Five friends, five bikes, and a handful of countries

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Five UK cyclists on the continent for a multi-country tour

Barry Sandland/TIMB – A cluster of cyclo-tourists from the UK taking advantage of the Easter holiday for a bit of exercise.

“So who has the custom built bike?”

“I do. But it was not custom built for me.”

“We are from Leicester. We took a ferry to France and then to Belgium to Maastricht, then Germany, then Holland, then home. Ten days and 550 miles. Camping all the way.”

“Oh, but it is getting warm now.”

“It wasn’t two nights ago.”

Photographer’s notes: A collection of five mates who met in college and now ride together. No club. No organisation. Just five friends.

I caught these riders yesterday as they stopped for a short respite on their Easter escape. It is not their first. They make these expeditions at least once a year.

When I see cyclists loaded with panniers in Brussels, I am almost certain they will not be Belgian. No comment on Belgian cyclists. Regardless of the country, pannier laden cyclists are almost always from further afield. People rarely have fully loaded bikes in their home town. And Belgium is not that big so… These randonneurs ave targets further than their borders.

I caught the five in Brussels as they were making final preparations for the next step – Leuven. A nice, neat, 40 kilometres away.

There is something so very comfortable about talking to fellow Brits. There is something in the self-deprecating humour, the ability to have a laugh at what has to be. On a bike ride where there will likely be cold days, wet days, too many miles to go or just a day when the bike seems like less of a friend, I always think the Brits have the perspective that can take advantage of simply coping.

 

At least once a year for me. Twice for him.

 

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