WEEK #77 HOW ARE WE DOING? Post by Guest rider Steven

As many of you know, I have had the pleasure to have some company along the way. Friend and now tour-cycling fanatic Steven was along my side for a period of three months and he has written a short piece about his experiences! The good, the bad and everything in between. I have to say, it takes a lot to get on a bike for an average of 7 hours a day, 6 days a week. Especially when you know the guy in front of you has been doing just that for the last 10 months. Steven deserves a lot of respect for joining me and having to put up with all the things that come along when hopping on a bicycle, that includes my stubbornness.
Steven, thanks for writing this article, it put a smile on my face thinking back to how much we have been through in such a short period of time, quiet amazing when you think of it!
Thanks again and I can’t wait to drink a beer with you back in Amsterdam and reminisce about the journey!

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I, Steven, had the pleasure of biking with Dirk a couple of months in Latin America. After taking a plane to Mexico and travelling south, I joined him in Antigua, Guatemala, where he was helping an NGO (Niños de Guatemala) and was also taking a Spanish course. The biking adventure started a week later, for me that is, Dirk had already cycled more than 17.000 kilometers. To get me, a tour bike virgin, into the right ‘gear’, Dirk told me some interesting stories; about bears and other wild life encounters. What it takes, and how long, to start talking to yourself out loud. Waking up in 10 inches of snow. How to survive a flash-flood in a river, et cetera.

Good times
Anyway, not taking aback and after practicing fervently for a week, my quest riding experience started in July 2014. And excellent it was! In the first place: biking is a great way to appreciate a country. With an average speed between 20 to 25 km/h* you get a really good feel of a country. Another advantage, you can stop and stay wherever and whenever you want. We saw beautiful Grand Canyon like mountain ranges, greener than green jungles, zoo like wildlife and camped at deserted beaches, crystal clear lakes and in colourful volcano craters (of which we were pretty sure they were instinct, most of the times). Next to meeting loads of excellent people one of my favourite non-nature experiences** was crossing the Panama Canal (America Bridge) into Panama City. Really impressive.

And hard times….IMG_6074_Fotor_Collage
But, as I am sure you know, biking is not always fun. First of all: cycling a 100 to 120 kilometers six days a week is a lot. Especially on unpaved roads or when you have to climb, say, three 3000+meter mountains. Or when it’s 45 degrees Celsius, no shade anywhere and you feel sick because of food you shouldn’t have eaten. I remember one time being so tired (and sick) after about 120 km (and 20 more to go) that Dirk literally had to push me towards the next town. Unfortunately this and me lying down about every five kilometers has been (photo) documented rather well. In general biking means that at the end of the day you are tired. You just want to relax and do nothing.

… but 99%RIDE all the way!
And I did exactly that. Not Dirk though. When a bike day is finished, his second ‘job’ starts. Writing newsletters, trying to find interesting new projects, thinking out ways to interest potential new sponsors together, checking finances, and always, always explaining his NGO to everybody who wants to hear about it (and he has an excellent elevator pitch. I would know, I’ve heard it about a million times). Dirk has no rest days. Say we arrive in the late afternoon in a town where a charity project is based. Early next morning Dirk will already be talking to the director and volunteers to see what the project is like, to find out what they need and how he can help provide it. Only after he is satisfied a project is sound, he starts making scripts, and shooting and editing videos/documentaries to show the sponsors what a project is like.

Still human 😉
Reading the above you could mistake Dirk turning into a biking Boedha. He is not of course. I mean, we’ve had more than a few nights where alcoholic beverages were richly consumed. And he can be an annoying bastard sometimes. But the thing is, he really loves what he does. Biking AND doing what he believes in, raising money for the education of underprivileged children. Children that otherwise might, and sadly still may, end up on the streets. I really admire him for following his dreams this way. It’s not that easy as we all know…

So… Think about spending, say about 1% of your (Sinterklaas) and Christmas budget in a slightly different way this year? I know a really good NGO with a strong and enthusiastic organisation! And I can guarantee you, your money will be in good hands. 99%RIDE really does 99% of the work!

Cheers, and Dirk, thanks for the ride. It has been excellent!

Steven

* That is counting up hill, for instance biking through the Andes as well. Although Dirk has about 50 kilograms to carry his average speed on flat terrain is closer to 30 k/h. I just try to stay in his wheel and hope he gets tired quickly. He never does.

** And biking at high speeds through any big city ignoring most of the traffic (lights). Sorry Mum, still alive!

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