, with our almost-matching bikes.
In the summer, the area we rode through would be heaving with tourists. Happily, in November, it was desolate and beautiful. We rode through empty forests…
And alongside sand dunes (the ocean is just on the other side)…
And sometimes we stopped at a farm stall to pick up treats, like blackberry jam. If we’d been here in the summer, we might have also bought strawberries, honey or even wool!
The whole weekend turned out to be a bit of a culinary adventure. Cheese, potatoes and Texel beer were quickly added to our small bags.
We also got up extra early on Saturday, to photograph the sunrise, with Alicia’s medium-format camera.
On sunny autumn weekends, Texel is a landscape photographer’s dream.
From there, it was on to see some friendly seals at an aquarium and seal refuge.
And finally back home again, via a beautiful lighthouse.
A short trip, but a very rewarding one – and through all of it the Brompton bikes held up admirably. We were impressed at how comfortable they were to ride over long distances, even on some unpaved paths. And there’s no arguing with the ease of putting them on the train compared to other bikes. No extra bike ticket. No time restrictions. Perfect! Other Brompton trips are almost certainly in the planning for the future.
If we had to pick a favourite season for bike touring, autumn would be it.
Summers are too hot, and the bike paths too crowded. Spring is too wet, and winter too icy. But autumn? It’s perfect. Who could argue with a ride along a misty, tree-lined road like this, on a Sunday morning in late October?
All around us, colours are popping – not least in the ripe corn, just waiting for the farmer to come and pluck it off the stalk.
The beauty of the surrounding landscape, and the good company, give us plenty of reasons to smile, as we ride along nearly deserted bike paths.
Darkness falls early in October, so by 5pm we’re setting up camp. We’re the only tenters in a huge campground.
We spread a phenomenal amount of food out on the picnic table. Will 3 people really eat all this? Yes, as it turns out. It’s going to be cold tonight, you know – below freezing. We need insulation! From this pile of food, we make a vegetable curry, rice, smores over the campfire and an apple desert. Yum!
Before supper, however, we cut wood for the campfire and laugh – a lot. Some of us (Andrew) end up working more than others. Well, there should be at least a few benefits to being 6 months pregnant!
As night falls, we stoke the campfire, roast marshmallows and talk, until only coals are left, and we wonder if autumn will be kind enough to give us just one more weekend like this, before winter really sets in.
One day. Six different bicycles to test out, and a bright summer’s day with beautiful blue skies.
If it sounds like a perfect combination, that’s because it was. After our first test of recumbent bikes a few weeks ago, this time we were on our way to Maia Ligfietsen in the Dutch city of Dordrecht. To get there, we biked 30km and then took the Waterbus ferry. What a gorgeous ride and a bargain for just €4.
We were on a mission to test the Gekko fx folding trike in particular (Friedel’s current obsession), but someone hadn’t returned it on time, so instead we got to test some other bikes.
We started with the fun Pino tandem, from another renowned German bicycle maker, Hase. It’s not a bicycle we’d ever buy (unless we win the lottery) because we can’t see ourselves using it that often, but it’s a blast to ride. And with one person sitting low down in front, everyone has the perfect view.
Maybe we’ll rent it for a short tour next summer…
While we were testing the Pino, Alicia was trying out a folding Brompton bike.
We briefly tried it and found it a little twitchy to ride but Alicia told us that she soon got used to it. There’s no doubt that a Brompton is ultra practical in Europe for hopping on and off public transport, and the folks from Path Less Pedaled have certainly gone far on them.
Trevor, meanwhile, was still trying to find his perfect recumbent bike. He tried one from Nazca but it was the GreenMachine from Flevobike that really made him fall in love.
Andrew hopped on briefly and loved it as well. It’s a beautiful bike to ride. If only that price tag weren’t so steep - €3,800 (about $5,500 U.S.)!
In the afternoon, we turned our attention to some trikes. Not the Gekko fx that we wanted to test, but the Scorpion fx from HP Velotechnik for Andrew and the Kettwiesel from Hase for Friedel. We both had a lot of fun in these ultra-comfortable trikes, and we discovered a few leg muscles that we don’t normally use.
Turning around took a bit of practice…
What a fun day.
Followed by an equally fun over-crowded boat ride to a campsite on an island.
It’s just too bad the campsite didn’t tell us they were planning an all-night party, with the main music tent set up right beside our tents. Not exactly what you expect from a Nature Camping Site (campgrounds that are supposed to be quiet). We packed up and left at 9pm, and we’ll be asking for our money back…
Next up? Well, the bicycle store has kindly offered to let us borrow the Gekko fx for a few days at home, so Friedel will be trying it out on her daily commute plus some shorter rides over the coming days; possibly including an S240. After that, we’ll put together some more thoughts on touring on a recumbent tricycle.