It’s not about the miles, it’s about the experience

I could start this post moaning that I had too many punctures now and I am behind schedule, which will make the two final days full on riding. The reason I don’t do that is that last two day’s problems actually made the trip a real experience. After the nice discovery of Ghent and the lovely hostel I had the same experience again, this time staying in a nice hostel in Helmond, near Eindhoven. Origianlly I had planned to get at least to the German-Dutch border, but I prefered a nice brekkie and a later start yesterday, and then again I got slowed down by punctures and navigating through cities. After leaving Ghent I was heading towards Antwerpen, another beautiful Belgian city. The coolest thing was the tunnel to cross the Schelde, for cyclists and pedestrians only. One side had a lift to get down, but the lift on the other side was out of order, so I had to take the escalator. Phenomenal breach of health and safety regulations, this had never happened in Britain, but here in Belgium all cyclists happily used this alternative. After a quick stop for directions in a nice bike shop, I was soon out of the city, and in for another puncture. Although fixing punctures doesn’t mean a big thing, it always takes half an hour out of the schedule, taking all bags off and so. The other thing that totally took the speed out are the bumpy cyclepaths in Belgium, they are a real challenge to cycle fast with luggage. However, by the time it was getting dark I got to the Dutch border, and 30k later to Eindhoven. The original paln was to push on to Venlo, but then I wasn’t entirely sure which route to take. So I cycled into the city centre with the mission to find a hostel. No luck looking for signs I asked a few people at the train station, who couldn’t help me. But a nice lad called Peter helped me out with his phone (my roming doesn’t work here) and I soon found out about Frank’s Tango Hostel, another 15k down the road in Helmond. This agian was one of those great moments that put a smile on my face, it’s people like Peter that really make the difference with helping when help is needed. With the right directions I soon arrived at the new hostel, which hasn’t even officially opened, and it so much reminded me of the great places I loved in New Zealand. I chatted too long again with Frank, but again I didn’t care. Finally this trip had not only become about the biking, but also about being a real people experience, and with 400k still to go I better get a coffee now and get on that bike, this time I will surely make it to Germany (but I still did 180k yesterday).