Sirwin
Sirwin
Steve and Kim in Haarlem

Getting Lost in Haarlem (that’s Haarlem with two “a”s)


In 2018, my husband planned this amazing self-guided bicycle tour to celebrate our retirement. We were taking our recumbent bicycle built for two to Europe where we would take two separate bike tours, back-to-back. One tour started and ended in Amsterdam in The Netherlands. We spent five days riding from town to town there. After that tour finished, we put ourselves, our luggage and our bike on a train for a two-hour train ride to Maastricht, where we consumed our complimentary slice of pie, and promptly left to spend the next eight days riding through Belgium, France, Germany, and a tiny piece of Luxembourg. Our luggage was picked up and transported to our hotel each day. We only had to ride from one hotel to the next (yeah… only).

 

We had never traveled to Europe before, never flown internationally, never mind with a nine-foot-long tandem bicycle packed in two weirdly shaped canvas bags and had never ridden a train as a form of travel from one place to the next. and now we had to do it for the first time with a bicycle. It was daunting, to say the least.

 

I honestly think I thought this trip would just end up being some sort of pipe dream that never materialized. When it was actually booked and we were actually going, my brain suddenly started saying “Oh shit! We are actually going!”, and a deluge of “this could go wrongs” started streaming live through my head.

 

I’m the worrier in our family and my knee-jerk reactions are always dramatically pessimistic. My husband is exactly the opposite. He doesn’t worry. After hearing all my “yah buts” and “what about this” worries, he finally said to me: “If something goes wrong, it’s happened to someone else, and there is a solution for it.” You can’t really argue with that logic. Bicycles and traveling have been done for decades. We were also going to be in the most bicycle-friendly country in the world (which was really cool).

 

My reaction to the unfamiliar and unknown is usually doom and gloom worries. I’m sad that I react that way because if my husband were not around to encourage me, I would miss out on some amazing opportunities. To think I almost let fear keep me from going on that amazing bicycle trip is really sobering. It makes me wonder what else I’ve missed out on, because I let fear of the unknown be the driver of my car.

 

What made me think of this story was, of course, another planned bike trip. We are camping in the northern US right now and are thinking of doing day trip into Canada, riding a bike trail in the US that ends at the Canadian border, but picks up on the other side. To do this we’d have to cross the border on our bicycle, into the unknown. What if we get grief crossing over, or worse yet, crossing back. What about our safety with the influx of people coming across the US border? What if we break down there and can’t get back to the border before it closes (at 8pm which is a ridiculous worry). My husband shrugged off all of this and is currently looking at Google Street View on the other side of the border as I type this.

 

I think fear keeps us from trying new things or retrying things we’ve failed at before (losing weight). I think fear was one reason I kept myself from trying to lose a significant amount of weight for a long time, most likely decades. How's that for a revelation?

 

What if I don’t lose it? What if I fail? What if I follow the diet and don’t lose a single pound? What will people say if I fail? Will I get pitying looks? What if I can’t stand eating diet food for a long period of time? What if my friends and family criticize and critique what I’m doing? What if I lose all my excess weight and then gain it back? The list can go on and on.

 

If you are still thinking about trying to lose some weight but are trying to talk yourself out of it, ask yourself what is the worst thing that can happen. Make a list and read it with a rational mind instead of an emotional mind. Talk to someone who is logical and has a great deal of common sense. It’s nice to have people who are grounded to speak with, and a support system is very helpful on this journey.

 

Did anything on my list of woes happen to us on our European trip? Nope, but soooo many other things did. After several days, the morning joke was “could today be the day we don’t get lost?” By the end of our two tours, getting lost was just part of our day and I shrugged it off, knowing we’d figure out where to go.

 

When riding a bike in the Netherlands, their bicycle route system is a series of numbered junction points. Our daily instructions included written directions from the hotel to the first numbered point, two to three rows of numbers, and written instructions from the last numbered point to the hotel. That is it. It’s like a very out of sequence connect the dots experience. Once you reach a junction point, there will be signs with additional junction points and arrows, telling you which way to go to the next junction point. Signs can be ANYWHERE. On the side of buildings, on posts, on little stone markers on the ground. So, did we miss signs and have to back track? Yes. With three rows of numbered points to find, did I lose track of which number we were looking for? Yes. Did my husband and I disagree about which number we were supposed to be looking for? I’ll let you guess the answer to that (I started carrying a pencil to cross them off ha ha).

 

One morning, while trying to find the first numbered junction point of our route in Haarlem, a lady saw us stopped on the street outside her house and came out in her pajamas and robe to talk to us. Apparently, we had ridden by her kitchen window twice and she figured we were lost and wanted to give us directions. See? Solution from the most unlikely place!

 

She scoffed at our bike (she thought it was an E-bike) but kindly offered to take the picture shown above (where I am 80 pounds heavier than I am today).

 

Solutions are everywhere. I ended up with two extra cycling apps on my cell phone by the end of the trip, one was entirely in Dutch. I also got a hold of some cycling route files of our tour routes in Belgium for live tracking that I could download into our cycling app, which would then show us if we strayed off our route for the tour. The instructions for our second bike tour were very hard to follow. Solutions!

 

Our chain broke so many times on the trip (didn’t see that one coming) and hubby was always able to fix it. We ran into road construction and had two or three detours (never imagined detours). You should have seen us opening up a construction fence with a security camera to get our bike through so we could continue on that route. I was sure we were headed for a Dutch prison. The bolt holding my husband’s seat to the frame broke. A lively conversation with an auto parts store employee using my high school French and Google Translate did not turn into a solution, but a broken bolt, twist tie and some duct tape we had with us, did.

 

One day a young man snatched my phone off our bike, and I chased him down a crowded city street screaming at him trying to get it back (yeah, never dreamed that would happen). I caught up to him (he was walking) and he did hand me back my locked phone (I was taller than him and outweighed him). I was horrified at myself for doing that after the fact and it was over before my husband could react. Yeah, that was the worst (scariest) thing that happened because I reacted like an idiot.

 

I’m not even going to discuss how my husband managed to fit that 9-foot-long bicycle in a tiny elevator (diagonally) to get us up to the train platform….

 

There were always solutions. Sometimes they were oh so easy, sometimes they were scary, and sometimes they were challenging but there were always solutions to the problems we encountered.

 

During the second of our two tours, we met the most wonderful couple from Australia who we still communicate with today and hope to do another bike tour with. We made a wonderful connection, and it is sad to think I would have missed out on all the fun we all had together touring the rest of the way, if I had given in to the “yah buts.”

 

I can honestly say those bicycle tours were the absolute best trip of my lifetime….. so far... and they will end up being the best experiences of my lifetime IF I allow my fears to get in the way of other awesome experiences that await me around the corner.

 

Are your fears of what could happen keeping you from starting your weight loss plan to be healthier and happier? Some things you are concerned about may actually happen. If they do, face them head on and look for a solution, if one is needed. The solution may be to just ignore the issue and continue onward. Expect some things that you did not anticipate will happen and know that you can handle them with confidence. Be brave and believe that this may be one of the most rewarding and beneficial experiences of your life! It’s been one of mine!

 

Getting started with the calorie deficit diet:

This is How We Do It! (publish0x.com)

 

Your relationship with food:

In a Relationship With Food (publish0x.com)

 

 

 

 

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7th Decade Redhead
7th Decade Redhead

I'm 60+ years old female retiree who is finally figuring out why she's been struggling with losing weight her whole life. I want to share the lessons I learned so others can help themselves with their own weight loss struggles earlier in their lives.


60 Pounds by 60 Years
60 Pounds by 60 Years

My final weight loss attempt after 40 years of different diet failures. No shakes, no supplements, no surgery, no crazy food, no purchased meal plans, no fasting. Creating a healthier relationship with food and facing the painful truth about my relationship surrounding food. No BS, just common sense. And it worked.

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