There are Johan and Coralie and their two children, Eliot and Iseult, as well as Flore and her daughter Jeanne. The oldest is 49 years old, the youngest is 10. Along the way, they were joined by family and friends, the time of a visit to Europa Park, a stopover and the discovery of a city or for a few days by bike, roaming with them.
When they were living in Madagascar, Johan and Coralie met a young man who cycled around the world for two years. "He was telling us about his trip, why he went there, what he liked …" recalls Coralie, drawn to the philosophy of travel more than the sporting challenge. “I liked the idea of taking your time. Flore, for her part, dreamed of a different vacation. "I wanted to get around on my own, on foot or by bike. "
Initially, the group dreamed of leaving for Istanbul and returning via the Orient Express. Too long (especially for the first time), too expensive, the holidays change direction. It will be Amsterdam. Jeanne, 16, is not really excited: “Cycling, I don't like that. But it was still a challenge. Besides, Amsterdam attracted me. The departure took place on July 15th.
The group took cycle route 15, which largely follows the Rhine. That's nearly 900 km by bike. "It is much shorter by road, for cars: there are 700 km," says Coralie.
They covered around 60 km daily (with a stage at 90 km) and had very little difference in height. "The biggest we got was 106m and it was in the Netherlands. The group discovered small places around Guebwiller, struggled in the Ruhr area, after Cologne, and were surprised to see that in the Netherlands all two-wheelers (including scooters and motorcycles ) use the cycle paths … In the end, they got little lost and so much the better: "When you take the wrong route by bike, you quickly feel the 4-5 km detour …"
The bikes used were those of their daily life. “We saw the same one as Johan's in a museum in Speyer,” laughs Coralie, who had a Dutch bike he got from Roue Pèt ’. "For the material, we were well helped by Roue Pèt’. They gave us advice on how to adapt our bikes, to learn how to repair… They also lent us equipment, ”emphasizes Flore, whose VTC is 25 years old. “There is a lot of mutual aid in this environment. "
If Iseult, the youngest, was carrying nothing, the others shared two equipment carts and two children's carts. They also had saddlebags. Three tents had to be transported, sleeping bags and mattresses, cooking utensils, a stove, breakfast food and a few clothes. “We took the minimum and we washed every day,” says Flore. Either a sweater, three T-shirts, two cycling outfits, a rain cape, street clothes… "For visits, it was nice to have a little light dress! Jeanne, who had taken everything for a week, discharged herself to her grandparents in Strasbourg. “It's hard to give up. You tell yourself that you are going north for a month, and that you are going to visit pretty towns. Finally, you always wear the same thing. It makes you think about our society of coquetry, ”slips Coralie.
"We weren't very gastronomic," recognizes Coralie. Even if, for the start, they had concocted ratatouille, tabbouleh, savory cakes, a kougelhopf… “Afterwards, we had a sandwich every lunchtime. In the evening, it was pasta, rice, preserves or mashed potatoes … ", says Coralie. “For the races, we did it as quickly and as closely as possible. There was a lot of packaging and it wasn’t always very good quality … ”The small group also became experts in locating tables and benches, which avoided eating on the floor after a day in the saddle.
Going north, they feared the rain, the cold, the wind … Finally, apart from the first two days, wet, they did not suffer too much from the rain. Or only at night. And the tent was drying in the morning. The wind was more of a problem. “When you arrive in the Netherlands and see the wind turbines, you know it will blow,” remembers Flore who, with her companions, suffered from a good breeze in the face on the day of the longest stage. …
They counted three punctures, seven spoke changes but also the breakage of a rear wheel axle and that of a pedal axle. “In the towns crossed, there was often a bicycle equipment store,” says Flore, who, when she broke her shelves, made a phone call to the store in the next town. This made it possible to repair at the end of the stage. For Johan's wheel, it was a trick from Roue Pèt ’, an old cut out inner tube, that saved the band. It served as a tensioner between a bicycle with a cart and Johan's bicycle, who also had a cart. Sporty, he cycled and towed the ensemble (and his wife) for several kilometers, the time to find a workshop. As for the axis of the pedal, the same Johan fixed his foot on the pedal and did 30 km using only the other foot!
They are beautiful like the canals and Dutch villages or the romantic Rhine. “I liked seeing the transitions between the different regions. The architecture, the landscapes … everything changes. On foot, it is very slow and more limited; in the car, everything goes quickly. For discovery, the bike is a good pace, "says Coralie. Flore, she now wants to tour the Netherlands. There were unforgettable meetings but also exchanges between them. The adults took turns with the children when they got tired. “We had conversations with them that we rarely have time to have at home. "Flore abounds:" They surprised us with good will. "