The big sibling grand plan

My life is defined by experiences. The greater the number of experiences, the better it gets. I find traveling is a great way to have the most varied kind of life experiences, learning about other people, and about yourself…

The last few months, I have been learning so much about life in completely different cultures than where I come from. I have met the wildest, most honest, hospitable, angry, sad and satisfied people. Everybody has their own story and way of living, and I have been enjoying being a guest in their home and taking it all in. Their stories have shown me more clearly what really matters in life, and also what I can probably live without.

The one thing I have missed these last 3 months, has been having someone with me to share these stories and experiences with. And that’s why it’s been so amazing to have my brother Beer join me on the road for 2 weeks as we crossed the Pyrenees between Bordeaux and Madrid. I was quite nervous about him joining my adventure, how would that change my rhythm and would we drive eachother crazy…!?

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I have gotten so used to my own company that I wasn’t sure how that would work out; Because there are a few insights you maybe like to keep for yourself, maybe escape criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing when you don’t want to. Now sharing my days, encounters, food, thoughts, insights and energy with another person. But I figured, the best way to start sharing my new way of living with someone, is to do it with family, in this case with my brother Beer.

It’s nice to travel with someone who you don’t have to make exhausting small talk with, but who does understands that at times you get homesick and cranky. Who knows you well enough that you can share your weakest moments and then help each other get through it. And when you’re trying to climb a mountain in 38 degrees, it definitely helps to go through that together!

I will describe two days of our crossing and some of the highs and lows we went through.

We started out strong, full of energy and super excited to cross the mighty Pyrenees. As many of you know I am the world’s greatest map reader, so I was pretty happy Beer was there to navigate the mountain routes with me. We approached the steepest climb in the Pyrenees, known to even hard-core cyclists as a pretty tough one. The route is beautiful, and still full of determination I began the slow, endless hairpins to 1709 meters. I remember singing along to the Stones’ “I can’t get no satisfaction”, as race bikers coming down cheered me on along the route, what a great feeling, so much power and happiness, I was almost exploding from joy when we got to the top!

With renewed energy we started day 2. Incredible how quickly your mood can change on the road… a stiff wind blows in our face as it became misty and then cold. The mountains ahead were going to be a 12% climb for the next 9 kilometres and nothing to interrupt the emptiness of your surroundings. We get hungrier and everything hurts, I don’t feel like talking and we sink into a long and tough day ahead.

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Whether you are having a great day or a tough one, just make sure your wheels are rolling. Happiness is a feeling that comes and goes, but the greatest joys and satisfactions during this trip come from trying to push myself that little further. Then treating yourself on the end of the day with a cold beer and great food tastes that much better! Having done this together has been very special, reliving past memories, laughing, talking about interesting subjects we would never get around to in our regular busy lives back in Amsterdam. We have found biking together a great experience. Well, most of the time.

Next destination will be Valencia, up to the east coast back to France.. because you still deserve a story about France from me. Riding further and further to my end destination; Italia. ( 3500 kilometers are cycled, 2,5 more months to go)


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