Cycle Miles for Smiles
Smiles on Hearts and Faces
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Reconstructive plastic surgeon and full-time volunteer called to serve the less privileged with free surgeries in low-income countries.
There are almost 20 million deaths per year due to a lack of essential surgeries. And many more millions that do not die but suffer for years in need of surgery.
I am scheduled to join Mercy Ships for 6 weeks in Senegal, CURE hospitals in Ethiopia for 2 weeks, and in Malawi for 6 weeks this year.
Together we can make a difference.
As a fundraiser to enable me to continue with my work, I did a cycle ride around The Netherlands - unaided and camping most nights. All my stuff on the bike!
Monday 8 August 2022 - 170 km
Amsterdam to Harlingen
Bike packed, 26 kg of camping equipment, ready for the 6 days ahead. Excited.
Left my home in Amsterdam at 07:00. Little later than planned but had so much to do still, got to bed after 23:00 and up at 05:15. Albeit with a stuffy head and my muscles a bit achy. The night before I still finished a YouTube video and posted it ... two nights of little sleep. Not too good for a start! But determined.
I was counting on 20 km per hour on average. Soon realized that with the weight on the bike it was unrealistic. What worried me was that my muscle aches got worse like with the flu and I did not feel well at all. After 50 km, my first break - coffee and sandwiches that I packed, took two paracetamols capsules and felt so much better. The wind was sort of from beind and I made good progress. Lunch next to the road at about 14:00 having done more than a 100 km and then the headwind for the next almost 70 km. I arrived at the campsite at Harligen at about 19:00. Nice campsite, De Zeehoeve, friendly people and an open restaurant. Put up the tent, showered, and a meal. In bed round 22:30. In the middle of the night, I was woken up by a visitor. Some creature in the dark was trying to get the fries, that was too much for me, out of my 'trash' bin under my tent flap. I hit on the side of the tent and made some noises that seemed successful. He kept on coming back! At 05:00 he was back yet again, this time determined not to be scarred away. I got up and slowly started packing and breaking up the tent. Had breakfast and made some coffee on my gas stove. Ready to leave.
Tuesday 9 August 2022 - 136 km
Harlingen to Assen
Jelly legs and headwinds.
Left just after 08:00 knowing it would be a headwind for the next 75 km heading north to Lauersoog before I'll make sharp turn south.
And it was tough from the 3 nights of little sleep, the previous day's 170 km and still feeling everything but well. Two hours into the ride and had to take paracetamol again for the body aches. A little worried in the back of my mind keeping an eye on my pulse rate ... if this would be higher than my normal, it would force me to stop. But it seemed OK.
After slow and laboring progress fighting the wind, I reached Lauersoog, the most northern point of my tour and turned south! The wind now from behind! But it was already close to 14:00. I had lunch and back on the bike past Groningen towards Assen. And then I could not find a suitable place for camping ... only one with zero facilities. No water, no ablution blocs, and no electricity. And I needed to charge my phones and stuff! At long last and very tired I checked into an affordable hotel. A good dinner, a very good sleep, and good full breakfast, and ready for the rest.
Wednesday 10 August 2022 - 154 km
Assen to Arnhem
To try and avoid not having a place to overnight I messaged a friend who lives in Arnhem and asked if she would know of a nice camping site. After a while, she messaged me a link back and I was happy that I could cycle straight to my overnight spot!
The wind was from behind, not too hot though I started to lose my appetite (not a good thing doing so many kilometers a day!) Fairly uneventful day but not feeling myself yet. Hard to enjoy the cycling but determined to finish well. In a sense frustrated as I always enjoy these bike rides thoroughly.
And then the disappointment. The campsite reception closed at 19:30. And it was 20:00. Stuck!
And now looking for another spot to overnight. Eventually found another site. Camping Lindenhof, one spot available for that night! No grass to put the tent up, no tree or even a pole to put my bike against, and no food anywhere. Everything closed at 21:00 and by the time I found the spot, it was past closing time. I had some noodles and a cup of soup in my backpack.
Seven hours sleep and up for the next day.
Thursday 11 August 2022 - 103 km
Arnhem to Gemert
Took it easy today. Still sleep-deprived, 34° C, and the almost 30 kg camping stuff on my bike
taking its toll. I was so sleepy round 12 pm decided to stop. In the shade of a tree in a park, I slept
for a solid 45 minutes and then good to go again! Much stronger. Did just over a 100 km.
In retrospect, I realized I was seriously falling behind with fluids though I tried to take in as much
as I could.
My route towards Venlo turned more east down the German border and the headwinds became
At 80 km, however, I turned west at Bergen to cut across the Netherlands on my most southern
Reached my accommodation in the village of Gemert before 20:00. What a pleasant stay. Had a
good meal, really deep good night's rest. Great breakfast and ready for a monster day with the wind
in my back.
Friday 12 August 2022 - 168km
Gemert to Oudorp
Left just after 09:00. It was a scorching day again. I stopped as often as possible, drank my
electrolyte balanced water from the bottles on my bike and bought cold drinks wherever I could.
And 'soft-serve icecreams' wherever I could.
I felt strong and good, and for the first time thought I was enjoying the ride. Made good progress and
having booked a campsite in advance, I had a feeling of contentment. Crossing canals by bridge,
and cycling tunnels passing under the water. Nice and cool!
The kilometers were ticking off and getting more tired late afternoon looking forward arriving at
the campsite. And then I was there. No, they do not accommodate bikes and tents! What? I phoned
and made a reservation! Sorry, but no.
Same old story. At the end of a long day, I had to look for another campsite. This time only 3 km
away and a very nice spot. But no food. There was a grocery store - Albert Heijn - 2.8 km from
there but soon closing at 21:00. I quickly put up the tent, put everything inside, and sped off like a
rocket to catch the shop open and I did. Could buy my evening meal and some oats for breakfast.
Whilst enjoying my meal outside my tent, the owner of the campsite came towards me on his bike
with an ice-cold beer. I appreciated it so much. I was still so hot. For a moment I was so tempted to
drink it but a number of years ago God made it so clear to me not to consume any alcohol. And I
have since not touched it and never will.
Not a good night's sleep, cramping legs and back with the slightest of movement throughout the
night but with courage and determination ready for the next day's home run!
My one cellphone, connected to the internet, was almost flat, but not concerned. I had both my
power banks charged since I arrived at the campsite. Should have ample power to reach home.
Saturday13 August 2022 - 56 km
Oudorp to Rotterdam/Amsterdam
My phone was connected to the one power bank but after 60 minutes it was completely flat and switched off ??? My power bank was empty! No problem, I'll connect to the other one only to realize this one was also running low. How is that possible? Will I have enough power for the internet and Google maps to reach home? I think so. Done 26 km after 90 minutes and started to feel bad again, a little nauseous and really exhausted. I stopped, had some water and thought 'Rotterdam Central Station' should not be too far. There were 95 km left. No! This is not far and I will push through this. Thirty minutes later and I really started feeling rotten and wondered whether it was at all wise to push through. And by now it looked unlikely that my cellphones were going to last and bring me home. I put Rotterdam Central Station on Google Maps and it was 15 km away. And that felt too far!
Absolutely exhausted I entered the train, with a young guy helping me to get my bike on the train.
I arrived home in Amsterdam and unpacked my bike still not feeling well at all. Got on the scale and realized the problem. I weighed 6 kg lighter than leaving home Monday. If I've lost a kilogram of weight from the cycling, it meant I was behind on fluids by at least 5 liters! From the slow but certain falling behind with fluids over the days in the extreme heat. If I tried to push through to Amsterdam I could have ended up in real trouble. I am convinced God caused my power banks not to charge (since home they both have been charging just fine) to convince me to stop as He knows I would push through if I had any chance to succeed.
This reminds me of the words, that we as humans need rest and need to be refreshed, or we might just harm or kill ourselves: Someone said 'Every night I go to bed is a declaration that I am not God'
'He who watches over me, never slumbers or sleeps.' Psalm 121: 4-6