A Ride In The Park

“Some national parks have long waiting lists for camping reservations. When you have to wait a year to sleep next to a tree, something is wrong.” – George Carlin

Last Saturday morning found me, as it often does, out for a ride in the country.  This time, the ride took me into the Dutch national park (or De Meinweg as the locals call it), north of Susterseel.  Click here to view the route.

The day started out sunny but cool. Fall is definitely in the air.  The “old timers” cars were out enjoying the day:

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I tend to ride on a mix of numbered bike paths, cycletracks, and country roads. Cycle tracks are physically separated paths for bikes. Over here, pedestrians and small scooters can also use them.

Here’s a typical example. Almost all two-lane highways have a track on one side of the road. Many have tracks on both sides.

The house owner creates concrete sculptures.  The tree casting the shadow in the picture is home to several of them:  A family of owls, a mama cat and her kitten.  Tree sculptures like this are common here.  Don’t know how many times I rode by this one before I finally saw it!

Follow the rest of the ride after the break. Continue reading

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Bike Of The Week: Bike-O-Licious

Photo Courtesy of Karen Harbaugh

We found this tasty example of an urban moped in Sittard, NL.  Mopeds may have faded from the scene in the US, but they are still popular in bike-friendly Europe.

This particular moped is a Sachs Saxonette Luxus.  The 30cc engine produces 200W output to assist the pedal pusher.  Combine that with a 1.5 liter gas tank, and I’m guessing it is good for 50-60 miles per refill.  This model also has the optional cast rear wheel.  Low maintenance, but more weight.  Fortunately, we don’t have many hills in these here parts!  Throw on a set of panniers and its off to the market, or work, or…

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The Morning Commute

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Velo Paris: Vive le Tour!

For some it was crazy, for others it was stupid, and others a day of courage and bravery. For me, it was a day to enjoy being on the bike.
Carlos Sastre on his ultimately futile attack in Stage 17.

Sunday, July 25th, 2010 saw Karen and I once again on the Champs-Élysées, this time not as tourists, but rather as witnesses to the spectacle that is the final stage of Le Tour on the streets of Paris.  Karen, bless her heart, had made reservations at Bistro Romain, a window-side seat on the second story overlooking the mass o’ humanity on the street.  If you ever go to see the tour finish, get there by noon; at that point, you can still find a place at the barrier.  Four hours later, by the time the peloton comes by, the fans will be 5 and 6 deep at the barriers.  If you want to catch the victory parade after the race, you will be there until 7:30. That’s a longgggg time to stand in one place.

Instead, we arrived at 2pm to our reserved table and enjoyed what turned out to be a 5 1/2 hour meal in five or six courses, complete with wine and champagne.  The management graciously opened the windows so we could take pictures and shout out to the racers.  What fun!

Well, enough about us.  Check out more recollections in pictures after the break. Continue reading

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Perspectives On Urban Biking

All fixed set patterns are incapable of adaptability or pliability. The truth is outside of all fixed patterns. – Bruce Lee

If you want to get inside the European cycling mindset, a good place to start is this short “documentary” about urban cycling in Copenhagen (Warning:  HD vid takes time to load.  Start play, then pause.  Go make breakfast, then resume.).  I use the term documentary loosely, as this is more accurately an advocacy piece.  Nonetheless, it captures the spirit and spectacle of urban biking at it’s European best.

The contrast between urban cycling here in Europe and American cities is striking.  Urban cycling in America accounts for 1-3% of trips.  In cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam, it accounts for 25-35% of trips.  Why is this?  What is about the culture of countries like Denmark, The Netherlands, and Belgium that contributes to the vast differences with American cycling?  Continue reading

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Bike Of The Week: Nun Better

The other day, Karen and I were strolling near the town center of Sittard NL, when we came upon this bit of found art.  In it, the image of a nun appears to be looking favorably upon the bike before her…  The cat, of course, has other things on its mind.

This bike is a nice example of a guy’s urban bike, a Gazelle frame appointed with drum brakes front and rear (good for riding in the wet, not so good going down hills).  Internally-geared rear hub, fenders, and enclosed chain help keep the rider clean.  Upright seating keep things comfortable, at least for a few miles.  Perfect for an outing in town!

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Cipollini Video

Mario Cipollini is arguably the glitziest, most dazzling sprinter of my generation.  Though he competed in numerous Tours of France, he never wore the yellow jersey in Paris.  Heck, I don’t think he ever completed a Tour.  No, “Super Mario” was the greatest sprinter of the era, a man, a legend, who would show up at flat stages, dazzle everyone with a huge burst of speed in excess of 50mph, win the race and the women, then jet back to his Villa in Tuscany.  The stars of Hollywood had nothing on this guy.

Thanks to BikeRumor for this promo video of his latest venture:  Cipollini Bikes:

The editor at BikeRumor said it well:  “I can only tell two more things from the vid: firstly that I’d really like to live in Tuscany; secondly that the old rogue remains pretty damn cool, and can still bash out 1800w without breaking a sweat. See what you think…”

Indeed.  Italian style, a passion for cycling.  Forces of nature intertwined with expressions of beauty.  It probably wouldn’t play in America, but the video does offer an insight into the European bicycle aesthetic.

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