Sunday, 11 December 2011

Start working on that book

One of the reasons I wanted to take so many photos, is that I also wanted to turn this into a book project. Alas, finding time to write a book is about as difficult as to find time to perform the trip. As I actually did find the time to complete the trip, however, forcing myself to write the book on a schedule should also be possible, using the same principles:

  • Set hard dates and times for the project performance
  • Subdivide the project in managable parts
  • Do not compromise on the two rules above!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Bicycle adjustments

A bicycle is rarely complete when you roll it out of the bicycle store, however. There will be some adjustments to be done. Obviously, the seat needs adjusting, and possibly also the steering wheel. Time and time again, I have also experienced the need to adjust gear and brakes immediately after the bicycle leaves the store. Also, with new wires and everything, you should expect to adjust these again within few days, as the wires will stretch.

With this bicycle, absolutely everything needed some adjustments pretty fast. Only the wheels and gears seemed to be properly fastned. Every other screw were not tightened properly: seat came down slowly, steering wheel was suddenly not aligned, etc. And the gear wire was going slalom between a couple of screws - no wonder it needed tweaking!

I did not have a checklist, however. The tip is, just begin in one end and check every detail you encounter. It's not rocket science, even though there are some clever patents involved. When you look these things up on the Internet, you'll find plenty of guides.

However, most of these guides are in the form of a recepie. But actually understanding the mechanics is probably the best guide you can have. Understanding usually comes with experience, so the time spent ahead of time experimenting comes in handy.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Finding a bicycle in Paris

I started my search for a bicycle on the Internet. This, apparently, was a mistake. First, I never found the "right" bicycle online. Second, the bicycle store that could offer me the "closest match" to what I wanted didn't actually sell bicycles. They showed them off on their website, but the French franchises of the chain did not, in fact, sell anything but clothes and children's bikes.

So I asked. And with the locals chatting back and forth, I got to "Go Sport" in a shopping mall. And they happened to have the perfect bike: the bike that fit the description of my wife's bicycle. Because obviously, I don't need a second bicycle. But my wife needed one.

This was a woman's 21 gear bicycle, flower patterns on frame and seat, shock absorbers on front wheel, quick release, adjustable steering wheel, 700C tyres narrow enough to not make much resistance, wide enough not to puncture just by looking at them. Perfect. This bicycle was not on any web page I had visited. It was better than my own, at half the price of my own, and came with a one year "we'll fix it anywhere in the world" guarantee.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Philosophy: To bring or buy a bicycle?

In the planning stage of the trip, I searched the 'net for bicycle stores in Paris and asked around in various online forums. The bicycle professionals urged me to bring my own bicycle on the plane, because it was such a long trip. "It would be better to use a bicycle you know."

After buying the plane ticket, however, I found out that I would need to spend a huge amount of money on bringing my bicycle. Enough money to by a new one. Yet, I was urged to bring a bicycle I know well.

When I bicycled Montreal-Toronto in 1997, I had a 6-gear hybrid. Compared to the 18-gear road bike Hugh was riding, I was struggling. I now have an 18-gear hybrid, and understand completely the difference this makes on a long trip. Or a short one, for that matter. So stuck to my own philosophy: adapt.

I'm not in a competition. I have plenty of time. There is a backup plan. Completion is not a requirement. And most importantly, the journey is by bicycle, but the bicycle is not the journey.

The last few months before leaving for Paris, I pulled my old rusty bicycle out of winter storage and started on the spring cleaning and repairs. Instead of pulling it into the local store for a fix-up, I needed to learn every little detail myself. It's not rocket science. And it's time well spent for anyone who owns a bicycle. Not only can you do all the adjustments yourself, but the more you understand the subtleties of the mechanics, you get better use from your bicycle, and you take better care of it. You have everything to win.

Monday, 30 May 2011


no project is complete without celebration. it's my name day, too.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Central station!

Self portrait proving I was here.


I am now officially within Amsterdam city limits! And as I started at Eiffel Tower, I am now headed to Amsterdam's pride, Central Station.

Where to now?

For a second, I forgot where I wad going and who I am. But at least I got a good cup of coffee. I think. Maybe.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Towel day

I have knit my towel to the steering wheel in observance of Towel Day.

Ferry ride

Well, what do you know. Some places, they still run ferries. Albeit, I am sure they don't serve svele on this 3 minute ride...

The good people you meet

Waiting for the ferry, I asked one of the other bicyclists if there was a fee. In Norway, this trip would surely cost €5. Here, it was 60 cents. The kind woman with flowers on her steering wheel (yes, I got to know how to do this elegantly for my wife), insisted on paying my ticket. With her ten trip card, it was only 46 cents.

As my direction is Gouda today, I got to learn how she visits her father-in-law in hospital in Gouda by bicycle. So I got a quick guided tour of Schoonhoven, leaving me at the start of the SCENIC route to Gouda.

Kilometer after kilometer with ever changing beautiful scenery and gardens.

The people you meet on your adventures...

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Crossing Hollandsch Diep

Being a bit ahead of schedule, I am taking two "slow days". This means that I cycle anywhere I feel like, stop in every town and take it easy.

In terms of milage, I seem to be down to 60 km per day as a result, but it is quite relaxing, and I seem to particularly enjoy the parks and any space of meditation.

My detour has taken me further west, which apparently means more side wind. So as soon as I have crossed tje Hollansch Diep east of Dordrecht, I shall find my way inland again.

Saturday, 21 May 2011


At gas station east of Lommel
"So where are you from?"
"I has a friend in Norway. In Oslo. Rolf."
"Oslo is a big city."
"Yes, I know. Anyway, he is dead now. He was one of my best friends."
"Oh, I'm sorry."
The next customer in line adds in a deep, mysterious voice, "Norwegians are not SUPPOSED to die..."
"Oh, we do, occationally. I think half of us already have."

Of course, it takes me a while to realize I could have had a new pen pal.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Out of town

As I thought, the humongous city is basically along the canals that industry built. It is so good to be out of the industrial city zone. The city areas are just too crowded.

Bonjour Binche

The forecast for today was rain. This has now been downgraded to fog. As yesterday, it is expected to be nice and cool.

I will try to cut northeast today. The question, of course, is: Is this a back country road or a city streey? Can't tell the difference on the map. The Belgian experience so far is that it is a huge city.

Thursday, 19 May 2011


Crossed over to south side again, to cross over to the historic Mons-Charlesroi canal. It is... Higher up... And the ascent is 19%

First canal experience

Actually, the second for the trip, first for Belgium, and first planned. A guy on the other side tried to tell me something. Hard to hest him across the canal, and I don't speak French.

A little further down, mosquitos came out of nowhere. I increased my pace, which seemed to work.

Next, it felt as I ran into a hail storm every 100 meters. It was of course mosquitos, not hail. So THAT was what he was trying to tell me. But will the south side of the canal be better?

(Yes, it was)

Bonjour Belgique

500 meters into Belgium, I suddenly discover I am no longer in France. Where was the road sign? Not There. Just suddenly I was here.

Bonjour Escaut

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Monday, 16 May 2011

Approaching Montdidier

This is what most of the road looks like. No traffic. Just me, the bike, the road, the birds.

A friend post mortem

Francois was born in 1973. So was I. August 24 is also of special meaning to me. I feel strangely connected to him as our paths cross where his life came to an end. And I wonder, who was this person? (Cauffry, France)

Bonjour Chantilly

Saturday, 14 May 2011

One day to go

Short story of long day:

Met up with Klemet, went to get van, spent the rest of the day finding bicycle and parking for van. Paris is terrible for parking if you are 205 cm tall.

Unfortunately, my cell phone battery ran out while I was paying for the bicycle, so you have to wait for the photo.

Bonjour Orly

Very quick summary.

First plane was late, so boarding on Paris flight started boarding at the moment I lander in Oslo. I ran the entitet length of the airport and just made it.

Upon arrival at Orly, I figured I would walk to a hotel. Fyringsolje this two hour alternative form of transportation, I ran out of battery, recharged with sløser cell battery, found out that Google Maps is not always correct on details, and praised my phone for having å compass.

This is by far the best hotel room I have stayed in for a long time. I particularly enjoyed the bath tub. The breakfast with excellent coffee brought to my table lacks one thing, though. I say as my wife:

KURRAT, KUS MUST LEIB ON? (Damit, where is the dark bread?)

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

T-24 Bicycle riding!

Finally fixed up bicycle for the season: New back brakes, fixed chain, added speedometer/odometer, which actually agrees with DailyMile about distance. Good. No need for a €150 GPS when I can do with a €7 magnetometer. Gear needs some adjustment, as it falls off when on low gear. Otherwise, it felt good to be on the bicycle again.

2.77 km, 00:09:50, top speed: 37.5 km/h, average speed 16.9 km/h

I might be 110 km behind on my training schedule, but I'm right on the goal for average speed at this stage. With the current trip schedule, I should be able to complete the entire Paris-Amsterdam trip with an average 3.7 hours bicycling per day. That leaves plenty of time for sight seeing.

But that is theoretic.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

T-31 Tickets purchased

In order to avoid hotels in Oslo, I'm flying with Norwegian to Paris and return with SAS. After booking, and getting ready to register the bicycle as special baggage, the great difference between the airlines show: Norwegian wants €82 to bring the bicycle, even in a bicycle case, while SAS allows the bicycle to travel for free. Add that the bicycle case costs €250, it is cheaper to buy a brand new bicycle in Paris than to bring it with me.

And that's what the plan is now. I arrive a day early anyway, there's time to purchase a bicycle. Since my wife currently doesn't have one, it will be a female bicycle, which in turn will come back with me to Norway. After all, it travels for free on my return ticket, as long as I register it in due time.

T-31 Time to buy plane tickets

I just did a jump in the countdown. Due to time limitations with my driver, cycling begins May 15th instead of 21st. This means it's 31 days left before riding. He must return on 22nd, which changes the logistics a bit for me. I feel I can complete the trip with a few more days. By returning on the 27th from Amsterdam means five more nights, but also the cheapest return ticket and two days to spare.

As fate will have it, the cheapest plane going from Ålesund to Paris on the 14th costs twice as much as any other day, begins at 7 in the morning and arrives 17:25 in Paris after spening amounts of time waiting in Oslo and Copenhagen.

Which means I need to leave Norway on friday 13th and get one night accomodation in Paris... wish me luck!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

T-61: Practice and dates

Practice: Last week was a disaster. My goal was 4 km/day, 28 km total for the week. The total was 4.22 km. This, of course, explained by the fact that my oldest son was sick, and I spend much of the week as "assisting home nurse".

Also with regards to children - assuming that my wife gets assistance with junior from my parents, the boundries of the trip must be May 11th - May 31st. However, this is a very busy time of the year at school, and it might be just as good to bring junior along to France - in which case the boundries are May 11th - June 6th. It's an idea anyway. And he likes to fly - but will he be content to sit in the car with Klemet, or do I need to pull him along on the bicycle? Hmmm...

Goal for next week: 7 km/day, 49 km total, and if I should catch up with this week's 23.78 km deficit, I should do 72.28 km - or 10.3 km/day. Hmmmm... we'll see. At least "the wolf" will be back in kindergarden tomorrow.

Todo next week: Tighten chain and get riding outside again.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

T-68 An inaccurate date?

Time is closing in, and might be closing faster than expected, too. My travel partner is open for travel between May 11th and June 6th. As ESC is being dropped, I need to finalize the travel dates, and this could mean starting before May 21st. Basically, only start and stop of travel are required. And booking the plane tickets.

I will be a "home alone with one chide"-dad for a few weeks counting from March 29th. In the meanwhile, I need to intensify my practice, which has been close to non-existant. Target travel rate is, after all, 30 km/day - or 210 km/week - a far cry from my current 5km/week average (actually altering between 4, 6 and 9 km/week of walking).

It is ten weeks until expected departure. A practice program should increase the distance by 20 km/week2 - 3km/day every week or 0.42 km/day every day. When bicycling is not an option due to other restraints, I must make use of the stationary bike - every day!

How should I accomplish this, I wonder? Well... first of all, write it down!

Week number: daily practice, total for week, total in period (comment)
Week 11: 4 km/day 28 km 28 km(15 minutes/day?)
Week 12: 7 km/day 49 km 77 km
Week 13: 10 km/day 70 km 147 km
Week 14: 13 km/day 91 km 238 km (an hour/day? Must be morning practice.)
Week 15: 16 km/day 112 km 350 km
Week 16: 19 km/day 133 km 483 km
Week 17: 22 km/day 154 km 637 km (two hours/day? How do I fit this into my schedule?)
Week 18: 25 km/day 175 km 812 km
Week 19: 28 km/day 196 km TOTAL: 1008 km

Next: Something as simple as a piece of paper with this information - or a spreadsheet. Jot down actual practice and check against the four different goals written down in the table above. Figure out how to get about doing this as I go.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

P-114 Caravan

Klemet will be joining. The plan now is a rental caravan. This would radically change the approach; while the route still sits, the schedule can be completely undecided. That is, only start and stop dates need to be set (to be able to catch the plane), but the rate of progress can be completely up to my own pace. I can therefore go slower or faster than planned, and basically the project changes from specifically Paris-Lille to "Paris towards Amsterdam and let's see how far I get within this time frame."

Facebook: Paambi Stage 1 event Join in!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

P-118 Time for action

Basically, the decision seems to be - drop Düsseldorf, go directly to Paris. Time to get some accomodation and plane tickets.

On Facebook:

Friday, 7 January 2011

P-133 The days are closing in

It is already 2011, and I have not made any reservations yet. The Düsseldorf part is now a little in the gray area. Will there be Düsseldorf, or is that only an unnecesary part of the trip?

Super cheap plane tickets are available for a few more days, and I have yet to agree with the rest of the family about travel dates. I might have to make an executive decision before it is too late - so that I can be 100% certain about dates and start contacting locations for accomodation.

The most worrysome bit is that I can't seem to find any couchsurfers between Paris and Creil.