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 – http://www.thecyclingfamily.com Music: Eddie Vedder "Rise"; Hang Massive "Once Again"; Eddie Vedder "Society"

 

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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.

Comfort

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.

Comfort
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.

Campers
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.

Weehoo
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. )