Tribute to friendship

In Santa Fe (New Mexico) a friend told us that it is important for her to start a new year with a special activity. It doesn’t matter which activity as long as it is something she enjoys and/or wishes for that year. On 1st of January we did a day trip on our bikes with an old friend and a new friend. Cycling is important to us. Friends are important to us.

On 30th of December one of my oldest and best friends Arnold flew from the Netherlands to New Mexico and joined us for three weeks. We cycled with him from Santa Fe (New Mexico) to El Paso (Texas).

I know Arnold since almost 15 years. We met during our studies at the students cycling club in Utrecht. He is still cycling a lot, especially on the road bike. Winter in the Netherlands is not so much fun. It is gray, rainy and there is hardly any sun. Arnold is working a lot and it seemed a good idea to him to escape this somberness for a couple of weeks. I promised him to help him organise everything. He needed to book his flight, buy camping gear and a bike. Taking a bike on the airplane is possible of course. We have already done that many times before. But it is annoying to take the bike apart, pack it in a huge box, transport that box to the Airport and check it in. Reverse that process when you arrive at your destination. Instead we decided to buy a second hand bike in Santa Fe. Peter and I planned to arrive two weeks earlier in Santa Fe than Arnold. We searched the web and went to different bike shops. Finally we found an almost new Raleigh for $120 which we trusted to be strong enough to master the 350 miles (500 km) to El Paso. Arnold was satisfied with our choice and we had no problems with the bike except one flat tire and a broken screw on the rack which we easily replaced.

Though we have a lot of encounters with different people and make new friends on the road it is special to spend time with an old friend. We didn’t only talk about the past and common friends but created new common experiences and memories.

Arnold is used to work in an office 60 hours a week. Of course cycle touring is something  totally different. Pitching your tent everyday, cold nights, strong winds, being able to buy food only every couple of days, wearing the same clothes without washing them for several days/weeks and not having a shower everyday is something you have to get used to. But Arnold is healthy and strong and he enjoys those little challenges. I don’t have a picture of how dirty Arnold was after seven days on the road and in the tent, but I have one of Ben and Esmé 🙂

It is only sand but it sticks to your skin from all the sweat and sunscreen. Furthermore the sand is all over: in your tent, sleeping bag, pockets, pants and socks. Especially if the wind is blowing very strongly, which happened several times on that route. It is also a challenge to cook and eat without sand blowing into your food.

The highlight of our three weeks together with Arnold were definitely the white sand dunes composed of gypsum crystals in White Sands National Monument, New Mexico.

Beforehand we knew that it is possible to backcountry camp in the dunes. We arrived around 4 pm at the visitor center where we had to get a permit. Then we cycled another 6 miles (10 km) to the parking lot where we left our bikes. We walked for 1 mile (1.5 km) to our camping spot. When we started walking and carrying our panniers (we walked back and forth because we couldn’t carry all the panniers in one time) it got dark already. There was a lot of wind on that day and the sand was flying through the air. The kids were wearing sunglasses to keep the sand out of their eyes. As soon as you enter the dunes it is like a moon landscape and difficult to orientate in the dark. There were little signs that reflected the light of our headlights, that was how we knew where to go. We stayed together and Peter and I were in a good mood. The kids are always doing great when we are in difficult situations. Arnold was ok but it was definitely not his happiest moment. He must have been worried about finding our campsite. I trust Peter. He is a very good navigator and guide and he would let me know if we were in danger. After getting lost two or three times we found our campsite.

Ben and Esmé always play and are in a good mood, no matter how late it is.

Due to the wind it was difficult to pitch the tent. The sand was so soft that the tent pegs kept coming out all the time. With a lot of effort Arnold and I were able to pitch our two tents. Work that normally takes us 15 minutes took us about one hour. That evening was hard, but we were rewarded the next day by beautiful weather and stunning scenery.

We easily made it to El Paso on time.

We had a great time with our friend but it was hard to say goodbye for me. It meant a lot to me that Arnold joined us. Now he knows how my daily life looks like, how great and how hard it can be.

El Paso: On the other side of this fence is Mexico. Border patrol is everywhere here.

Arnold flew back to the Netherlands and we continued into Texas.

We crossed the Chihuahuan Desert. Our tires are a little bit old already and five out of seven tires had punctures due to thorns and thin metal wires. Our record were five punctures on two different tires in one day.

We called this a “killer thorn”. It took me half an hour to make sure no thorns, which could damage our sleeping mattresses, are underneath the tent.

For the last two weeks we stayed with friends in Victoria, Texas. We organized new tires, shoes, clothes and rain gear. From experience we know that it is difficult to find good outdoor clothes and equipment in Mexico. Our friends pamper us and the children with good food, movies, games, a visit to the zoo and a lot more. I think, that we gained several kilos of weight in the last couple of weeks. This spoiling will probably be the last one in a long time. The USA is definitely the most generous country we have visited so far.


One year on the road

We left Cancun, Mexico, by bike on 12th of December 2016. We are on the road already since one year! To celebrate our anniversary we created this 12 minute slideshow which we want to share with you. Enjoy!

Impressions from our first year on the road. We started our cycle tour on 7th of December 2016 in Cancun, Mexico. We stayed five months in Mexico, Belize and Guatemala and then flew to Canada where we stayed for four months. After Canada we entered the USA and cycled through Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. Our adventure is not over yet! To be continued … Adventure cycle touring with two small children – Music: Eddie Vedder "Rise"; Hang Massive "Once Again"; Eddie Vedder "Society"


Taking time

It is a long time ago that we wrote our last blogpost. Sorry for that. We didn’t take time to write. We took time to enjoy the desert in Wyoming, Colorado and Utah.

The landscape, especially the colours and shapes, we saw in the last weeks were amazing. We loved it so much that we took the longest break in the past year. We stayed 2 1/2 weeks in Moab, where we stayed with several new friends that felt like family. 

We experienced a lot of generosity and hospitality. Not only in Moab but all along our route: in Savery, Grand Junction, Telluride, Dolores, Durango, Oxford, Dulce and Abiquiu. In total we have been helped and invited about 40 nights in the last two months, which is amazing and very often has helped us a lot. The days are short and as soon as the sun is setting it gets very cold. We have had some snow on the tent but campfires and hot tubs keep us warm.

We are still doing fine and managing well. All the other cyclists we follow on social media are already further south and in warmer weather.

It was also time to say goodbye to our friends Sjoerd, Hanneke and their son Ramses. They are heading towards California now and we continued into New Mexico.

Ben and Esmé are doing really well in this circumstances. They are wearing many layers of clothes every day but are still playing cheerfully and not getting grumpy at all.

We are now in Abiquiu and will continue to San Cristobal tomorrow. We will stay there and near Santa Fe for the next couple of weeks, catching up with old friends and giving our presentation about cycle touring again. We are on the road now for one year and it is time to share our experiences with those who are interested.

In the Wild West

In all the five countries, we visited so far on this trip, people helped us almost daily. I just hardly ever take pictures of them because I enjoy the moment of meeting them and don’t want to spoil it by taking out my camera.

Also the last weeks in Montana, and now Wyoming, have been amazing. People are so friendly, hospitable and generous. They invite us into their homes, offer us a bed, a shower, we can do our laundry, they share their food with us. Some stop the car to give us energy drinks or food, others sing for us or bake cookies for us, some buy presents for the children and others even give us money to buy good food or visit a museum. But what we probably enjoy most is that people share their stories and lifes with us for a couple of hours.

The route we took since we entered the USA took us mostly east of the Rocky Mountains. (Recently I have difficulties to draw our route on the App I use. Until I solved this problem you have to do without my map.) Due to snow storms and bad weather forecasts we didn’t even go to Yellowstone and Teton National Park. But the Wild West we have seen has ben oh so beautiful! Probably even more enjoyable and special without all the tourists hanging around Old Faithful.

The kids especially enjoy the farming and cowboy culture here.

Everybody we meet seems to hunt and we have been eating all kinds of different animals (elk, bear, fasant, …). Animals and sculls are hanging on walls in almost every house, restaurant and even in shops!

We also have had a, for us Europeans, typical american meal with chicken, hot dog, potato chips, … The kids loved not having to eat their vegetables for one night. 😉

In small villages you still can find saloons …

… and we passed some old mines.

The boys enjoy different types of vehicles to sit on.

The landscape we see every day is wide, empty and stunning.

We are now in Thermopolis, Wyoming, and will enjoy a day off our bikes tomorrow. We will visit the hot springs and the dinosaurs center here before going further south. 

Bye for now!

Fire and snow

The cycling family is not touring alone anymore. Since Calgary we are the cycling families and friends! 

Our friend Geertemarie (green shirt behind Ben) joined us for 3 weeks. Our friends Sjoerd and Hanneke will join us with there 1 1/2 year old son Ramses for the next couple of months.

Currently we impress car drivers and locals with our “bike train”…

… and cute children.

The weather has been perfect. It was hot every day, our raingear was in our panniers almost the whole summer and we swam in lakes most of the days since Calgary. 

Probably most of you heard it in th​e news: parts of Canada and the USA struggled with forest fires this summer. Those fires didn’t affect us until Waterton National Park. There we have been evacuated from a campground and had a lot of smoke for the next two weeks. Our eyes burnt, our lungs hurt, we coughed and all our camping gear smelled as if we sat next to a campfire for a long time. We had to change our route. Instead of staying in the Rocky Mountains we had to go further east to escape the fires and the smoke. 

But suddenly the temperature dropped and it started raining and snowing and we started wearing almost all the clothes we carry. (The good news is that we are now able to carry way more food than before … very important for every touring cyclist!)

Anyway, we enjoy our 5th country …

… where everything is possible …

… and it is getting warmer again. Tomorrow we will start cycling from Billings towards Yellowstone Nationalpark.


The reason why I wanted to go on a long cycle tour like this is because I felt like a spoiled European woman who doesn’t know anything about the real world. Looking at the news, pictures and movies from my cosy couch at home couldn’t convince me otherwise or satisfy my curiosity of the world out there.

We are on the road since eight months and in this time I have been pushing several personal boundaries. Guatemala drew a line, I couldn’t push boundaries anymore there. I feel different now. I grew. Furthermore things change all the time on such a trip. I feel calm when thinking back at our time in Guatemala and even can think of visiting again.

A boundary I have been pushing in all this time and of which I thought of regularly in the last weeks is comfort. My definition of comfort clearly has changed a lot. For me comfort now is to have a warm shower and eat something else than pasta with vegetables.

We have to carry food for seven days sometimes. Then we are not able to carry a lot of fresh veggies and fruits. The first days are ok but in the last few days we would eat only pasta with onions and carrots. 

I also realized that it is not necessary to eat granola with milk or water and milk powder. It is actually also edible with only water.

I have been downsizing my clothes. I carried four shirts but hardly used them. I threw away two of the four. In general I use always the same shirt while cycling. I wear the other one when we are able to do laundry. Sometimes, when both are dirty, I only wear my fleece jumper.

Canada is a wide and empty country. In comparison to Europe people have big houses and yards. While cycling on the Icefields Parkway I realized that also the cars and the campervans are much bigger than in Europe.

When I first saw some of those big campers I thought that they are touring busses but soon I found out that they are actually vans for only one family. Some of them can even expand horizontally while parked.

The names of those vehicles are often conspicuous: Independence, Discovery, Revolution, Majestic, Hurricane, Escape, Cyclone, … They suggest something big and spectacular to me. But then, while cycling on the Icefields Parkway, we found out that it is not so outrageous as I would imagine to travel with such a big vehicle. It’s hard to find a parking spot for them and apparently sites at campings are often too small for this kind of vehicle.

After those impressions I calculated that we have about 200l of space (8 panniers, 2 handlebar bags, 1 small backpack and cargo storage in the Weehoo trailer) and that the total area of our 4 person tent is approximately 5m². I’m happy with these modest numbers. I don’t need more volume to carry more things. Actually, it is accessible and simple to own so little.

I remember, when my sister and I were little, that we were allowed to draw on the walls and add stickers to our beds and children’s room door. We personalized our private space and, for the first time in our life, defined our identities. This is an important step in the life of a child. I feel happy to see the same development in Ben and Esmé even though they have no children’s room at their disposal. They personalize their Weehoo trailers.

The trailers are also very comfortable and both of them regularly slept in it.

But Ben is getting big. He is not a small child anymore. He needs more freedom and wants to express himself and develop new skills. From now on he leaves the comfort of the Weehoo behind and sits on his own brand new and beautiful bike (Norco Storm).

Of course we will not let him cycle all day long by himself. We got sponsored by FollowMe and from now on will use a parental tandem hitch whenever Ben feels tired or doesn’t want to cycle by his own strength. (I will show you pictures of our new setup in our next post. )