With mixed feelings and hesitation I hit the enter button, moments later a flight back to Europe is a fact… To say farewell to this cycling life in a decent way, we have booked a flight to London to cycle the final leg back to the Netherlands. We want to end this journey in style!
It’s a sunny day in Vancouver as Paul and Jan drive us to the airport. I’m a bit nervous. Our panniers are wrapped together in so called immigrant bags and Elmar has carefully put our bikes in boxes. The flight attendant is aware of the regulations and we pay 150 Canadian dollar for each bike. As we drop off our bikes at the oversized luggage counter we have to open up the boxes for a check. The machine starts to bleep and a supervisor is called… Apparently some explosive residue has been found (?) and we need to be escorted to the personal check. Abruptly we have to say goodbye to Paul and Jan and with tears flowing we hug each other and promise to meet each other again, and we definately will!
Nine long hours later we are back in Europe; many kilometers have passed by in a flash and the reality is slowly hitting us: the end of this journey is nearing. But, we are postponing the inevitable and plan a two week tour through South England, France and Belgium. December looks like a great time to be riding our bikes in this part of the world. 😉
We head East towards Reading while wind and rain are hitting us in the face. Yep, we’re in England! With a jetlag still running around our tired bodies it’s almost 11 o’clock in the morning before we finally pedal away. Days are short, open campsites are hard to find and the wind is making our daily average drop down to a mere 45 kilometers. Slowly we find our rhythm again and we follow the well signed NCN 4 and 23 over local farm roads through a hilly part of England. We drop down to the sea and pass the football stadium of Southampton to pitch our tent near Portsmouth where we meet up with Myles! It’s great to see him and his lovely girlfriend Zosh and we chat the evening away with a few pints of Guinness.
Following NCN 2 along the South coast of England we pass pictoresque towns, big cities and white rock formations. Even though there are many bicycle routes, the usually polite English people change into bicycle killing drivers; add the fact that we are not used to riding on ‘the wrong side’ of the road, it makes cycling here an every day challenge!
We show up at a small harbour and have to wait for the skipper to bring us to the other side; in his tiny pink ferry! Every now and then the sun peaks through the clouds and with a tail wind we reach Dover in just a couple of relaxing days.
We cross into Belgium and find a few campsites along the way that are still open for tents, but they are all surprised to see us here this time of the year! As we follow the North Sea Cycle Route we pass places that look so familiar; we have cycled here many times before and it feels like nothing has changed. Mixed feeling are running around; excitement to see our closest family and friends again and sadness that this adventure will soon be over. New dreams and plans are emerging and we have found new cycling goals for the coming years!
We stop at a local cafe and treat ourselves to the famous Dutch ‘coffee with apple pie’. The owner is curious and asks about our adventure. “Has it been a long ride?” “Well…”
“Did you ride for charity? Why did you do this?”
“Just for fun!! Yes, just for fun. Not for charity, not to find ourselves (?).., just to live life!”
The moment we cross into the Netherlands I feel different; I felt like a hero on my bicycle riding through all those countries, now I feel like just another Dutchie, looking like a hobo… I feel misplaced. Not special anymore, but darn, we are special! We have had an amazing adventure on our bikes! We have learned more about life and society than anyone else! We should be proud! We are proud of ourselves! We are just amazing! Haha, so who wants to offer us a job? 😉
December 14 is d-day; family and friends are waiting for us in Ridderkerk. We sneak our way to the meeting point, not letting anybody know where exactly we are. Arthur, our brother in law, sends us a text message: “Yes, we are all here!” Hand in hand we finish our ride, with a big smile on our faces. It’s not over, it’s not done, it simply tastes like more! It feels like yesterday that we had left… time flies when you are having fun!
- Days on the road: 27 months and 6 days
- Cycling days: 463
- Total distance: 31.399 kilometers
- Average distance per day: 67,9 km
- Longest day: 186 km
- Shortest day: 12 km
- Highest elevation: 5000m
- # Flat tires: too many!
- Favorite country: Peru
- Favorite ride: Peru’s Great Divide, Laguna Route in Bolivia and Paso Sico
- Most amazing place without bikes: Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu and Foz do Iguacu
- How many fights we had: your everyday married couple arguments, no big fights
Want to know more facts? Drop us a line below!