Anticipation

July 30, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Was that really necessary?

 

Is it a bird? Is it… a plane?

 

No, it’s my bike. Unrecognizable. Took me a couple of hours, too. I removed the handlebars. I removed the saddle & seatpost. I removed the front pannier rack & front fenders. Took out the front wheel. Removed the pedals. I used 2 meters of insulation foam, 2 rolls of bubble wrap and three rolls of duct tape. And several dozens of tie-wraps. In fact, I have the distinct impression that I went completely overboard.

Oh well.

Now, the bike rests in a big cardboard box.  In fact, it is a little bit too big. But if I didn’t remove all that stuff from the bike, it would have been too small. It will take me ANOTHER roll of duct tape to reinforce the bottem & the outer edges of the box.

Still, so much can go wrong, it hurts to think about it. In fact I’m thinking a lot about it. Good thing that I booked & paid my ticket  already, so there’s no turning back. Let me tell you, courage doesn’t come into the equation. I am mortified, near to crapping my pants each day, EVERY DAY. I suppose that’s what you get…. for wanting to RIDE THE DIVIDE.

 

Next update will be from Canada. See you there.

Calories

July 29, 2012 at 8:38 pm

 

If you haven’t watched “Ride The Divide”, you should. It’s a documentary about the Tour Divide, a race following the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, USA. The world record has recently been set to 16 days and a couple of hours, by Ollie Whalley. A time which sounds, to me, completely insane. We’re talking almost 300 kilometers (about 190 miles) each day, EVERY DAY. For over two weeks! Unearthly. I would be extremely surprised if this route would take me less than an ambitious 60 days. Excluding rest days. Massive respect.

But really, watch the movie. Apart from being inspirational and insightful etc, it’s just… fun. It taught me a lot about what *not* to do during such a ride, as well.

Anyway, being the nerd I am, I was inspired to make some calculations after watching it. Someone in that film said that the route involves climbing Mount Everest from sea level to the top seven times. This amounts to a total ascent of 62 km, which sounds plausible to me. At the pace of 60 days I mentioned, this would translate to an average of about 1.000 meters ascent each day. Which again, sounds entirely plausible.

So let’s calculate with 62 kms of ascent. That means that into each kilogram of weight, I will have to put 1 * 9,81 * 62.000 = 607.729,5 Joules of gravitational potential energy. Because potential energy equals the mass of an object times the gravitational acceleration (9,81 m/s2) times altitude gained in meters. In other words: it takes 1 Joule of energy to lift about 102 grams of water 1 meter into the air.

607.729,5 Joules translates to 145.153,7 calories. A candybar of Snickers (weighing in – in Europe – at 57 grams) contains 288 calories.

So to haul 1 kg of additional weight across the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route will take about 500 candybars of Snickers. That is without taking into account the additional weight of the Snickers. It is also without taking into account the fact that this translates to about 7 additional Snickers each day. For each kilogram. I mean, I like Snickers, but I’m not sure I’ll still like them as much after this ride.

With departure coming in four days, I am getting rather neurotic about the weight I am taking with me. It’s nice to have an additional pair of socks available just in case, but hey, that’s 50 grams right there. That’s 25 Snickers, folks.

Self-torture, I tell you.

Achterhoek

July 15, 2012 at 8:48 pm

A small update. I met Mathieu and I will ride the Canada part of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route with him. Mathieu lives in Eindhoven, and I cycled part of the stretch between my home and his home. I didn’t take any pictures though, as the weather was absolutely horrible. I don’t mind bad weather on a holiday as much, but during a casual ride on my home turf… I’m a pragmatic guy.

We talked for a couple of hours and time flied. I look forward to the moment we will meet again in Banff, Canada to ride the Flathead valley. But sadly I had to leave for the Achterhoek to visit some friends of mine. It was a mere 12 kilometers from the trainstation to their hospitable home, and it was on that stretch that I took these pictures. I publish this because Eindhoven is in the province of Brabant, which culturally is quite different from the Achterhoek. It was interesting to be able to compare both countrysides on the same day. And I have to say… the Achterhoek wins, hands down.

All in all, it was a nice ride. As you can see in these pictures, a relative lack of any elevation, at all,  is characteristic of the dutch countryside. My mind’s eye imagines the Rocky Mountains looming ominously on the horizon. The flatness here only makes the threat of the mountains seem larger. I look forward to it.

I really enjoy sharing these impressions with you. I hope I have a lot of foreign readers so they can see that the Netherlands have much more to offer than just Amsterdam, the beach & dope. Please drop a line in the comments, I’d love to hear from you people.

Waiting for the ferry. I was the only passenger.

Gear talk: electricity during travels

July 15, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Warning: I’m going to deliver a little gear talk. It’s going to be about electronics.

 

You see, I have this hub dynamo in my front wheel, it’s made by the German engineers of Schmidt Maschinenbau. I use it to power my front light. It gives a lot of light.

The hub dynamo. Wiring goes to my front light, and, through a piggyback connection, to the E-werk.

Markerwaard

July 8, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Last spin through the Flevopolder was so good, I decided to do it again. But this time, I wanted to add something on top of it: riding across the Markerwaarddijk to Enkhuizen. As you can read at the wiki link, the Dutch thought they needed more land and raised this dike. Everything southwest of this dike was going to become artificial land of 410 square kilometers, a polder like the Flevopolder. Due to various reasons, this never came to be. There were typical dutch environmental concerns, like the ground levels in the bordering province of Noord-Holland. Surface water there would flow east towards the newly-made polder and the ground in Noord-Holland would lower itself. Wooden foundations would rot. Also, there were concerns about the bird population and about the possibilities for recreation. All in all, the plans to create a new polder were put to a halt in the 1980s.

What remains now is the dike. You can ride from Lelystad to Enkhuizen across the lake, by car or by bike. The cycling lane runs next to the road, about two meters below it, right next to the water. I imagine a headwind can be murderous here (I had a slight tailwind, fortunately). It’s surreal to ride across this lake. The landscape is empty. To the left is the raised road. To the right there is water and nothingness. Boats glide across the blue surface. There are many birds. Occasionally, you pass a fish trap. The colour scheme is green, gray, white and predominantly one of two shades of blue. The emptiness is rare in a place like the Netherlands. I suppose it is even better without the cars screaming by on the raised roads (actually, it was OK).

I provided some pictures, hoping to capture the emptiness and the peaceful atmosphere. Again this was a great ride. 128 kms too, and no knee problems. My confidence for the Great Divide is building. Cycling in the mountains will be a big culture shock, though.

At the start of the dike.

Flevopolder

July 2, 2012 at 7:12 pm

The other day, I went for a spin through the Dutch Flevopolder. Now, the Flevopolder is a particular piece of our country. According to the wiki, it’s in fact the world’s largest artificial island. While I don’t really know about that, I do know that a polder is a piece of land which was reclaimed from the sea. Many dutch people live in such a polder. It is characterized by being completely flat, by being surrounded by dikes and often by being below sea level.

The Flevopolder is extremely flat and, although it is in my backyard, I have never cycled through it. I figured “you don’t want to have a headwind in polder country” (especially not with a painful left knee, a residual injury from a running event two weeks earlier) so last Friday, when I saw that there were predominant southeasterlies sweeping the country, I made my move. Onwards to the northeast, to Lelystad!

It was a terrific ride. I admit, I was prejudiced. I thought it would be a boring slog through endless flatland, but no. I could view the scenery for miles and miles. The horizon was dotted with spinning windmills. Green fields, billowing in the strong wind. There were many clusters of planted forest. Not a soul was encountered on the many bike paths. The sun often peeked through huge cloud formations. Rainshowers were visible in the distance. I tried to predict where they would go.

After a while, the ride evolved into a bizarre version of Pac-Man (me being Pac-Man), trying to dodge the evil rainclouds. I lost in the end, but I really didn’t mind. Soaking wet and feeling quite contented, I checked in at the Lelystad railway station to take the train back home. Fortunately, I didn’t have any knee problems. Great day. Great ride.

 

Flevo1

“Dutch skyline” by Rembrandt van Rijn