First and most importantly how are you and your loved ones doing?
We are all well thank you, grateful and happy to still be able to go outside, that’s what keeps the mind in a good place for all of us.
Do you see what is going on in The Netherlands, a good or bad thing compared to what is happening in other countries?
It’s not entirely my place to judge, though I think we reacted somewhat late while the situation already escalated in Italy. We are lucky to have such a wonderful health system and the support of our neighbour country to take off some pressure.
It’s also great how we are able to still go outside, and with that, have this solidarity mind set, I think by giving the citizens that freedom you also make them part of the solution.
I find it hard to judge on who or what is helped with money from the government. I feel that some underrepresented are not supported enough in this crisis and that could be done much better.
Do you think the commercialisation of gravel and bike-packing has taken anything away from simple exploration?
Is it my place to say something about this?
I’m not the inventor of anything. My first reaction was, if bikepacking becomes more accessible to the majority then that’s great, but still it’s not for everyone, not showering for a couple of days, and take every detour that you can..
My first bikepacking experience I added a rack on the back of my road bike plus side panniers. Boy, that was not ideal, if I only knew then what I know now, things would have looked different. I just didn’t know what to look for. Later I made my own framebag and strapped a drybag on my handlebars, and it’s that romance I enjoy, to build your own solutions and rip those apart again.
But perhaps you also refer to big sponsors of events, and it’s hard for me to say something as I don’t understand too much of that world, but I guess the bigger events are made possible with and by them. And I won’t judge on that, as I know organising things takes so much time and costs money and it’s great that you have investors that want to be associated with that relatively small community.
If I would not have found brands that could help me out with even a jacket or new bib, it would look different for me too, is that commercialization?
Then again you will always have the hippies out there doing whatever they love doing, building routes, hosting events, bringing together those who love cycling into the nothing.
You recently finished the PEdAL ED Atlas Mountain Race, could you tell us about that, your thoughts and feelings on such an event?
Every time someone starts this topic, I have a hard time. My mind gets all over the place scrolling through the countless gasping moments, without a doubt one of the best things I’ve ever experienced. I find it hard to describe both the struggles and the wondrous in one piece, and there are never enough words as although we all shared the same route, it’s still a solo experience.
Could you give any advice to someone who is thinking about taking on a long distant event like that for the first time?
I think everyone could potentially do such a thing and any extra preparation would help to have a success story. My prep would have looked very different without Joergen my partner (also @parallelhandbuilt) guiding me. Although we both approached certain things different, Joergens advise on my bike set-up worked out very well, I blindly trusted his knowledge. My advice, go talk with people that did such a race, check out gear set-ups on bikepacking.com, inform yourself, so you can make the choices that are comfortable for you.
With more long distance events appearing do you think races like TCR, Silk Road Mountain Race have taken anything away from the simplicity of exploring by bicycle?
I understood after, or even during the race that it’s a whole different thing. I could have done this route, easy pace, mountain bike and picnic every now and then. But a race will push you to go on in times you struggle, in a race the clock is always ticking, a race is a whole other experience and I happen to enjoy both. I don’t see that it is taking away anything, it creates another version/option of bikepacking. I do see that the fee goes up, and that’s something I struggle with and with me others who don’t have a giant budget to participate in events like this. What that potentially causes is this elite group of ultra racers. But on the other hand, as long as you have a bike, drybags and straps, you’re good to go your own way…
If you were able to explore one country by bike where would it be?
Oh, you got me here, I just opened google maps to have a glance at it all, I want to explore them all by bike.. Perhaps the frozen parts are a little less, but there are solutions for those circumstances too.
Though I have this wish to one day ride the old Silk Road Route from Europe on to Persia and then to the south of China. But if I really try to pin it down to one I choose Turkmenistan. Some places I don’t know anything about. It’s those places you never hear about that make me curious and I guess that’s attractive.
How many cups of tea or coffee have you drunk today?
Since a while I am not drinking coffee anymore and converted to drinking herbal tea, and that were about 4 cups.
Have you been able to get out and ride much?
I love to go away for a long weekend bike-packing with my partner or solo, leave Friday, come back on monday. This has not been possible the past weeks, at least it felt like it was inappropriate to go camping. With the restrictions loosening I will be getting out there again, the conditions are pretty great every weekend. In the meantime short morning or evening rides have to do the trick.
Though I made the solo weekend rides a bit more challenging, by creating a 15 km radius around Rotterdam route.
Tell us a little about your bike and current setup?
I’m currently riding the Sour Purple Haze, for a while I was longing for a gravel bike, as everyone around me went on these magical trips and I so wanted to do that too. With the AMR coming up, that process speeded up, I now desperately needed a bike to actually appear sufficient at the start-line. The guys from SOUR bicycles have been so kind to help me out, as my bike budget is often..uh.. low being a poor artist. Hahaha. It’s been really great working together, and this bike is just a dream. I used it for the race, and currently take it out for long distances on the road and it might feel like I exaggerate my relationship with this bike, but I am in love.
Still with similar set up as the Atlas Mountain Race, though I need to change my cassette to the Dutch flatland conditions. Wheels by Parallel and Teravail tires than the magic BudgetMullet drop-bar SRAM Eagle 1×11 hack by Parallel too. Shortly about my saddle, as I got this question a lot after the race, is a Specialized Power saddle. Both my position on the bike combined with the saddle and shorts from IRIS I have very little irritation. Makes the rides even more enjoyable!
Do you think with the amount of events being cancelled the gravel/bike-packing scene is going to change?
No way, this community loves riding bikes, whether it’s an event or on our own. It requires a bit more of our own planning skills to set out a route, but there are a number of great routes out there to pick from, you can easily do by yourself within your own country. If you feel like a challenge, why not to do an individual time trial..
What is the one positive thing you have been able to take from the current lock down?
Things slowed down, and I like slowing down, as that is not my nature, I happen to run around a lot and that was exactly what you were not supposed to do. Now I was forced to stay home or my studio on my own and experienced that slow is good and calming.
Spending that time at home with my partner, easy mornings, lots of cuddles, made me grateful for what we have and to support each other in whatever situation. It also made me appreciate the small things a lot, the little gestures we often take for granted.
What are you looking forward to doing first when life returns to normal after lock down?
Bikepacking trip with friends!
And All you can Art 5 event, starting 1st of July, this is a collaboration with IBB Curacao and Kunsthal. AYCA5 is a 6 week Summer School and I’m so excited to see people together again, talking about the importance of art in our society, especially now during and after the lockdown.
As well would love to hang out for coffee/beer in a cafe.
Have you learnt any new skills or started any new hobbies/activities?
I got more into drawing, I set a challenge for myself, a drawing a day, but that got a bit hard as the drawings sometimes required more time than was available. But it got me drawing some scenery of the Atlas Mountain Race as well a new perspective on the oval shape. That shape is used in almost all my works, and capturing that with pencil was a calming process.
Also I build a wall for the first time, the first day I had some help with the set-up of the framework, but then continued on my own. This wall is in the artspace, a space for exhibitions, talks, workshops and soon AYCA5. My own studio is in this space too, so I wished to create a wall to separate the two spaces and their activities. I’m quite pleased with the result and also enjoyed the hands-on carpentry.
Thank you for all the questions, honored to be part of the may interviews.