Sometimes life isn’t all that you would like it to be and when that happens its important to find ways to counteract that. Its at these times i have to remind myself that i am lucky, the ability to travel and feed my habit of exercise addiction and hold back the demons at least for a little while.
Its a worry that when you talk about riding the bike as a potentially spiritual experience that you sound just the tiniest bit pompous but everyone can choose how they manage to escape the world for a little while. Some may do it via movies, music or books i choose to do it on two wheels powered by my legs and the focus of the mind.
Riding in the UK is often not a tranquil experience, angry drivers, potholes and all manner of things to threatening to bring you back with thump…sometime literally. This is not the experience in the Netherlands…the Dutch really know how to do cycling, proper bike lanes, traffic light controls specifically for bikes and a plethora of quiet back roads that take you away to another world. If you happen to find yourself near a canal there are beautiful paths along side but beware the wind, they haven’t found a way to make it always a tailwind…yet.
My first trip to this specific place involved almost all of those things, a trip up the canal from Liege, navigating round the outskirts of Maastricht and finally onto the 2012 World Championship circuit. It was a done deal there and then, the first climb that just stretched away not to steep, just as hard as you wanted to make it and the famous Amstel finish of the Cauberg. The entire loop is lined with bike lanes and is so quiet you’ll see more cyclists than cars, apart from one year when i came across a Truck rally, that was a lot of trucks.
That one anomaly aside its a nice place to be…enough peace and quiet to catch a deer grazing.
This isn’t a place with a cafe stop (at least for me), its not a place that’s always easy to ride, today was an un-shinning (60 miles in the cold, wind and rain as Storm Hannah blew through) its just to me its the epitome of what road cycling means to me…if you get the chance i encourage you to ride it.
i can’t promise it will hold the same magic for you as it does for me but then happy places in general are a very personal affair.