Blog Archive (EN)
This is the archive of previous blog posts. The most recent blog post can be found on the page Current Blog.
4 September 2023 (Part 1)
What is an Adventure? If you search for the definition of an adventure, you will get various descriptions. Basically it is something that always entails some tension. Unexpected events.
For me, adventure means facing the unknown. Whether it's in my regular job, a weekend trip to Luxembourg or a multi-day motorcycle trip.
For example, on Friday afternoon August 18 at 12:30 I left with Lazuli on a multi-day adventure.
Because I had the plan to ride a large part towards southern part of France, I first decided to follow the main bigger roads for a few hours until about 20 kilometers before Reims. From there I started riding inland in the famous Champagne region. As the route continued, the roads only got nicer and the views more beautiful.
Around 18:30 I decided it was time to find a place to sleep. I didn't book anything. Just put a tent on the back of Lazuli and ride until I thought it was time to find some peace. However, it wasn’t easy to find anything. Many campsites had turned into camper pitches and therefore no longer suitable for a tent. That meant that after a lot of searching I finally ended up at a campsite in the town of Châlons-en-Champagne just before 20:00.
After some simple dinner (a bag of adventure food) and a warm, sticky night, I stood next to my tent at 5:00 am the next morning. After taking a cooling cold shower I quickly packed everything and at 6:30 am I started the second day of my adventure together with Lazuli.
What struck me was how little traffic I encountered along the way. Also virtually no motorcycles, despite the fact that the roads were increasingly getting more playful and technical. Especially in the beautiful nature reserve of the Morvan.
Because there was so little traffic, I could ride to my heart's content together with Lazuli. Corner after corner, from hill to hill, to almost mountainous environments. The smile hidden in my helmet only widened. How beautiful this area is and to enjoy!
It finally ensured that I arrived at my first destination at 18:15, after riding almost 500 kilometers inland. The beautiful accommodation Domaine Barreaux located just outside the town of Cindré. A day early, but I was made very welcome.
The owners Rita and Luc welcomed me and Lazuli with open arms and a warm heart. Before I knew it I was sitting at the large table with the other guests enjoying a delicious supper prepared by Rita and Luc. It resulted in a very satisfied feeling after riding 1,160 kilometers in a day and a half.
The third day I was already at 6:15 on the border of a piece of grassland, enjoying a beautiful sunrise and passing deer, and then admiring the beautiful garden. From a giant fig tree to olives, apples and pears. A lovely swimming pool, hot tub and even an opportunity to go archery. Every corner is decorated differently. Whether it's about the facilities or the huge variety of beautiful plants. From rock garden to a sea of flowers. Every nook and cranny was different.
But I wasn't here to admire a garden all day. I was here with Lazuli to explore routes I had made. So I left with my blue steel steed after a delicious breakfast in an easterly direction.
The first part was perhaps a bit boring in terms of motorcycling, but the truly beautiful views made up for it. It almost looked like typical hilly British countryside. Still, I was happy that after half an hour of riding the roads started to get nicer. Even the "regular" D-roads were very often narrow and technical to ride. It didn't take long before that huge grin was back on my face. Especially now that I was riding without the weight of a full luggage.
Of course I also looked for moments to enjoy the surroundings. Take pictures and also fly around with drone Mug. The people in this area are so friendly. Give motorcyclists a lot of space and the elderly are also very curious. Which makes things a bit difficult for me. I speak almost no French. The phrase “Je ne parle pas Francais” almost began to turn into a safe word for me. Fortunately, we mostly still have the option of “hands and feet” work.
Despite my lack of language, I was still able to get along with the locals. There was a moment when an older lady walked up to me with her walking stick, curious about that girl with the big motorcycle and that strange flying thing. With some pointing and showing the image on the drone Mug's controller, she was able to watch what Mug showed through his camera. She suddenly saw the river she had lived along all her life from a completely different angle and visibly enjoyed it. Together, we looked mesmerized at the small screen while I tried to make various photos with Mug. Now that's what I call a nice part of an adventure!
Unfortunately, I had to land Mug quickly before the battery died and say goodbye to the friendly lady in my very broken and flawed French. Quickly packing Mug and start Lazuli again. Trying to find a cooling wind as the temperature was rising (> 30° Celsius). However, this wasn’t spoiling the fun, because the area east of Fleurie far exceeded my expectations. A truly winding Valhalla for Lazuli to arrive back at Domaine Barreaux after approximately 300 kilometers at 17:15.
What a wonderful start to our multi-day adventure!
To be continued in part 2.
12 September 2023 (Part 2)
The continuation of adventure.
The fourth day I stepped out into the cooler air of the morning at 7:00. Even 22° Celsius felt cool compared to the +30° Celsius in the afternoon and evenings.
This day I decided to look up some more history in a west to southwest direction. It was a route past beautiful castles, picturesque villages and various other objects that aroused my curiosity. The turning point of the route was at Pont de Menat. Here I rode with Lazuli first over a medieval bridge, then turned back over an original Roman bridge and then under the medieval bridge into the beautiful Gorges de la Sioule.
It was the first real canyon that Lazuli and I rode through on this adventure. The beautiful rock walls and rock formations towered high above us. Created by the clear river along which the road wound through the gorge.
What you may also encounter are a kind of industrial washing drums, slowly decaying into oblivion over time. These have often been used within the Massif Central of France for washing out gemstones and gold.
After intensively studying such a washing drum, I rode to Vichy. The micro SD cards I was using were quickly filling up, so I decided to look for a few extra ones. It took a while, but I finally managed to score a number of them at a Leclerc specialized in electronics, in the historic city of Vichy.
In Vichy, however, I soon saw Lazuli's temperature meter indicate 40° Celsius. Due to the traffic, it took a while before I could escape the heat in the city, which at a certain point started to bother me a lot. Even constantly drinking water from the Camel bag on my back while riding did not provide me with sufficient support.
After riding almost 250 kilometers, I finally managed to find some refreshment at Domaine Barreaux before we found a table at a restaurant together for a pleasant end to the day.
Because of the heat I decided to ride early the next morning. So around 7:00 I left with Lazuli. This time in a southerly direction to some higher roads in the mountains. The Monts du Forez. Hoping to find a little bit of relief of the heat here.
In general, the temperature fluctuated between 29° and 33° Celsius. Compared to the higher temperatures the day before, this felt almost like a cooling down.
The area is truly beautiful. Beautiful forests, rivers, rock formations and wildlife. For example, I was fortunate to encounter a beautiful young deer walking in front of me and a large bird of prey that flew along for a long distance a few meters above me before it chose to go in a different direction. This is also part of an adventure!
The literal highlight was Col du Béal with a pass height of 1,390 meters. A mountain pass located in the middle of the Hautes Chaumes. Extensive open plateaus with mainly heather vegetation. The roads are fantastic. Regularly narrow and technical. It was therefore quite a challenge to complete the 330 kilometer route. I therefore concluded that it would be wise to adjust the route to a shorter variant for 2024.
The sixth day arrived again. A somewhat shorter route of approximately 225 kilometers was planned. A nice playful route in a southeasterly direction. Once again past beautiful rock formations in sometimes even more beautiful forest areas. It was a route with everything. It also provided time to take a little more time at sightseeing. Such as the Eglise Notre-Dame de Châtel-Montagne and the beautiful castle of La Palice in Lapalisse.
Unfortunately, for me the afternoon did not end in the cooling swimming pool of Domaine Barreaux, but mainly with a lot of calling around and consultations for my work. Sometimes it happens that other things take precedence, and in this case I also had such a situation. Fortunately, I was able to find the solutions and I was able to enjoy Rita and Luc's fantastic cooking skills again with a lower stress level. A very welcome moment of rest and enjoying a beautiful sunset.
To be continued in part 3!
17 September 2023 (Part 3)
An adventure to never forget.
The seventh day of this adventure gave a forecast of extreme temperatures in the afternoon. So it became a tour of only 160 kilometers where I enjoyed a good cup of coffee in peace and quiet under the Barrage de la Tache and Barrage du Rouchain dams. A lovely place between the trees and along a river fed by the dams.
After this break I saw Lazuli's temperature gauge rise quickly while we were on our way to Varennes-sur-Allier for a joint lunch with Rita, Luc and two friends of theirs. We enjoyed a delicious lunch with nice company and in the cool air of the air conditioning of the restaurant.
We actually didn't want to move away from the air conditioning, but there was going to be a moment when we had to brave the predicted heat. And that heat was there! We stepped outside with a temperature of more than 42° to 44° Celsius. With the collar of my motorcycle jacket open, I tried to cool down while riding, but even at the permitted speed of 90 km/h the air felt like a warm hairdryer. A cooling vest would not have been an added value at this temperature (and the 35°+ Celsius temperatures). Rather the opposite.
Because of these temperatures we did not know how quickly we had to jump into the water of the swimming pool at Domaine Barreaux. Even though the water had a temperature of about 30° Celsius, the water felt cooling.
Naturally, thunderstorms were inevitable at these temperatures. In the afternoon the first arrived with a welcome cooling air. Afterwards to end the week together with once again the fantastic cooking of Rita and Luc (which I was definitely going to miss for the rest of the adventure). What an amazing place Domaine Barreaux is! It felt like a real home.
The weather gods decided to settle their discussions extensively and loudly that night. It kept flashing outside. On the other hand, it cooled down wonderfully. However, the discussions continued for a very long time. After breakfast on day 8 and a warm goodbye from Rita and Luc, Lazuli and I had to endure the many discussions of the weather gods until noon. These seemed to want to join the adventure to Switzerland.
Fortunately, Lazuli and I managed to avoid the arguing weather gods after lunch. The closer we got to the Swiss border, more and more the landscape started to change. More erratic and with a different type of rock than the Massif Central consists of. Unexpectedly we took a break at a dried up river and waterfall where the surrounding trees were covered with moss. It seemed as if we had ended up in a fairytale forest.
After about 280 kilometers, however, I was happy to have found a quiet campsite in Clairvaux-les-Lacs with a beautiful view of the town.
The ninth day consisted of getting up early and packing everything as quickly as possible before the first drops of rain fell again. Upon leaving, I quickly came across a bakery that not only had sweets, but also delicious sandwiches. How lucky and immediately took a sandwich with me for a potential lunch. On to Switzerland!
What a beautiful country! Unfortunately the weather was terribly bad. It just kept raining and raining. It finally made me book a spot at Scheidegger-Ranch. The route to the Ranch was not boring. Despite the weather conditions, I was able to enjoy the narrow roads along high mountain walls, free-roaming cows and some waterfalls.
Arriving at the Ranch, I was fortunate to be the only one booked in the shared room. This gave me plenty of space to dry things, but they also had a drying room where my motorcycle suit could dry out.
Initially I was going to spend an extra day in Switzerland, but the weather conditions made me decide to flee the country with Lazuli. Not without reason, because many mountain passes were now closed due to mud- and landslides and many weather warnings had been issued for heavy rainfall.
Still, Switzerland gave me an epic wave! From the Ranch I rode on a narrow road through the Jura area and then through a narrow mountain gorge typical of the area. The rock walls on either side steeply rise to the sky, formed by the narrow river that meandered tightly along the road through the gorge. It is a very special mountain area where the different rock layers, formed over millions of years, are very clearly visible. Oh, how I wish I had the ability to spent some extra time here.
Still, I was happy to ride north. Soon I rode back into France and found myself in the area known as the Vosges. The first pass I rode here was the Col du Ballon d'Alsace. Lazuli and I climbed this together with two local motorcyclists. I must honestly admit that the rhythm we found together ensured that Lazuli's tires became wonderfully round again. Even though Lazuli also had to carry full luggage. What a wonderful motorcycle it is.
But more about Col du Ballon d'Alsace, because this is not just any mountain pass in the Vosges. The mountain pass is world famous in the history of the Tour de France. The mountain pass in question was ridden for the first time in 1905 during the Tour de France. The then organizer Henri Desgrange stated as follow:
- “The ascent of the Ballon d'Alsace, was one of the most thrilling sights I have ever seen, and confirms my belief that man's courage knows no bounds and that a highly skilled athlete can aspire to remarkable feats”
This gave birth to the myth that the Col du Ballon d'Alsace was the first ever mountain pass of the Tour de France. At the top you will find a monument commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France.
After a great lunch at the top of this mountain pass, the route continued for a few more hours, ending at a simple campsite after about 300 kilometers.
The next morning I woke up with a different temperature extreme. It was only 9° Celsius. That was quite a change in 72 hours. How happy I am with my lovely warm sleeping bag.
The morning was the last part through the Vosges. After about 150 kilometers of inland riding, the roads started to straighten out and I decided to spend our last night alone with Lazuli at a campsite near Luxembourg City. I sat quietly in front of my tent, entertaining the son of German campers. The boy was completely in love with motorcycles, his parents said. He was even more amazed when, in addition to Lazuli, another Honda NC750X from a British guy and three BMW motorcycles entered the field. The three BMWs were Spanish rental motorcycles. They were three friends from Mexico City who had flown to Barcelona and aimed to reach the North Cape.
The result? Before it was bedtime for the little man, we were together entertaining him, with his parents as a chronic interpreter since we spoke either no or limited German.
Packing was a challenge again, because the little man also found this very interesting. Ultimately, Lazuli and I were enthusiastically waved goodbye by the little man and the other guests. What a wonderful end to the adventure, because all I wanted now was to go home. Relieving my husband from carrying for our cat children.
Part of this adventure certainly had a purpose. A goal to share such a wonderful adventure with others. Details about this goal can be found in the Travel Shop: France.
Quite a story, but I look back at this adventure with a huge grin on my face. It was again one I will never forget. May many more follow. Would you like to join Lazuli and I on an adventure in 2024?
2 June 2023
Cheating on Lazuli.
Saturday morning, June 10, I left early with a group of 45 participants in the touringcar to the starting location at a beautiful Chateau in Dreux. The gated 33-acre estate was completely set up for the event. From the campsite with associated Ténéré Town to various off-road trails that challenged the participants more than enough. From a cross track to tight technical single tracks.
But besides motorcycling, workshops were also given. For example, about applying First Aid outside the civilized world and updating the basic knowledge about the engine for emergency repairs if necessary. The participants could also practice themselves under the guidance of the trainer.
On the second evening, all participants were provided with a three-course dinner and two presentations. The first presentation was from Zoe Herron Coleman of Two Wheels for Life. A wonderful organization that uses donations to train local people in Africa in the field of health care and to offer this help in remote areas using motorcycles. By participating in the event, the participants automatically supported this organization. Part of their registration fee was donated, after which Yamaha supplemented the amount raised up to € 7000.-.
The second presentation was given by Nick Sander Motorcycle Adventurer who has ridden around the world several times (and actually still does) with, among other things, a Yamaha Ténéré.
In addition to many activities, Yamaha itself was also present. We all didn’t have enough eyes to look with on this one. Yamaha had taken and set up the original Heritage models of the Ténéré. A kind of mini-museum in the context of the 40th anniversary of the Ténéré. One even more special than the other. The roots towards the Dakar Rally were clearly visible here.
In total, just over 100 Ténéré riders took part in the event. The objective was to end up in a number of Stages via Andorra in the Spanish Pyrenees. The participants could choose between a real all-road route (both on and off road) or a fully paved route. The routes also crossed each other regularly, so that the participants could change route depending on their feelings and conditions.
Every day was also a challenge for us as a crew. Every day we had to set up and take down the organization tent (dome tent) and everything around it. Provided the participants with their daily challenges that allowed them to score points for the leaderboard. Two crew colleagues also provided the so-called Turn-Off in the route. Here the participants could take a break, drink coffee and were presented with an extra challenge. Before we knew it, however, we were in rhythm and we were ready to receive the participants at the next location in no time.
It was also terribly envious. Every day we saw the participants leave on their motorcycles and every evening we heard the wonderful stories of their adventures and saw many beautiful videos and photos passing by so that we could enjoy their adventures.
In addition, when we had to drive to the following locations with the buses, we regularly drove through the most beautiful areas. Roads where which we placed on our bucket list to look up again with our own motorcycles. The further south we came, the more we were amazed by breathtaking views, rock formations, gorges and mountains.
Every day naturally also brought challenges to help participants. Jessica and Maarten, as the main organizers of the Ténéré Travel Trophy, tried to help the participants as best they could when there were problems. Their hearts are made of gold. They really went out of their way to help.
The participants also quickly found me. Before I knew it I was being called the GPS lady. Throughout the week I was regularly busy answering questions about GPS systems, loading tracks and solving malfunctions. This was not planned, but I really enjoyed being able to help the participants with this as well.
We laughed a lot and enjoyed it, even with such long days and working hard as a team. Although I didn't had a motorcycle with me, I wouldn't have wanted to miss this adventure for the world. All I can say is that I'm already looking forward to next year!
And Lazuli? He really doesn’t need to worry. As nice as a Ténéré may be, Lazuli is really my bike. Enjoy every moment with him. Both on asphalt and on gravel. He can just come along on our own trips and adventures!
18 April 2023
It was quiet around blogging for a while. Still, I'm not sitting still. In the background I am busy preparing for the coming months. The agenda is filling up nicely.
Due to the pretty packed season, it was necessary for Lazuli to receive quite a bit of TLC. In recent months, the chain with associated sprockets and the brake pads have been replaced. Furthermore, he was completely dismantled by MotorTotaal for a major overhaul in which a number of valves had to be adjusted and the spark plugs were all replaced. Lazuli was then allowed to go to Alphen aan den Rijn to the Hyperpro Service Center for major maintenance on the front fork suspension and the rear shock. Not to mention various other modifications such as the Double Take Mirrors, Barkbuster handguards and a shorter clutch lever that have been added the last few months.
Then the plans. In addition to my full-time job as a soil investigation and soil remediation project leader, I try to find time in the evenings and weekends for some quality time for my husband and our cats, taking care of the chores at home, preparing for the various trips in Luxembourg (both from Dutch Minion and for Motorclub Zeeuws- Vlaanderen) and being busy planning a trip of a week to explore France for next year. This is still going to happen, but a little later in the year than planned.
Very simple. Unexpectedly, Jessica from Winding Wheels called me. I have been following her and her husband through Social Media for a long time, but the personal meeting took place during Discover Overland last September. It was great fun and I admired their presentation about their journey in Africa.
But then why did she call me?
Together with Yamaha, Jessica and Maarten have been busy devising, developing and now actually organizing the Ténéré Travel Trophy. In addition to the entire organization in the background, a lot of help is also needed during the multi-day event. For this they were putting together a team and Jessica called me if I was interested in coming along. It was a bit of puzzling in my planning, but a few days later I sent via WhatsApp "Sign me up!"
That means that from June 9 to June 18 I will be present at the Ténéré Travel Trophy. Really looking forward to it and hope that it will be of real value to the organization and the participants. It will be a very educational event.
Of course that doesn't mean that my blogs about special places and mini adventures will disappear. On the contrary. They remain an essential part of Dutch Minion. Especially now that the temperatures are becoming more pleasant, nature is clearly awakening and therefore becoming more and more comfortable to go on an adventure, the blogs will come online more frequently with accompanying images. After all, there is still so much to discover!
Bring on 2023!
22 January 2023
Having patience like angels. That is quite difficult for a motorbiker in the winter (except for a few die-hard, of course).
At the moment we are looking forward to the Motorbeurs in Utrecht here in biking Netherlands. The previous edition was in 2020. Many are therefore eager to visit the Motorbeurs after all the corona misery.
Still, I look back at 2022 with a smile.
I often tell about the beautiful historical places within the Province of Zeeland, but also occasionally outside Zeeland. For example, the city of Hellevoetsluis can be found on one of the South Holland islands.
The place where Hellevoetsluis is now located was already in use for permanent residence in the Iron Age (circa 800 years BC). The settlement was also present when the Romans were present within Dutch territory. However, in the period from about the 7th century to about the 11th century, people had left the island. Only in the 11th century did people return to develop the final base of Hellevoetsluis.
In the 15th century, Hellevoetsluis was a small harbor called Nieuw-Helvoet. The current historic fortifications was built in the 17th century. This to strengthen the war and trade port. Hellevoetsluis developed into an important naval port with associated naval base, training institutes and fortifications. At the beginning of the 20th century, however, this slowly came to an end, especially when the naval base was moved to Den Helder.
Unfortunately, Hellevoetsluis was partially demolished by the Nazis during World War II. Simply to create a better field of fire in defense of their own institutions. After the war, the navy temporarily returned. The harbor was used by the navy as a base for temporarily decommissioned ships from the minesweeping service. One of the minesweepers was eventually named after the town. The Mr. Ms. Hellevoetsluis (which was decommissioned in 2011).
The many remains of this historic harbor can be visited freely and are even easily accessible by motorbike. For example, the coastal battery Fort Haerlem (built in 1880) can be visited. Even one of the cannons has been visually restored and is present on the fort. But the special dry dock (Droogdok Jan Blanken) present can also be visited. This dry dock is one of its kind and is still in use within its function.
The port has lost its naval and commercial character, but it is now used for mainly pleasure crafts. Nevertheless, a number of historic ships can be admired in the harbour. From the lightship Noord-Hinder, the minesweeper AMS 60 Bernisse and the special ram tower ship Buffel.
The special lightship Noord-Hinder was used as a kind of lighthouse, but at sea. It was not until 1994 that the ship was finally taken out of the sea because the technology had surpassed the function of the lightship.
The minesweeper AMS 60 Bernisse served until 1995 under the name M927-Spa. After some wanderings and name changes, the ship was definitively named AMS 60 Bernisse in 2002. The ship can be visited to this day, but when you visit Hellevoetsluis it may just be that the minesweeper is not present. The ship is part of the cultural sailing heritage of the navy and therefore visits various events (often port days) in the Netherlands.
is a so-called ram tower ship. The name actually tells the function of the steamship. The bow was an armed ram with the aim of ramming/damaging enemy ships just below the waterline. The bow is therefore very impressive to stand in front of. The Buffel was launched for the first time in 1868. It was the very first fully steam-powered ship of the Dutch Navy. However, the Buffel has never really performed its function effectively outside of the various exercises. Due to, among other things, a very heavy gun turret on top of the ship, it was very unstable in the water in rougher weather conditions. The Buffel was therefore put into use in 1894 as a training ship to train sailors in the use and maintenance of steamships. From 1948 to 1974, the Buffel was used as a floating sleeping quarters, after which it was transferred in 1974 to serve as a museum ship from that year onwards.
The old fortified harbor of Hellevoetsluis is therefore a great pleasure to visit by motorbike. Especially since you can ride through it without any problems with the motorbike and the various historical sites can be viewed up close.
6 January 2023 (Spain part 1)
Spain. The land of the sun.
My husband and I spent Christmas in Spain with his parents. They formally emigrated to this sun-drenched country in 2022. In the region of Murcia. Contrary to how we normally go abroad, this time we flew over by plane.
We had to go to Antwerp in the early morning with the car. The alarm went off at 2:45. At 7:00 we were in the air. About halfway through we were lucky and the clouds were open for a while. This allowed us to admire the beautiful snowy peaks of the Pyrenees.
After landing in Murcia, we were picked up by my parents-in-law by car. On the way to their house we were already teased by several motorcyclists. Wow, what a feeling of jealousy.
My parents-in-law live in an apartment on the ground floor in a so-called compound area. There is also an 18-hole golf course within the fence, which is full of cameras. Various small swimming pools and green areas within residential areas are provided with a sip of water twice a week by an automated sprinkler system.
The temperature is pleasant. The nights cool down to about 10 to 12 degrees Celsius, but during the day it is about 20 to 22 degrees with a lovely sun. In itself fine to stay in the winter months.
Hubby had forgotten to ask his parents in advance about transport. Spanish law (which we understood from his parents) meant that we weren't just allowed to get behind the wheel of their cars. So they decided to take us around the area.
It was some puzzling in what to do. Especially in combination with the average time at which warm food was eaten (usually around lunch). That meant that the first day was spent a few hours at a small "mountain" (Yacimiento de la Sima de las Palomas) fifteen minutes from the compound. There had been mining here in the past.
However, the site in question is also of archaeological value. In 1991, for example, human remains of the Neanderthal were found in one of the caves. Based on archaeological research, it is hypothesized that the large ones were used in the past as hiding places, living places and burial places by Neanderthals. Many fossils of various land and marine animals have also been found within the area.
As the area is still actively engaged in archaeological research, visiting opportunities are limited mainly to a number of hiking trails and a large cave called the Dragon Cave. The rest are closed with regard to the investigations, or protected with regard to bats.
7 January 2023 (Spain Part 2)
Cartagena. Historic city near the sea.
The next day we decided to visit the city of Cartagena. An ancient Roman port city. A special city with a gigantic history where you soon find yourself short of hours to learn about it.
In short summary:
- Cartagena was founded in the year 227 BC on the site of an ancient Iberian or Tartessian settlement. Under the name of Qart Hadasht (New Town). The city experienced its heyday under Roman rule under the name Carthago Nova. Later the city fell under the rule of Byzantine domains and was subsequently largely destroyed by the Visigoths. From the 16th century, however, the city experienced growth again due to a major military role that the city could play.
My parents-in-law and my husband decided they would rather take it easy on a terrace. So I went alone. Searching for old historical places. There are various remains from Roman times to be found. The most special is the theater built by order of Emperor Augustus. Through a museum located on the square Pl. Héroes de Cavite (where you can also admire a remnant of an old harbor wall (in its original location). In the museum you can admire various archaeological artifacts and works of art of the Romans. The details in, for example, old wall paintings continue to amaze me every time.
After the main building, you move through a very old corridor (presumably dating from the 13th century) to the original Roman Amphitheatre. The local government, in collaboration with various international universities, is still busy with archaeological research and restoration work on and around the Amphitheatre. Can't say anything else but it's worth a visit. Especially for the very small entrance fee.
Next to the Amphitheater is the Castillo de la Concepción. A castle whose base dates from about the 13th century. After the conquest of Cartagena by Alfonso, son of King Ferdinand III of Castile in 1245, the Diocese of Cartagena was restored in 1250. Following this, the Order of Santa Maria de España was founded in 1270 for the defense of the sea for the Crown of Castile. This Order is still active to this day and the knighting of members is still done in the castle.
The walk up is also worth it. It gives a panoramic view of almost all of Cartagena.
However, Spain has also experienced a turbulent period more recently. During the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939, the city was hit hard by many attacks. Both from land and sea, but also from the air. For example, various human-created cave systems can be found in the city that functioned as shelters for the inhabitants of the city. One of them is located under the castle of the Order of Santa Maria and can be visited. It shows how people lived or survived in the caves.
Could have spent many hours in this city. There are various defense works from the 16th and 17th centuries, among others. From castles to defensive walls to fortifications with extensive chained batteries. It is advisable to put on a good pair of walking shoes and to bring plenty of water. Several of these defenses are situated on the natural rock formations in the immediate vicinity and therefore require a bit of walking to the top.
9 January 2023 (Spain part 3)
Update: From the organization I received some explanation about the current maintenance status of the quad bikes:
'Yes, the quad bikes are perfectly adequate for the terrain that they are used for, each quad has a new engine every two years and goes through a rigorous 15 point check before each tour, at the end of a hard Summer season each quad is stripped down and rebuilt. The dust on the tour is our greatest enemy with the heat generated by the 300cc engines in 30°+ ambient temperature and the slow 20km speed meaning that they get little or no cooling being another factor. Not being able to wash them daily (because of virtually all year round water restrictions) gives the impression of the quads being old and "requiring maintenance". Thank you for your custom and please excuse me for explaining and countering the "lack of maintenance" comment.'
Off-road quad riding.
Fortunately, we have not been completely without “motorbike”. An hour's drive by car was the opportunity to go on a tour with quads at Espuña Adventure Team for a few hours. We had reserved two single quads and one duo (for my parents-in-laws).
At the arrival the owners received us with a friendly smile. Adjacent is a small-scale hotel where we had to register and sign a form (including additional insurance at € 3.50 p / p. Should something happen. Only a helicopter has the ability to rescue you in this area).
The quads were not the youngest anymore and could perhaps use a little more maintenance, nevertheless they did their job just fine for now. We received some explanation before departure. About the operation of the quad (control it as if you were riding a horse) but also about safety and how to react when something happens.
After this we left. In addition to the three quads we rode, there were also two others. Two Brits. Father and son.
We were soon riding the quad bikes on unpaved trails. These mainly consisted of sandstone-containing gravel. Locally worn small river rocks were present in the path, but also various wash-out slots that could sometimes be quite treacherous. The guide had also warned us about this and ordered us all to ride the same line as him.
He took us through a small piece of the area (after all, we only had 2 hours of riding available), but it was beautiful. The area was actually the bottom of the ocean millions of years ago. They have therefore found many fossils of marine animals in the area. How the area was formed also shows that it is actually accumulations of former sediment from the sea floor.
The guide also took us to a nearby lake. The path to it presented a bit more of a challenge. That meant that my parents-in-law had to leave their quad behind for a while. My father-in-law got on the back of my husband and my mother-in-law had to accompany the guide on the back.
Eventually I understood why. There were some pieces that were a bit more technical. Sort of DRZ heaven, but with an Africa Twin it would have been hard work.
The lake was worth it. The view was beautiful. A nice place to practice with the drone again and to take some nice pictures.
13 January 2023 (Spain Part 4)
The Ocean Race.
Previously, this race with sailboats was known as the Whitbread Round the World Race and then the Volvo Ocean Race. A race that takes place on average every three years and is regarded as the toughest sailing race in the world.
Over a period of about 9 months, the participants sail around the world in different stages with their sailing boats. Each sailboat is a technical marvel of engineering and techniques. The Netherlands did not participate without merit in this.
As a teenager I watched with great admiration the images and reports of this race. In the past, the images were broadcast on TV in The Netherlands. Sometimes dreamed of going on one of the sailing boats as a crew member. However, I didn't dare. My love for my horses and cats was/is too great. Didn't dare to leave my animals alone for such a long period of time in those years.
The start has been taking place since 2008 from the port of Alicante. Therefore, there is also a small museum that interactively tells the story about this race.
Next to the museum, one sailboat (from 2001) can be viewed under the supervision of a museum employee. Despite the fact that it was a somewhat older sailing boat, this, in combination with the explanations and stories of the guidance, gave a good picture of how the boats are built and what life is like on board.
The sailboats are almost entirely made of carbon fiber. Only the outside has colors, but inside there really isn't a speck of paint to be found. This is for weight saving. After all, they are not small boats and the speeds that are aimed for means that every gram counts to achieve them.
The new sailing boats for the upcoming edition have been further developed in such a way that they are equipped with narrow, elongated type wings. When they reach a certain speed, almost the entire sailboat is lifted out of the water, reducing friction with the water to a minimum. It is therefore expected that many records will be broken in the coming edition.
So far, 13 editions of the race have taken place. On January 15, 2023, the participants will leave for the 14th edition. It is not a race without danger. Unfortunately, within the 13 editions, 7 people have already lost their lives. Predominantly by falling overboard. Most of the victims have never been found. This shows how risky the race is for all participants.
The Ocean Race can no longer be followed via TV in the Netherlands, but fortunately it can be followed via social media. I do this again with great admiration and I wish all participants a lot of success. May they all reach the finish line safely!
21 October 2022
Travel in Luxembourg.
Many of you have probably already figured it out. Both my husband and myself enjoy coming to Luxembourg. Despite the fact that we have been visiting this small European country for years, it never gets boring.
We are therefore increasingly looking for smaller roads that can only be followed in better weather conditions (read: no snow).
But Luxembourg also offers a lot of variety. You can literally follow a route in one day that goes over a rolling hilly landscape with many grasslands to the rocky mountain area with its associated valleys, mountain rivers and waterfalls.
Every time I'm in Luxembourg, I fall in love with that country all over again. The roads are mostly perfect, with a lot of variety, with beautiful views and through varied forests. The locals are very hospitable. Despite the fact that they can sometimes get a bit crazy from the many motorbikers. Especially in the summer. However, with a friendly nod and a smile, they are always willing to speak to you and help if necessary.
The love I have for Luxembourg has made me want to share it with others.
Last weekend it was a new adventure. For the first time I was a tour guide for a small group of motorbikers.
We slept in the so-called Barrels at camping Val d'Or in Kiischpelt. These were equipped with basically everything. Good beds, well-functioning heating, refrigerator, microwave, coffee, barbecue, etc. The sanitary building was really a 30-second walk and also neatly cared for. In the morning, the freshly ordered baguettes were neatly delivered to the door. They were even still warm and of good quality.
The group had indicated in advance that they were interested in some history, but also nature. Not so much sporty riding (which was not possible given the weather conditions), but enjoying the environment and possibly visiting pieces of history.
The outward journey on Friday consisted mainly of enjoying beautiful roads, getting some groceries and getting used to the bends and finding the right gear. After all, riding here is different than in the Netherlands.
For Saturday I had made a route of about 260 kilometers. Despite the drizzly weather, it was simply a pleasure. The route took the group over beautiful winding roads, past various historic castles and through the beautiful forests which were beautiful in the autumn colors.
The narrower, smaller roads were also sought out. These are often roads with a warning sign. Most motorbikers avoid these, but these are often of excellent quality. The warning sign mainly applies when it is freezing and/or snowing. The roads in question are not maintained during these situations. The rest of the year, these roads can take you through the most beautiful hidden spots in Luxembourg.
The advantage of this season and the weather conditions we had was that it was fairly quiet on the road and that almost no tourists/visitors were present at the tourist spots. This allowed the beautiful places to be admired in peace.
Even the beautiful nature reserve around Mullerthall could be visited in peace.
The Sunday consisted of visiting the war monument of Bastogne and then riding almost all the way through to Brussels. Unfortunately, the monument was under scaffolding for major maintenance. It doesn't make it any less impressive, though. The museum next door is also worth a visit.
The route we rode from Bastogne took us partly through the Belgian Ardennes. What a fantastic route. The asphalt was somewhat variable in quality, but it was dry and took us through many beautiful forests and along high rock formations. The route was really worth it.
A bit below Brussels we turned onto the main road to eventually end up together in Stabroek. Just before the border with The Netherlands. There we said goodbye to each other after the bikes refueled and we all went on our separate ways.
Satisfied I arrived home. Loved it. It gave me energy and pleasure in sharing my passion for motorbiking and travelling. Even if it was just for a weekend. It also meant that I now dare to draw a conclusion. I want to do this more often! Want to take and guide people on these kinds of trips/travels. The preparation was half the fun. To see the people riding home with a satisfied smile is just the finishing touch for me.
On to next year! More about this will be online very soon!
21 September 2022
A while back I was in contact with Roel Bremmers (Roelofftheroad and Mosko Moto). He asked me if I wanted to come to the Discover Overland event. That would take place from 16 to 18 September at a campsite in Koningsbosch.
I said sure, why not. Therefor I fitted Lazuli with some new tires, renewed the rear brake pads and then packed up my stuff and tied it on the back. Including the tent.
What is Discover Overland? It is a relatively young event for people who like to travel and/or go on an adventure. From place to place. Whether that is on the paved roads, or on unpaved paths. Both inside and outside Europe. Various presentations were given by real world travelers. Whether that is with the motorcycle, a camper or a 4x4 does not matter.
I had made a route to the campsite for myself. Just under 331 kilometers, which eventually turned into about 350 kilometers. On small roads, along nature reserves, the many small ferries and beautiful dikes.
Despite the fact that Lazuli and I had to endure a lot of rain on the way, we had a lot of fun. The rain also has its advantages. Almost no cyclists, walkers and other tourism.
Rain also had a disadvantage. The temperature dropped significantly. So I had paused three times. Just to warm up my hands a bit.
Still, I enjoyed the journey. The weather regularly played with the view. It made for beautiful pictures. Fortunately, the last hour towards the campsite was dry, so that my suit had dried up again.
When I arrived at the campsite, I was warmly welcomed. Neatly registered and then found a nice spot in a corner over the lawn. I had set up the tent before it started to rain again.
Earlier I had offered Roel to help as a volunteer. So quickly changing in some regular clothes and reported myself back to the forecourt. Soon I happily joined the system. From receiving participants, to chronically brewing coffee and helping with serving the food. All that with a big smile!
It was fantastic and I had a great time. In between I was able to follow a few presentations and workshops. So nice to meet others I already followed via Social Media.
On Friday evening I soon got to know Maarten and Jessica from Winding Wheels. What enthusiasm they have! Their presentation that evening was wonderful to watch. I found it very clever how they made the best of their travels despite the vicissitudes surrounding the situation with Corona (read: closed borders) and then making their dreams come true.
Saturday mainly consisted of a lot of helping, but I still tried to get acquainted in between and to listen to the many stories. Because not only were the presentations and workshops instructive, the many stories, tips and tricks of the participants were also valuable. I met Bob_on_the_Bike, Papillon_motor_stories, , Wetzlosweltwaerts, Bioligist_on_a_bike, nohighways, itsontheroad, jo_destworld, fanette_cyclette, adv.on.the.blok, Adventure Shield, offwego_moto and many more!
In between helping out (especially making liters of coffee!) I also visited Remco Bremmer's workshop on bushcraft. How he had lit a fire in just a few minutes was admirable. He called this Prehistoric Netflix. It was also instructive about simple plant species and what you can use them for.
The Adventure Shield workshop was also well attended. Albert Oosting flawlessly explained certain riding techniques with his own motorcycle. The unpaved route was also later available to interested parties to ride with their own motorcycle.
The last workshop I attended was that of Roel Bremmer. About changing a tire on the road. Especially the various tips he gave were cleverly thought out. Very handy!
It was a fun event with very good people, a fantastic team and many like-minded participants. That means I already have Discover Overland in my agenda for next year! Probably the third weekend of September.
Hopefully the event will continue to grow. Are you also coming in 2023?
28 August 2022
In 2016 I bought my first brand new motorcycle. A Honda CB500X. I was extremely proud on this Pocket Bike!
Within two weeks of delivery, the Pocket Bike was fitted with Hepco&Becker crash bars. The aim was to eventually hang a few nice high-beam headlights on it. However, exactly four weeks after I took Pocket Bike home, luck ran out. At walking pace during the rain in a corner, the rear tire lost grip. This launched me off Pocket Bike and ended up on the tarmac several meters away. Pocket Bike unfortunately was laying on its side on the exhaust, crash bar and handlebars on the road surface.
After picking up myself and Pocket Bike, we quickly took it with the trailer to the dealer to have the damage assessed. On the way home my right arm started to hurt terribly. During a visit to the emergency room at the hospital, I was told that I had broken my arm.
The weeks that I couldn't ride a bike made me think a lot about the accident. Had I gone on the throttle too early? Was I riding too slow or too fast? What could I have done to prevent this? It caused a lot of doubt and anxiety in my head. Ultimately, the conclusion was reached that the tires that Pocket Bike was supplied with at the factory were insufficiently reliable.
Pocket Bike was repaired. Then fitted with better tires (Continental TrialAttack) and my arm allowed some sort of riding a motorbike again. So I quickly climbed back into the saddle. But the much thinking and the long wait have had a very negative effect on me. Suddenly I was no longer that confident motor biker, but terribly insecure with moments of a lot of fear. Tears literally rolled down my cheeks. I was afraid every time I doubted the grip. Despite the fact that Pocket Bike did not let me down for a moment after the new tires were fitted.
How to solve this? There wasn’t a simple solution. It didn't solved itself. However, I ended up with J-P van Haestregt. A professional instructor who gives training under the name Move-On Motortrainingen.
J-P didn't have it so easy with me. I may be small in stature, but I dare to compensate for that with some regularity with my stubbornness. In this case, I regularly pressed the stubborn heels in the sand as we say in The Netherlands, but this stubbornness had an underlying problem. Fear was the basis. However, J-P soon realized this.
After having followed about 6 training sessions at J-P, I am very grateful to him. I would never have come this far without him. Without him I would never have ridden a motorcycle with so much pleasure and freedom.
Because of these experiences of recent years I decided to place an interest poll in the Dutch Facebook group Motormeiden. Many responded positively to this. But most indicated that this would mainly be before 2023. At that time we were already well into the season and most people have already made their planning.
Still, I decided together with J-P to set a few dates for which a few motorbike women could register. The first date was packed in no time with four ladies who wanted to follow a training.
Recently this training has taken place and I have had a good time! What a great weekend that was!
They were four very different ladies. However, the group clicked well. During the acquaintance on Friday evening there was a lot of laughter during dinner and afterwards. But it was also a very inquisitive group. Soon they were listening very carefully to J-P while he was already explaining various things with the help of videos on his phone.
The next morning consisted of theory with the help of beautiful images. The differences of the bikes were also discussed. The group consisted of a Yamaha Diversion, a Honda Shadow 500, a Honda Deauville 700 and a Ducati Monster. The group of ladies was also very eager to learn during this theory.
But the training is not just theory. The training is given in the Eifel region in Germany, not far from the Luxembourg border. A wonderful area to practice the discussed theory in practice.
We started with a small, but nicely varied round. The ladies all had an earpiece in which they received direct guidance from J-P. It was a nice varied group. Not only in terms of engines, but also in terms of riding. For example, the Ducati was described as a participant in the Harry Potter sport of Quidditch. The similarity in sitting position emphasized this even more. The Honda Shadow rode around like the average all-roader while the Honda Deauville was the sensible friend whose goal was to get everyone home safely. The Diversion had many challenges. As hard as it was for her, she didn't dodge it.
It was beautiful how the entire group grew. The enthusiasm exploded. Even though I sometimes gave them half a heart attack along the way. Read: lying flat on my belly in the verge after a hairpin to make videos of them.
I call it a successful weekend myself. Although I sometimes felt sorry for J-P with a group consisting of only ladies around him.
4 July 2022
As can be seen from my blogs, I have a great predilection for the history of various places and environments. Sometimes there are beautiful gems among them.
The origin of Brouwershaven dates back to about 1285. It was initially the new harbor for the nearby village of Brijdorpe. The name Brouwershaven is first mentioned in 1318. In 1403 Brouw received his city rights. However, because the town did not get a seat in the Committed Councils, Brouwershaven remained a so called small town.
Because Brouwershaven had its own harbour, the residents' income did not only consist of fishing for fish and shellfish, but the city soon became a trading city. Especially the trade in wine, beer, wood, stone, wool, flax, turnips and beets.
But Brouwershaven had also experienced more difficult times. For example, the city was captured in 1575 and then set on fire by the Spanish troops. As a result, Brouwershaven was provided with earthen ramparts and a so-called wet canal from 1590 onwards. Furthermore, Brouw was hit by various storm surges. The storm surge of 1682 destroyed part of the fortifications. To date, only the eastern and northern ramparts and moats have been preserved. During the storm surge of 1953, Brouw also suffered major damage. As a result, many people became homeless. Thus you can find Scandinavian wooden houses in Brouw and there is the Bostonplein with small workers' houses. All of these homes were donations from Scandinavia and Boston.
Furthermore, Brouwershaven experienced a lot of changes between booming and economically difficult periods. This was simply because the road from the harbor to the Grevelingen was very long and narrow. The ships became larger and the combination of the narrow channel and a sandbar (Dwars in de Weg) ensured that the larger merchant ships did not enter the harbor.
In the nineteenth century, however, the port experienced a revival. The Brielse Maas and the Goereese Gat silted up. As a result, Rotterdam threatened to become inaccessible for the larger seagoing vessels. They then decided to sail back to Brouwershaven after which their cargo was transferred to smaller ships. In this way, the national government built a large office for the pilotage industry and the tax authorities. A large workshop for barrels that marked out the waterway was also built. These have been preserved as monuments. The barrel warehouse is used for, among other things, local social services (such as meetings with residents). The large former office of the pilotage and tax authorities has been converted into a private house.
After the Nieuwe Waterweg had been put into use in 1872, its function as a transhipment port for Rotterdam disappeared. This put Brouw again in a difficult period. The city only recovered after the flood of 1953. Thanks to better connections through the Delta Works, the port of Brouwershaven had the opportunity to develop into a marina and tourism developed at a rapid pace.
The old center of this town has been completely protected since 1973. As a result, a lot of beautiful monuments have been preserved. The original town hall from 1599 has undergone a major restoration in 2021 and the market and both the old harbor and the marina have recently been renovated.
But Brouwershaven is not only known as a smal city, old trading city and for its beautiful monumental center. Brouwershaven is also the birthplace of a number of special Dutch people. Such as Jacob Cats (1577-1660). A didactic poet, lawyer and politician. He played a major role in all three positions in the Netherlands. For example, the official residence of our Prime Minister is literally named after him. The Cats House.
Another well-known Dutchman who was born in Brouwershaven is Andries Schraver (1754-1826). A hydraulic engineer. He had not followed any training for this, but had trained himself in hydraulic engineering. He approached hydraulic engineering with a strong mathematical foundation.
Brouwershaven is also worth visiting by motorcycle. You can drive quietly along the old and new harbor. Your inner person can be kept perfectly satisfied at the various catering establishments on the Market. From squabbling to pizza while your motorcycle can remain perfectly in sight.
Can therefore recommend everyone to visit this little gem.
17 Juni 2022
The Atlantic Wall is a defense line of about 5,000 kilometers along the Western European coast. This defense line consisted of many casemates, bunkers, cannons and minefields. Spread along the entire coast.
We also know this line of defense in the Netherlands. Many remnants can still be found in the dunes. From Zeeuws Vlaanderen to the northernmost tip of North Holland.
Some of the remaining objects are freely accessible or set up as a museum. Another part has been closed off, after which they serve for example as a home for bats. Another part, however, is only accessible to a limited extent. Fortunately, we know various foundations and many volunteers in the Netherlands who try to preserve this piece of history. In order to then also give the wider public the opportunity to view the special remains from time to time and to tell the associated stories.
An example of a nationally organized day is the Bunker Day. In this case, inaccessible objects are opened for viewing for one day.
This year the Bunker Day was organized on May 28, 2022. Together with a motorcycle buddy who is always very interested in these kinds of things, we decided to visit various places in Zeeland with the motorcycles.
For example, we first started with a number of bunkers located close to each other in the dunes of Dishoek. Here you will find various bunkers and gun turrets. But also a special hospital bunker and a unique ammunition bunker. It is an interesting place with special stories where, for example, a young German surgeon at the risk of his own life visited a fellow surgeon from the Allied Forces to please help with a badly wounded young German soldier.
After a walk around at the bunkers in Dishoek, including an explanation of a replica Enigma machine, we disconnected our motorcycles from their locks again and rode to a special bunker in Groot Abeele. This concerns the Stützpunkt Krimhild. This bunker is a command bunker which was camouflaged as a house. Includes painted windows, brick motif and a fake roof. The original camouflage was brought back to the bunker in 2014 during a restoration.
Not much further on is Huis Toorenvliedt with its associated park/estate. The current building dates from 1726. However, the estate is much older. During World War II, Huis Toorenvliedt was used by the Nazis as a headquarters of the Atlantic Wall. They built a total of 12 bunkers within the contours of the estate, one of which was also set up as headquarters if Huis Toorenvliedt would be too unsafe in various situations.
After the Second World War, many bunkers have been preserved within the Atlantic Wall. Although initially the wish was to demolish it. However, after several attempts with test explosions to demolish the bunkers, it was concluded that the costs of demolishing them would be too high. As a result, these have been increasingly incorporated into the landscape over the years for various purposes. From not forgetting the history to ecological support for rare animal species and plants.
These three sites were just a small selection of the many remaining bunkers, bunker complexes, casemates and gun turrets built by the Nazis along the coast. The accompanying monuments to the fallen Allied Forces ensures that we will never forget it. Take a short tour through the polders of the Netherlands and before you know it you will see a lonely bunker in the meadow. Silent memories of times my grandparents almost didn't dare to talk about.
8 June 2022
We recently had a week off from our work obligation. So that meant some time for ourselves. My husband initially wanted to continue with his restoration project and I myself wanted to go away with the motorbike for a few days. So that meant loading up Lazuli with everything I needed for this and making a plan.
The schedule changed a bit. Literally the night before I was to leave, my husband decided he wanted to come along. That meant switching gears. Loading up his 1100 with various things and he came up with another idea. If we could drag along the BBQ. We have that kind of suitcase BBQ. Very compact, but still quit big to drag along on the back of the motorbike. Yet we succeeded. Including a bag of charcoal.
Normally I would have left extra early the next morning to cover as much distance as possible to Luxembourg/Germany. Where the roads become a bit more playful and then enjoy the lovely smaller curvy roads before I went looking for a campsite. Due to some obligations for my husband, this also changed.
On the other hand, it also meant that I could start more calmly. Making breakfast, preparing lunch, thermos of coffee, extra water bottle, etc.
We were all set by 11am. Our children (read cats and horse) would be well cared for and the neighbor would keep an extra eye on things. We then left with peace at mind.
At first I had the idea to ride to the Eiffel and look for a campsite there. However, this was not very feasible due to our departure time. That caused us to think of a plan along the way while getting very wet due to heavy rainfall. In the end we decided to ride to Weiswampach in the north of Luxembourg first. Here we could refuel and we could get something to eat in the supermarket for the BBQ. From there we could ride in the direction of Esch-sur-Sûre.
In Esch-sur-Sûre we ended at the campsite Im Aal. We were kindly received and directed to a compact pitch surrounded by a hedge overlooking the river along which the campsite was situated. Together we had set up the tent, placed everything at its spot and the rain we had earlier that day was absolutely invisible here. A positive outlook.
It was a quiet campsite and we were very lucky with the neighbors who were present with a self-built camper. They offered a reel so we could charge our cellphones and communication kits (we did have two power banks with us as a backup). These neighbors also proved why I love camping so much. The next morning I was looking for a nearby bakery to pick up breakfast. In the end, we didn't have to because before we knew it, these neighbors provided us with a delicious breakfast.
After packing, a nice conversation, a good breakfast and a smile, we shook our Hondas awake again. Lazuli and the 1100 were ready. My husband was a bit more reserved than me. It had been years since he had ridden fully loaded. Therefor he needed some time to get used to the new handling behavior of the 1100. That meant that we preferred the larger rolling roads over the narrow mountain roads this time.
We had several options. In the end we chose to ride to the Mösel region in Germany. We rode inland to Piesport to ride from there along the water to Bernkastel-Kues where we enjoyed bratwurst with fries for lunch like the real tourist and a delicious ice cream for dessert.
We looked at the time and came to the conclusion that it might not be unwise to find a place for our tent. It was already quite busy in the region around the Mösel. We had plenty of internet connectivity, so Google was our friend. We did some searching and eventually we rode to a small campsite just outside Wintrich called Georgshof. This was located between the many vineyards.
We parked the motorbikes on the paved part next to the reception and were welcomed inside with a cheerful smile from a very hospitable lady. She ran the campground with her husband. She was glad we asked for just one night. She told us that her phone was ringing hot red. Everyone wanted a spot that weekend, but she was already fully booked for that weekend. That was not a lie, because in those few minutes that we were there she had to disappoint people on the other end of the telephone line four times. Having to tell them that she was not going to have a place.
We were able to set up our tent on the lawn for one night. After building up we quickly visited a supermarket for dinner and breakfast the next morning.
Must admit honestly. This campground is on my list to visit again. It was neatly cared for. The sanitary facilities were simple, but very clean and with a walk of a few hundred meters you could walk along the Mösel river. It was wonderfully quiet. We like that very much.
Ascension had arrived and we woke up to a lovely sun. After some freshening up, some drinks and a simple breakfast we packed everything again. We decided to ride back to Luxembourg over slightly more narrow roads. My husband suddenly had an idea and a terrible appetite for cake. Not just any cake. Freshly baked cake. A famous piece of cake from Hotel Maarblick in Meerfeld. Can recommend that place to anyone. We have been there before and you can eat fantastically on the terrace behind with a beautiful view. But their cakes are really famous!
Here we were puzzling. Which direction exactly to go and where were we going to find a place to sleep. Ascension and lots of sun often means a combination of many campers who have booked far in advance. So while we were eating a famous piece of pie (significant piece after which you won't be hungry for hours) I climbed into the phone. Several campsites didn't even answer. Finally one picked up. This was Camping International. Located in Belgium near the border triangle Belgium/Germany/Luxembourg. They told us that we were very welcome.
We puzzled together on our route on the terrace and soon rode on to the campsite.
At the reception we were again warmly welcomed. In Dutch. They had a power outage earlier that day, but luckily it was fixed. After paying we got an explanation where we could stand. Via a gravel path we first rode along the river Our and then along a stream that ended in the river Our to find a nice spot for our tent.
After setting up and leaving all our packs behind, we rode back to Weiswampach. Most of it was closed, but luckily the gas station was open. Here we could get something to drink and snack for later that evening while playing cards.
After arriving back at the campsite, we quickly change clothes and reported to the restaurant of the campsite. That same morning we had already decided not to cook for ourselves that evening. At the restaurant we were nicely informed that it could take a little longer. It was really busy. No problem for us. We were not on the run.
The wait was well worth it. The food was good and plenty of it. Rather too much. So that meant that we walked back to our tent where we had absolutely zero range with our mobiles. Delicious. With a lovely night lamp on, playing cards, relaxing and then being treated to a beautiful sunset during the last walk.
The next morning was all about packing everything, riding to Weiswampach for petrol and a very good breakfast at the local bakery (also highly recommended) to ride home afterwards. Unfortunately we had to pack everything in the drizzle and then rain. In Weiswampach I checked the radar and came to the conclusion that the first one and a half to two hours of riding were going to be very wet. Fortunately, it seemed that the sun was shining at home.
It was a few hours of drowning in the rain before arriving home, dried by wind and sun, near the coast of Zeeland. Our kids were very happy that we were home again. Because it was lovely sunny and warm, we could hang out everything we had packed wet to clean and dry.
We look back on an instructive few days. Through this test ride with the pack and gear, we soon found out what we could have done differently. What we might want to invest extra in and we learned how to pack our bikes better and better. I certainly saw this in the riding of my husband. The more we were on the road, the more he got used to the packed 1100 and the smoother he rode. We have already been in the store to orientate in the possibilities and what might suit us. It gives us a purpose!
29 May 2022
‘Arbeit macht frei’ are the famous words above the gate of the famous concentration camp in Auschwitz.
It’s not really realistic to drive up and down to Auschwitz from the Province of Zeeland. Although I would like to visit it in the future. If only to pay tribute to those who had to give their lives to give several generations after them a life of freedom.
I do watch with great interest the various films, series and documentaries about the First and Second World War. I am especially interested in the Second World War, given the stories my grandmother used to tell. She experienced the war during her teenage years and lived in Schiedam. With that she was very close to the bombing of Rotterdam.
A new series has recently come online on Netflix. Voices of Liberation. Each episode has a different presenter. From various countries. Episode 5 was presented by Bart Peeters. He talked about his connection to the war. A very impressive story about his grandfather who was in the resistance in Belgium, then was betrayed by a neighbor and captured by the Germans and tortured in Fort Breendonk.
This episode and Bart Peeters' story made me plan to visit Fort Breendonk. Together with a motorcycle buddy we left in the morning with our bikes to Belgium and Fort Breendonk.
The fort was originally built between 1906 and 1913 as part of the defensive belt around Antwerp. From September 1940 Fort Breendonk was used by the Nazis as a so-called "reception camp" for dissidents, resistance fighters, hostages and Jews. The prisoners were severely starved, beaten and tortured. In total there were 3,590 prisoners documented in Breendonk. 303 died on the spot (including executions), 54 were executed elsewhere and 1,741 subsequently died in concentration camps.
At the entrance you get a kind of old Nokia device after which you follow the arrows. You will find numbers everywhere along the route. You can enter this in the Nokia which then plays a recording. This audio guide tells you about the atrocities that took place in Fort Breendonk. The way the prisoners were housed was even worse than the housing of an average pig in those years.
It is rare, but we walked silently through and around the fort for almost 3.5 hours. It is an impressive place which can send chills down the spine. It was a real hell where for me at least two places left the most impression. The torture room where the Nazis even thought about a gutter in the floor for the drainage of urine and blood and the execution place where many prisoners were executed by firing squad or via hangings.
I can't imagine what it must have been like. After all, I live and grew up in freedom. Wars are far away. We see the images in the news, but the accompanying emotions, sounds, smell and sense of time do not enter. Not really. Therefore I cherish my freedom all the more. I do realize that. That I live in freedom. That's why I enjoy that freedom with my husband, the bikes and our pets.
It really cannot be described in one blog. Not even in one book. So I'll just let the photos speak for themselves. A visit to this fortress should be part of school excursions or anyone willing to learn. Also from the Netherlands. In the hope that people learn from this. In hopes that they will realize that life is not so bad. In the hope that they too will realize that they live in freedom.
15 May 2022
It is almost like summer!
Today the first summer day was officially registered here in the Netherlands. Could feel that clearly. I regretted afterwards that I had not put on my cooling vest or summer jacket just to be sure.
Nevertheless, for me it was all about setting up our new “small” igloo tent for the first time. After a whole winter of researching online and comparing many tents, the Coleman Kobuk Valley Blackout 3 was chosen. Perhaps not the most compact and lightweight tent we could choose, but it still had the features we were looking for. Including features other tents didn’t have.
At first I had the idea to set up the tent at the stable where my horse is kept. However, today there was a dressage competition there and I decided to go for a ride first with about 75% of my packing. After all, it was the first time I went riding with Lazuli and packing.
Eventually I ended up in the small fortified town of Willemstad. A small town located in the province of North Brabant, next to a river. A city which was founded in 1583. Before this Willemstad was actually called Ruigenhil, which during the war against the Spaniards was strengthened into a fortress in 1583, after which Willemstad received its official name and city rights in 1585.
It is a fortified city that is worth visiting. The city was further reinforced to its present form in the 16th century. A 7-pointed star surrounding the city. At each point a bastion was built which were named after the then 7 provinces that had joined together in the fight against the Spaniards.
The present domed church was already built in 1607 and the royal family has a strong bond with this special fortified city. For example, the now-named Mauritshuis was built in 1623 by Prince Maurits. He named the building and its grounds Princehof. The building has only been called the Mauritshuis since 1973.
The city and the population within the fortifications were very strong. They managed to withstand a heavy siege from the French in 1793. So much so that after a period of 2.5 weeks the French decided to withdraw. Unfortunately, however, this did not succeed a second time in 1794 after the French had first taken Bergen op Zoom.
Due to the disagreement between the French and the English, more defenses were built around the fortified city at the beginning of the 19th century. Including Fort Sabina Henrica and Fort de Hel. At the end of the 19th century, Willemstad, in combination with these two forts and Fort Buitensluis on the other side of the water, became the center of the defense of the Hollandsch Diep and Volkerak waterways. This position was held until 1922.
During the Second World War, the Germans had set up the idea of using the town as a fortress again. Several casemates were built on the old ramparts and defended with a garrison. Despite this, Willemstad survived the war in “reasonable” condition. As a result, many features of the former Ruigenhil and the old Willemstad have been preserved. With that the government designated everything within the fortifications as protected city view. The list of sights is long for such a small city. From the old fortress to the former Arsenal and the beautiful little domed church.
Can't say anything other than that it is worth visiting the town. Neither was it a punishment to set up the new tent for the first time close to the water in the shade with a view of the busy Volkerak locks.
In any case, I can reveal that I will visit with Lazuli this little city again in the short term. Only then without the packing so that I have more time to take beautiful photos and visit special sights.
8 May 2022
Mother’s Day. A tradition that was started by the American Anna Jarvis in 1906. With a lot of patience and steadfastness she managed to make Mother's Day an official holiday from 1914 onwards. The Netherlands joined in 1928. Although the basis here in the Netherlands mainly lay with the Royal Society for Horticulture and Botany. Because the Dutch would not be Dutch if they did not see a commercial basis. They saw a great opportunity to sell more flowers. This commercial mindset was adopted by more branches. So we know Mother's Day as a day of overloading our mothers with gifts, flowers and treats.
Mother's Day was not celebrated very exuberantly at my home. Usually this day consisted of making an extensive breakfast in bed for my mother, after which she knew very well that she had to clean the kitchen afterwards. Especially in my younger years, breakfast in bed meant a completely exploded kitchen into absolute disorganized chaos. Fortunately, I managed to prevent that a little later.
The rest of the day consisted of going out together or in bad weather, watching sci-fi or horror films and series.
Unfortunately neither of my parents are alive anymore, but one of the things they have given me is riding motorbikes. So today I decided to honor my mother by waking up Lazuli and going out together. First stopping in the port of Antwerp with a cup of coffee and admiring one of the tugboats and then riding through the Liefkenshoek tunnel to the ghost town of Doel.
The first known mentions of Doel date from 1267. Back then with the name De Doolen. It is unknown what this name refers to exactly, but it probably has to do with what the landscape looked like at that time. The immediate area was known for thick layers of peat where intensive peat extraction had taken place since the 13th century. With that the town has its own church, monastery and an old mill.
The town and its immediate surroundings became very sensitive to flooding due to peat extraction. The extraction caused drastic subsidence, after which the surrounding dikes had to be reinforced with some regularity.
The town was flourishing until the 1960s with about 1,300 inhabitants. However, plans for the Antwerp port area created a lot of uncertainty about the future of Doel. There was a good chance that the town would have to make way for the expansion of the port. As a result, a building ban was imposed on the town. A nuclear power station has meanwhile been built right opposite of the village on the other side of the water (Doel 1, commissioned in 1974, Doel 2 in 1975, Doel 3 in 1982 and Doel 4 in 1985).
The expropriation of the residents had already started in the 1970s, after which it was suddenly announced at the end of the 1970s that the town could continue to exist permanently. However, due to uncertainty and the building ban (which was later lifted), there was a lot of overdue maintenance and a lot of vacancy was created.
All this has turned Doel into a ghost town. Much is dilapidated and abandoned. Despite this, a few residents still remained. The Belgian government is now slowly developing plans to bring Doel back to “life” again.
It is a special sensation to drive through Doel now. Because of the ghostly face, the many graffiti artworks and the nuclear power plant so close by, it ensures that many people visit the town. To take pictures, show their respect at the church (where there is a war memorial) or to get a snack from the catering facility in the mill.
With the beautiful spring weather it is not a punishment to wander around here. However, I soon decided to start riding again. After all, my mother liked to do that too. So I crossed Zeeuws Vlaanderen via many beautiful dikes and gravel roads. After getting a cup of tea from another club member, I continued my way home at the end of the afternoon.
Satisfied, I parked Lazuli safely in the shed again. He can come out again tomorrow. After all, then I will have to report myself back to the office for work.
12 April 2022
Ducati…. Italian pride with a contemporary touch of German.
Like many, I sometimes spend a bit of time simply browsing Facebook and Instagram. Reading messages, view pictures and videos that seem interesting to me and sometimes look up information. Just what I may or may not need.
Likewise a while back. Suddenly I saw a post from Ducati. You could register for the Ducati Off Road experience. You could choose between the new Ducati Multistrada V4s and the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled.
To be honest, I was very skeptical at first. Really wanted to try the new Ducati Multistrada V4s, but to go off road right away with a bike with a weight of a sloppy 240 kilograms. That is quite different than with my light DRZ of about 140 kilograms. Still, I decided to do it. I had to report to Ducati in Rosmalen (NL) at 12:30 at the latest.
Because the weather forecast was going to be positive, I decided to leave around 8:15 am together with Lazuli. It was simply a pleasure to cross the various gorgeous areas along the rivers via the nicer narrow roads.
There was almost no wind. The sun was out in full force and traffic was pretty quiet. As a result, something rare happened to me. Sitting by the water at a historic lock, Lazuli, me and my thermos with coffee were welcomed with only the sound of nature. Water, fish and birds.
Anyway. The objective of the day was to ride a Multistrada off road.
Lazuli and I arrived much too early at Autotron in Rosmalen. In addition to Ducati, the Mega Motortreffen was also present here. It was therefore quite busy with many motorcycle enthusiasts. In my opinion it was a good thing that I was too early. Because wading through the crowd to Ducati was quite a challenge.
After registering, I quickly fled outside. To the sun and a little more rest. As far as it was possible with so many bikes and people together.
Fortunately, the Ducati's that were intended for the off-road experience were showing off outside at the second Ducati stand. This gave me the opportunity to view the Multistrada more intensively up close and to test it out.
The first thing I noticed was the fact that the Multistrada was significantly lower than my Africa Twin Lazuli. Didn't have to slide much of the saddle to get to the ground with one foot. Plus point.
Other than that, it really looks like a Ducati. It is simply a beautiful engine. Although for my personal taste the demos should have been provided with the optional spoked wheels. That would have made the Multistrada a little more "finished". Yet you can see the Italian passionate influence in the lines. The longer you look at the bike, the more details you will notice.
Unfortunately, aesthetically I also encountered the first German influence. The engine is available with adaptive cruise control. The demo engines were also equipped with this. It's wonderful how technology from the car industry also finds its way to the engines. However, this was really incorporated into the engine in such a pragmatic German way. A large square/rectangular block in the center of the face of this beautiful motorcycle. Found this quite detracted from the otherwise proud Italian design. Maybe that will be solved with the successor. That the sensor becomes more “one” with the lines of the Multistrada.
Another “German” point I found, was the appearance of the buddy seat/saddle. I think it was a comfortable saddle (didn't really sit in it except for standing still). In terms of comfort, it seems to me a saddle in which you can spend hours without any problems after a few hours without wondering whether your buttocks have turned to stone or not. What I miss, however, is the Italian craft of leatherworking. Was missing the beautiful stitching in, for example, a diamond pattern. The Italians are known for having turned the processing of leather for saddles, chairs, benches, etc. into an art. I missed that piece of Italian craftsmanship in this top model from Ducati.
Anyway. It's a Ducati. So it was time to look for the Italian fire.
After a short introduction, everyone gets on a bike they signed up for. I had already secretly "claimed" one of the Multistradas by using it as a seat for my helmet. Had to control myself to not jump into the saddle like an over enthusiastic teenager. The nerves were well present. I thought it was very exciting to ride off road with such a beast that I did not know.
The Multistrada is equipped with a keyless system. That meant that the internal soul (computer with accompanying electronics) was fueled with a simple push of one round button. The TFT screen welcomed you like a captain on the bridge of a Star Trek spaceship. A second button on the handle bar gave the kick-start to the heart. That moment made sure you weren't a captain, but rather a pilot of some sort of fighter jet from Top Gun.
170 horses kicked under me. It didn't feel like warmbloods, though. Rather like a big herd of thoroughbreds that were bridled with difficulty. When releasing the clutch the first time, they immediately bit my soul for a millisecond. Ouch! So be a little more sensitive with the reins.
It was a short distance to a spacious lawn which Ducati used as off road terrain. Here they had devised various exercises. We started with just simple laps on the terrain. Test the throttle response, feel the clutch, check the brakes and suspension.
After this first feeling we were put to work. Slalom…. Seems so easy. However, the supervisors moved the last few pawns closer together so that you really had to get to work.
After the pawns we were allowed over a kind of washboard and they had placed a row of thresholds elsewhere on the field that you could bump over at a speed of about 25 km/ph.
We were also allowed to draw stripes by braking hard with only the rear brake. Always fun to do on grass.
While riding the various exercises I also tried to keep myself busy. In this way I sought the limit of staying in balance for as long as possible with the slowest possible speed. Preferably almost stationary. The Multistrada surprised me here. Those hot thoroughbreds turned out to be particularly well trained to become highly controllable sport horses. They listened unparalleled to every subtle signal I gave.
The Multistrada suddenly felt like a German warmblood sport horse. At low revs, the engine is incredibly stable and friendly. Almost un-Ducati. Would they have copied from the Japanese? It does mean that the bike can appeal to a wider audience.
What was also striking was how well the Multistrada was in balance. The bike just wants to stay proudly upright. This gives confidence. So much so that I increasingly dared more off road with this bike. Even though I only rode it for little over an hour. The further the hour went on, the more I dared to let loose the reins of those well-trained thoroughbreds. So much so that on the way back to their stable I made them prance/jump several times. After all, they sometimes have to get rid of their excess energy (read torque).
This Multistrada is a special one. It is a mix between the marriage of the Italians and the Germans (Audi/VW Group). The latter ensured that the unsupervised Italian Thoroughbreds received a solid education. The effects of this are very noticeable in a positive sense in the Multistrada V4s. The only question now is, is it still a real Ducati? Purists may say no. They want uncontrollable thoroughbreds. I say yes myself. It's still a real Ducati. The Thoroughbreds are still present in their full character and still demand to be treated properly. However, their response has matured.
The Multistrada has positively surprised me. It's a very nice engine. However, would I get rid of Lazuli for this? The answer is no. Really the first second I stepped back on Lazuli it felt like coming home. Lazuli is my reliable warmblood. Who taught me so much in a few months. Like a kind of professor. I look forward to adventures with him. There is really no doubt in me about this. You don't need 170 thoroughbreds when 95 warmbloods are more than enough to make you enjoy with a big grin on your face.
22 March 2022
Spring has put its first leg through the doorway. That means that Lazuli can join me to the office on a regular basis. The mornings are still very chilly, but the sun in the afternoon makes up for this.
It also means that I regularly ride completely on smaller roads towards home or to my four-legged friend Fancy. But I also enjoy the early morning. Riding calmly to the office, enjoying the beautiful sunrise.
Since I started the blog I have become more aware of how I take my photos. Even though I don't have thousands of euros worth of cameras with accompanying lenses. I take all my photos using my mobile phone. On my phone I play with the settings to get different results while taking the photos. But I rarely edit the photos further. For the most part, the photos go online in pure unedited form.
Likewise this morning. The sunrise ensured that the alarm went off a little earlier this morning so that I could find a nice spot in time to take photos.
The choice fell on the historic town of Veere. An old harbor town whose first mentions can be found in the 13th century. In the 15th century, the city formally received its city rights. Veere supported the Spaniards during the Eighty Years' War. In addition, in the 16th century Veere was a central place for the trade in Scottish sheep wool. As a result, Veere developed not only as a port, but also as a trading city. But the population was also made up of a large percentage of Scots because of this trade. Those had their own special privilege until the end of the 18th century. For example, they were exempt from excise duties on beer and wine and they had their own inn in the city.
The Scots also had their own lord curator in town. The last lord curator was John Turing who left the city when the French troops and returning Dutch patriots conquered the county Zeeland. Nevertheless, he has left his mark. The official sign exhibited in Veere, for example, is his. Which had been preserved in his family for over two hundred years.
Veere is rich in history. A very large number of monuments can be found within the old city walls. From the old large church (which was also used as a military hospital by Napoleon), to the City Hall, the Scottish houses and the prominent Campveerse Toren. The town is therefore a very popular attraction among tourists.
Today I limited myself to a few photos along the water and the old defense cannons. Soon I will take more pictures and show you of this special town.
5 March 2022 part 2
The sun is shining. Birds become more active. The garden begins to awaken and we become more active as well. Spring is knocking at the door!
Those who have been following me for a while know that last year I was allowed to try out a reckless luggage system from the brand Mosko Moto from an enthusiastic adventurer. The first time was during my first solo mini holiday through the Netherlands and the second time he made the set available during our off road holiday in Italy.
In Italy we had material bad luck. Two backstraps tore off. Situation of beep. But if I break something, I always make sure it gets repaired. So quickly contacted Mosko Moto and they helped me out in Italy. They showed how the system was built and how the back and leg straps can be replaced. A super ingenious, effective and simple system.
To this day I am grateful to the adventurer. Even my husband started to become very charmed by this soft luggage system.
Now we have a small disadvantage when we want to buy something. Almost everything has to be done in duplicate. That meant saving up money together. In the meantime I had already contacted Mosko Moto. Those who had helped us in Italy responded quickly and we were able to brainstorm together quickly.
A few weeks ago the moment was there. Two large boxes were delivered. My husband and I turned into two kids in a candy store. With a pair of glittering eyes, we opened the boxes to unpack and examine the contents piece by piece.
Two sets of Mosko Moto Reckless Revolver 80. One in the original color Black and one in the color Woodland. My husband would have liked the expected new color Stardust, but it is not expected to be available until later this year. That was going to take us too long. My husband is expected to need the set in April.
With a big grin I couldn't control my patience and with the help of the manual I was soon busy assembling the first set, only to grunt at the last two parts. Two screws of the so-called aux-pockets are not so easy to get in. They have elicited some frustrating reactions from me on a number of occasions. It's a good thing my husband has a screwdriver in his hands more often. He helped me out soon before the supplied torx flew through the living room.
Luckily together with my husband I managed to get both sets together. Also fully adjusted to our personal preference.
Made a small test round in the sun today to be able to take pictures and to check whether the set remains correctly in place.
Why we choose these bags? The quality of Mosko Moto is unprecedentedly high. Clearly made to withstand serious knocks and slides. Also their service is very good. The system is clearly designed by adventure enthusiasts. Is a strap broken? This is very easy to replace on the road without the need for a needle and thread. We experienced this personally in Italy. In addition, we regularly switch between our bikes. One moment we are out with the Africa Twins and the next moment we are playing with the Twins again. That means that we wanted something that we could easily exchange between the bikes.
What is also nice about this system is that you can easily expand through the molle panels. We don't know yet to what extent we will use it. After all, the content seems more than large enough. Especially because it is also very easy to secure things under the so-called beaver tail.
I did notice during the test round that the drybags would benefit in a bit of dust. Then they are easier to get in and out of the leg holster. This is a bit difficult because of the novelty at the moment.
The last point is safety. Certainly when riding off-road where the risk of falling with the bike is a lot greater than on familiar paved roads. Soft luggage has the ability to bend and absorb the energy of a fall. Especially when your leg is still under it. The risk of leg injury is thus reduced.
Would like to thank Mosko Moto very much for the help and thinking along! We look forward to our future adventures with these bags!
It costs something, but then you also have something!
5 March 2022 part 1
Freedom. A fragile concept.
The Dutch are possibly world champions in complaining. We can really have something negative about anything. Whether it's how the neighbor has hung his curtains or when the sun finally shows up and then start complaining about sunburn.
There are even complaints about freedom. That we are not allowed to do anything in our little country. Dikes are closed to motor bikers on weekends. If you drive a kilometer too fast, you run the risk of a fine that quickly costs more than an average week of groceries.
Yet the Dutch are once again pressed on the facts. Freedom is not self-evident. The Netherlands regained its freedom after the Allied forces liberated the country from the occupying forces during the Second World War and then had to endure a long road of reconstruction. Even today, specialists are involved in removing and defusing ammunition left behind from that period. And it has just been a sloppy 77 years ago when the war ended.
President Putin decided to invade Ukraine under the excuse of wanting to demilitarize the country. In the meantime, we see more and more evidence that this excuse is unsubstantiated. Many Ukrainians have to leave their familiar environment, their home. Literally run away because the bullets and bombs are flying around the ears.
It shows how fragile freedom is.
We watch the events that take place from our little country. Many want to help. Many would like to take more action. Many want the “Great West” to take more action. But is this possible? At this point I think the answer is no. The risks are huge when you corner a cat (President Putin). The chance that such an action could potentially unleash a much worse situation is too great.
All Europe can do now is sit back and watch those fleeing the country, provide them with food and a dry roof, and hope with them that their homes will be safe to enter again in the future.
It is difficult to write something positive afterwards. Of course I also have my opinion on this whole situation, but I did not start this blog to express my political opinions. Of course I empathize. Of course I hope for a good outcome. All we can do is support the refugees where we can. In the hope that they will be able to enjoy freedom at their home again in the future.
Freedom…. Fragile and not self-evident. Hopefully we Dutch are well aware of this.
23 February 2022
Holland is made by the Dutch.
A commonly used saying in the Netherlands. Especially when we as Dutch are conversing with foreigners.
The Netherlands is known for its strength in water management. The Dutch have been reclaiming water since the 14th century by making polder area’s after which the water was extracted from in order to create more fertile land. As a result, about 26% of the Netherlands is below sea level and a total of 55% of the country is protected by dikes.
Despite all the protection, the history of the Netherlands has known various storm surges. For example, a large part of the north of the Netherlands was under water in 1196 during the Sint-Nicolaas Flood. In 1287, the north of the Netherlands was again the victim. About 50,000 to 80,000 people lost their lives in this flood. In 1334, a large part of the island Walcheren flooded during the St. Clemens flood. This flood also killed thousands of people. In the 15th century, between 1404 and 1424, the county Zeeland was hit three times by a Saint Elizabeth flood, only to be flooded again later in the same century during the first Cosmas and Damian floods.
And so every century the Netherlands had various storm surges in which many people lost their lives. Yet the Dutch did not give up. They can complain a lot, but still love their own small country. The Dutch are a proud people. Especially when it comes to their country.
Each province has its own identity. The flag of the province of Zeeland, for example, consists of a number of blue/white waves with a beautiful proud red lion. The accompanying Latin motto says a lot about the character of this province. Luctor et Emergo. I struggle and emerge.
That saying does not only live up to the inhabitants of Zeeland, but the rest of the Dutch population also knows the power that hides behind this.
One of the most famous and more recent flood disasters was that of 1 February 1953. On that day a severe north-westerly storm with wind force 10 raged over the country. In combination with spring tides, the sea water reached an exceptional height. The highest sea level was measured near Vlissingen at 4.55 meters +NAP. The dikes were not designed for this at the time. This resulted in more than 150 dike breaches in the provinces of Zeeland, South Holland and Brabant, which resulted in more than 150,000 hectares of land being flooded. The consequences were disastrous.
But even after this disaster, the Dutch decided not to give up their eternal battle against the water. After temporarily repairing the dikes, reclaiming lost land and finding their daily life, a grand plan was worked out.
The Netherlands wanted to better defend itself against the water. The Delta Works were conceived, calculated and then built. A true piece of art of engineering by the Dutch. On 1958 the first part of this special project was ready for use. The Hollandse IJsselkering. The last and 14th part of the Delta Works was commissioned in 1997. The special Maeslantkering. More than ten parts of the Delta Works are wholly or partly part of the Province of Zeeland. A Province that is very vulnerable to the whims of the water.
These beautiful Delta Works certainly proved their worth last week. Triplets of storms hit our little country hard. Dudley, Eunice and Franklin. Especially during Storm Eunice with wind force 11, the Delta Works were put to the test. The Delta Works passed this test with flying colors.
Many people in the past lost their lives during the many storm surges. Fortunately, there were a number of brilliant people who devised these Delta Works and had them built. The consequences of the triplets last week might have been staggering without this defense against the water.
So at the end of this afternoon I stopped with Lazuli at the flood museum and monument in Ouwerkerk. As a Dutch person born in Zeeland, to show gratitude to the previous generations that they have never given up their fight against the water.
12 February 2022
Preparing for new adventures.
The days are getting longer and nature is slowly waking up from its hibernation. This also means that we are cautiously, but also impatiently, looking forward to rising temperatures. The weather forecasts are being monitored daily.
In the meantime, Lazuli has recently stayed at Benjan Motoren in Ridderkerk. They pampered him wonderfully with necessary fresh oils, new air filter and additional checks.
In addition to spoiling the motorbikes, we are also inventorying supplies for our future adventures. From luggage options to pots and pans.
Yet it is not always that simple. After all, space on the motorbike is limited. We also want to avoid packing the motorbikes in such a way that they turn into moving lorries. Limiting weight is therefore an additional factor.
That does not mean that we throw all comforts away. For example, we let our eyes fall on a nice spacious igloo tent that is normally suitable for three people, which outside of a high rain resistance also has the additional comfort of a groundsheet in the awning area. When it comes to sleeping, we have good sleeping bags and small pillows at our disposal.
We also think about how we prepare our breakfast and dinner. The pans and/or pots required for this must be suitable for both cooking on a propane burner or on an open fire and of course this means that we have to learn to start a fire ourselves using a compact fire starter (like a magnesium stick).
The advantage nowadays is that a lot can be found in terms of experiences, tips and tricks via Google and YouTube. For example Beards, Bikes and Camping, Dork in the Road, Her two Wheels and Moto Camp Nerd have a lot of information available based on many experiences.
All this intensive research ensures that we are more and more eager to get out and about. In any case, the first and largest investment has been made for this year. I will come back to this in a future blog.
For now I'm especially looking forward to the first ride of the season with Lazuli!
29 January 2022
Sometimes life gives you lemons.
I've been messing with my health for some time now. It has been known for years that I unfortunately have hypermobility syndrome. Including associated side effects. In addition, I have been a serious back patient since I was four years old due to a number of severely damaged vertebrae. However, all of this feels like the least major problem. After all, I grew up with it from an early age and don't really know any better.
However, in the past 20 to 25 years I have suffered some other injuries that I really had to learn to deal with. Like completely tearing off the cruciate ligaments in one knee. Various bone fractures that caused other wear and tear problems, etc.
Yet I have never let any medical limitations hold me back. Of course there are certain things that are no longer possible, but that does not mean that nothing is possible anymore. After all, I really enjoy my horse, the motorcycles, the adventures with my husband, etc.
In the last few months I had to endure something that took a lot out of my energy. Several times a severe throat infection, a lot of fever and a lot of coughing generated limitations that I was not used to.
After several courses of medicines and research, it is now finally known what is going on. At the age of almost 36 I was told last week by the pulmonologist that I have a form of asthma.
Not the most fun thing to hear. Still, it explains a lot. Even in the years that I exercised very intensively, I always had problems with control over my breathing. It often resulted in me holding my breath until the end during competitions in the test or a fight. That felt more effective than chronic gasping. That I did after the end of the test or fight.
In recent months, however, my lungs also started to get in the way of daily life. It is therefore very nice to finally have some clarity on this. That means that with supportive medication I can hopefully get back to a level that will bring benefits for both training with my horse and training and riding the motorbikes!
So I am looking ahead with good courage and try to turn those lemons into a delicious lemon pie!
16 January 2022
While my hubby is busy tinkering on his Africa Twin, I decided to go do something else. Besides the bikes, my other great love is my horse Fancy-Girl. Along with training, I also like to go into the woods with her. The day after such a ride through the forest, she can always relax for a day with her friends.
While Fancy was relaxing and socializing, I decided to do something else than sweep or wait on a stool. Something I really should do more often. Walk.
Besides the bikes and my horse I have another warm interest. This has to do with the First and Second World Wars. The Netherlands was also badly hit during the Second World War.
The island of Schouwen-Duiveland had a strategic importance for the Nazis. The head of Schouwen was intensively equipped for the benefit of their famous Atlantic Wall. The so-called Stützpunktgruppe. A large number of bunkers and three coastal batteries were built for this purpose, which were located on the outside of the dunes. The heavy coastal batteries are no longer present. They were demolished in the course of the years after the war.
A short 10-minute walk from a parking lot, a bit behind the dunes, however, there are still a very large number of bunkers. One of the most famous is located a bit behind the estate of Slot Haamstede. This bunker has been given the name Walvisbunker (Whalebunker) by the local population. This name was given because a large stabilization piece has the shape of a whale's tail. However, the official name of this bunker is Regelbau 117a, Regiments- oder Batallionsgefechtsstand.
The Walvisbunker was used as a command post during the Second World War and is therefore different from most other bunkers. For example, the concrete walls are 3 meters thick instead of 2 meters and the armor shield present was not hundreds of kilograms heavy, but more than 20,000 kilograms. The still clearly visible observation dome on top was also heavily armored. This one also weighs a sloppy 10,300 kilos and consists of 12 centimeters thick armor steel. In addition, the Walvisbunker in question was a very important communication center. During the war it had a very powerful radio with which they could contact command staffs in Steenbergen, for example, without any problems. Almost 50 kilometers inland.
In addition to the Walvisbunker, the rest of the battalion headquarters is still present. For example, various personnel bunkers, commander's quarters and a hospital bunker can still be found. Not all are free to enter. Several are located within the present vulnerable nature reserve, which may not be entered. In addition, most bunkers are closed. The Walvisbunker can also only be viewed from the outside. It is completely closed off for entering.
The hospital bunker is also closed, but still shows a nice detail. If you look closely you can still see the contours of the former red cross within the white area which is still visible on the outside between the two entrance doors. This bunker is a very rare one. Within the entire Atlantic Wall in Europe, this type of hospital bunker was built only six times. All six of which were only built in the Netherlands.
Not only does Schouwen-Duiveland have many bunkers, there are also a very large number of bunkers in the rest of the Netherlands and the coast. The larger bunkers are often completely closed off, but since 2014 the so-called Bunker Day has been organized once a year. During this day, many volunteers set up the various bunkers for the public with a lot of educational information. This year, too, the plan is that it will take place on June 4, 2022. In any case, this is in my agenda.
7 January 2022
Watching TV. Something we don't do much, except in winter. Then the TV is turned on more often during the dark evenings.
During this dark period, most people count down towards the end of the year with the accompanying traditional fireworks. My husband doesn't do this though. No, he is counting down the days towards the start of one of the most beautiful rallies in the world. The Dakar Rally. That also means that with some regularity before I hear the words “Danger two, Danger three” coming out of the sound box of the TV. He was already having fun with the PlayStation. He is now trying to top every class in a Dakar game.
Dakar. What a beautiful rally to follow. The Dutch are often present in fairly large numbers. But it is also a rally with a wonderful history. The first Dakar took place in 1979. In 2009 the Dakar moved to South America for several years due to terrorist threats. Since 2020, the rally is back in the Middle East.
In the meantime, we have been enjoying a daily summary of the Dakar with accompanying impressive images every evening since Saturday 1 January. The beautiful surroundings, the golden dunes almost as high as mountains, breathtaking rock formations and accompanying views.
I have such deep respect for all participants. Whether they are on a motorbike, in a car/buggy or a truck. It is a real pleasure to watch their incredible ride quality.
For various participants it’s very hard. But you also see beautiful things when you look at it. The way in which the participants help each other in addition to riding the race is admirable. Whether it concerns pulling loose, helping back on the wheels or just before the start of an internship with various teams, quickly replacing parts of one that already had some bad luck on the way to the starting point. The mutual respect is very big and the way they deal with this creates a special enthusiastic friendly atmosphere.
In addition to the regular classifications, the Dakar Classic has been added for a few years now. Various historic vehicles are included in this group. Who once simply participated in the Dakar, to riding legends such as Jan de Rooy's Two-Headed Monster. What a pleasure to see various legends driving.
In any case, it is a great pleasure to follow the Dakar these dark evenings. I myself will never reach that level or even want to reach that level. The risks that are regularly taken are too great for me personally. Nevertheless, the images also make me look forward to our own adventures this year and the coming years!
23 December 2021
The shortest day of the year is behind us and the holidays are fast approaching. This also means that the average temperature drops to a level of possible snow and ice.
That also means that the end of 2021 is approaching. A year that was filled with difficulties, but also with possibilities. Depending on how you deal with it and with which attitude you approached the future.
Choosing highlights of the year is therefore difficult. Starting the season in beautiful Luxembourg which always warms our hearts. Exploring the Netherlands alone with the tent on the back of the motorbike. The large amounts of laughter, good food and enjoying beautiful environments with friends. The triumphant feeling when reaching the top of several mountains via dirt tracks. Overcoming fear riding bigger bikes. Etc. It is almost impossible to choose from.
So look back on a year in which I personally made great strides in the field of motorbikes. It led to great personal growth. A few years ago I could have been too reserved. My husband was one of the people who had to convince me to take the step. Now we are aligned and we look forward with full energy to our next adventure.
That next adventure is already starting to take shape. That is making us look together at how we want to fill in that adventure. We look for tips and tricks, but also what we will need in terms of materials. Especially smart thinking, because then we don't have the unlimited space of the car and trailer at our disposal. This means various investments. From small to large, for which we have taken the first steps.
All this means that I am looking forward to 2022 with great pleasure.
Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
27 November 2021
Originally this weekend was planned to wash Lazuli. However, the current weather conditions mean that I prefer to hide under a blanket on the couch with a large mug of hot chocolate. Not really productive.
To be a bit useful, I cranked up the laptop and started preparing for two organized motorcycle rides next year. I have yet to set dates, but I have the concepts of the various routes ready.
I did give myself a challenge on one of the two rides. This will be a ride in history. That means not so much making many kilometers, but visiting a chapter of the history of Zeeland. A combination of beautiful Zeeland with special sights and possibly visiting two museums.
That means a lot of researching. Because it will not only be riding up front, but also really being able to tell something about the place in question and the relationship to the subject that is being explored at the planned stops.
It gives me energy and good courage for hopefully a nice 2022 in terms of the various motorcycle rides and adventures!
21 November 2021
Initially, the plan was to ride a last round of the season with Lazuli last Sunday. Unfortunately, a serious throat infection with accompanying discomforts put a spanner in the works.
I had expected that the weeks until my mandatory winter break would not give me another chance to ride. After a week of surviving on water, cough tablets, a strong course of antibiotics and Netflix, today came the opportunity to ride one last round under the autumn sun.
With regular tailwinds, the sun almost felt warm. During the ride I was enjoying the beautiful autumn colors and the peace on the road. A great opportunity to enjoy the view along the waterfront and a piece of the history of Schouwen-Duiveland.
For example, you can visit an abandoned church tower along the waterfront of the Schelde (Plompe Toren). It is all that remains of the village of Koudekerke (Schouwen-Duiveland). The remnants of the village can be found under the water surface of the Schelde. The Schelde had won over the residents, after which the village was abandoned around the year 1700. Only the Plompe Toren survived the rise of the Schelde. In the summer months there is even the possibility to view the inside of the Plompe Toren.
After the tour along the dikes of the island I spoiled Lazuli with two bottles of Forte and some new fuel. He can now slowly go into hibernation. Coming weekends will be dominated by intensive washing of Lazuli. From March he can come with me again.
Fortunately, we also have the Twins available for the winter months. They can come with us.
24 October 2021
The weather forecast for this weekend was positive. In alternation to most weather forecasts, it was also true this time.
Initially the plan was to explore unpaved roads in our county Zeeland with my husband and a friend this weekend. Unfortunately our friend was sick. That meant thinking about what to do again. So we decided to pick up an off-road route from Wikiloc in the county Brabant and try it.
That meant loading the Twins on the trailer again this morning and driving quickly towards Hilvarenbeek. There we left the car and trailer and were joined by a Yamaha Ténéré 700 rider from Belgium. He had placed a call through a Facebook group to which I had responded.
That meant the three of us really enjoyed the autumn colours, a lovely sunny terrace in between, regular laughter and a fantastic varied route.
The route had everything. From softer to hard sand to having to struggle a few times with mud and defying trees fallen by the last storm. Quietly passing of walkers with or without dog(s) to the patiently waiting on the side until the carriage drivers and/or horseriders had passed us safely before we woke up our own steel horses again.
We were also stopped twice. Once by a forester and once by the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee. Both were looking for / attentive to the so-called wild crossers, but soon came to the conclusion that we do not belong to the relevant group. They were both good conversations with a smile and a friendly goodbye, after which we were able to continue on our way without any problems.
With a friendly smile, taking it easy, a wave of hello left and right, we try to leave a positive impression on everyone we meet. After all, they want to be able to enjoy such a beautiful day and environment as much as we do.
I can therefore conclude that it was a super successful day!
11 October 2021
Besides the Twins, Lazuli was also allowed to go on the road again last weekend.
Friday afternoon I had the opportunity to shut down the computer in time at work. That meant riding in the sun towards the stable with a detour.
The western part of the Netherlands may not be very rich in mountains and many curves, but this part of the Netherlands also has special features. One of them is the storm surge barrier.
Besides protecting the land against the water, there still had to be a possibility to let ships through. Both commercial and pleasure craft. This meant that the special Maeslantkering was built towards the port area of Rotterdam, which only closes when necessary. As a result, commercial shipping is not affected much by this special coastal protection structure.
A lock was chosen for the storm surge barrier, which is mainly used by smaller commercial vessels and pleasure craft. However, this Roompot lock is not entirely standard. As part of the coastal protection, this lock had to be able to withstand a beating from the North Sea. This resulted in an almost bunker-like complex.
It was therefore a great place to stay at the present cafeteria, sitting in the sun and watching a civil engineering masterpiece with admiration. To be treated to the beautiful steering of a special truck transport is simply a bonus.
Sunday was all about the organized motorcycle tour of MotorTotaal in Terneuzen. Had volunteered myself to serve as a front rider for those who didn't have GPS. The road to the starting point was a bit chilly and sometimes with very little visibility through the fog. After the fog lifted it was just fun. It was a beautiful route of about 150 kilometers through the beautiful Zeeuws Vlaanderen.
So it was another well-filled motorcycle weekend.
9 October 2021
October is generally dominated by the change of seasons for nature. The trees are starting to show the most beautiful colors and the animals are slowly turning into walking cuddly toys with their thicker growing winter coat.
October also often means changing weather conditions. The rain makes an appearance more often and in combination with often a strong colder wind, you sometimes prefer to curl up with a hot chocolate by a fireplace.
However, October also has very lovely days. One of those days like today. Sun, little wind, a wonderful feeling of temperature and a beautiful sunrise and sunset.
It is therefore a day that we did not want to pass up and decided last week to let the Twins out again. Hubby had switched the tires back to the stud tires and got them ready.
Quickly with the trailer we drove to Asten (Brabant), where we collected the Twins from the trailer at a carpool and prepared ourselves to ride another part of the Trans Euro Trail in the south of The Netherlands. The adjacent Nobis hotel near the carpool very kindly offered that the car and trailer could be parked behind the hotel out of sight of the public road. Can't say anything but thank you!
The Twins had warmed up quietly and soon we were looking for the unpaved paths. Almost a year ago we rode the TET for the first time. Completely green, not knowing what to expect. We soon noticed that we are still green, but we have clearly found a bit more skill. A year ago we were happy to have ridden a total of 30 kilometers in one day. Now we were already at almost 150 kilometers in a few hours' ride and we didn't feel worn out yet.
Despite we have become a bit more handy and smoother, we were soon up to our ankles in mud. Fortunately, most of the trails were very doable.
So we enjoyed it again. Of the weather, the Twins, two beautiful steam tractors, nature and again the beautiful ruins of Bleijenbeek Castle, which we also passed a year ago.
Tomorrow Lazuli can keep me company again.
30 September 2021
Lazuli and I have yet to get to know each other. One of the things that comes with this is not only making a large amount of kilometers, but also actually practicing.
What works for me is to find a parking lot for this and practice small turns, slow swinging, eight turns, etc. in quiet. In these kind of exercises it is good to listen and feel what the engine, the gears, the clutch and brakes are doing.
My preference in general is to do this for a maximum of half an hour. Regularly half an hour.
With a lot of practice I will start feeling what Lazuli can do and how. After all, he has many times more options than I have abilities.
24 September 2021
Can finally make it known! My sweet little black Panther can go make someone else very happy. He has been my buddy for the past 31,000 kilometres.
However, it is time for a new chapter.
Thus, the blue Africa Twin is accompanied by a new Africa Twin 1100 which my husband can keep busy. The blue one is my new partner in crime.
After some thinking and a nice tip I decided on the name of my new friend. Meet Lazuli!
6 September 2021
Last night we were back in our familiar bed at home around 3:00am, together with our cats. The moment we layed down in bed we definitely felt how much energy the past week in Italy had cost us. Nevertheless, we look back with a big grin on this amazing holiday.
The last two days were also nice. Saturday we tried to explore the Rocciamelone area. A quiet area with a not very high degree of difficulty. But with a beautiful view over the city of Susa.
It meant that we were able to get our groceries in Oulx on time again and that we put the barbecue to work at the Gran Bosco campsite for the umpteenth time. Made a foil package with vegetables and potatoes for a change. Had eaten a little too much meat the days before and this did not do much good for my heartburn.
Sunday morning was dominated by a necessary repair to the Mosko Moto Reckless R80 that I have on loan from a fellow adventurer. A number of straps broke earlier in the week, after which duct tape and tyraps had to take over the job for a while.
I contacted Mosko Moto via email and with great luck they went to Italy for the Hardalpitour San Remo – Sestriere last weekend. So they would take the extra straps for me and fix them on-site.
That meant that we woke up the Twins at 9:30am and rode to Sestriere via the winding asphalt road. The piece of asphalt in question was again no punishment to ride.
Arriving at the finish of the HAT series in Sestriere, we were allowed to continue with the Twins to the stand of Mosko Moto. They replaced the straps in no time and showed us how to change the straps along the way. What an ingenious system!
Can't say anything other than to be very happy with the service from Mosko Moto and have also been able to take a look at the other systems. I had already become a big fan of the reckless system after my mini adventure through the Netherlands with little Panther, but now I am even more so. They are therefore very high on the wish list as an investment for our next adventure this winter. Whether we go with the road bikes or the Twins. That doesn't matter.
After this we went to for a walk around the already arrived riders who had ridden the HAT. From big almost brand new KTMs, GS, Africa Twins and Tenere's 700 to beautiful older machines such as a DR650, an XT and a BigDR. Hats off to the participants. Especially for those who have ridden the Extreme. This year that was 840 kilometers in 2.5 days. So including two nights of riding, over sometimes mega challenging parts. Someone online called one part a GS graveyard. It concerned a part that you were allowed to circumvent via an alternative route. If you didn't dare.
Found it very interesting. Maybe in the future I'll join in too. But for now I am purely a supporter and together with my husband trying to find our own ways and rhythm with the off road riding.
Yesterday afternoon we had packed everything and we drove home in one ride. Only stops where for petrol and something toe at. Tired, with muscle pain and with many experiences richer. We look back on a wonderful holiday!
3 September 2021
A day of trail and error.
Today had the idea to do another lap south that would be doable in terms of difficulty. Unfortunately at each entry point of the track the situation had changed fairly recently. They were all closed. Can happen of course. Especially in an area where we are completely unknown.
My husband indicated that he was actually too worn out. He had had a bad night's sleep and had too much trouble with one of his eyes because of the big amount of dust. So he returned to the campsite for a day's rest, after which I myself tried to find a pass nearby to ride.
I had conceived the idea to see how far I could get up Mont Chaberton. Unfortunately after a few kilometers I came to a point where I had to turn around again. They were busy working on the path and a trench had been dug across the entire width, in which fresh concrete had just been poured. So it wasn't going to be anything for today. Later I even understood that the higher part of this mountain pass has been closed for years.
With a deep sigh I turned the bike around again, called my husband and indicated that I would ride past the supermarket for some groceries and then come back to the campsite.
No sooner said than done. Sitting together for lunch and actually doing nothing all afternoon. Except taking a bloody hot shower. My muscles were very grateful for that. This time, I took a little extra time for the shower.
In the course of the afternoon, fatigue caught up with me as well. After a solid afternoon slump (read: sleeping for a hour) I went back to have a look for tomorrow. We don't give up just like that, so hope to find some nice tracks tomorrow.
2 September 2021
Taking it easy for a day.
The past few days have demanded a lot from my body. It is a good thing that next week there is another appointment with the physiotherapist. It will not be an unnecessary luxury.
This made us decide to take it easy today. On the tip of the campsite owner, we rode in the direction of Sestriere and then followed a path up the Mont-Cenis. At the top we would end up at a farm.
It was certainly a calm and pleasant pass to ride. Sometimes it was a bit challenging, but we never for a moment asked ourselves what we were actually doing. It was fun riding around at a leisurely pace, enjoying the surroundings.
Unfortunately we had to end the trip up half way. At one point we came across a stretched wire across the path. This wire seemed to be a closure for perhaps the cows, or to indicate that no further riding was allowed. We didn't dare to be bold to open it. Quietly we turned the Twins around and strummed down.
Once down we looked for a track that had been given the name “little round Lago Nero” from me. We did not reach the mountain lake Lago Nero, but it was a nice varied round through mainly wooded area. It ensured that my body could recover a bit from the past few days today.
After successfully completing this lap, we decided to head back to the Assietta and ride it the other way. The experiences we had gained over the past few days paid off considerably. We rode the pass more smoothly than the first time and that meant that we regularly saw new things along the way.
For example, we suddenly spotted a bunker from the Second World War that we did not see the first time and we finally saw a number of mountain marmots.
Nevertheless, the Assietta decided to challenge us again. It was not so much that surface of the trails, but because the clouds literally climbed the mountain and regularly cloaked the trail in mist. This suddenly gave riding the Assietta a completely different experience than at the beginning of the week.
Halfway through, the dirt path crosses a tarmac road. Here we decided that enough was enough. As beginners we already had quite a few kilometers on it today. So we typed in the address of the supermarket in Oulx in the Garmin and we rode the last 50 kilometers back on the asphalt.
Here our Twins suddenly changed. Suddenly they weren't mountain goats anymore, but a bunch of agile tarmac tigers. It was a relief to have a stable surface and despite the Twins having large sized wheels, they played with the corners as if they were purebred supermoto bikes.
Let’s just say. The arrival time at the supermarket changed with some regularity in a positive way. My husband thought that was the Garmin's own fault.
It was only 8 kilometers to the destination when unfortunately one of the Twins decided to have worked too hard. With the help of a warning light, she clearly indicated that she was getting a bit too hot. We set them aside and let them cool for a while.
After a while the Twins were both ready again and we rode the last part. We got the groceries, reached the campsite, cleaned up and ate. With that I look back with satisfaction to a beautiful day. Perhaps not as intensively as the past few days, but it didn't have to be.
Tomorrow morning we first look at the various weather maps before we set off. The weather is going to have some influence on which direction we go with the Twins.
1 September 2021
A day of pushing boundaries.
This morning we were a little slower than planned. Partly also because we found out that the supermarkets didn't open really early. So we had breakfast in the Bistro of the campsite.
This caused us not to set out with the Twins until around 10:30 am.
Today Monte Jafferau was planned. Just west of Salbertrand we turned onto the road called Str. Militare Fenil-Pramand-Föens-Jafferau. A road with a lot of history and very rich in the various forts. The first was Forte Fenil. An impressive fortress in reasonably good condition. Unfortunately, you can only ride past it with your motorcycle and not stop at it.
Soon the asphalt turned into unpaved ground. Going up this first part already asked quite a lot of us, but we eventually arrived at a larger “plateau” where we could relax. There you can find the road towards the second fort. Forte Pramant.
The fort was built in 1905 and was fully operational in both World Wars. Four large cannons were installed on top of the fortress, which were used very regularly during the wars. The cannons are no longer present, but you can still see where they were installed. This meant that I wanted to reach the fortress.
So together we went up the path towards Forte Pramant. It started reasonably, but gradually it became more and more difficult and then after a hairpin I ended up in a situation where I only saw one way out. Look straight ahead and give it plenty of power on the rear wheel. That worked and at the top of the next hairpin I had the opportunity to recover. This part gave me an adrenaline rush for a while.
My husband sadly couldn’t get pass the same point. Here he found his current limit and decided to turn around. Back to the safe plateau. It was ok. To be honest, I don't think the original suspension of his bike helps. Mine is front and rear on Hyperpro suspension.
There I stood. I was very hesitant to turn around, but the next part of the path seemed easier after some exploring on foot and when a German lady quietly turned her BMW GS up, I decided to go after it. Was too close to give up. The moment I suddenly stood in front of Forte Pramant one and a half bends further, I couldn't help but cheer. Glad I hadn't turned around and persevered to share a triumphant fist with the German lady.
It is an impressive fortress and if you study the place where the cannons were installed, you can hardly imagine what kind of monsters they must have been.
Proudly I sent a photo to my husband and then slowly hobbled back down. Arriving there, all I got was my husband's response, wondering why he hadn't married a normal woman.
My husband had gathered some courage again and I had cooled down a bit. We continued on to the tunnel Galleria del Seguret. It rained harder in there than it sometimes does outside. The tunnel is really as leaky as a sieve, very dark and unexpectedly very long to be greeted on the other side of the tunnel by the remains of Forte al Seguret.
We quickly rode on to stop at an unnamed fortress for some food and drinks. From this ruin we could see Forte Jafferau high on the mountain. What an impressive fortress!
Forte Jafferau was built between 1896 and 1898 at an altitude of 2805 meters and was also in use during both World Wars. Part of the Valle Alpino and one of the highest fortresses in the Alps. Mainly to be used to fire the cannons at French troops. In 1945 the fortress was bombed by the Allied Forces.
The remains of the old military road up can still be ridden to reach the fortress. But it isn’t the easiest way anymore. Believe that tonight our bodies will still be shaking from this part of the route in bed. That didn't mean we gave up. Because with a big smile on both our faces we can say that we made it. The biggest treat here was the fantastic view towards both sides of Monte Jafferau.
Via the same road we rode back down satisfied and after getting some groceries we are now in our tent recovering from the new experiences. Coming to the conclusion that without having followed any training this is actually madness. The only experience we had before this trip was some sand and mud in the Netherlands and maybe a stray rubble path.
It is not for nothing that we say in the Netherlands: one learns by doing!
31 August 2021
New day dawned this morning. Waking up quietly we looked forward to the next route.
Somehow it feels like we've reached the pinnacle of our vacation. Because we were going to try to conquer the Col de Sommeiller. Fresh and fruity, we woke up the Twins again and we first rode via the main road to the beginning of this mountain pass.
The first part felt heavier and more intensive than yesterday, but was doable. So we thought it would be just fine.
How wrong we were.
The first part up after we had paid the toll also felt good. We had a rhythm and after saying goodbye to the passing cows, we continued our way up in good spirits. The further we got, the more sobered we became, because it got harder and harder. So heavy, in fact, that we began to wonder what the hell we were getting ourselves into.
It asked a lot of us. The Twins, on the other hand, were having a great time.
But fair? It was worth every meter when we suddenly arrived at the top of the pass at a great plain. We made it! Only to be sobered up again by a young man who arrived up there with a very justified cry of triumph. All we and everyone else in attendance could do was applaud and take our hats off to him. He made it to the top on a Kawasaki ZRX 1200 on regular road tires. Nothing but deep, deep respect. Cheers!
Then came a realization…. We had to go back down the same way. We had to bridge the hardest part again and secretly we were dreading it.
So that meant walking around for almost half an hour, having a drink, eating, taking pictures and gathering courage before taking on the challenge again.
Finally we tried to shake the Twins awake again. Calling in a helicopter was not possible without mobile coverage on top of the pass. Although we almost had the feeling that it was going to be necessary. One of the Twins was very reluctant to get going.
After some encouragement, he decided to follow his brother the way back down and towards civilization.
We had come up with the idea to stop more often on the way down. In the end we didn't. Except at the waterfall to take pictures, because completely unexpectedly going down was much easier than going up.
We arrived back at the toll booth and there we turned right towards the only restaurant on the mountain pass to relax and have something to eat and drink.
After a good plate of polenta with Goulash we gathered some energy again and continued the last part of the route. Arriving back in the village of Bardonecchia I switched on a route on the Garmin that we had received from a friend. Riding the entire route would no longer be possible, but we thought we could still do part of it before we would ride back to the campsite.
However, on this route we found our limit. The combination of too little experience and the wrong type of tires ensured that we got stuck on a mega steep road. Unfortunately I also fell here once. Could brake as much as I wanted, but the bike kept sliding backwards and then lost its balance. Wasn't hard, but nice was different.
After picking up the bike we tried to ride up a bit further, but in the end we couldn't anymore. We had found our current limits and my rheumatism also started to play tricks on me. The Sommeiller had already demanded a lot from my body.
There we were. Tired and not knowing what to do. We decided to turn around the Twins on this very steep slope. It cost both my husband and myself our last bit of energy, but it worked. Then we descended centimeter by centimeter to the more flat part to decide to look for the public road back to the campsite.
Tired, worn out and despite the setback on the last stretch, we are still satisfied.
Tomorrow the next mountain pass is already planned.
30 August 2021
So we left early yesterday. The alarm went off at 3:00 in the morning. After all, it is more than a 12-hour drive to the campsite in Italy.
Unexpectedly, the trip went very smoothly. So smooth in fact that we arrived at camping Gran Bosco around 15:15. After checking in, the owner took us to the field where we could place the tent. The trailer could be parked nicely on the property next to a few others and the car was allowed to sleep in the parking lot.
We got everything up and running pretty quickly and everything was in place. We then thought it was time to provide the inner person with some warm energy. Forgetting for a moment that in Italy meal times are often arranged slightly differently. So we reserved a table for two at 19:00.
Ah well. There we sat on the terrace. We still had to get some groceries, but assumed that this would not be possible until the next morning. With some luck my husband found a supermarket that was open and only a short 15 minute drive away. In that case, we decided to quickly get some breakfast instead of sitting at the tent twiddling your thumbs until dinner.
The food in the bistro tasted good. We used the rest of the evening to further prepare for day 1 and to stock up on some tips from already present adventurers and the owners of the campsite.
This morning it was time. Quickly got some bread for lunch at a very short distance, and then woke up the Twins after breakfast. They had enjoyed their beauty sleep a little too much. Decided to struggle a bit at first, but after we whispered to them what was on the schedule today, the internal horses quickly started kicking.
We rode towards Meana di Susa via a road that would have been no punishment with our other two steel horses. Via this village we rode to Colle delle Finestre. Our first unpaved mountain pass to an altitude of 2176 meters!
It took a while to get in, but oh how we had a good time. Nice to meet other people and have a laugh, while talking about the different types of bikes. We also regularly encountered a group consisting of two adventure motorcycles and one Duke 390 on regular road tires. Thought the best man was quite brave to ride a naked on these types of roads.
From the Colle delle Finestre our route continued on the TET (Trans Euro Trial) which follows part of the Assieta route. A former military mountain road, which can certainly not be called wide in various places. Was glad at least not to be with a car. Then passing oncoming traffic would have been a bit more of a challenge.
Without realizing it too much, we rode the entire Assieta route towards Sestriere only to find out that the TET route made a turn halfway through. Well, then back on the Assieta. What a punishment (read: sarcasm).
After we found the track of the TET, we tried to follow it further. This brought us to a part which suddenly challenged us in terms of descent. Just before Sauze d'Oulx, the descent was so steep that braking was almost impossible. It was a case of chronic sliding sideways straight down. Think this little bit of the route made us sweat more than the rest of the day. But fair? We did! And that for two rookies when it comes to off roading!
On to tomorrow!
30 July 2021
Luxembourg. What a fantastic country it is. Every year we try several times to find our peace in this beautiful country. We really enjoy the varied nature that the country offers. In the north the more rolling hills and the further south you go, the more rock formations you will encounter. That's why we love this country.
That’s why we had another weekend planned with the big tent and our motorbikes. Since my husband still had to work a few hours on Friday, I left with my car full of stuff, the trailer and my little Panther on Thursday afternoon for the camping Le Moulin in Goesdorf. Just below the lovely village of Esch-sur-Sûre.
A little before 6:00 pm I arrived at the campsite, looked for a nice spot along the water, built the tent in 20 minutes and freed my little Panther from the trailer. After that I stored all the stuff of both my husband and myself in the sleeping area, and then spoiled the inner person in the cafe High Chapparal (also owned by the same owners as the campsite).
Given the temperature and little wind, I decided after dinner to take my steel steed for a ride until the sun went down. Just loosen the hips.
The next morning I went to breakfast in the cafe at 9:00 AM. Late for me, but didn't bring my own breakfast this time.
I quickly packed my things and decided to ride south. I continue to love the area around Berdorf and Müllerthal. The rock formations with accompanying nature surprise me in a positive way every time. Every time I see something new.
After a good cup of coffee, I rode quietly towards the north. My husband had let me know that he would arrive on the motorbike in Weiswampach around 14:30. So decided to meet there at the local bakery and enjoy a nice late lunch together.
My husband was more than happy to finally not be riding any major straight roads. So we rode all the way back to the campsite together over the smaller twisting roads of Luxembourg. It was sunny, dry and the tarmac wonderfully warm. The rubber of our steeds therefore where biting into this fantastically. So after dinner we went for an evening round together.
The next morning we decided to not be very fast. We knew in advance that the weather forecast for Saturday would not be the best. That was confirmed with the falling water from the clouds. Still, we didn't feel like sitting still and in the course of the morning we left with the motorbikes to Diekirch. Last year we came across the Nationales Militärgeschichtliches Museum here. At that time it was almost 40 degrees Celsius and we thought it was too hot to stroll through the museum in our motorcycle clothing. Now, however, it was great to stay in this museum.
Many documentaries rarely mention the battles that took place in Luxembourg. Heavy fighting has also taken place in this small country. Especially when the Allies, mainly the Americans, tried to liberate the country in the winter of 1944-1945. Here and there you can find hints of this, such as the tank at one of the entrance roads of Wiltz.
The museum is rich in surviving, or fully restored, vehicles that were left behind after the Second World War. Both from the Allied forces and the Germans. They also built various scenes in the museum. Among other things, in honor of Battle of the Bulge. This includes a situation such as the 5th infantry unit of the Americans risking the night crossing of the river Sauer towards Diekirch on January 18, 1945.
Every detail was really thought of. The museum is rich in original material. Even the clothes were almost all completely original. Only the mannequins within the "action" displays and those placed in, on and around the old vehicles had replicas on.
We spent the rest of the morning until early afternoon in this beautiful museum. So much information. So much to see. Also confrontational. Original photos of the Second World War of the fighting and immediately after the liberation of Luxembourg regularly gave a clear picture of the horrors. I belong to the generation that has never experienced war in Europe. Hope never to experience it. Can therefore have absolutely no idea of the fears that the people had/have who had and must endure this then, but also now. All I can do is respect, honor and never forget those who fought for this freedom and peace.
The rest of the weekend basically faded into nothing compared to the history that this museum carried. Because the building itself also had to go through the war. In one of the outer walls, not all bullet holes were hidden under the plaster, but kept in plain sight. To show that it was not distant history. That many homes in which we live have gone through this terrible time.
Can anyone recommend this museum.
Lest we forget. In respect and remembrance of the fallen ones.
8 July 2021
Almost forgot to post the last update (unfortunately a shorter update) of my mini adventure. After all, it didn't take long before I had to get back to work and while I was gone, my hubby had been working very hard in the living room in the evenings. This meant a necessary major cleaning.
At the campsite in Maasbommel I had already paid the night before. This allowed me to pack in peace the next morning. The neighbors had done the same. Thus we both set off on our separate journeys with a merry wave about the same time.
Today's route would be about 280 kilometers. Quietly enjoying the beautiful nature along the rivers, after which the route meandered deeper into Brabant. Decided to try to reach Baarle-Nassau / Baarle-Hertog for lunch and spoil Panthertje with a refueling on the Belgian side.
Of course for typical Brabant this meant that unpaved roads had to be defied several times. Roads where Little Panther did not feel quite at home, but bravely endured. Despite the full road oriented tires. The advantage is that you can sometimes come across gems of historic buildings.
Arrived in Baarle-Nassau where I had to look for a suitable spot for Little Panther, so that I wouldn't lose sight of him. I slid quietly on the terrace and ordered a pancake with bacon. Just simple.
On one side it is great to stay in the special historic Baarle-Nassau. On the other hand, it was a huge coming and going of traffic. From cars to trucks to coaches. Have to admit that it was not the most quiet lunch spot. Fortunately it tasted good.
After paying, it first meant queuing in the long lines at the Belgian gas stations. The large price difference per liter compared to Dutch fuel prices resulted in approximately chronic peak hours at the gas stations within Baarle-Hertog. Understandable. After all, it was not for nothing that I stood patiently in line as well.
After refueling and checking the rainfall radar, I decided to drive through from Baarle-Nassau to Rozendaal and then complete the last part via the main road home. Hoping to stay ahead of the rain. Unfortunately. The last hour I got the full load of rain, but I have to say that it couldn't ruin my mood anymore.
Arriving home I could only conclude that I had a great time. Of course I missed the company of my husband, but I must also admit that I was very satisfied with this. Hopefully my husband would like to do something similar together sometime.
On to the next adventure!
4 July 2021
On day 3 I woke up on time again. Had significantly better sleep than the first night. That also meant that around 7:00am I started packing quietly and at 8:00am I was completely ready. It was chilly, but lovely outside. After saying goodbye to the owners of the campsite, I decided to finish the route of day 2 first and then continue with my route of day 3.
It didn't take long before I arrived at the next ferry. With some regularity I had to use the small ferries to cross rivers. One you could just paid with card, but there were also some who could only accept cash. Luckily I had enough cash with me to overcome this. Always handy.
Meandering over the Maasbanddijk I passed a bridge with a monument about the Second World War. The drama of Niftrik. Then I came straight through Batenburg and past Batenburg Castle. Of course I had to take a walk around here. Just love history.
We merrily meander on and via the next ferry and the Maasdijk I ended up in old Ravenstein. Also a place where there is plenty to discover.
I felt like I took it very easy. Here and there I had to or wanted to deviate from my route and I decided to have lunch further on around 14:00 at the ramp to the ferry of Maasbommel. Here I was welcomed with a big smile and decided to treat myself with a delicious salad.
But still the kilometers disappeared faster than yesterday. This gave me the opportunitie to visit a good friend in a village nearby. After a nice chat and something to eat, I rode back to Maasbommel and after about 310 kilometers I set up my tent again. The neighbors on the tent field were two pensioners exploring half of Europe with their bicycles. Wouldn’t be able to do the same. Got respect for that.
Around 23:00pm I crawled into my sleeping bag. A few more hours and then the last part back home.
2 July 2021
Day two of my mini adventure started early. After a somewhat restless first night and awake from about 5am, I decided to pack in time and was back on the bike around 8am.
Had the idea to follow a route of almost 330 kilometers. Normally not a big problem, but I noticed that I was still very tired from the long ride the first day. In combination with the restless night, I immediately had my doubts whether I would succeed.
Despite that, I started day two in good spirits. This initially meant heading for the Afsluitdijk. Not the most exciting road to ride, but an artful piece of engineering and construction. Especially when you consider when it was built. They started construction in 1927, whereby in 1932 the Zuiderzee was definitively closed off from the Waddenzee and from 1933 it was opened for traffic. The Zuiderzee was changed into the IJsselmeer.
After a stop at the monument on the Afsluitdijk, I rode on to Friesland where I soon left the larger roads behind and turned to the narrow inland roads. It all started here with a beautiful dike that swayed wonderfully from left to right. There was no straight line to be found. In addition, the asphalt was also smooth. Almost Luxembourgish. Couldn't help but conclude that it was a great start.
Finally around 10:30am I made my first stop. No idea where, but sat on a terrace near a bridge in Friesland. The bridge opened everytime a boat came near. One even more beautiful than the other. It was certainly not boring on the terrace to watch the spectacle of toll payments between the bridge operator and passing boats.
After taking care of my inner self, I quickly continued. The route I had made went over sometimes very narrow roads and dikes. As a result, the pace was certainly not very high. It was quite busy here and there with cyclists.
Sometimes I was surprised too. For example, on a dike I came across a cannon all alone. This turned out to be a high water cannon with accompanying gunpowder house. The explanation about the powder house made me chuckle. The way it was built made me imagine a typical cartoon situation in my head. Funny, but above all very smart (when there was an explosion, only the roof would fly off). What I also found special was how long the gun has been in use. That did indicate the risks that the area concerned was present. We had something similar in Zeeland, but with the help of church bells.
The route was really beautiful. It regularly crossed historic villages such as Blokzijl. This made me think of the town of Willemstad in the south of the Netherlands.
I ended up in the area we call De Achterhoek. Here I could not resist stopping at The Gallery of the Aaldering family. Even though I only stepped in at 16:30pm, they didn't mind that I took all the time for a round inside. Wow. What a collection. Learned very quickly not to look too much at the price tags (after all, almost everything inside is for sale). I came close to chronic drooling. What a gems. Both the cars and the motorcycles. In terms of bikes, it was striking that they were mainly Italians and Hondas with a stray BSA, Norton and Harley Davidson in between.
After I was outside again at my own (modern) gem, I came to the conclusion that finishing my planned route was no longer an option. Tiredness hit hard and in doing so I decided that the first campsite near the route was mine.
My day ended peacefully after about 290 kilometers at camping Siebeverden in Laag-Keppel. Must admit. It is a campsite I would definitely like to return to. Great price, good facilities and quiet.
After rebuilding the tent, having something to eat and a warm shower, I thought it was enough. Believe that it took less than 10 minutes before I had fallen back into dreamland in my warm sleeping bag. Already looking forward to day 3!
26 Juni 2021
Not so long ago I suddenly had the idea to go out alone with my motorcycle for a few days during my vacation. Tent on the back and go. Kind of like a test if my body was going to pull this. This created some challenges, because how was I going to take everything with me?
After some use of Google I came to the conclusion that some sort of reckless system could be an idea. Because I didn't know if I would do these kinds of trips more often, I was so cheeky and placed a call in an all-road riders group on Facebook. If there was anyone who dared to lend it to me for a few days. Several responded to this, which I am very grateful for and in the end I was able to fit a beautiful set of bags from Mosko Moto at a reasonable short distance and possibly use it for the holiday.
With a big smile and a feeling of gratitude I rode back home with my little Panther with the bags on the back. Another step further to my goal.
Regularly practiced packing at home and thought about what to take or not to take. So I also ordered a sleeping mat and travel pillow for my mini adventure with Little Panther.
Satisfied with how or what, I packed everything one more time and tied it to the back of the buddy seat and left last week alone with Little Panther. My husband sadly had to work.
The first day was going to be the longest. After a good breakfast early in the morning, I left at 6:20 am. The first part would be straight forward just as quickly. Wanted to quickly pass Rotterdam to ride northwards from there. The first part consisted directly of lush nature called the Biesbosch. This nursery of Dutch nature is truly beautiful. Certainly an area to keep the gashandle closed and to enjoy the surroundings quietly. This resulted in me suddenly riding on a stretch of road where the Scottish Highlanders and Konik horses had priority over everything. The herd was ahead of me and I took some time here. The latter was a large black bull and didn't feel like getting it after me if I were to cause stress to this beautiful animal.
After the Biesbosch and via Werkendam I arrived at the ferry from Schoonhoven. Fortunately, the brasserie De Veerpont was open and I was able to quickly drink the much-needed coffee at 9:30 (read: warm milk with a dash of coffee 😉 ).
After this I continued on the infamous Lekdijk. The advantage of the weekday is that you can ride it with the motorcycle without any problems. Despite this, I received ugly looks and hand gestures several times. The people there have come to chronically hate motorcyclists. They no longer see the difference between the low flyers and the quiet riders. I rode far below the permitted speed, deliberately kept the revs low and did not turn the throttle hard even once. Even that way of riding people could not accept. Besides this fact, I did enjoy the winding Lekdijk.
The grin only got bigger as the day went on. Without any problems in terms of energy I drove on until half past three before I had lunch in Enkhuizen. Would have liked to have arrived there earlier, but had to make frequent detours due to circumstances.
After lunch in Enkhuizen I followed the dike again along the former Zuiderzee (now IJsselmeer). Here I came across a beautiful steam pumping station. The Vier Noorden Koggen. This pumping station now houses a beautiful steam museum. Despite the fact that I only arrived at 16:30, I was still allowed to take a look inside. What a beautiful place. They also regularly run demonstrations during the day. I can therefore recommend anyone to visit it.
So it meant my grin had gotten even bigger. With enough energy left to complete the last part of my first day, I ended after more than 400 kilometers at a campsite close to the Afsluitdijk. At 6:15 pm my tent was finally up. Exhausted and satisfied, I crawled under the wool after some dinner at a reasonably early time. The longest day of my adventure was over.
10 June 2021
In the short term I have the plan to do a mini adventure. Exploring part of the Netherlands for three days with my little Panther and a tent. This also as a test whether my body is going to pull this. After all, I realize that my body is not healthy.
To invest a lot of money in beautiful bags, with the risk that I will only use them once, I think it's a bit of a shame. So I was cheeky and asked in an Allroader group if I could try buddy bags for 3 days. There was a great response to this and last night I rode to 1 of the responders with Panther.
After fitting and measuring, this seasoned adventurer allows me to try this beautiful set of bags from Mosko during my mini adventure! Am so thankful for this! Now practice packing and counting down the days until I can go on the road.
28 April 2021
Today I had my first day at work again after a long weekend off. Almost two weeks ago we started looking with a slanted eye at the possibilities for last weekend. The forecasts for the weather were not bad and every now and then more opportunities seemed to become available. Eventually it became clear and we decided to reserve a so-called pod (kind of log cabin) at camping Kautenbach in Luxembourg.
On Saturday morning we had loaded the AT and my little Panther on the trailer, all our stuff in the bus and soon we left for Luxembourg.
We crossed Belgium and before we knew it, the flat landscape started to change into more slopes. The hills got higher and higher and the roads started to contain a bit more curves than the average roads in the Netherlands. About 4 hours later and we reported ourselves at the gate of the campsite. We quickly got the key, ordered some fresh breadrolls for the next morning and parked the entire combination behind our pod.
Within an hour we had unloaded the bikes, put all our stuff in place and decided to stretch our hips for an hour.
Despite the fact that the pace and smoothness was not entirely present for me nor how I wanted it, I had a good excuse for that in this case. A broken toe on the left foot didn't help at all. Certainly when upshifting, this required some thinking about how I used my foot and I sometimes had to bite away the pain. Nevertheless, it was amazing again!
After returning we took of to the shower and lit the BBQ and fire pit. Our new electric coolbox turned out to be so fanatical that I had to let the frozen meat thaw in the sun. This also meant that our drinks were wonderfully cold. Unfortunately, the latter was also the case during the night. Despite being in a pod, huddled in our sleeping bags and the creatively built double bed, it also cooled down hard inside. The outside temperature was around freezing, so inside the pod it turned out to be wise to crank up the available electric heater anyway.
Sunday and Monday we had two full days of motorcycling planned. For the first time I had made two routes through Luxembourg myself. In general, I use routes made by others outside the borders of the Netherlands. Now I had made two routes that alternated between narrow, seldom-used roads to the fast, larger, winding roads. Of course we visited our favorite spots, including the rockformation Preekstoel at Müllerthall and the dam at the water reservoir above Esch-sur-Sûre.
Can't say anything other than that we enjoyed Luxembourg again. We love this beautiful country. Both from the varied landscape of coniferous and deciduous forests to sloping lawns against the hills, or the mentality of the local population. We sometimes say that a Dutch person has an extremely level-headed attitude, but I think that an average Luxembourger wins from us Dutch in terms of level-headedness.
With a grin of pleasure we are now at home on the couch and we are already planning our next trip. Hopefully we will be welcome in the Eiffel soon again. Only whether my husband ever wants to play cards with me again becomes a question.
11 April 2021
In recent weeks it seems again the weather not really know what it wants. Some days it teases us with wonderfully warmer and sunny days with temperatures above 15 degrees Celsius, and then we are again plagued with snow and hail. My husband and I are checking the weather reports roughly daily and counting down the days until the temperatures are heading in a more pleasant direction.
In addition, we are very reluctant to make plans. The entire situation surrounding the pandemic does not make things much easier, although there are some possibilities in sight. Of course there are a number of goals for this year, but whether everything will work out remains a question.
Then just look back on previous “adventures”. For example, our first "big" holiday was in 2018. Then we decided to flee our daily environment by driving to Austria. My husband then had a KTM 1090 AdventureR and I was riding a Honda CB500X. My first upright sitting motorcycle. On the way there we had spent the night in a hotel in the Black Forest in Germany to arrive the next day in See, Austria, in the course of the morning. Here we had booked for a longer period at hotel Apart Vivaldi.
That afternoon we decided to first drive by car to a village called Samnaun. They do not know tax there and that was not only noticeable by the many products you could buy in the shops, but also by the fuel price. Good excuse to refuel the car here, because at that time it only cost € 1.05 per liter for euro 98. The quality of the fuel there was also significantly different from ours. Both the car and the engines ran more efficiently and the bikes, especially the KTM, regularly made heavier blows/bangs from the exhaust. Oops.
The second day we went on the road with the bikes. The hotel gave us a pass with which we could make unlimited use of the various facilities in the valley. One of these was that we did not have to pay a toll for the Silvretta pass.
From See to the top of the Silvretta is an easy way. The weaving road almost demands a very brisk pace, but it is not without reason that a maximum speed of 60 km / ph is allowed on this part of the pass. After all, you will come across stray cows and goats who are absolutely not afraid to ignore you, even if they are standing in the middle of the road. That is why the local police is there to check regularly.
At the top of the Silvretta pass there is a hotel with a restaurant and a large lake. Of course a nice stop to enjoy the surroundings.
While enjoying the environment, I have to admit that for me as a woman there was more to enjoy. Just as men are just not yet drooling around looking at diverse feminine beauty, we women aren’t much different about it. While my husband was busy taking pictures of the area, two teams from the British Olympic rowing teams came out from the hotel. They had traveled to this particular lake to do altitude training with their rowing boats. It was the 4 and 8. So you can guess. I was wise enough to keep my helmet on while the guys performed their warm up stretch exercises right in front of my nose.
It was a great start to the holiday for me. Despite the fact that later in the day we actually got drowned tot he bone in a number of heavy rain showers, my day could not go wrong at that moment. Perhaps the funniest part was that my husband only realized when we were back in the Netherlands. It was kind of my revenge for his years of teasing.
29 March 2021
Having goals this year? Hell yes. Hubby and I hope to conquer the unpaved mountain passes in Italy this year with the Twins. The extent to which we are allowed to cross the border is still a surprise, but if things go like last year, we have good hopes for it.
Of course, as a tarmac tiger, it is a bit of a switch to maintain control of the bike on an unpaved surface. It feels terribly against my nature to feel the engine wagging at the back or to follow a different track from the front than I had in mind before.
The first instinct is to apply the brakes with every wag. Last time I did. The goal last weekend was therefore to take a little more guts on the sand. That meant trying to get a little more speed on the straights to find stability over the sand.
It looked like it worked. We got into our rhythm and pace better. We both noticed that things were getting better for us as noobies. Only sometimes correctly estimating the depth of the puddles was sometimes a thing. Sometimes it wasn't too bad, sometimes the water even ended up on our visors.
We did enjoy. In a few hours we drove about 120 to 140 kilometers. Not flying, but in a nice rhythm. We stopped neatly for dogs and horses. We waved to everyone and tried to follow our routes as correctly as possible / legal. Several times we had to leave our route because the situation had changed on the spot. Fortunately, we are both quite handy with navigation and our Garmins.
Tired, worn out, but satisfied we went home. We crawled under the wool early on. We felt muscles in places where we did not know we had muscles.
As an elderly couple, we decided to close our eyes and start planning our next trip with the Twins. Because this practice is part of achieving our goals. The biggest goal ever will be Norway one day!
14 March 2021
A tour of motorcycle history.
Fourteen years ago in 2007 I got my driver’s license for the bike. Had been patient enough to wait until I was 21 years old. Then at the age of 21 you could immediately go for the heavier bikes.
Proud as a peacock I got my driver's license in the cold and wet autumn and I went to the Motorbeurs in Utrecht in 2008 with a specific goal. Since I also made a lot of kilometers for the family business in those years, it also had to be a bit more practical bike. Fortunately my father only had one requirement. It had to be a Honda.
No sooner said than done. At the Motor Fair I came across a dark green Honda Deauville 650 at the Motoport Wateringen stand. At that time a bit on the high side, but they could do something about it. A week later I picked it up.
The Honda was already nicely dressed. To be able to call this my first bike, I could not complain. Had a comfort buddy, extra top box and heated grips. So built to be able to drive many kilometers. And that I did. In all seasons, all year round. Only sleet or when the roads were still covered with snow, I took the car. My Dove was allowed to come along for the rest. That first year I had already covered more than 30,000 kilometers. Especially for the company. Digitization as we know it today was not yet there.
Unfortunately it went wrong in August 2010 during a fun ride. Then I made a beginner's mistake, got a big rock under my front wheel and together we flew a few meters off a dike at 60 km / h. I got off very well myself, but my Dove unfortunately did not survive this flight.
Sad and motorless again I was at home. But yes, blood crawled where it couldn't go. My parents understood this better than anyone, as they were the basis for why I had such a love for bikes.
So my father sent me to Gerritsen Motoren in Goes. Here was a burgundy red Deauville. Great engine. Nicely dressed, but I did not fall in love after a trial run. Something in that engine didn't feel right. Still, I came home with a bike. Just something completely different than planned. Gerritsen also had a Honda CBR600 F2 for sale. A red and white coloured one.
My parents did not know what to make of it for a moment. Their daughter on a sports bike instead of a touring bike. Only my mother had to chuckle a bit. After all, she knew very well how to find the throttle of her old bike.
This Honda was also taken throughout the country and I made my first trip abroad. Together with the CBR club we spent a weekend in Houffalize in Belgium. The log cabins in which we spend the night were less than fifteen minutes from Luxembourg.
Once in a while this CBR brought out the worst in me. Even though it was “only” a 600cc, the top speed was still at a sloppy 240 km p / h. However, the engine had one drawback. There were a number of technical malfunctions that I could not resolve. So I sold him in 2012 and I was motorless for a while.
In 2014 I was lucky. For not too much money I had the opportunity to buy a super nice Kawasaki ZXR400. The previous owner had opened the exhaust completely, making it sound like an way to eager 1000cc, but I could was in full sync with this bike. Small, fierce and manoeuvrable. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to enjoy it for long.
One morning I was preparing to go to work and my Kawaatje had suddenly disappeared. I was called a few hours after I filed a report at the police station. They found him. Unfortunately, not much was left. Some parts and the frame numbers were cut out and the rest was set on fire. All courage had sunk in my shoes. I was afterall really lucky with this bike.
Then my friend (now my husband) jumped to my rescue. We looked around and saw a black / pink / silver Honda CBR600 F2 in Wemeldinge for sale for not too much money. Got it quickly and just like my previous CBR, this one also regularly brought out the worst in me. Whether it was back and forth to work or during holidays. I would go mental on some regular basis.
However, at one point my physical health played tricks on me. Slowly I got to the point that if I had ridden a lap on my supersport, the next day I could barely walk from the pain. Because of this I kept him standing still more and more in the shed. Of course a shame of the bike. So I decided to sell it.
When I sold the CBR I had just made an exciting job change. Not sure what the future would deliver, my husband and I decided to hold off on buying a new bike. After a few rides on the back of my husband's Vstrom, I noticed again that I really missed driving a bike myself.
After some research and several visits in the Motoport Rockanje showroom, I finally went for a test ride on a Honda CB500X. With the agreement of Motoport, this became a test ride of more than 220 kilometers.
It took some getting used to after a number of sport bikes, but after this long ride I got of it fresh and without too much pain from the CB. That was actually the confirmation that this bike would suit me better. It became my first brand new bike.
The CB500X was soon nicknamed Pocket Bike. Small, but manoeuvrable. Still, I sometimes called it Wannebe 1000. Hubby had found a nice Leovince exhaust (in terms of looks much better than the original chrome chimney he had) and when the DB-killer was out, that little 2-cylinder engine would make some serious noise.
How I thoroughly enjoyed that little CB. Especially after a number of courses at Move-On Motorcycle Training. He helped me get over my fear that I had suffered after a walking-pace accident that I had when I had only just had the CB for 4 weeks. In fact, these trainings helped me so much that I started riding better than ever.
Still, I faced two drawbacks of my Pocket Bike that I couldn't fix easily (we resolved the suspension by upgrading it with HyperPro). The first was that I became completely exhausted of the ammount of gear changes I had to make while riding through the mountains or on narrow polder roads. After all, this was due to the limited lung capacity of the 500CC block. The second was the heaviness of the clutch. It was quite heavy and began to demand more and more from my hands.
While I went to pick up a new pair of pants at Motoport Rockanje in 2018, just before the stairs up tot he clothing shop, there was a freshly washed black Kawasaki Versys 650. Rarely does a bike like this one catches my eye. It didn't even received a price yet. They had only just received it via trade-in and were about to take some pictures for the website. After much hesitation and having made a test drive twice, they no longer had to take those sales photos. I was in love and exchanged my trusty Pocket Bike for my current Panther.
Our regular instructor thought I was crazy at first. Until we came to follow another training in the Eiffel with him. Then after half a day he had to secretly admit that this raw 2-cylinder Kawasaki suited me very well.
For the time being, Panthertje can stay now. I still love this bike. Every time I start it and go for a spin, I end up with a big grin. Now that I also have a Suzuki DRZ400 next to it for the off-road work, I am in no rush to exchange Panthertje.
Despite the fact that nowadays I regularly have the opportunity to try other models and brands, I still hope to enjoy this raw agile creature for a good number of years!
1 March 2021
The last part of our vacation had started. After we unfortunately had to say goodbye to Italy, we drove on to Austria. Here our buddy had reserved two rooms at the Hotel Iselsbergerhof in Iselsberg. A real motorcycle hotel. Slightly aged, but clean, hospitable, good breakfast and dinner was simple, homely and delicious. Sure it was a change after such a luxury hotel as we had in Italy, but the price was also considerably lower. Can certainly recommend the hotel. Especially if, like us, you really want to go to the famous Grossglockner.
We arrived at the hotel reasonably on time. So we spent the first afternoon doing a simple round while our buddy arranged a new rear tire at a local motorcycle shop. Top service of the relevant shop in Lienz.
Hubby and I suddenly had the idea that we should find a toboggan run. Fortunately, we found one not very far from the hotel. I thought once was enough, but of course my hubby could not resist going again. The first time up, the inner adolescent came up hard.
After our short drive we arrived back at the hotel and received the keys to our rooms. Simple, but effective. Great space to store your belongings. Maybe the rooms had one drawback. The number of sockets was somewhat limited. Furthermore, fine and the view into the valley was truly phenomenal!
The second day in Austria was actually entirely devoted to the Grossglockner. My husband and I have dreamed of riding this mountain pass for two years. Two years ago, the distance was too great to ride up and down. But to be honest, we wouldn't have been able to enjoy it as much as we did now!
The mountain pass is not cheap in terms of toll and the roads are not very challenging, but it was worth every euro! The roads sloped nicely along the mountain side, but were almost wide enough to make a national road. But the environment? It was breathtaking! Really. You barely passed another corner or you wanted to stop again to take pictures. Rarely have I looked around with such admiration. It was therefore not surprising that we spent more than half of the day on this mountain pass.
The highest point where you could reach via the roads was at an altitude of 2,571 meters. This was the only narrow road of the Grossglockner consisting of cobblestones and bricks where you have to be patient before reaching the highest point. A case of traffic jam to the top. At that point there is a parking lot with a watchtower and a restaurant. In the watchtower you could read about the rich racing history of the mountain pass.
The Grossglockner may have one drawback. We were by no means the only one to enjoy the natural beauty and the famous glacier. In the course of the morning and certainly towards the beginning of the afternoon it became so busy that you could only ride at walking pace or walk over the crowds at the viewpoints. Nevertheless, this mountain pass is at the top of my list of most beautiful mountain passes ever! Not because of the road, but purely because of the environment and nature!
The third day we decided to go to the Nockalmstrasse. A mountain pass with a large number of hairpin bends. Just about 52 of them. Only the road to and back to the hotel was deadly boring. How beautiful Carinthia is in terms of environment, so boring are many of the roads. It is not like in the Dolomites that you are riding from mountain pass to mountain pass. It is less rugged than the Dolomites, so you reach the destination via one main road.
The Nockalmstrasse was a nice mountain pass to ride. Not as beautiful as the Grossglockner, but a bit more challenging. Can I tell you a lot about it? Not really unfortunately. Nice to ride once, but wouldn’t put it on my list a second time. Nevertheless, we also enjoyed fantastic weather conditions here. The sun had just followed us to Austria.
After we got back to the hotel, however, we decided in the evening that we were not going to stay in this area for a fourth day. In retrospect it would probably have been wiser to go to Austria first and then go to Italy. Italy had left such an overwhelming impression in terms of driving challenges that this part of Austria was a bit disappointing. Except of course the Grossglockner. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
So we left home a day earlier than planned. The drive back home went so smoothly that we were back home in the evening.
Conclusion? We had a great holiday. Good food, great hotels, great weather and enjoyed the beautiful views with which we were regularly treated. We are looking back on this holiday with a broad smile.
On to our next adventure!
18 February 2021
After a week of fever due to a minor medical procedure, I am happy to feel so good again that my Panther will probably wake up from its hibernation this coming weekend.
A great moment to look back on our holiday last September.
We continued our week in Italy with a route of 355 kilometers. This one took us via the Finstermuenzpass, the Piller Hoehe, the not so exciting Reschenpass to the beautiful Timmelsjoch.
We initially climbed the Timmelsjoch in foggy conditions. In any case, this made for a new experience for me, since my husband and I had climbed this one before. It didn't make it any less fun. Also in this fog it was a nice challenge and on regular basis an interesting view to see the rock formations looming.
The fog had a small drawback. The temperature had not really risen yet, so it was quite cool.
At the top we stopped at the Top Mountain Motorcycle Museum like so many others. Not realizing it was going to be the last time we would see this beautiful building.
While we were in the restaurant enjoying a good apple strudel with vanilla sauce and coffee, it suddenly cleared up completely within half an hour outside. By the time we decided to warm up the bikes again, we could enjoy clear panoramic views.
We are happy to continue the route. It warmed up quickly and we were back at the hotel after a day of playing.
The day after our buddy felt a little bit unwell. He decided to recover for a day and take it easy in the hotel. So my husband and I went out together. Like all week, we had beautiful weather again. We were swinging until I made a small mistake and hit the bumper of an Italian's car with my front wheel.
The young couple typically came out of the car in Italian hot-tempered style and then found themselves with a mouth full of teeth when I immediately admited that it was indeed my fault, but that I was going to need their help, because I had no claim form at the hand. The damage was not too bad to the bumper and my bike had nothing at all.
Fortunately, they cooled down quickly. Relieved that it was not going to be a fight and at one point we could also laugh about it. Of course this was going to cost me money, but then I should have paid more attention. Together we filled out their claim form which was entirely in Italian. Fortunately, they spoke very well English and we were able to solve it together.
Despite this blonde moment from me, we enjoyed the surroundings for the rest of the day. To be honest, I don't really remember which route this was. It was a small round where we took a coffee stop at a hotel with a scary swimming pool. It was built in such a way that the last part literally hung in a vacuum, with partly a glass bottom.
We also came across three beautiful Porsche cars that were part of a film production.
Via narrow roads we calmly continued our route back to the hotel and decided to relax in the swimming pool. Making some swimming lanes. Something I normally do at home at least twice a week.
It was our last full day in Italy before we would pack everything and head for the second hotel in Austria.
Italy has stolen our hearts when it comes to motorcycling. It was truly beautiful, challenging and varied. We thoroughly enjoyed it. I can highly recommend Hotel Das Mondschein. They have beautiful routes available, everything is taken care of, are very hospitable and the food is fantastic.
Italy. We will be back!
6 February 2021
A small delay because I myself had a severe throat infection with accompanying fever.
Today a different story than our last vacation (that will be continued 😉).
Motorcycling is almost in