This past week I’ve been cutting the footage from Belgium and The Netherlands – and it’s fair to say, bicycle culture in these two countries is seriously funked up! It was the first place we could truly say that travelling by bicycle was ‘the norm’ and to us this concept was a paradise.
Leaving the trails of the Paris-Roubaix in our wake we were welcomed with open arms into Belgium. Our first stop was at a pub we chose because we picked up the WiFi signal as we passed. On finding out what we were up the publican treated us like royalty, proceeding to buy us a beer and feed us sandwiches.
The next day we were scheduled for a tour of a fabric recycling facility in Belgium, which it turned out would not let us in – as they ‘had too many secrets’ – so we looked for some affordable accommodation to rest and refresh before the tour.
Continuing north through Belgium the diversity of bicycles and riders was so amusing and the network of signed cycle ways and infrastructure were phenomenal.
Our lack of awareness of the size of the waterways through this region meant we missed the last-bus from Belgium to The Netherlands (via a non-cycling tunnel) so we found a meal and then pitched a sneaky camp right by a lighthouse in the shipping lanes.
Making our way to Amsterdam we decided to take the coastal route which involved island hopping through farm land and quaint villages. Much of the land we cycled was actually below sea-level – a concept I still don’t understand, how the early inhabitants managed to build up these dyke walls and claim such land is beyond me.
Amsterdam was an amazing place and is definitely a contender for somewhere we could see ourselves living. To me it appears as a culturally diverse city with open minds and hearts, which creates a refreshing environment to spawn innovation.
We met with Christiaan Maats, founder of OAT Shoes and learnt about his journey to create a show that is completely biodegradable. In awesome concept that took him more than two years to find the materials for. Christiaan’s story is one where ‘innovation happens at the fringe of industry’ – coming from a Design background he had no preconceptions about the industry and simply the vision that ‘this must be possible’.
In Amsterdam we also celebrated Kristina’s birthday, what better place to check out the social scene. We indulged in delicious cuisine and walked the streets to explore the night.
From Amsterdam we continued east to Nijkerk where we’d scheduled to visit the SRAM European Sales Headquarters for two things: to check out World Bikes in for some adjustment and servicing and to learn more about the World Bicycle Relief story.
The crew at SRAM took awesome care of our machines and after enjoying a few hours with them we were on our way… heading east toward Germany – where we’ll pick up this story again next week.
Check out the showreel – hot off the press!
And here’s some of our favourite images from Belgium & The Netherlands:
Ciao for now,