October 17, 2012 at 4:55 pm

I have done the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route and my head is spinning with it. I write this one day after finishing. I learned some things, I wonder about some things and I (dis)liked some things.
So, time for lists!!!

Stuff I learned
1. I want to do more of this.
2. The USA is an awesome place, full of great people.
There’s more, for instance, I now know how it is to shoot a gun. Or how huevos rancheros taste.
Ah. I forget one other thing.
3. The type of bike & setup you use on this route, doesn’t _really_ matter, as long as you yourself like it. I’ve seen trailers, guys with framebags, panniers & backpack, full-on front&back panniers + rack pack & handlebar bag (e.g. me) and all that on 26″ wheels, 29″ wheels, steel, titanium, aluminum AND carbon frames, front suspension, full suspension, fully rigid, disc brakes, rim brakes, Rohloff, derailleurs, leather saddles, foam saddles… And all of it worked. So don’t worry too much. Just be prepared for all food & water situations, make sure bike & gear are tuned-up and ride that baby. It’s awesome.


4. A kickstand is a thing of beauty. Get one!!

Stuff I wonder about
1. Bagels. Why the hole in them?!? A waste valuable potential space for calories!
2. The generous sunday opening hours of stores, offset against the religious character of many regions I came through. The Netherlands is one of the most secularized countries in the world, but you can forget about decent shopping opportunities on sundays in most places.
3. The default item to put into a gin-and-tonic seems to be lime around here, whereas I was, and am still, of the firm conviction this should be lemon.
4. Classic: by default, no mayonaise is provided with french fries. A sad fact.
5. Choices choices. For instance with eggs: how do I like my eggs? No idea! How do you like them? Over easy, over medium, sunny side up and whatnot… Confusing!

Stuff I disliked
Not much! Just two things.
1. Headwind. Really…
2. People saying it’s all flat/downhill from here. I know it’s well intended, but it’s WRONG. A flat-faced lie. Don’t say these things. Please don’t :-(.

Stuff I liked
1. I really liked the dogs in the back of pick-up trucks, barking up a mighty racket against everything and everyone, made me laugh!
2. All the bullethole-ridden traffic signs. Made me laugh too!
3. Fooooooooood. Om nom nom nom nom nom.
4. All the comments on my blog, emails, tweets, etc. Thank you, that stuff makes it fun!
5. The people of the western USA. Thank you all for making this trip unforgettable.
Peter in Calgary — Fat Tire Ale for life!
Craig in Eureka, first night in USA for me and it couldn’t have been in better company.
The Hall family in Montana City — made me feel SO welcome and hooked me up with friends too.
The Espelin family in Butte, I’d love to pop some more caps with you!
The Plutes in Lima, those burgers and your company were the BEST after a tough day.
Dawn in Jackson — thanks for having me, it was hysterical, and great fun too!
Tara & friends in Pinedale — I’ll never forget that Strohm Bomb Stout.
Huybert & family in Boulder — to be continued!!
The Sideways crew in Colorado, for the copious food and company.
Nita at the Toaster House and actually all of Pie Town.
The crew at the Little Toad Creek Tavern & Inn for letting us camp at their lawn, getting us smashed and building a huge fire with it.
Alyssa in Silver City, for having me one night and giving me a good story by locking me out.
Sam Hughes and Mighty Bear Dawg for providing shelter, beers and transportation in the middle of nowhere.
I’m sure I’m forgetting people… But I love you all!
6. The people I rode with.
Started with Mathieu — thanks for introducing me on the Divide.
Jacob, Emma, Michael & Margaret — awesome riding with you guys. I hope you will find time & opportunity to do the rest of this route.
Mat — so cool meeting you in the desert. And on-and-off riding until the border, hell yeah!
Anders, Colin & Ben — I’m envious of you two Canucks & one Dane, enjoy the rest of your adventures.
Kate & Lee — hope you made it in time to Austin! Very nice to do the Gila with you & to get smashed at Little Toad 🙂

For now, I’m done. I am continuing this website, however. At the very least I’d like to discuss some gear (when I’m back home). And my other bike endeavours will appear here, as well. So… I’ll see you when I’ll see you! Stay safe & keep riding.

An update & some banter

October 3, 2012 at 11:28 pm

So, to everyone reading this blog, it is much appreciated — but as you can see I haven’t been able to update the blog for two weeks. Part of the reason for this is that it’s hard to find a good place & time to update. I would need the following things for that:

– a PC of decent speed
– with available USB ports
– and Internet
– and some image processing software (Windows Picture Manager, Picasa, that sort of thing)

And I would need that for a bunch of hours because usually there’s lots of photo’s to go through. Also, it takes time to tell my story in a comprehensive way instead of rambling on. At least, I like to think it’s comprehensive.

So, right now, I left you hanging in Salida, Colorado whereas I am in fact typing this up in Grants, New Mexico. I have got about 40 minutes left on this PC so I am not even going to attempt to process pictures. It’ll be just text and I’ll type up decent stories later.

Part of this is to provide some detail on what I did, part of this is just for myself, to make sure I’ll remember everything later on when I’m back home! Click on “Read More” to get an update on what happened…

Reflections and whatnot

September 9, 2012 at 12:15 am

I’m sitting here at a very windy campsite at Little Sandy Creek. I figured to try and make sense of a couple of thoughs that have been bouncing about in my head the past few days.

Listen with me to “Bleeding Muddy Water” by the Mark Lanegan Band and let’s contemplate a bit. You, the audience, can fill in the role of my therapist.
Picture a skinny blonde guy with ridiculous tanlines, in tight-fitting clothes, looking like a vagrant, lying on your therapist’s sofa. Say “hmmmm-mmmmm” a lot and please occasionally tilt your head up and down slightly, in an affirmative fashion. Just let me do the talking.

I can safely say already that doing this trip was the best idea of 2012. I often compare it to my 6-week tour through Norway. That was four years ago and it was the best idea of 2008. Some things are different though.
I experienced firsthand that a cycling trip gives you endless amounts of time to think. And boy, thinking I did on that Norway trip. I picked and scratched at emotional scar tissue, I relived my best and worst moments, all the embarassments, the successes and the failures. A lot of things I thought I had dealt with came back to haunt me during that ride. Sometimes I sat teary-eyed on my bike.
When that trip was over, I felt like a new man. It was as if I had flushed the toilet within my head.

Right now, it’s four years later and I have gained a couple of scars. I have similar enormous amounts of time to think and to reflect. But I tell you, there isn’t really much thinking going on, at least not of the picking-and-scratching kind. Sometimes I conjure up embarrassing moments or memories of bad times, just like four years ago, to see if they still affect me, but they don’t. I wonder why that is.
Is it that this country gives me so many impressions that I don’t have time to think? Or am I just a happier person compared to 4 years ago? Have I simply “straightened myself out”? I just don’t know. But I really like how this feels.

Before I started, I figured I would be thinking a lot about the recent past: a major project at work that I lost a lot of sleep over, a failed relationship that cost me a lot of sleep as well, that sort of thing. No such thinking occurs. In fact I ride around empty-headed most of the time. Completely vacant. I really recommend it.
Two cycling trips, four years apart, both of them giving me a spectacularly good time. Yet during one I am nearly contemplating my head off, and during the other there is virtually nothing going on up there. You never know though — it ain’t over till it’s over.

Well — I have been thinking about things I really like about cycling in the USA. Small things, and big things.

1. Big-ass breakfasts. You know, like the big-ass omelette stuffed with a big-ass amount of jalapeño, sausage, onions, served with a big-ass load of salsa on a big-ass pile of big-ass hash browns. Om nom nom nom nom.
2. All the little polite pleasantries and exchanges. The how-are-you’s, thank-you-very-much’s, have-a-good-one’s and all that. I know a lot of it is not meant but the intent doesn’t matter — I can’t read your mind when you wish me a good day! It’s the act itself that makes me happy! Dutch people especially, TAKE NOTE!! you impolite, blundering oafs: the world is so much nicer when you are polite and friendly to each other. And… it’s free, too!
3. Craft beers and microbreweries. Man, these US guys are brewing it up. At the Wind River Brewing Co. (a restaurant/bar in Pinedale) I had the most exquisitely palatable stout. I forgot the name, darn it! And the Sawtooth Blonde after a hot day is infinitely superior to almost any belgian pale ale you can think of.
4. The drivers here (in their big-ass trucks ;-)). Very considerate, very respectful of cyclists. Most of them slow down on gravel roads so I won’t have to eat as much dust.
5. Western hospitality. It’s humbling really. Why can’t we do this in Holland?
6. Eating like a horse while losing weight. 68 kilograms last week, that’s 3,5 less than a month before!
7. Tan lines! Gotta like my tan lines. Completely ridiculous. I’m thinking about having them tattooed.

Well, sorry for the endless banter, can’t have it all eh.

P.S. after succesfully crossing the Great Basin I finally found some WiFi to publish this. Welcome all new readers! Pleased to meet you. I have many new pictures but I won’t be able to put them online, I’m afraid, until my next rest stop in Steamboat Springs (3 riding days from Rawlins here, I presume). Had many adventures and lots to show/tell, so see you then!