Perfect preparation prevents pathetic pedalling - To Belgium with Kevin - CycleBlaze

August 3, 2022 to August 9, 2022

Perfect preparation prevents pathetic pedalling

We have had a week since getting back from our trial run in Northern Denmark to prepare for the main event of our cycle to Belgium, and it has certainly been an eventful time. We have met a lot of other cyclists, I have managed to break and then subsequently fix not only my bike but also Dea’s, we have unpacked all our things and then repacked them, I’ve been working a bit, and in between all of those things and also during, we have been trying our very best to look after a baby.

Nice work, daddy.
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We have been getting a lot of requests on Warmshowers recently and given how much we will be needing the hospitality of others in the coming weeks we really needed to build up some karma points. So on the very night that we got back from our trial tour we welcomed a whole family of Belgian cyclists. They had actually spent the day on trains coming from Belgium, some of which were delayed a lot, so they arrived after 11 pm, all blinking lights and hi-viz vests after cycling from the station in the dark. They had started out at 5 am so it must have been a long day, especially for their two girls. So I showed them to the guest rooms and let them get some sleep, before Dea and I interrogated them over breakfast about the feasibility of taking bicycles on trains from Belgium to Denmark, something we will be doing ourselves if cycling back in October feels too much. Hopefully without the delays. They were a very nice family, who answered our train questions and provided us some inspiration for cycling with kids, but they were soon heading off for a 12 day bike tour around Denmark.

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The very next day we hosted another family, but these stayed for three nights and we got on really well with them, so we got to know them quite well. They were Jurgen and Barbara from the Netherlands, who were cycling around Denmark with their two sons, Joris and Robin. All four of them were a lot of fun, playing football with me and some others from the community, and a lot of other fun games too. The first night there were also two German cyclists staying with another member of our community, so there was a lot of cyclist chat and it was really nice. It was also really inspiring for Dea and me to meet the Dutch family, who lived without a car and who had taken their kids on many bike trips. For example, when their first son, Joris, was 14 months old, they had set off on their bikes and cycled to Gibraltar over the course of seven meandering months. They had then cycled in New Zealand when Joris was four and Robin two. Jurgen told how he cycled with Joris on a recumbent, towing Robin behind in a trailer, up mountains, pleading with Joris to just pedal a little bit! Then with the boys eight and six they had cycled in Nepal. Now twelve and ten, I asked the boys if they would like to cycle around the world one day, and they both said yes with big grins. It was so nice to spend time with this family, and very inspiring for Dea and me, for we would of course love to be able to do such cycling with our own family. Here’s hoping Kevin grows up loving cycling too!!! 🤞 🤞 🤞 

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One of the things the boys had found funny was my story from Peru about how one side of my handlebars had simply fallen off, leading me to saw them and another set of handlebars with a cheap steak knife for several hours in order to then screw the remaining pieces together into one set of handlebars that would fit on my bike. But this story got even more funny when, during their stay, just after I had cycled with them to a park, the other side of my original handlebars simply broke off. Luckily it had happened before we set off towards Belgium, and I could even still ride home due to the extraordinary amount of tape I had around the handlebars, but after removing all of that, it was clear that there was nothing any cheap steak knife could do to rescue this situation now.

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Clearly it was time for a new set of handlebars, and that was a shame because these handlebars, or at least the 75% of them that hadn’t already broken off, were one of the very few parts of the bike left over from when I had first set out to cycle the world on it in May 2010 (making it about two and half weeks older than Joris). Now I was down to just the brake levers, the screws on the top tube that hold the cables in place, and most of the rear rack. It was also a bit sad because my bike had sometimes talked to me during my travels, and when I had changed the frame in Canada I had been relieved that my bike still spoke. “Thanks for the new body,” it had said, “just don’t change the handlebars, that’s my head.” For a moment then, I felt a great sadness that I would finally be replacing these handlebars, but then I thought, I’m a 37 year old man with a family now, I think I  can get over this, I think it is about the right time that I  stop pretending that my bicycle has a talking head. So I changed the handlebars, and put the old ones on a shelf down in the basement. I only hope I don’t get too much abuse one day when I go down there to get some paint or something. 

In other news I fitted a basket to Dea’s bike, breaking and then fixing the headset a bit in the process. I also solved the problem of my front derailleur which hasn’t shifted since 2019, by just taking it off. The route to Belgium is pretty flat and if I ever need to move from the middle chainring to the small one I will just stop and bend down and move it by hand. It honestly feels easier than buying a new front derailleur and trying to adjust it correctly. I’ve never got on with front deraillers, can’t stand ‘em. I assume I will be much happier now.

And that’s about all I have to say right now. It is 11:30 pm the night before departure. My family is sleeping and I should be too. But I am really excited and really looking forward to this trip. I hope it is going to be a great experience for us, and especially for our little boy. Tomorrow we will cycle out into the world together, to Belgium, with Kevin.

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