Nijmegen, Holland

10 06 2007

June 3rd, 2007

I loved the cycling scene in Denmark, but I simply can’t believe the setup here in the Netherlands. SO many bikes – I’m told that everyone here has at least two bikes, and I’d certainly believe it. Simon has two, and Debbie has three – and currently considering another one! The things you can do when you actually have storage space…
Simon is an old mate of mine from Australia – an ex-colleague from my days of computer animation, an active Kubuntu Linux developer, and a very good lad. His lovely girly Debbie hails from Holland, and that’s where they’ve wound up after a few years of sharing an apartment in Melbourne, Australia. They bought a very nice place together in a newly developed ‘suburb’ (or satellite township, really) of Nijmegen, where I’ve had the great fortune to stay for the last couple of days. It’s a beautiful place, with lots of trees and open space, and cycling lanes galore to everywhere you’d want to go. I love it. I’ve also eaten more dairy products here than in the previous 12 months combined – they really go for it over here!

Nijmegen’s beautiful town square:

A bit of evening fun:

Aliens attacking Nijmegen (just showing off, if you ask me). Rather noisy also.

Coming soon… Amsterdam!

Witness the Fitness

10 06 2007

1st June, 2007

A killer ride today(s) – an overnight marathon to reach my friends Simon & Debbie in Nijmegen on schedule. I clocked 242 continuous km (almost) – not really a good idea, but quite an experience none the less. A perfect night for riding – cool but not cold, no wind and a clear sky, and I was feeling up to a big one.

Perhaps this post should be titled ‘Witness the Flatness’, because that’s what this part of the world is, thankfully. The thing about Germany (or Europe in general, it seems) is that pretty much everything shuts at about 5:30-6:00pm, and even camp grounds don’t really like to see you turn up beyond 8:00pm. I wanted to get across the Elbe river before calling it quits for the day, but I just missed the 8:45pm ferry, so I had to wait another hour for the next one. When I finally got to the far bank at 10:10pm (with plenty of daylight remaining), it was too late to find a campsite for the night, so I just kept pedaling.

Waiting for the ferry:

Under a blood-red moon I rode – the moon looked surprisingly similar to the sun that had set a few hours earlier – and the shallow valleys quickly filled with ghostly fog-banks. It was a little spooky, ploughing through the pink-hued mists at 2:00am somewhere in rural Germany, without a single streetlight to be seen (they even turn off all the lights in the towns at night), but quite exhilarating too. I loved it.

When the sun started to appear at 4:00am or so, I was still feeling pretty good, and my legs weren’t complaining. My stomach was, though – I really needed some more fuel, I’d eaten my entire 10-pack of choc-banana muesli bars, and the grumbling was becoming serious. I finally found a 24-hour service station (they actually have one in Germany!) at about 5:30am, and ate a bizarre cocktail of nasty treats, with a few sports drinks and a hot coffee to wash it down.

I then discovered that I’d over-run the extents of the maps I had on my little GPS, so I took an hour break on the steps of the local sports hall, enjoying the sunrise while transferring the new maps from my notebook PC. A serious mistake – my legs and rear had quite gotten used to the idea that we were done for the day after sitting on the steps for a bit, and they were very reluctant indeed to perform an encore. A few stern words and a bit of self-massage, and they finally agreed to play ball. Softball. But it was all worth it in the end – a very pleasant weekend with my great mates Simon & Debbie in Nijmegen, Holland. More about that soon…

Random Thoughts from the Road – Deer

10 06 2007

Deer have incredible reflexes. Unfortunately, their escape strategies need a bit of work. So do their basic levels of attention. I surprised the stuffing out of one poor specimen in Denmark by simply riding towards it while it munched on something at the side of the bike path. It must have seem me at least 100m before I got anywhere near it, but it suddenly decided I was real at a range of about 1 metre, and promptly lunged directly in front of me. Fortunately I had anticipated this logic and started swerving good and early, cursing fluently. Silly deer.

Time flies…

10 06 2007

Hi everyone – sorry for the poor update frequency on this blog, it’s turning out to be a little more difficult than I’d hoped to get the time and opportunity to get on the Internet for long enough to take care of things…

Gerry & I are now in Mainz, Germany, and have covered quite a lot of ground in a short time. I’ll try to clear the back-log of posts I’ve half-typed in the few spare moments I’ve had. Keep reading: