A Day to be Dutch

I woke up this morning to the insistent sound of song birds over the roofs of Brussels. They're quiet now as I try to catch you up with the story of the last few days. We rode our prologue on Friday accompanied by Hennie Kuiper, and Jan Janssen; both of whom still look incredibly fit on and off the bike. We toured the closed course at a leisurely pace; the boys riding a fleet of fun, stylish Vanmoofs for the day and me often just off the front on the A2B Hybrid bike equipped with the camera mount that Phil Wood fabricated so I could shoot them around the entire circuit. It worked well.

Tour for Kika Tour for Kika

We rode to the start via the bike paths and surface streets of the waking city, but the best part was riding into what I thought was a subway station, taking our bikes down the escalator a hundred feet and then riding under the River Meuse in a underground stream of commuting cyclists. An escalator ride on the other side popped us back to the surface where we rode out of the station building, easy as you please.

After the prologue we attended a wonderful team presentation from the lofty heights of the Deloitte tower (the tallest building in Benelux) and there Hennie Kuiper inspired the team with tales of his Tours. Sadly, I could only pick up a little of the emotional thread as he spoke in Dutch but I could see the weight of his words register on the faces of everyone in attendance. He told them to persevere and good things could happen. Prophetic words for all sports.

Tour for Kika

And then there was football. At 4pm, the entire country stopped to watch the Netherlands play Brazil. We piled into a jam-packed bar (sweat lodge would be a better description) to live and die for ninety minutes in orange. The team got off to a slow start in the first half going down a goal but as you know came roaring back in the second. The place went crazy... I mean totally crazy. HOLLAND, HOLLAND, HOLLAND!!!

Yesterday the team and friends (65 riders in total) rode the 223 kilometres to Brussels. It showered as they crossed into Belgium covering bikes in road grit and making the big group a little nervous. Several riders left some skin on the pavement including a couple of ours, but they wore the damage proudly. Typically, the wet roads spawned a series of flat tires.

Without a driver until Tuesday, I some significant navigational frustrations, so I stayed with the Cycling Dutchman convoy through Belgium, driving Jolmer's big red Mercedes wagon behind Leon in the first support van I wondered if he was actually trying to shake me through Antwerp. Turns out he didn't know I was there for about 30 kilometers. I think I earned my first Tour driving stripe Saturday.

Today I hope we see the yellow arrow signage earlier on the route. Yesterday it didn't appear until the afternoon and it made an enormous difference in following the Tour's labyrinthine track through old towns and newer city streets. If the arrows are out, I can forget about trying to follow my Dutch GPS... she does have a nice voice though.

Out of time now must stop writing to get down to breakfast. It's another 200km to Spa.

Tour for Kika Tour for Kika Tour for Kika Tour for Kika Tour for Kika Tour for Kika

8 Responses to A Day to be Dutch

  1. Siu Ling says:

    This may help you. You can change the language of navigation system in the red Mercedes. If I remember correctly it is under systems somewhere. There should be a manual in the glove compartment. You can ask someone to read it for you since it is Dutch.

    • Siu,

      Thank you. I’ve got 15 Dutch boys who can read that manual for me… I’ll give that a try tomorrow. In one day I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out a little of the meaning beyond left, right, straight.

  2. Sometimes it’s hard enough listening to a GPS voice, but in a foreign language is surely a needless torture? It can only get better. Another set of good images, the heat is on soon and you’ll be shooting at a faster pace. Good Luck Michael.

    Douglas

  3. Great photos. Good luck to the Kika-sters.

  4. Tim says:

    Great stuff, Michael! Keep up the good work and try to perfect your four-wheel drift around those roundabouts!

  5. Suzanne says:

    Thank you so much for the update and the great pictures! I am one of the riders’ (Thijs) girlfriends and I am in the USA right now. It’s nice to read your stories and see the wonderfull pics!

    • Hi Suzanne,

      Thijs is riding well. His heartfelt conversation with the little boy with the same name at the luncheon in Rotterdam was one of the emotional highlights of the trip so far. I’ll try to post something new of him in the next couple of days.

      ::M

      • Suzanne says:

        Thanks for your response! I am sure they all do a fantastic job so far! I am envious you can follow them the whole Tour :)
        Enjoy your time and thanks again!