The colorful wolf

February 9, 2011

Bleak

Filed under: Cycling,Dutch,Photography,Thoughts — randy @ 17:23
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Bicycle status: bad. The chain is rattling. The brakes are weak. The front brake line has a hole in the protective plastic and is starting to rust. The handlebars are already rusting, which is visible through the gum tape that’s sliding off in some places. In other words, it’s ready for a good old adventure trip!

Well, except for the leak in the tire. After a couple of days I find myself with a flat rear tire, yet I cycled for an hour today and didn’t notice any trouble. It’s just slowly deflating. Fortunately I’ve still got a spare inner tube. Unfortunately that spare inner tube is a used one that I replaced because it was also slowly deflating. I guess it’s time for a new one.

The weather here is getting better. It’s been storming for almost a week non-stop, but finally the sky is clearing up a bit and the wind is slowing down. The sunlight is harsh. Bleak. It’s one of those hard-to-place things that I don’t like about Holland. The sun might be shining at its brightest, yet it doesn’t make you feel warm. It doesn’t make things look warm, even. It limits photographic opportunities and it limits my excitement to go out and take photos. The sun plays no tricks here. In Holland, the colors are always the same.

I tend to prefer warm colors when I take photos, and I usually edit them in if they’re not there in the first place. At least to my own perception this tends to make places look nicer than they really are. In the next two photos, rather than just slapping on a bunch of warm colors, I tried to represent reality a bit better.

Webster says this about ‘bleak’:

1. exposed and barren and often windswept

2. cold, raw

3. a: lacking in warmth, life or kindliness

3. b: not hopeful or encouraging

3. c: severely simple or austere

Without a doubt, all of these definitions apply to the part of Holland that I am living in. If only it could be more colorful.

October 28, 2010

Homesick

Filed under: Cycling,Photography,Spirit of Japan,Thoughts,Travel — randy @ 21:43
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Five months ago I was here. I threw away most of my worldly possessions, sent my remaining stuff home to my parents and cycled 2000 kilometers from Tokyo until the southernmost tip of Japan, carrying with me nothing but the bare necessities. Four side bags of survival items and a backpack of electronics. No time limit, no pre-set course to take. I have never before in my life felt so free, and I’m not sure if I will ever feel that free again. I really miss that time right now.

Two friends I made on the trip, relaxing in the shade

Of course I realize that most of that freedom is just an illusion. For one thing, it’s pretty much impossible to get away from civilization in Japan. A second limitation was money and my visa status, which limited the duration of my trip, although I finished it long before either one became endangered.

A great area to walk around in

Leaving everything behind and going on a bare-necessities trip with no time limit. I’m not sure if I will ever be in a similar opportunity again, but to those of you who will: don’t hesitate! It will be the best experience of your life!

Travel the path!

 

 

September 11, 2010

δΉ…γ—γΆγ‚Š Cycling

Filed under: Cycling,Photography — randy @ 18:26

Today was quite a nice day. It’s been cloudy and raining for a long time now, but today was perfect weather for cycling. Well, except for the wind. And the clouds. And all those annoying old people on bicycles that don’t move out of the way for me even after I ring my bell. But really, it was quite nice.

Lens distortion. Probably.

I found that while on my bicycle I have this peculiar habit of extending my right arm behind my back to feel if my luggage is still there. It’s a habit I picked up while cycling in Japan with a huge amount of stuff behind me, and after driving over bumps I’d check that it didn’t fell off. Doing the same thing while carrying no luggage at all just makes me look silly.

June 27, 2010

Summer in Holland

Filed under: Cycling,Dutch,Photography — randy @ 14:57

Great weather for cycling!

Scenic cycling routes

'The future'

(Former) farms and farm-related land

Lots of cyclists on a day like this

Bunch of cows near my home

Steak, very rare

Mooooo

The cows you usually see in Holland are always white with black spots (or black with white spots, whatever you prefer), but these cows are a bit different. They’re not used for farming. They live in a small natural area close to our house. This ‘natural’ area is being preserved and left alone to let nature run its course.

Good things about cycling in Holland:

  • It’s very flat. There are no hills.
  • The roads are long and straight and easy to cycle on.
  • The nature is very pretty.
  • There’s many roads that lead to the same place, so I can take a different one each time. (Unlike Japan, which usually only has space for one road)

Bad things about cycling in Holland:

  • It’s very flat. There are no hills.
  • The roads are long and straight and very boring.
  • The nature is very pretty, but I grew up here and have seen the same sights a million times already.
  • There’s many roads that lead to the same place. Unfortunately they all look the same, and it doesn’t matter which one I take.

Oh well, at least I got some exercise.

(Go Japan! Hope you can kick some Paraguay ass tonight!)

June 20, 2010

The road

Filed under: Cycling,Photography — randy @ 1:11

I posted this picture before about a month ago, on the day that I took it. Right now I find myself wishing I was on a trip again, cycling to some new place. I’ve never been more happy than the time when I left everything behind and lived a simple life. Well, if you think that bringing an internet connection on a cycling trip as ‘simple life’ then the previous statement is true.

Gotta start cycling again before I get fat.

June 16, 2010

On the move again!

Filed under: Cycling,Spirit of Japan — randy @ 11:19

Yesterday I went drinking (again) with my ex-co-workers. Hanging out with them is a lot of fun, and it’s very easy to get back in the rhythm of relaxing during the day and drinking in the evening and night. The situation is worsened by the world cup football because I am going to great lengths to find places to watch Holland’s matches. As such I am kind of making myself stay near populated areas, so that there’s always a bar or sports pub around where I can watch the match.

My bicycle is back! I picked it up from the bicycle shop today, where it’s been since yesterday. I’ve decided to pay up and let the shop give the gears and the brakes a serious overhaul. It took about a week for the parts to arrive, but yesterday they could finally start working on my bike. When I arrived in the afternoon bikeshopguy was putting the finishing touch to the handlebar, covering it with nice soft gum tape. Pretty much everything gear-related has been replaces, except for the sprockets and chain, which were replaced two months ago before I left. The brakes have been fixed as well. I’ve got two brake levers for the front brakes, and two brake levers for the rear brakes, two levers close to the center and two levers at the front, in ‘race’ position. The race-position levers stopped functioning properly a long time ago and lost their strength completely. Now, with new brake wires installed, the brake levers are at equal strength again. Total cost: 20.000+ yen. For all the money that I spent on maintenance on this bicycle, I could easily have bought another (probably better) bicycle. I considered that during the trip: abandoning or selling my bicycle and then buying another one back in Holland, or not buying another touring bicycle again. At the time I thought that this would be my last touring trip, but after sitting still for a while I find that I can’t quite abandon my precious bicycle yet. πŸ˜€

New tape, new gear lever

This gear lever actually displays which gear I'm in.

Now that my bicycle’s been upgraded I’m ready to go again, and my stay in Atsugi is pretty much finished. I’m heading north towards Tokyo, a sad sad place to be for a camping cyclist. But if I want to go further north then I have to pass Tokyo somehow, so I might as well do it now, in a straight line (more or less). I got a new map-book of the Tokyo area so I’m pretty sure I won’t get lost. So far I’ve gotten by pretty well just by using my compass and the road signs, so the maps are just a bonus. A slightly heavy bonus.

New derailleur

More derailleurery

It feels like a new bicycle! Gears actually shift properly, and I don’t have to coax the lever to select the right gear anymore, nor do I need to change gears three times to change up one gear. Everything is smooth and perfect. I am very happy. Also, the new tape on the handlebars feels mushy mushy and makes me smile every time I touch it.

My bicycle is now hyperdrive-equipped

The rainy season is approaching (as you can see from the photos), which is worrying me a bit. It rained a little bit today, but it was nothing serious. The weather’s been great the past few weeks, and it doesn’t seem like the weather’ll turn (too) sour any time soon. Well, if the situation gets too dire I can always spend a couple of days in the same place and wait for the rain to pass. Back to the simple life!

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