Sustainable Travel: A little history of my passion for cycling in photographs

This World Environment Day – 5th June 2018, I set myself the challenge of traveling from Germany to the UK by bike, train, bus and ferry in two days, for only 100 €. For this occasion, I put together some fun pictures reaching all the way from my earliest adventures on my Mum’s handlebar to cycling all around the world in more recent years!

1984_044 - Kopie

Even before I learned to cycle myself, I loved sitting in front and letting my Mum do all the work while watching the world zoom by and entertaining everyone with my singing!

1984_043 - Kopie

Cleaning my bike back in 1984… 🙂 I guess I always had a thing for blue bikes!

1984_070 - Kopie

My brother and me on a family tour, crossing some river

1984_071 - Kopie

My dad, brother and me crossing some river on a family cycling tour

1984_130 - Kopie

See!?! It’s not my fault that I take ridiculous amounts of luggage on train cum bike trips..! I was brought up that way. 🙂 Btw, that’s a trolley my dad built himself!

1985_051 - Kopie

Never let your shoes or trenchcoat deter you from getting on your bike!

1985_052 - Kopie

My brother and me riding on a cloudy day

1986_043_Radtour mit Boffels - Kopie

All set for the weekend tour with luggage, sleeping bag and doll!

1986_045_Radtour mit Boffels - Kopie

If you look carefully, you can see a little girl on the bike behind the luggage!

1986_046_Radtour mit Boffels - Kopie

Someone push up that HAT please… honestly! 😀 😀

All photo credits up to here: My parents.

In the late 80s and early 90s, there is a curious gap of family cycling photos… so the next interesting one I could find is way ahead in something like ’96, when I tried a tandem for the first time with my Mum on the North Sea island of Föhr:

Insel Foehr Tandem (copy).jpg

Flat landscapes but strong head winds: Trying a tandem on the North Sea island of Föhr, around 1996!

After that, there is another complete gap in cycling pictures. For most of those years, the bike was just a regular day-to-day means of transport, but not bigger trips or adventures. Until…

2011_Hyderabad_Shiva Kumar_cycling

Various adventures cycling in and around Hyderabad, India, with my parents and friends from Hyderabad Bicycling Club.

2015 Copenhagen to Sweden - Kopie

On the way from Germany to Sweden in 2015, stopping over in Copenhagen.

2016_Schweden Radtour_004 - Kopie

In 2016, setting off from Vimmerby in Sweden about to cycle 400 km through the beautiful south of Sweden. While there is not much cycling specific infrastructure, the many forest trails and smaller roads with very little traffic make it an ideal place for long distance cycling. Added benefits: many lakes to jump into, loads of berries and fruit to forage, free camping pretty much anywhere, and free toilets even in remote forests!

IMG_20170605_191428410_HDR - Kopie

Summer 2017 in Amsterdam, on the way from Germany to the UK via bike & ferry. Cycling in Holland is really something else – such great cycling infrastructure, and people’s attitude towards cyclists is so accepting and friendly. I really looking forward to the short but beautiful stretch from Den Haag to the Hook van Holland that I’m planning to cycle again this year.

This World Environment Day – 5th June 2018, I set myself the challenge of traveling from Germany to the UK by bike, train, bus and ferry in two days, for only 100 €. My goal with this trip is to show how much fun affordable & environmentally responsible travel in Europe can be.

satellite view 3D.jpg

The route I’m planning to do this 5th & 6th June 2018, by bicycle, train, bus & ferry.

Sustainable Travel: Germany to UK on World Environment Day

This World Environment Day – 5th June 2018 – I’ll demonstrate how to get from the south of Germany to London in a fun, affordable and eco-friendly way!

My goal with this trip is to show how much fun affordable & environmentally responsible travel in Europe can be.

Curious how my passion for cycling began? Let’s take a look down memory lane in this photographic history!

1984_044 - Kopie

IMG_20170605_191428410_HDR - Kopie

Summer 2017 in Amsterdam, on the way from Germany to the UK via bike & ferry. Cycling in Holland is really something else – such great cycling infrastructure, and people’s attitude towards cyclists is so accepting and friendly. I really looking forward to the short but beautiful stretch from Den Haag to the Hook van Holland that I’m planning to cycle again this year.

satellite view 3D.jpg

The route I’m planning to do this 5th & 6th June 2018, by cycling, train, but & ferry. Mind you, in only two days – so no, the bulk of this will not be covered by cycling! Although if I had the time just now, it would sure be fun to do that…!

DAY 1: June 5, 8:20 am

Happy World Environment Day, everyone!

This morning started off in a rush, as usual when seeing off for a long journey and with to much luggage… But I made it, all packed and ready to roll!!

Recognize this garage from the first picture above where I was sitting in my Mum’s bike’s kids seat…?

Despite the rush and luggage, I made the first few kilometres downhill to Bietigheim train station safely, and am now enjoying a sunny train ride to the first stop, Karlsruhe, where I’ll have to change trains from a regional train to a faster IC to Frankfurt.

DAY 1: JUNE 5, 9:05 AM

Enjoying a smooth ride on the IC train. They’re older and slower than the ICE – Inter-City-Express trains, but they’re also cheaper and have dedicated bike storage coaches.

DAY 1: JUNE 5, 11:45 AM

Changing from the train into a Flixbus. It’s a little scary to trust a random coach driver to put your bike on the back of a coach and race across Europe for a few hundred kilometers…

Btw, I’m not a fan of the recent explosion of long-distance discount coach services across Europe. They’re less comfortable, and more importantly cause more emissions and more roads to be built. An ecologically sound transport policy would not allow them to be cheaper than the railway – but in my case I made this concession to the cost of my trip, and the ease of transporting the bike all the way to Den Haag without having to change trains or coaches.

DAY 1: JUNE 5, 13:00 PM

Time for my health-geek packed lunch of veggies in wild herb chutney (in a reused soy joghurt jar) and home-made chocolate superfood laddus!

DAY 1: JUNE 5, 18:30 PM

The coach ride continues along the flat nederlandse highways, and I must admit I’m getting rather bored of this…! I’d much rather be on the bike on such a lovely sunny day than in a freezing airconditioned coach! Well, at least the bike still seems fine in the back, as I confirm at every stop the coach takes 😀

Old tyres reused as planters for urban flower beds.


Cool urban upcycled permaculture traffic islands, I think this was in Düsseldorf

Graffiti painted on the wall of a brick house.


Street art on a house in Holland along the way

DAY 1: JUNE 5, 20:00 PM

Finally, after a long coach ride, arrived in Den Haag and ready to cycle the last few kilometres to my hosts’ house! Where I’m now going to call it a day for today, hopefully to continue the next stage tomorrow morning well rested.

DAY 2: JUNE 6, 08:00 AM

After a refreshing night’s sleep and a wholesome millet porridge, I’m all set for an early morning with a tour around Den Haag with my lovely hosts, dropping off their kids at the daycare and school! What a privilege to get a cycling tour with such experts as my hosts, who are in fact the authors of a very useful & fun book about cycle touring!

Me showing thumbs up with bike and garden in the background.

DAY 2: JUNE 6, 09:00 AM

Starting the ride through the dunes from Den Haag to the ferry port at Hook van Holland! It’s not far at all, but the sun which is already quite strong at this time of day and the wind make it quite strenuous. Also really beautiful though!

IMG_20180606_112610875_HDR.jpg

DAY 2: JUNE 6, 13:00 PM

Stowing the bike safely in the belly of the ferry and settling in at the lounge with my laptop.

WP_20180606_13_01_46_Pro

WP_20180606_15_23_26_Pro

Not the worst view for a day in the office…!

wp_20180606_19_29_44_pro-703973940.jpg

DAY 2: JUNE 6, 20:00 PM (BST)

Disembarking from the ferry at Harwich International Port with two fellow cyclists was exciting but hectic, so not the right time to take pictures… Btw, if you ever find yourself going that way, go left towards the train station just after you come out after immigration, right through the gates with all the red No Entry signs, don’t go straight and don’t expect any sign pointing to the railway station!

Now it’s just one more stop to go to my destination, London!

WP_20180606_20_46_04_ProWP_20180606_20_46_38_Pro

DAY 2: JUNE 6, 22:00 PM (BST)

After a lovely sunset train ride into London, my friend Brook picked me up at Stratford station for two-hour ride through London. If we had known it would take that long we probably would have taken public transport…. The lesson here is: If google maps gives you a time estimate, either double it or ignore it and go with your own hunch of what the distance translates to! I learned this lesson before, and maybe this time I’ll finally remember it..!

Of course we forgot to take a picture then and there at the station, so this is us walking across tower bridge:

Overall, I must say the journey went extremely smooth and was very enjoyable, with nice encounters and conversations for instance with the other cyclists who disembarked from the ferry together with me. Every time I look at the bike with all that luggage I still get a fright, but when I’m on it and even putting it into trains it’s all surprisingly manageable.

Btw, I just want to point out again that this was not a cycling trip in the true sense – the whole idea was to get to the UK with my bike, but I did it in two days only, so obviously the bulk of the distance was covered by trains, bus and ferry.  Nevertheless, the bike is invaluable for those last-mile stretches like to and from stations, and the ride through the dunes from Den Haag to the ferry at Hook van Holland is something not to be missed when visiting Holland for sure.

So don’t hesitate if you’re thinking of doing a travel adventure with your bike in tow – all it takes it the willingness to ride out your front door, and the rest will sort itself out as you go along!

Keep riding 🙂

***

And what were you doing on June 5th, or any other day, to minimise your environmental impact? Leave a comment below!