Something that I learned since moving to Germany is that Oktoberfest is not a one-time event, nor is it necessarily in the month of October. There are hundreds of them, and this past weekend was one of the larger ones outside of Germany in the city of Sittard, Netherlands. Since the festivities were less than 10 miles away, I decided to check it out and roll a coffeeneuring trip into the process.
With the sun setting low in the sky, I doubled up the normal amount of lights I have on my bike, with a backup SureFire flashlight just in case things got really dark [spoiler alert: they did]. Now, while most of the bike paths in the Netherlands are illuminated, they all aren’t and certainly not on the German side of the border. According to Google, the trip should have been around 30 minutes, so I set the timer on my watch and like always, forgot about it the entire rest of the night.
On the way, I was looking for someplace to have my cup of coffee that was close to Sittard, but not so close that the patronage would be inflated. So, I picked the Cafeteria t’ Trepke, a small 24 hour friterie on the main road into town. Though they didn’t have coffee on the menu, I asked and they were happy to make a cup. It’s fairly bike-friendly as it is alongside a bike lane, but then again this is the Netherlands where almost every business is alongside a bike lane. So, I took a seat outside and enjoyed my coffee and a croquette.
Just as I sat down, a large group of Lederhosen-clad men came rolling by on their bicycles, and stopped at the traffic light next to me. I knew I was headed in the right direction.
So I finished my coffee, got on my bike, and followed suit, where the sounds of festivities grew louder and the lights illuminated the nighttime sky.
I wasn’t sure where I was going to park my bike, but of course, the Dutch had already taken care of that. The bike parking lot had plenty of spots and even an e-bike charging station, which surprisingly, went un-utilized. Some people opted to leave their bikes unlocked, but erring on the side of caution I went ahead and locked mine to the rack. The Soma isn’t quite as utilitarian as your standard Dutch bike, so it would be likely to stand out.
The Oktoberfest itself was a good time. I met up with some friends and had a few beers, went on a couple rides, and generally enjoyed myself. There were several different beer tents set up, each having different themes and bands, and plenty of things to do and foods to try on the outside.
I got a herring sandwich which sounded good when I ordered it, but was really not that great. It was literally a pickled herring filet between two pieces of white bread and nothing more.
Leaving that evening, I took a look up at the cathedral spire that stood over all of the festivities, a reminder that gatherings like this one have been going on in this very place for a long, long time.
On the way home, I ended up taking a similar-yet-very-different road and completely lost my way. When this happens during the day, it’s usually no problem as I’ll see a familiar landmark or sign and re-orient myself. At night, nothing looks familiar, and I was just kind of hoping I was headed in the right direction. As it turned out, I was not. I had a head-scratching moment as, after riding for 15 minutes, I approached a sign telling me I was entering Sittard, the city I had just left.
Eventually, I got to a place where I knew the direction home, and sure enough needed to use the SureFire because it was a road through the forest that had absolutely no ambient light. I couldn’t even see the stars, which made it especially frightening. Of course, coming across this statue didn’t exactly help either:
- Bicyclist Abroad
Coffeeneur Quick Stats:
Sittard, The Netherlands
|Date:||Saturday, October 18th|
|Distance:||30 km/ 19 miles|