*being a non-native English speaker, this article may have language mistakes. If you find obviously ones, that should be clarified, please, give me a comment. Many thanks.
This is the fifth of 21 articles about my Empathy Cycling Tour in August 2019. I choose a subject for each day of my journey to share things I learned or insights I gained and that I find worthful to share.
So join me on the 5th day of my trip we will start at the campsite in Amsterdam and arrive in a meditative manner in the Austerlitz, and we will remember how important it is to spend a lot of time outside.
Last night was different than before. It was the first overnight in which I stayed in an “official” accommodation and ended up on a campsite full of tourists. But that was a good thing because the opportunity to have access to sanitary facilities and running water was not really a disadvantage. The downside: I became accustomed to the silence of loneliness during the last days, and now suddenly, I found myself sitting in the middle of a lot of (mostly German) tourists. Music still played loudly from all directions until late at night. I was fortunately tired enough to fall asleep quickly.
The next morning I packed up right away, took the opportunity to talk to a few people and set off again. On the first few miles, it was a bit difficult with the wind and rain; nevertheless, eventually, the day should offer me lots of sunshine.
At the beginning of the day, I remained committed to myself and continued to engage in conversations and listening empathically. It felt a little awkward in the Netherlands than it did in the UK. Now English was generally the second language for my conversation partners, and I couldn’t expect everyone to understand me. Like the bakery saleswoman, with which I had a friendly chat, but she was probably glad afterwards to have survived somehow after all as she was not used to it.
As the day went on, the weather improved, and when I left Amsterdam, it became more and more pleasant. I began to focus only on pedalling and absorbing the scenery. I was captivated by the magic of cycling. Conversations were suddenly a minor matter.
Did you know that Americans spend 90 per cent of the day indoors on average? Do you know your average time? I have to admit that it often may not look much better in my everyday life.
My dad, for his part, has an excellent strategy against that: He has a dog and walks a few kilometres every day. This ensures that he is spending some time outside each day. Even on those days when other commitments may want to hinder him (or when the weather doesn’t look very inviting).
Most of my neighbours use the same strategy. And I?
I mostly ” utilize ” my daughter, for this and like the walks together and its advantages. They provide a space for the best conversations.
The other side of my strategy? My daughter doesn’t need walkies. Instead, it is my challenge to get her outside without coercion.
During my tour, I spent the fifth consecutive day outdoors, and it felt great. Time was inspiring, like on a never-ending stroll. Have you ever had this feeling?
But the advantage of my tour was not only based on being all the time outside so that my turnip was always full of oxygen.
The route from Amsterdam to Utrecht offered me a new experience: A bicycle highway on which something unfamiliar happened to me: I had been overtaken by an older lady. Well, she cheated a bit, as she cycled with an “Electro Fiets”. My revenge was: I kept myself in her slipstream for the next half hour. 🙂
The weather continued to get better, and over time the ride felt absolutely meditative. I was entirely in tune with myself, nature and my bike. The rest of the day was a constant relaxation exercise. The Dutch landscape revealed its most beautiful parts when I passed gorgeous river banks with houseboats. From time to time, I stopped to pick Berries from the numerous blackberry bushes.
I passed idyllic places on cycle paths leading through the countryside. The route was one of my absolute highlights of the whole trip.
Do it again
The trip so far was absolutely fantastic. Not many things have felt that great und felt as fulfilling like the tour. I usually don’t like it too much in cities, but even the time in the hectic town of Utrecht just fascinated me and didn’t stress me out.
Around the train station, it was absolutely chaotic. Once off the cycling track, it was hardly possible to get back on it again. But still, I was calm and only fascinated by the countless masses of cyclists.
My ” cycling meditation ” made a significant part in this. I had no desire to stop cycling and left Utrecht on the same day, although I actually had the opportunity to stay overnight at someone’s house. Instead, I continued at a relaxed pace to Austerlitz, where I, instead of sleeping in bed under a roof, had another night in my tent.
But besides, I actually had stops in two notable localities that I should mention here.
Firstly the Bunk in Utrecht, which, like the Chellington Centre, was a converted church providing services to support the region and people there. The service was fantastic, and the food gets the award for the most sympathetic menu card of my trip.
I have completed the day at the Beauforthuis, which during my visit played the song “Ein bisschen Frieden” by German singer Nicole. The location has an impressive history.
Both locations fitted in well with my travel theme empathy because they were places of solidarity.
What remains is the awareness of the energies and emotions that cycling generates. The continuous exercise on the bike has been absolutely liberating.
The smooth movements created moments of absolute non-thinking. On quiet sections, I focused exclusively on the rhythm of my actions. No negative feeling, no negative thought could have reached me during my cycling meditation.
Summary of the bike ride on day 5 – Highlights
The following section is a short entry about the route I travelled, about further conversations that were not explained in detail in the article and just as a bonus.
- I travelled about 45 miles from Amsterdam through Utrecht to Austerlitz:
- Perhaps the most beautiful part of my journey
- I especially liked the houseboats along the river route
- Utrecht railway station:
- The atmosphere at the train station was unique with its completely different sounds than in other big cities like the rattling of the bicycles and significantly less car noise.
- In front of the station was a whale out of garbage from the ocean called Skyscraper (The Bruges Whale)
- Conversation with Jerret at the Bunk
- He told me that the founder was inspired by the Burning Man event and felt he had to bring community wonders into the world, which led to the idea of the converted church.
- I had my first ride on a bicycle HIGHWAY
- I liked the beauty of North Holland, but, judging the size of the properties there, it was apparently reserved mainly for those who earn particularly well.
- Amazingly, the cycle paths were often broader than many roads in Great Britain.
I could continuously stop all day long to stuff myself with blackberries, and since you don’t talk with your mouth full, I had fewer conversations that day and simply enjoyed most of the time alone and immersed with the environment.