The Sale of a Lifetime

Standing in the attic for the first time I scan my eyes around a room covered in dust. Light and cold air is streaming in through gaps in broken tiles. Goddamn landlord. His granddad was a lawyer, his father was a lawyer, and he is a lawyer, but he is still too cheap to insulate the place. A row of big brown cardboard boxes lines the perimeter of the room, words scrawled in marker pen giving hints as to what once lay in them. I take a look inside KITCHEN UTENSILS, rummaging through scrunched up paper until I find something heavier. Unwrapping reveals a skinny porcelain lady with some holes in her head for pepper to come out. It had been sitting there for almost 2 years since Zoa was promoted to Belgian headquarters – a free ticket to ship whatever she wanted over the Atlantic, including her two dogs. Somewhere in the preceding months, a flurry of selling and giveaways, the fat porcelain salt shaking mama had found a new home, a pair forever separated.

Clearing out a whole house full of STUFF is not as easy as expected. Sure, the appliances will go quickly. A fridge, TV, washing machine, vacuum, iron or printer will probably be snapped up in a day or two. But then you are still left with the odds and ends that sneak into your home like mice through unseen cracks and crevices. Half finished paint tins, assortments of screws and tools, photo frames, cutlery, utensils, spices, clothes unworn for months and years, electronic hair curlers, house plants, STUFF hanging off hooks and screws, STUFF shoved to the backs of draws and dressers. All of the cheesy knick knacks that you feel obliged to keep, hopefully remembering to bring the right one out of hiding when the gifter comes around. Occasionally you come across a forgotten gem, like a banana guard (a yellow plastic container to prevent a banana from bruising in a lunch bag or knapsack). Unfortunately it had already sold when I realised it would have made a quirky addition to my bike frame.

With an advertisement and photos posted on the web, and our dining room turned into a shopfront, emails and phone calls came flying in. Within the first hour an Irish man had claimed most of the big items over the phone. Without haggling, or many questions, he transferred 500 euros into Zoa’s account, and said he’d pick it up a week or two before we left. What a start! Most preferred to make appointments for viewings, and suddenly I was having a hard time keeping track of all the names, times, and items scrawled over scrap pieces of papers. Unexpectedly, the electronic egg boiler, domed like a futuristic spaceship, was becoming one of the hottest items for sale. Others were cheeky, with requests bordering on outrageous. One man complaining that he had no car, asked if we’d deliver to a nearby village. When I said I didn’t have a car either, he asked if I would bring it on the train. I told them that the train ticket would be worth more than the guitar stand, selling for 3 euros, but he was welcome to get the train here. I never heard back.

There is nothing like selling just about everything you own, to bring a colourful cross-section of society to your doorstep. If there was one thing we learnt, it was that you couldn’t guess who was coming next. An exuberant young Nigerian, was followed by a suit and tie businessman squeezing a bit of bargain hunting into his lunch break. It was surprising on how many occasions I helped load discounted items into the back of Audis and BMW’s. Some people were pleasures to talk to like Casesar, an energetic Argentinian, who recommended tents, rain jackets, towels and clothing for our trip. Or the young American-Italian rock climbing couple, who insisted they pay more than we were asking for the clothing and CD’s they wanted. Then there were those who you couldn’t get out the door quick enough. One sour old French couple was outraged that some plastic tubs photographed with the garden equipment had already sold. Even though they failed to mention any specific items in their email they continually lamented having driven all the way from Brussels for nothing. In an attempt to belittle us the old woman turned her attention to a spray bottle. ‘This is not a very good one’ she sneered, pumping the trigger a few times sending sprays of water into her face. ‘Looks like it’s working pretty well to me’ I replied. They huffed and sighed their way out the door having paid 5 euros for over 50 euros worth of equipment.

For some it seemed like a profession, one in a long line of viewings. A Samoan and his shifty sidekick gave off a bad feeling, clambering their hands over everything they saw, bargaining down every item no matter how ridiculously cheap it was, and asking questions that forced us to leave the room. To one Indian man it seemed like a fully formed addiction. He bought strange combinations of items; a garbage can, spices, electrical cords, a coat rack in the shape of a giraffe, and tools. On the way out the door he spotted my malfunctioning laptop and ancient digital camera in the corner of the room. They aren’t for sale Zoa told him. His ears pricked up, seeming aroused. The next day he was back with my blessing to buy them. I shook his hand on the way out the door, while he warned us of wolves and wild dogs in the Middle East, and the importance of distributing our possessions wisely in the case of pannier theft. Before he reached his car he spotted some plants he liked, asking if he could have some cuttings. I agreed and went inside to get scissors. When I returned he had a handful of greenery and had moved onto ripping into a clump of purple salvias.

Others were more focused on what they wanted and were in and out in under a minute. One man very excited by an outdoor electrical cord decided an appointment wasn’t necessary, surprising Zoa at the doorstep. Having driven 30kms from Brussels, with wife and kid in the car, she told him she was unsure if it was already reserved. When I called him the next day to give him the go ahead, it was as if his car was idling around the corner. All for a 5 euro cord, available at any hardware store.

As the rooms became barer and barer, the dogs seemed to become more and more nervous, wondering if they would be next thing loaded into the back of a car. With the last items donated to charity, we were finally finished. 2 loaded bikes, 1 trailer, 2 dogs, a 5kg box of keepsakes and a porcelain pepper shaking lady.

How NOT to Plan a Cycling Trip

With routes to choose, equipment and bikes to research and hunt down, visas to obtain, and shots to inject, most people agree on one thing. A trans-continental cycling trip is not something to rush into. The general advice is around 12 months of planning and preparation, including test rides. General advice? Ha! I laugh in the face of general advice! Two and a half months would be plenty. To make it more of a challenge we decided to sell just about everything we own, and take Zoa’s two dogs along for the ride. With friends and family unable or unwilling to look after them, Jack and Paco added 60kgs to our luggage in one hefty swoop. No problem. (I didn’t realise at the time that most people aim for a total of 20kgs of luggage.)

With Zoa finishing up her job at jumbo beer company, my life became the life of a secretary. Posting ads, taking phone calls, sending emails , researching, and making coffee in provocative outfits. The more I learnt, the more I realised I didn’t know. It appeared braking was no longer achieved by pedaling backwards. All new discs, hydraulic fluids, levers and cables might be involved. Then there were the extra cogs, whole different gears to worry about. I had already tried to ignore them once before. On a brief stint of volunteering in Yorkshire, England we were provided bikes to make the 5km trip from the house to the farm. To the delight of my fellow volunteers I drew the short straw and was assigned the pink girls bike. But I didn’t care, the sunshine, the breeze on my face was wonderful. What had I been missing all these years? Then there was a hill. Too embarrassed to ask about how gears work I pressed on in high gear. I pulled away from the pack, feeling strong, feeling proud. But my stamina faded before the hill did, and panting furiously, legs aching, I came to a stop near the top, getting off to push the remaining metres. Everyone else overtook me, seeming fine, but I felt like vomiting into the rows of vegetables for the rest of the day.

As far as motivation goes, the end of a rental lease and looming homelessness is a pretty good one. So without hesitation I began the quest to find the replacement for Duster, my childhood bike. Zoa, blessedly, was already equipped with a Cannondale touring bike and a trailer strong enough to hold Jack, all 45kgs of him. Her Cannondale didn’t resemble Duster at all, with dropped handlebars like a racing bike, clip-in pedals, and my old nemesis, gears. Like a toddler being handed the keys to a semi-trailer, I nervously mounted the saddle and took her for a test spin into the countryside. With an aching back I arrived at a series of small hills, and once again I went up in high gear. With shortened breath and the onset of heart attack, it soon became clear I couldn’t keep this up. The genius of the bike’s design had the gear levers at the bottom of the dropped handlebar. I was having a hard enough time balancing in this new, awkward position, without reaching even further down. One attempt at changing gear had me veering wildly to the side, scuttling into a low hedge and landing in a field. Bruised and aching, I vowed to find a different style of bike.

With a lot of research and much persistence, I found my dream bike. Long-tailed, green, and with curves that could make a grown man blush. The ‘Big Dummy’, a new design from US frame manufacturer Surly, is made for heavy or cumbersome loads that would previously have required a bicycle trailer, or a car. Unlike some of the other utility bike options, it is one strong, solid piece of steel, yet still light enough to climb mountain ranges (as the guys from Riding the Spine proved, with their on/off-road adventure from Alaska to South America). Perfect. Unfortunately it seemed to be everyone else’s dream bike too, and countless phone calls and emails around Europe, and the world led to the same answer. Sorry, sold out, a new batch is expected at the end of the year.

So my attention turned to the next best option, a second hand touring bike and another trailer. I became a regular on ebay, Dutch online marketplaces, Belgian classifieds, and UK cycle forums. The best of the bunch was a solid second hand Dutch ‘Koga Miyata’ touring bike on ebay. As good as new, perfect size, unpretentious black frame, leather Brooks saddle and some Ortlieb panniers to go with it. So I was thrilled to see off a last second bidding frenzy to ‘win’ the bike, at a massive discount from its retail price. Lady luck was smiling at me, it was meant to be. At least that’s what I thought until I find out that lady luck was smiling to somebody over my shoulder, and the bike had been sold to someone else while I was organising the payment. Bitch.

Deflated, my new searches continued to hit dead end after dead end. Second hand touring bikes are not a big market it turns out. It seemed I would have to compromise and pay more than I wanted for a new bike with a setup that I wasn’t entirely thrilled with. I test rode a new Santos Travelmaster, another Dutch bike, and it looked like the next best option. Zoa rode it as well, and suddenly realised that the Dutch might know a thing or two more than the Americans about designing a comfortable touring bike. So with time running out we were now in the position of neither of us having bikes for the trip, and also needing to sell one. Increasingly frantic, I returned to my search for the Big Dummy, calling lists of Surly dealers across the world. Same old story. Until, finally, magically, the golden ticket! A bike shop, (ironically in Zoa’s hometown Van Couver, Canada) with 1 left in my size. Possibly the last available in the world.

For Zoa, the search was much easier. As long as she had butterfly handlebars and a shiny brass bell, I had artistic license to build the rest. With the carrying capacity of the Big Dummy and her trailer, a standard touring bike would be fine. I found a Surly ‘Long Haul Trucker’ frame closer to home in Germany. A rock solid, olive green, steel frame well up to the job. Screw it, if we were going to custom build one bike, may as well do two. Many hours of bleary eyed internet research later, second hand and discounted parts were coming in from all of Europe. It was hard to keep track of it all. One Sunday afternoon on a trip up the canal to the pub we met the Chimay Boys, Jan and Pascal. Pascal was flamboyant in his crisp white shirt, tight pants, colourful socks, pointy shoes, spiky hair, and shiny jewellery. Jan was quieter, a gentle giant, dressed in sandals, an old pair of shorts and a t-shirt covered in flecks of paint. A Belgian odd couple. They insisted they introduce us to their good friend ‘Chimay Bleu’, a 12% Abbey beer from near the border of Belgium and France. Many rounds later we had ended up getting to know them and their friend quite well. But then from the depths of my buzzing mind I remembered the back rack! I had a second hand back rack for Zoa ending any minute on ebay that I was hoping to make a last minute bid on. So I drained the last of Chimay, bid my friends adieu, and straight lined it down the canal as quickly as possible. (Ok, it wasn’t quite a straight line, but I did pretty well not to end up in the canal either.) Fumbling with the keys while doing my pee jig, I rushed inside and turned on the computer, taking it into the toilet while it loaded up. Double relief. Still 15 minutes of bidding left. Another victory! I’d almost ‘won’ enough components for 2 whole bikes.

If you have ever set eyes upon a Belgian tourism brochure you could be forgiven for thinking their finest delicacies are beer, fries and chocolate. What they don’t tell you is that across the nation hunched behind keyboards and counters in departments and office buildings, is an army of artisanal bureaucrats serving up the most delicious of Belgian bureaucracy fresh every day. ‘I’m sorry, you cannot possibly receive a pension sir. The records state that you are officially dead’. ‘I’m sorry madame, your passport shows you to be Ms Orböm, not the Ms Ms Orbom on your identity card, we cannot issue you a marriage license.’ So with little time to spare I found myself clambering between the freight trucks and forklifts of Brussels airport being ping ponged from one department to another seeking THE STAMP that would release MY PRECIOUS!!! I studied his face as I handed over the growing mound of paperwork. Bald, creviced wrinkles, and sunken eyes. This one must have been here a while, maybe he can give me THE STAMP. Glancing up, he paused seeming to savour the moment, ‘Only one person has the authority to stamp your form. He will be back in two hours.’ Like a hungry Oliver Twist I naively asked if please sir, can you issue THE STAMP? He stared at me like I was requesting a kidney transplant and returned to his desk.

Before long the day of reckoning had arrived. With our lease finished, it was time to load everything we owned onto our bikes, and pedal into the sunset. But we were still a few sandwiches short of a picnic, 2 bikes short of a cycling trip. Lacking vital components, and some important gear, we gratefully took up the offer from our friends Colleen and Andre to camp in their backyard. It would give us a chance to finish off the bikes, organise our bags and panniers, and would be a fun, easy way to test out our new nylon house.

The following day we were welcomed into the garage of Reinoud, a Belgian cycling enthusiast with a taste for Surly’s. Despite Zoa and Reinoud’s wife being suspicious (‘why on earth would a total stranger offer to build a bike for free?’), here we were with a frame and hopefully enough components to turn it into a bike. I came across Reinoud’s posts on an internet forum, and after emailing back and forth for advice it was clear he knew his stuff. As a child he and his father would take in stray bikes to be stripped down and re-built. We watched as he built Zoa’s bike with skill and a great attention to detail unmatched by most professional bicycle mechanics. A beautiful, shiny, sexy green machine was born. One down, one to go.

From then on a rain cloud settled over us, and the novelty of the pitter pattering on our tent roof soon washed away. We found small moments of entertainment reading the labels inside the tent. ‘WARNING! Death by suffocation is possible… Possibility of falling rocks, tree limbs, lightning strikes, flash floods, avalanches, strong winds… Anchor your tent properly at all times to reduce the risk of loss or injury to the tent or occupants.’ But as time dragged on we were becoming too involved in the lives of the slugs slithering across our tent roof – dwelling too long on which constellations their silhouettes reminded us of, and spending too much time discussing their cultural habits and projected slide paths. Having seen The Shining several times I knew a thing or two about cabin fever, the axes and the bloodshed. Without any firm walls to throw a tennis ball up against, it appeared that tent fever was already well on the way. What had we gotten ourselves into?!? Suddenly the vision of a carefree, wandering life was become a nightmare.

Luckily, before any blood was spilt, or deaths from suffocation, we got the call we were waiting for. My precious had been put together by the local bike shop, and was ready to pick up. After screwing a perfectly sized basket onto the snap deck we strapped Paco in and cycled away, relieved to be finally moving towards brighter horizons. On the first corner the snap deck lived up to its name, snapping off, sending Paco and his basket on a way flight to the ground. Shaken but unfazed, with a few reinforcement straps Paco the Test Pilot was happy to get back in, and the adventure was ready to begin.

Belgium’s Cycling Salamis

Not far from where the pancake plains of Flemish Belgium meet the waffled mountains of the French speaking Ardennes, is the small city of Leuven. A charming city injected with the vibrancy of a large university population. A place of harmony where old buildings stand alongside modern sculptures. Where the rundown building of a giant beer corporation becomes a squat house with live music on Sundays. A place where high end shopping is around the corner from a bakery with no name. It was living here that gave me the chance to study local cycling culture up close. Before long patterns emerged and I found that you could generally categorise cyclists into 4 different groups – Cruisers, Chameleons, Billboards, and Salamis.

Cruisers, bolstered by a large university population, make up the highest percentage of the cycling demographic. Cruisers are the everyday folk who use the bike as a means to an end. Their bikes are generally old and of low value. No great loss if it is stolen, just steal someone else’s in return. The functionality is high with child seats, baskets for groceries, and back racks for storage and carrying friends around town. Of the many uni Cruisers, most are casual and funky young women, due to a large unexplained gender imbalance. They are mainly seen on weekdays, deserting the city on weekends to return to their family hometowns. Workers avoid high parking prices and the tangled mess of one way streets by taking their bike instead. It would not be uncommon to see dressed up parents cycling to work and dropping off up to 3 kids at the school gates en route. In Leuven the elderly are not content to sit around knitting granny squares, and also make up a surprising chunk of Cruisers.

Chameleons are a small but growing group, and can easily take on the appearance of Cruisers or Salamis. A closer look however will reveal that the bicycles are battery assisted. They allow the older, unfit, or lazy to get around town without needing a more expensive and noisier motor powered vehicle.

Billboards are the most serious of cyclists. They go to great lengths to distance themselves from all other parts of society by creating their own dress code. Specialist clip-in shoes, sunglasses, tight fitting shorts, and multi-coloured jerseys are mandatory. The more garish colours, the better. Billboards will save up their money to invest in specialist lightweight parts, in their never-ending quest for more speed. They are most prominent on weekends where they can be seen solo or in groups whizzing along a canal, with one eye always on the odometer. In an attempt to mimic their heroes, their jerseys become advertising space for The Discovery Channel, or the latest sponsors of the Tour de France. Their bikes are never used for functional purposes such as carrying things around town, and their narrow, pizza slicing wheels are never taken off road. The bikes are very expensive and are not left out of sight alongside Cruiser’s bikes, even when locked. Billboards can range from the young to the very old, but 99 times out 100, they will be male.

Salamis are the wannabe Billboards. They have the same dress code as the Billboards, and the same fetish for speed. Like salamis ready to explode they squeeze their hefty bodies into tight outfits, and ignoring the laws of physics, ride the same specialist, lightweight bicycles. Never mind that they are carrying an extra 20 kilograms on their belly, they choose to focus on the extra speed gained by buying a 200 gram lighter carbon fibre seat post.

Before long I had become another Leuven Cruiser, spinning around town on Zoa’s old mountain bike. I would feel rather smitten with my wire basket full of fresh fruit and veg. No motor, no plastic required. Go me. One particularly brilliant summer’s day would see me taking a traffic light crossing too hard and fast, the basket’s zip ties snapping clean off, leaving groceries sprawled all across the road. I salvaged what I could and pushed the rest of the way home trying to ignore the long line-up of cars I had created, my ego as bruised as my fruit. As it turned out the now reinforced wire basket was also a handy size for other endeavors. For a small price, a trip to the local brewery allowed me to swap a crate full of empty bottles for a full one. Like a child taking an extra long stride to crunch an autumn leaf, I would twist the handlebars of my bike to make sure the glass bottles filled with beer jingled over every hump and gutter. The sound may not be the cure for depression, but it’s not a bad start. From there, we would test her limits, on one occasion carrying a bed frame to the next village, on others trialing our 15kg dog Paco in the basket on neighborhood trips and off-road adventures. A born again cyclist, ready to bore the world with tales of happiness.

Duster & the Dutch Renaissance

Cycling across the world with dogs was never something I had put any thought into, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. The last time I had owned a bicycle it was the late 80’s in suburban Australia. A time and a place where it was cool to have multi-coloured plastic pieces on your spokes, to match multi coloured fluroescent t-shirts. For a brief time my pride and joy was an overwhelmingly red ‘Duster’ BMX. Red frame, red grips, and red tyres. No extra fluff like gears, just pedal forward to start and pedal backwards to stop. It would be my preferred way to venture into the neighbourhood, pushing the boundaries of my small world. The place to be, and the number one destination was the ‘milk bar’, where adults bought boring things like milk and newspapers, ignoring the glittering array of lollies selling for 1c each at the front counter. (I say ‘boring things like milk’, but I was furious when my mum revealed to my friends that it was my favourite drink, thinking that coca cola would have been a much cooler answer).

At other times curiosity and courage would see Duster venturing into more exotic, unchartered territory. Occasionally weekend scouting expeditions would take us, beyond our years, into the labrynth of my local high school. Rows of grey portable buildings enclosed rows of grey poles, supporting walkways over grey concrete paths. Every blind corner was full of menace, and I would imagine taller, hairier boys and lumpy chested girls lurking under doorways, cigarettes in hand, waiting to cause mischief. Other more routine days would see us exploring the finer details, the courts and cul-de-sacs of the neighbourhood , sometimes even passing The Blue House.The Blue House, is where it was rumoured a madman lived his days painting everything he saw blue. I knew he would not like such a red bike, and I always sped up, or crossed the road entirely.

But before long Duster, (I like to think by destiny, not neglect), ended up in a dark, musty, tin shed in the back corner of the garden gathering dust. Kept company by the lawnmower, rusting tins of paint and petrol, tools and long legged spiders, it patiently waited for another adventure, listening to my new fascinations. Depending on the season it would hear about epic games of cricket and Aussie rules football being played out in the backyard. Balls would be flying off the brick wall, smashing into my mother’s prized flowers, while I skidded divots into the grass on tight turns and to make lunging catches. Duster endured countless thrilling climaxes, and unlikely last second victories, which I commentated with an unrelenting hyperbole learnt from TV. Playing as both teams by myself, I was in the fortunate position of being able to control the match, making sure that England, India, or Collingwood never won. Occassionally, while snapping a goalbound kick before tackling myself into the shrubs (I like to think of myself now as a precocious Tyler Durdan from Fight Club) the commentary would be cut short by a call to dinner, or worse still, with the ball sailing high over the shrubs, between the trees, and over the 6ft wood paling fence. Still Duster waited.

One day the idea of a friend of mine changed all that. He was an annoying creature called Luke, with a freckle face that asked to be punched, but he had some good computer games, so we hung out a fair bit. He had been given a fancy, odd looking ‘racing’ bike for Christmas, and wanted to test it out by cycling into completely different suburbs of the city. I was suspicious, but it sounded possible. So I went to the back shed, cleared the metal slide door jammed up with lemon scented leaf litter, and forced it open with a godawful squeal. After a preliminary check for spiders, and taking a moment to inhale the delicious smell of petrol deeply into my lungs, I wheeled out trusty red Duster. It was far too small for me now, full of cobwebs, and faded, but it was up for one last adventure. With the sunshine and breeze on our backs we passed through new fields, parks and neighbourhoods with even more milk bars and high schools than I thought possible. Like an ant overlooking a forest of grass, my world view expanded. We pedalled on until we reached a big mound of dirt that looked dangerous enough to be fun. After going up and down a few times at increasingly fast speed, Luke fell over and hurt his knee, so we headed back. The next time I talked of going for a ride, Luke was bored with his bike, so we went back to playing computer games.

From then on Duster became a distant memory, and I became oblivious to bicycles, in the way that I was oblivious to the stockmarket and the latest trends in knitting. They were there, but not worth taking notice of. In my teens I would occasionally flick the TV across to SBS, the foreign TV station, catching a glimpse of the Tour de France. Muscled up guys in tight outfits on bicycles. Not exactly the raunchy French film I was hoping for, so I’d quickly flick back. It wouldn’t be until many years later, on my first foreign foray, that my attention to bicycles would refocus through the window of a train.

Now, travelling as a young Australian is certainly nothing new, and quite frankly bordering on expected. The idea of a ‘gap year’ for travel is as much of a cultural phenomenon as vegemite on toast. It may be a gap year in a well worn path to higher education, serious jobs and mortgages. A chance to indulge in as much travel and debauchery as your paycheck allows. A chance to leave Australia’s tyranny of distance behind , and experience the world from different angles. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted for myself, that was the best part. Perhaps an exclamation mark in a series of commas and full stops.

So it was like a child on the first day of primary school, I stood weighed down equally by a cumbersome, shamefully new backpack, and the fear of the unknown. There I stood in the aisle feeling an untouchable buzz in the air, soaking up everything while focusing on nothing as the train glided into the station. Then I saw it. Rows upon rows of bicycles, tiered story upon story. Thousands upon thousands of bicycles glowing in the late afternoon sun. Amsterdam Centraal train station, bicycle mecca. Stepping out onto the streets showed that just as many bikes were on the road as in parking. Elegant sweeping handlebars, beat up rusting frames, carried young and old down lanes all to themselves. Bikes given the same power as cars, if not more. The only thing more mesmerizing than the bikes, was the women on the bikes. Elegantly dressed Dutch women flying past in all directions, hair, skirts, and scarves blowing in the breeze. Exotic unknown creatures. Like Sirens, they were fatal distractions. Every now and then, the blast of a horn from an onrushing car would snap me out of my stupour and I would quickly jump back onto the kerb. Crazy European drivers on the wrong side of the road, every last one of them.

As chance would have it, 2 years later an Icelandic love story would bring me back to the cycling hub of Europe. By cycling hub, I refer to the giant flat pancake of land that spreads around the North Sea, from Denmark, through the Netherlands, to the Flemish north of Belgium. A land where beaten up bikes rule the city streets, and the countrysides are covered in networks of bike routes. Places where if you are going uphill the chances are you are crossing the bridge of a canal. I found myself living by one of these canals in Leuven, Belgium, with Zoa and her two dogs Jack and Paco. It was here that we planned our cycling adventure and where I would find the successor to Duster’s red throne.

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Want some more Amsterdam cycling inspiration but can’t get there yourself? Check out Amsterdamize…