31 January, 2016

New Roles

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Although I try not to self-reference this blog within this blog, what you might call going “meta”, there’s no denying that there’s been little in the way of new posts the past couple months. The Blogger platform and Windows Live Writer stopped cooperating, the Winter term of classes has been in full swing, and most importantly, I’ve been swept up into the world of parenthood, with the birth of our daughter in December. It’s been a busy couple months for me, but that translates into a bit of radio silence on the Internet side of things, with little activity here and on social media.

Cycling has changed a bit too, as bi- weekly trips to the grocery store constitute the majority of riding I do. I’ve been getting a lot of use out of the bakfiets in that regard, but am also very excited at the prospect of bringing my daughter along. Of course, she’s way too young to be in a child seat or in a trailer, but her car seat can be securely mounted inside the bakfiets, and with the rain cover installed, she’s safe and comfortable. This is how many Dutch families do it, and obviously I like the idea, too. I can’t wait for our first bike outing as a family together, and am happy my daughter will grow up around the idea of bicycles as a fun and healthy form of transportation.

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Running errands aside (speaking of, I’m looking forward to this years Errandonnee come March), I still have adventures on the horizon this year. There are some mountain biking trails in Bavaria that I might be checking out, a handfull of bike overnights (once the little one can sleep through the whole night at home), and my ultimate goal of riding the Rhein from start to end. But in the meantime, there are chains to be lubed, tires to be pumped, and diapers to be changed.

Thank you for reading for yet another year.

 

- Bicyclist Abroad

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08 December, 2015

Two Years Makes Tradition: Another Christmas by Bike

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We’re still learning to navigate the holiday season in this part of the world; somewhere between St. Martin’s and Christmas Day, Christmas trees become available to purchase. These Weihnachtsbaumen, or Kerstbomen to the Dutch, are sold outside some stores, alongside the road in temporary stands, or available directly from the tree farms. IKEA sells them for 1 Euro if you buy something else from them, an idea that appealed very much to the Mrs, but I would rather support a local tree farm. Also, I can’t stand IKEA.

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The tricky part is finding out when each tree farm is open for business, because they don’t stay open all season, and some are a one-day-only affair. Last year it was just a matter of going to the guy’s house down the road who grew them in his back yard and asking for a tree. But since trees take seven or eight years to grow, the small farms selling them change each year. Luckily, the giant sign on the side of the road advertised trees for sale on Saturday from 9am to 5pm.

to the treefarm

Having brought the tree home in my makeshift bike trailer last year, I wanted to do the same again this year. I was thinking of hooking the trailer back up, when I remembered I happened to have a bakfiets that would be perfect for transporting a tree. I’m not sure why I didn’t immediately think to use it.

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The tree farm is in the Netherlands, just over the border. My friend met me there to pick a tree for himself, too. We spent close to an hour walking up and down the rows, judging the offerings and unfairly criticizing the trees for their bald spots, lack of “Christmassy shape”, and whether or not they had pine cones attached, a feature that would become a must-have for his tree. We could just pick these ones off the ground and glue them on, I proposed. That’s not the same thing, he said.

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We finally had two trees picked out, had them cut, and paid a whopping 10 Euro apiece. I dragged mine over to the bakfiets, set it in, and that was it. No hassle at all. Then I helped my friend wrangle his into his car, thankful that I wouldn’t be there to help him get it back out (sorry).

I posted a photo on Twitter and was met with a response of dozens of other people around the world who had done the same, using their bikes to bring a tree home for the holidays. I suppose that it will now be a tradition to uphold, and as the tree stands next to me, lit-up and looking the part, I’d say it was worth it.

So once again, happy holidays to you and yours.

 

- Bicyclist Abroad

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25 November, 2015

Tea in the Trees (Coffeeneuring 2015 Finale)

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The weather had finally got on board with the calendar, turning cold and wet like a dog’s nose. I had put off my last ride until I was faced with this, or nothing. It didn’t bother me too much though—I knew exactly where I would go.

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While the Mrs. and I were in London we stopped into Fortnum & Mason, the self-described “most luxurious department store in the world”, a title I won’t contest. All sorts of fancy things to buy there, including a fairly generous selection of tea. Now, I’m pretty much a coffee guy, but I do like smoky teas from time to time, often as a substitute for scotch, when I still need to get things done. Browsing Fortnum’s selection, I saw they had a ‘Smoky Earl Grey’, so I picked up a box of it. It’s pretty good—not sure if it’s better than Lapsang, but I like it well enough. Anyway, that’s what I was brewing today.

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A short ride on the Dahon, and an ever shorter walk into the woods, I arrived at the jumble of branches I‘ve adopted as a fortress of solitude. It isn’t much cover from the rain, especially this time of year when the leaves are on the wrong end of the trees, but it contributes to the effort of staying dry, and I can appreciate that. So there I sat on my log, heating water on the stove for the final drink to finish out coffeeneuring for 2015. I remember thinking last year about how I’d make this year bigger and better, but then I realized that’s not what matters. I’ve got a lot of years ahead to ride bicycles and drink coffee or tea, no need to up the ante so quickly. Besides, these small moments, waiting for your drink to cool and listening to the rain through the trees, are just as rewarding as anything.

- Bicyclist Abroad

 

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Coffeeneur Quick Stats:

Destination: The woods
Drink: Smoky Earl Grey
Date: Thursday, November 19th (Vacation Day Rule)
Distance: 4.6 km / 2.8 mi
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