Now that the Tour de France has also started again and Mattheu van de Poel is still wearing the yellow jersey, it’s time to release my big plan for this summer. Like many people who work in offices, I’ve spent the past year mostly at home. Working from home for the city of Utrecht and attending at international conferences from behind the desk. To stay in shape, I cycle around the house almost every day. Since March 15th last year I did almost 200 “corona commutes”. Luckily it remained allowed to go camping, even during the strictest period of lockdown. So I did a lot of camping in The Netherlands last year. But I want to broaden my horizons again.
In March the idea came up to go on a long bike ride this summer, because I had saved up some free time, which should be taken up this year. But where to? North Cape? Rome? Santiago de Compostela? Those are destinations that many cycling travellers go, but why not go off the beaten track a little? When it was announced to move the Velo-City cycling conference in Lisbon to early September, the goal was quickly set. Visiting a conference live again, after a long period of working from home, how nice would it be to cycle there to? And to take the time along the road to experience how the cycling climate has improved in recent years in various countries and cities.
When I decided to cycle to Lisbon, the question arose which bike I would use. Of course we all know the rule N + 1, but I quickly decided it should be one of my current bicycles. It was a hard choice. Should it be my recumbent bike, a loyal companion for relaxed cycling holidays and long distances? Not very suitable for the cities I want to visit, and it might the distract the people I meet from the conversation I am looking for. Other option was my racing bike, well suited for good road surfaces? On the other hand not very comfortable for weeks of cycling and not the image of Dutch Cycling I want to disseminate. There are even people who use a Brompton for long distances. In the end I chose my daily bike, because it is most in line with the Dutch cycling culture and it has proven to be very reliable in the past. Small adjustments, such as flashing lights from Denmark, mud flaps from America and a power supply to charge devices via USB, make the bike very suitable for long-distance rides.
As you can imagine it is not my goal to reach Lisbon as quick as possible. Nor do I want to cycle the shortest route. Slow travel is my adage, to see as much as possible and to experience the different cycling cultures as much as possible. It has been 18 years since Velo-City in Paris was my first professional experience abroad. Cycling in Paris was still a perilous undertaking at the time. A lot has happened in the meantime, I have been back several times recently, but have not taken the time to look around the city much. Furthermore, the route goes globally via Lyon, Montpellier, Zaragossa and Salamanca, but I still have plenty of time to make extra stops.
If you would like to join me for a bike ride, you are most welcome. On July 19th I will leave Utrecht (at noon I will be at Domplein) and on September 3rd I want to arrive in Lisbon. The first appointments in Breda, Burgundy and at the Mediterranean are set, but more appointments are welcome. My draft schedule can vary a bit, but I expect the following:
During my trip I hope to update this blog regularly, but you can also find me on other social media. You can follow my progress on Strava. Hope you have a good summer too and perhaps we meet somewhere between Utrecht and Lisbon or during the Velo-City conference.