I had been looking for a source of coffee beans since I moved to the Netherlands. I discovered Sip Clip and Go! through the All Seasons Cyclist‘s recommendation. For the past week I have been drinking and enjoying their Crank Set blend. It is the darkest roast of the three they sell. The others are Carbon Free Commuter and Off the Chain. Notice the cool bicycling theme.
The coffee beans are consistently producing a smooth rich cup of coffee. I find myself drinking the coffee long after I usually stop for the day.
There are other very positive things that I like about this company
- Brings together two things I like: Bicycles and Coffee
- Small business that supports other small businesses
- Supports Fair Trade
- Ships to APO’s (Army Post Office)
- Supports Community Causes – Namely Bikes Belong
I think that several of my friends for the holidays will be getting their coffee.
I am not a fast biker. Mostly because I am busy looking around at my environment to take pictures, so I am not concentrating on pace. In the end I get passed regularly. Right now it appears to be by groups of bikers in club uniforms, so I just shrug it off.
I always try to have my GoPro cameras running. Yesterday, I got passed by an an old lady which one of my GoPros decided to film. Usually fog or dirt or battery prevents any good shots.
I added the jet sound, but you can hear in the background comments made by a a person in a biking group (they were just getting ready to start). that I was passing as the old lady passed me.
Sunday mornings have rapidly become my opportunity to explore by bicycle the scenery, the sites and routes in and around the area I live. It has the advantage of less traffic and great lighting for pictures. I get up at first light which right now is at about 0745 and just ride a random 15-20 mile loop. My goal is to stay on the country roads and not the main roads. While the main roads all have bike paths on them around here the scenery is just not as interesting.
All week, we have had 60-70 F weather (13-20 C) with a bit of fog in the morning, so it was a pleasant morning ride. I headed East and South which took me through Aalbeek, Nuth, Klimmen and Hulsberg.
Harvest is in full swing now so the roads and paths are rough with farm debris, which makes for a dirty bike at the end of the ride. Along the ride I saw piles of harvested sugar beets and potatoes. Naturally all over there are the fall colors on the trees.
Along the ride I came across the pictured castle, outside of one of the little farm villages. It looks like it has a couple of towers and a moat with a stone bridge. The castle appears to be converted into a restaurant. Unfortunately pedaling early, I am not able to explore the grounds as it is closed up, but nice to look at from the road.
This area that I live in and ride through is fascinating to me as I run into castles everywhere and is littered with history predating the US. My personal interests lie in I like biking, history and exploring new places combining all three makes its a great ride. If there was coffee involved it would have been a perfect ride.
I guess I will have to come back another day to Castle Rivieren for a coffee!
Last week was pretty tough to get out and about. It basically rained during the day and stopped only at night. The one time I did get out, I got drenched. The weather reminds me a lot of where I grew up, Portland, OR. The gear that I own basically for bicycling is targeted for living in the Oberpfalz of Bavaria where I lived for the last six years, with its three weather options: bitter cold, bitter cold and wet, and warm. Warm for me in Bavaria was 45-50 F weather that feels hot because of acclimation to the bitter cold.
I have been working and ordering new gear that is lighter weight and water resistant, so I can get out and about. I have greatly appreciated the recommendations from “All Seasons Cyclist” in targeting my gear search. When the gear arrives via APO (US Army Post Office), life in the drizzling rain on bicycle I think will get better.
The rain did break on Sunday, so I was able to get out and about. Early Sunday when I was out riding/exploring I found a cute town called Wijnandsrade, Google Translate gives me the idea that it means wine country. On the south end of town is a castle Kasteel Wijnandsrade. The castle is pretty cool. On the grounds is a cafe Chateau Gilbert. I was out too early in the morning to check out the cafe.
On Wednesday, I rode back to Kasteel Wijnandsrade and Chateau Gilbert for more recon. The castle grounds are gorgeous with a castle, moat, several gate house, bronze statues, and ducks. It is quite a find. I have a feeling it will be a nice afternoon destination for Crystal and I to pedal to.
The castle appears to be a family agricultural products business selling locally produced wines, jams, and spices. The cafe appears to use the local products in the menu and it has outdoor seating. There was an older lady working the cafe/store. She didn’t speak a drop of English. (Note to self: I have got to learn Dutch). So I wasn’t able to communicate well. She resorted to speaking French to me. Not sure why, but I smiled and ordered a coffee from her. When it came, the coffee was great! more than espresso by volume but less than a cafe americano. In previous travels to France from past experience I would call it a cafe creme. Yum!
For me this place is great. It is a triple: bicycle destination, indoor/outdoor cafe with great coffee and on a castle grounds.
On Sunday I had both my GoPros on my Bike so I was able to get some good footage of the the castle and on Wednesday I brought my Canon EOS 60D to take pictures.
This is the video I cobbled together. It is a little choppy because of the cobblestones (stabilization did a little of mitigation through iMovie:
Today I ran out of coffee beans for my automatic coffee maker. While living in Germany, I knew where to get good quality coffee beans. In the Netherlands I haven’t a clue. Our local DECA (Commissary) only has ground coffee, so I don’t even have Starbucks off the DECA shelves until I can figure out the places to by good espresso beans.
Actually one of my great motivators to bicycling is finding cafe’s, coffee shops, local coffee bean sources…..
So, I pedaled over to the local grocery store C1000. Not surprisingly it decided to start raining on my ride over.
I am not sure what a C1000 it would be equivalent to in the States. In Germany it is like an Edeka. In essence it is a basic grocery with fresh produce, bakery, in store butcher and simple food goods. They also have some coffee.
The coffee shelf in the store is dominated by pod and instant coffee (blech on both). There is a limited coffee bean selection.
The choices are limited to the C1000 brand and the brand Douwe Egberts. Douwe Egberts is a Dutch brand, I see their advertisements on local Dutch TV and I would equate them to like the German brand Jacobs. Most of the coffee shops I have visited are serving their coffee in the Netherlands.
Douwe Egberts offered three types of beans, Rosso, Dark and Extra Dark. The packaging did not say the mix of Arabica to Robusto just some grading on the roast (pictured on the right on the bottom of each package) and some adjectives to describe the the taste. Not reading dutch I not really sure what to buy, so I bought all three different kinds.
Tomorrow I am going to try the red package “Aroma Rosso” described in Dutch as “Evenwichtig & Rond”, Google translate says that means “Even and Round” more likely I would guess it means balanced and smooth.
I guess my new goal in my rides is to find a good local source for coffee beans.
About a week ago, we received a letter from the local government. The letter was a notification of road closures for a bicycle race. That was the best I could do with my German skills reading Dutch. Crystal and I went down to the local tourist office in Valkenburg to ask about the bike race. We learned it was the UCI Road World Championships and that the time trials would be going through our town on Sunday 16 Sept.
The lady at the tourist office gave us a copy of the route map, thankfully it was in English and Dutch.
Sunday, Crystal and I decided it would be fun to go watch it. I used the route map we got last week to figure out that the bike path leading from our house intersects the course about a 1/2 mile outside of town. We decided that we would go see the women race. Neither of us ever having been to a race we were not sure what to expect. We weren’t sure if the roads would be packed with spectators or what. We even thought maybe that we would get out there and the racers would come by and 15 seconds later its over.
We were presently surprised. We later learned that it was the team time trials. About every four minutes a group of 4-6 women would pedal by with a police escort. There were several vehicles following them with loud speakers. While I couldn’t understand what they were saying it sound like a coach telling the women times and general motivation and directions.
Later I learned that on the Women’s Specialized team were two American women. In fact the only two American women competing, Evelyn Stevens ad Amber Neben. Both were also in the 2012 Olympics. The Specialized team won the event with a time of 46 mm 31.63 ss with and average speed of 41.1 KM/H. The course was 34.2 KM. Unfortunately they were the last team to go by so I did not get any pictures as I was trying the HD Video setting on my Canon Camera. Instead I got about 10 seconds of the women flying by!
It has been a busy week two weeks since my last post.
I have been primarily focused on getting the house settled in. I think we are at about 90% unpacked and about 75% with furniture and stuff in the right places.
Good News. Yesterday we got TV/Internet/Telephone. I am not sure of the equivalent in the States but it all comes in over the telephone lines. It is pretty good. The internet is at least five times faster than what I was able to get in the Oberpfalz, Germany. Television is international with a bunch of English Channels including BBC channels, Discovery, History, CNN and HBO. Surprisingly the Dutch channels are made up of American programming with Dutch subtitles.
Bicycling. I made two trips into a nearby town “Sittard” about five miles away. I think it is one of the larger towns in the area, but I am not sure. The market in the town is pretty incredible. It is jammed packed with all sorts of temporary stands, trailers and the like. I saw butcher stands, flowers, cheese, bakers.. It took up the entire market square and the roads leading to the square radiating 1-2 blocks in each direction. It is kind of like Pike Street Market in Seattle on steroids.
A couple of pictures of the Sittard Market:
I couldn’t help but get hungry and thirsty while I walked through.
The market area is a pedestrian zone with paid parking on the edge of the zone. There was an area in the parking lot for bicycles. It was monitored by an older gentleman who gave me a ticket (like a coat check) and I left my bike. When I cam back I tried to pay but the man said it was free and would not take my money. My best guess from the explanation is that the city pays for this service so the bikes stay out of the crowded market area. Here is a picture:
Yes. If Hank Robinson is reading this that is my ugly anti theft green bicycle in the Sittard Bike Lot.
I did get one more picture. It is the landmark that I use to navigate visually by to get home (until I get a feel of the area).
This is the church in our small town. I can see it for several miles. In the bottom left of the picture is our house. It is the the house with a tower (or so the locals call it). My house is about two blocks away from the church.
My last piece of information… Yesterday I learned that our house lies on a long distance hiking/biking route from the southern part of the NL to the northern part it is about 400KM long. It is called Pieterpad. I think that will be my next major ride. Anyone interested for Early October???
20 August 12
It has been both a busy and uneventful week in the Netherlands for me. It has been crazy hot if we were not at 100 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday we were close. I have to find my weather station and get it set up.
I have spent the better part of the week arranging, unpacking and settling in. On Friday 17 August 12 our remaining items (the heavy boxes of books, pottery and crystal) arrived contained in 4.5 crates. It looks like we have too much of what we don’t need and not enough of what we do need. Crystal and I spent Saturday and Sunday going through the boxes While most of the boxes have been unpacked we still have to move the stuff to where it needs to go. Overall in the settling in process, I suspect I am at about 50% complete.
I haven’t run or biked for a couple of days as it has been too hot and I have been too tired moving boxes and furniture.
I did see on the NW (? maybe I still need a good map) horizon an old windmill I am going to try to get over to take pictures sometime this week.
I still need to check out the museum in town. When the moving company announced they were coming with the remaining crates I had to rearrange my schedule for last week.
Internet access. I am still waiting on our Telephone/TV/Internet to be connected. Since we signed up we have received either a letter or a package from our provider on a near every other day basis. The one letter I have been waiting – the time the tech is arriving – has not. The stuff they are sending looks really cool though. Until the tech arrives, internet access is limited at the house to 1G though iPads and iPhones. It makes it hard loading Facebook, WordPress Blogs…. I have “liked”/”Followed” many Blogs and Facebook postings only to find out that it never reached the server. Maybe this week internet access will stabilize.
Tomorrow is my wife’s Birthday – so I am posting a picture of her and I on top of the Zugspitz from July.
That is all for this week.
We have been in our house for about ten days and it has been a fast and furious ten days. Here is what has been going on around the Bailey house:
1. Driver Licenses. Took the course and passed the exam for a NATO License to drive in the Netherlands. This is one of three licenses we will end up getting. The next is tomorrow when the VW Toureg is registered. When we get the registration we will also get licenses so we can drive the vehicle. Finally once we get our resident’s cards (a four week process) we can then initiate the process for Dutch driver’s licenses. I thought the DMV’s in the States were a pain….
2. Telephone, Internet and Television. Apparently these are all mixed together. The general rule is if you are not a Dutch resident with a telephone number you cannot have telephone, internet and television at your house. This became quite an issue with us severing customer loyalty to T-Mobile and initiating a new relationship with KPN (the national Dutch provider). Of all of the places we went the local KPN office in Sittard (a nearby city) went above and beyond to help us with getting new iPhones, Sims for our iPads and a package for the house that includes telephone, internet and television ( including BBC One and Two and several English Channels). I think our price is more than Germany but in line with what I believe the cost of living is. We are just now waiting for the appointment to connect the house.
a. Fiber Optic. Interestingly the day the packers brought some of our shipment was the day that the Fiber Optic installers were working on our street to provide all houses in the town Fiber. I suspect in about nine months the fiber will be on line for usage. (not sure why it takes so long). In the end it was chaos with ditch diggers and packers swarming the entrance of the house all morning.
3. Packers. 2/3’s of our stuff arrived last Thursday. The other 1/3 is in Antwerp awaiting processing (not sure why – except US, Dutch, NATO bureaucracy slowing things down)
The majority of the furniture, household goods and clothes arrived. We (Crystal and I) have been unpacking boxes like crazy. The Living Room, Dining Room and Master Bedroom are basically laid out furniture wise… Now it is a process of sorting and placing things in their place
4. Crate 14 or the crate that has the coffee making supplies and machine. This crate has not arrived. As it stands I am using a French Press and I realized, I am no good at using my French Press. My skill has been inconsistent at best either making a fair cup to a terrible cup. I think I am going to switch to the mocha machine (stove top Italian style) that Hank Robinson gave me. I used to be able to make a good Americano with it.
5. An inventory of the town as observe in my morning runs and rides:
1 herd of deer across the street
3 Donkeys next door
?? Goats somewhere nearby I have not seen them but I hear them all day long.
2 + 1 Bakeries (one is closed but I think it opens next week after vacation)
1 Grocery Store with local fresh produce
1 Cathedral that has a bell that rings on the 1/2 hour
1 Eis Cafe with great coffee and friendly service.
1 Museum – Going to try and look at it Wednesday
5 Art Galleries – I think the town might be a local Artists Colony.
I went on my first ride to the nearby town of Valkenberg. Just to get an idea of what biking is like here. The terrain is relatively flat with rolling hills. Much easier to pedal in then in the Oberpfalz, Germany with the huge climbs to get to anywhere. The one thing I got in to bicycle traffic. Where I had to pass people. It was kind of nice as the past five years I was basically the only one out and about. Also the cars were very careful of all the bicyclers on the road. I hope that is the rule rather than the aberration for the day.
I guess that is all I have right now. With boxes getting upacked a bit of settling I will have more time to explore.
It has been about a week since I completed the ride. Recently I have been immersed in transitioning details to our new residence in the Netherlands. Internet access has been dodgy at best, so maintaining this blog and other net based communications have been difficult.
I have started to feel like I have mostly recovered from the ride. I am back out jogging in the mornings.
Here are the things I learned:
Google Maps is both hero and villain in my trek. I utilized google maps to plot out my ride as a series of towns that I should check point through instead of printing off maps. This was intended to coincide with the way Germany uses direction markers to indicate which towns you are heading toward as opposed to following street names. It mostly worked. Google Maps failed to synchronize well with the conditions on the ground. Example one of the towns I should have gone through was Bischofsheim as indicated on Google Maps, however the traffic signs noted it as Frankfurt-BF (or something like that). Until I figure out the discrepancy, I did a lot of turning around. It happened a lot on the ride between Seligenstadt to Montabaur.
iPhone Google Maps doesn’t differentiate between paved, gravel and mud roads. When I would get to a point that I was not sure which direction to go as the German traffic signs indicate several possible routes, I would consult iPhone Google Maps. More than once I ended up on sand, gravel or mud as I pedaled. I was truly grateful I did not have a flat tire.
Topography. I need to do a better job of researching the topography. I know in hind sight that most of the hills (small mountains) I climbed were probably avoidable. There were only two points where I think I could not avoid huge climbs – Out of the Rhein and over the Spessarts. Climbing the Spessarts was an issue of limited time to follow the Main river valley from Wuerzburg to Seligenstadt would have added an additional day that I did not have. The climb out of the Rhine to get into the Eifel and then to the NL additionally was unavoidable, but not as significant as the Spessarts.
Gear. I am not sure if I brought too much gear or not enough. I think using BoB (my bike trailer) was the right thing to do. I was much more stable without a lot of gear heaped on my back rack.
Lodging. The lodging met the need except in Montabaur. I stayed at a castle there that doubled as a huge conference/symposium/campus where business and universities would meet for retreats. It was quite nice.
I used booking.com and my criteria was availability and customer rating/review. The other places I stayed ended up being on the edges of town so it was not easy to get into town and explore a bit. I think I will try TripAdvisor next time. They spam my Facebook account enough to deserve a chance.
The Ride itself was great. I am glad I did it. In fact as look back on it, I find it a bit unbelievable that I did.
If I did it again or something along those lines, I think I would have broken the daily distances down to about 50-60 miles. At 60 miles I would have only added one day and at 50 miles it would have added two maybe three.
The advantages of shorter distances would have allowed a little more exploration of the towns I visited, more time to take pictures, take impromptu stops, and take a more leisurely pace. In all truth, I usually had the first forty miles of each day done by 1300.
That is about all I have to say about the trip. Would I do it again? Probably not. Not because it was too long or anything like that, but if I was to plan another 400 mile trip, I would explore somewhere else. Along those lines I am thinking England or France for the next big tour. Anyone up for joining me? You can put some of your gear in BoB.