Rural winter rides are special—everything is quiet, the air is crisp with the passing scent of chimney smoke, and you hardly see anyone but the couple out walking their dog or another cyclist who has discovered the charm of a chilly mid-winter ride themselves. This is especially true on a German Sunday when der Ruhetag, or day of rest, is strictly upheld.
It was on one such Sunday that I went for a long overdue ride; the Mrs. entertained our two month old at home and I got to put my pedals in motion after what felt like forever. It was a welcome, familiar feeling, but I could soon tell that I was not in the same shape as I had been. What felt like under-inflated tires was in fact, a pair of legs that had metamorphosed into two sticks of cold butter.
Nevertheless I was happy to be “at it” again, and especially happy to have the flat Niederrhein under my wheels. I took the Colonel into the Netherlands, off the road for a bit, through the woods and back out again, getting a little bit lost and then seeing a sign or landmark that cleared up my whereabouts. I’m not certain you could get seriously lost in any part of the Netherlands, even if you wanted to. The cycling network is so robust that even if you are kilometers from the nearest waypoint, you’re never more than a few meters from a marker that points you towards one. Only the most austere, overgrown woodlands are bereft of signage, but in those cases, you’re probably in a protected wildlife refuge and not supposed to be there in the first place.
One amusing sight along the way was a Dutch bike hoisted high atop a pole on someone’s house. Was this a weathervane? Or maybe it was a whimsical piece of art. Maybe someone got sick of someone else parking their bike in the wrong spot. Either way, I’m certain it holds the world record for the bicycle most struck by lightning.
After a couple hours, the sun went down and the rain picked up, so I pointed my fork towards home. There is nothing quite like a bicycle ride when you really need one; it resets something inside of you and clears your mind. I came back to the Mrs. and the little one a little wet, a little cold, but feeling great.
- Bicyclist Abroad