Octobre 2016 my youngest son pictured me on the “Axe Historique” in Paris. The “Axe Historique” is a line of monuments, buildings and thoroughfares that extends from the centre of Paris, to the west. It is also known as the Voie Triomphale (“triumphal way”). Both “la Grande Arche” and the “Arc de Triomphe” are part of it.
I do find it a beautiful picture. And historic too. On the horizon, you see a glimpse of “la Grande Arche” in la Defense. Looking into the opposite direction one can see the “Arc de Triomphe”.
Like on the picture my sister took of me in 1975:
We took the train from Roosendaal (NL) to Gare du Nord, Paris (F). To make a tour about 1000 kilometers, following the river “la Loire”. This tour you can see below, on the road map we used :
October 2016, 41 years later, my youngest son visited me in Paris. On the “Avenue Mac-Mahon”, 41 years later, here again with the “Arc de Triomphe” :
Statistics learn that it rains, during a year, on average 7% of time in the Netherlands. Do you find that much? Sure it will not always be bright sunshine as on the picture above. Some times, but not very often, it can be like this :
If you do not like cycling against the wind, I think it is the best to cycle the LF1 from south to north. As most of the time wind is coming from the south west.
How does the LF1 looks like?
Some impressions of cycle path LF1 :
See some some video-impressions (5 minutes) of 2 Dutch coureurs doing the 460 km between Duinkerken/Dunkirk/Dunkerque and Den Helder in 3 days. The first minutes are in Belgian. It is in the second part where you will see the famous high quality cycling lanes : flat asphalt, only bicycles. Along the coast the best parts are looking like :
6 minutes of video, no music, no words … very good impression on the experience and quality of the LF1.
And a 15 minute video where you see even more variation (wait for the nice sandy beaches).
To reach the LF1 from Lille : one can start following the river “la Lys“/”de Leie” up to Deinze (or even to Genth). On Google Maps one can find this route from Lille (F) to Sluis (NL) Especially following this really good cycling path next to the Leie from Menen (F) up till Genth (B) is very quiet. However nearly no signs. For the good signs you have to wait untill you are in the Netherlands. Between Deinze and Sluis I think it is not that beautiful … I did not take this route. Most of the time I cycle Genth – Bergen op Zoom (30 km north of Antwerp. A lot of bad cycling paths … but as soon as you enter the Netherlands infrastructure for cyclists is just great. Not only on the LF1, but everywhere in the Netherlands.
Where to sleep? (and about a good map!)
A lot of possibilities to stay overnight are found on the LF1 Basiskaart (it costs about €25 in the Netherlands). You will find more possibilities to stay overnight, which are not indicated on this map. Finding a B&B, hostel, hotel is not to difficult. I do not like to make reservations. When cycling it is not that easy to plan. In the end there is always a place to lay your head down. Personnaly I like these 22 maps of the LF1 Basiskaart. They cover the whole of the Netherlands. And they are protected against rain. I like to have a map in my hand. As it is nice to be able to see what kind of routes and landscapes are in front of me. I like computers, but when I am cycling I like to have a map next to my coffee. Just for imagining a bit on what is coming up that day. Open windy roads? Trees? Nature? How to avoid cities and industrial zones?
When searching for a place to sleep, I do have most confidence on ending your day for a village/city at the coast. In villages and cities you’ll find people with the sign “zimmer frei” (= room available). As a lot of Germans are coming to the Dutch coast. I have an idea the prices will be acceptable. You knock on the door, see the room, hear the price. A good method. Reserving in advance? It is not easy to plan, when cycling! A lot of cyclists must be following this method.
Another possibility is to join the association “Vrienden op de fiets“. Membership is €10 per year. You can stay with members, at their homes. You pay about €20 per night, per person. And if nothing has been changed, members (often active cyclists theirselves) prepare a good breakfast. There is also the possibility of having a lunch packet being prepared for about €5. Members will be sent get a guide, with the adresses and telephone numbers. You can also use the web site. I entered the web site, the route between Hoek van Holland and The Hague. Resulting in following map (I choose for French language here!) :
The circles with numbers show the amount of adresses of members in that village. So in Hoek van Holland there are 2 addresses. In ‘s-Gravenzande 10. And in The Hague 38 people who offer a room to stay. So as soon as you have an idea when you will be arriving in a certain area, you choose an address from the supplied guide (or from the web site) and you pass a telephone call. And you’re sleeping place is arranged! (En Français toute l’information à : www.vriendenopdefiets.nl/fr/ .
Visiting the “Waddeneilanden”
The “Wadden-eilanden” are the islands in the north of the Netherlands.
From Texel you can take, with your bicycle, a boat to Vlieland. It is a small boat, and maybe you have to wait for the next boat as there are many people. Or in case of bad weather. All info (only in dutch!) : www.waddenveer.nl. I did this trip with my children and their mother, with bicycles. During a summer holiday following the LF1. In this video (6 minutes) one can discover the passage with the boat “De vriendschap” and the truck which brings you and your bicycles from Texel to Vlieland (Or Vlieland to Texel). You might have to watch the video a few times to really have an idea of how it works.
Taking the train in the Netherlands is not that difficult. And sure you can take your bicycle (which needs to be payed for, €6,10 in 2016. You can not take a bicycle during rush hours. Search the following web site. All possibilities, all schedules, all prices, you find on www.ns.nl (also in english). (To see where you can find all train stations go to trein-kaart.nl.)
Buck the system! (Remembering the Stones singing “Star star“, also known as “Starbucker“)
Today the Tour the France passes here.
Shit! (Merde! Comme vous voulez) : at the supermarket I can’t even find a place to park my bicycle!
At the stadium where the Tour de France passes today, I counted about some 100 places to park bicycles. This multi-use stadium “Stade Pierre Mauroy” has a capacity of 50,000 people. And in the end about 100 places to park bicycles. Project has been costing €618 million.
Although this bicycle parking is a vast improvement, in comparision to bicycle parking at the above mentioned supermarket: Buck the system! (“Fique le système” ?)
Cycling I do as much as much as I can.
By taking my bicycle for going to work. And all other trips around home. Plus holidays.
Among other trips, I cycled:
– Paris-Angers vice versa, 1030 km in 15 days (70 km/day), with my sister (summer 1975)
– Vught-Belgian Ardennes v.v., with my brother (summer 1977)
– Wageningen-Den Bosch, with Mark Daemen (summer 1981)
– Eindhoven-Groningen v.v., with mother of my children (summer 1984)
– Nuenen-Ossendrecht, with family of 3 children+ 2 tents (summer 1995)
– Ossendrecht-Vlieland v.v., with family of 2 children+2 tents (summer 2000)
– Ossendrecht-London v.v., visiting Nick-Drupal (autumn 2006)
– Ossendrecht/Bergen op Zoom/Vught-Lille, several times, sometimes in addition with taking the train (since 2010 … on going, hoping for many more trips!). The first trips were sometimes quiet difficult. Pain in wrists, legs my whole body. Not enough trained muscles in my back for riding in racing bike-position. It needs training to sit several hours on a racing bike. I remember bike rides not to well prepared, where at the end of the day I had to rest in every bus stop on my route. I have been feeling exhausted at these occasions. Little by little I became better trained.
It became my goal/dream to cycle Lille-the Netherlands in one day. This distance from Lille to my son in Bergen op Zoom is 180 km.
Training in 2014
I got a racing bicycle.
My oldest son Ruud refurbished in his Fietsatelier Guldemond this GAZELLE Champion Mondial.
I used it nearly every day. To get in shape for longer distances. In June 2014. I cycled from Lille to the Netherlands. First visiting my mother in Vught. Afterwards visiting my son Ruud in Bergen op Zoom. In total 530 kilometers :
Lille -> Bruxelles 125 km
Bruxelles -> Vught 137 km
Vught -> Bergen op Zoom 84 km
Due to lack of time I took the train on the last traject : Bergen op Zoom -> Lille 180 km
Training in 2015
Spring 2015 I bought a lighter racing bicycle.
A JAN JANSSEN Futural by Vitus. Pictures and descriptions here.
Summer 2015 I bought a second GAZELLE Champion Mondial, with frame sizes better adapted to me. Pictures and description here.
Leersum-Vught 52 km in 2h45. So 19 km/h.
Vught-Nearly Nijkerk 72 km in 4h00. So about 18 km/h.
Regulary around Nijkerk.
Fastest time 1h15, so about 28km/h.
At 80-90% in 1h30, so about 23km/h.
Vught-Geleen 100 km in 5h00, so about 20km/h. Overview of progress during 2015: 40 km at 20 km/h cycling JAN JANSSEN Futural 40 km at 10 km/h cycling JAN JANSSEN Futural 35 km at 19 km/h cycling JAN JANSSEN Futural 70 km at 18 km/h cycling JAN JANSSEN Futural 35 km at 28 km/h cycling GAZELLE Champion Mondial built in 1981 35 km at 23 km/h cycling GAZELLE Champion Mondial built in 1981 100 km at 20 km/h cycling GAZELLE Champion Mondial built in 1981
Training in 2016 48 km at 18 km/h at SIMPLEX built around 1954 60 km at 13 km/h at SIMPLEX built around 1954 60 km at 15 km/h at SIMPLEX, heel laag verzet, 2e dag knie speelt op 60 km at 10 km/h at CHAMPION MONDIAL 1985 een uur stortbui, regelmatig onverharde paadjes langs kanalen
Training in 2017
I did …. to be continued. (I think I will need about 12 hours to cycle these 180 kms. 9 hours of cycling at 20 km/h. 3 hours of eating & resting. Or will it more be 10 hours of 18 km/h? I did 2 times 70 km at 18 km/h in 2015! I love to try it … … this year?)
100 km at 11 km/h at Le Porteur 5V (BoZ>De Pinte, met aardige tegenwind) 90km at 9 km/h at Le Porteur 5V (De Pinte>Ronchin, met aardige, en koude tegenwind, zadelpijn begin van dag) 16 km at 19 km/h at CHAMPION MONDIAL 1985 (Rue Louis Montois>Rue Augste Renoir , la Chapelle Armentieres, lkpaar dagen na tocht BoZ>Ronchin) 23 km at 23 km/h at MOTOBECANE Vitus van Fred (Ronchin-Mouscron) 36 km at 18 km/h at MOTOBECANE Vitus van Fred (Antwerpen Centraal-Klimopstraat, Bergen op Zoom) km at km/h at km at km/h at
My youngest son Stan finished design school Grafisch Lyceum Rotterdam 2 years ago. Followed first year of a psychology-bachelor. Realising finishing this bachelor is not what he wants, he decided to go on bicycle direction Spain.
Remarkably I found Stan, ever since, gifted in as well designing in all kind of media (more specific choosing colors and music, drawings, very nice drawings as a child for example), as in insight in inter-human relations.
Heading for Spain. For half a year. Passing Lille where he stayed with Patricia and me. Here you see Stan joining a dinner made by Patricia. The very first dinner we had in the new part of our house -under construction-.
Aside from searching a good road map. Succesfull geo caching. Testing camping burner. Adjust bicycles. We visit the B’TWIN-bicycle store and repair centre. An enormous store in the former Gauloises cigarettes factory in Lille. This atelier de vélo is a competitor for his brothers “Fietsatelier Guldemond”. B’TWIN is multinational Decathlon/Auchan (?) The group is growing. In Eindhoven they opened a big store.
Then Stan headed south. I joined him to cross the metropole Lille (with more than 2 million inhabitants it helps to have somebody who crossed the city more often.)
I think he did a splendid preparation.
And off he goes. After a mutual “A bientôt!” …
… I had a lot of different feelings. As “Partir, c’est mourir un peu”. And I like it to see him go in his own way. Not following all the advice he is getting. Try to practise what I learned in 2001 from a colleague-teacher. This colleague told me: “Children and students should not listen to their parents and teachers. Do you know what it means if your students and children are following their parents and teachers? End of innovation Roel!”