The 10th International Cycling Film Festival, in Krakow

All bicycle freaks, geeks and other peeps where together in the hall. In the back of this big and filled hall there was a big screen and all eyes were focussed on it. Nobody wanted to miss a thing, a wheel or spoke. The sound of a chain found its way into my ear and the ringing of a bell shook me awake. Yes, I was at the International Cycling Film Festival in Krakow. (List of the films are below)

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This has been the 10th year anniversary of the festival. It started as a small film festival in Herne, Germany. But by time it got bigger, more professional and this reflected on the films. This edition in Krakow had 18 films, from animations, sketches till a lifestyle film about girls with a love for fixed gear bikes. It was my second time at the festival, and it was great to meet so many bike minded people. Last year my film played at the German edition, and we made plans to bring the festival to Groningen too. But let me tell you something about the films first!

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A real joy to the eyes was: “Bendito Machine – Fuel the Machines”. This animation film was a psychedelic reflection on draining the earth by pumping the fossil fuel from it. It was in line with the thoughts many cyclists have, don’t use fuel, but use a bicycle. The film creates an own world, with strange machines, animals and plants. The music adds to this world too, and all in all it was a great see. Another animation was “Velodrool” from Estionia. A portrait on the darker side of bicycle racing.

From Canada came “The Man Who Lived On His Bike”, a short film dedicated to the filmmakers father, a man who already cycled 120.000 km’s and keeps on going. “Good bye bike” was from the same maker, and captures the feeling of passing one bike and getting another. Your first bike is as your first love, special in many kind of ways and always part of you.

Folding bike collective “Rakette Frankfurt” came with a short sketch “Vorsprung durch Forschung” on how they train their people to be the best of the best. On a folding bike… They organize folding bike races, where every contender needs to have a mustache, fake or real. The last film I saw from them made me laugh out loud, and also did this one. Many more films where played, but just 1 made it as the audience favorite and winner of the festival to win the “golden spoke”.

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This was the short Polish film” Baikal Ice Trip” from Paweł Wicher and Kuba Rybicki. A film from two guys cycling lake Baikal, the biggest lake in Seberia. It was an 1000 kilometer adventure trough snow, ice, wind and sometimes a little sunshine. With temperatures plumbing till -30C it was the coldest winter in 50 years the locals said. And the guys had to defy these conditions to make it to the other side! Failure was not an option.

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Next to the films there was also a special guest, Dr Albin. Dr Albin has an bicycle repair van, totally remade to fit every bicycle need. He fixed some bikes for free this edition, and smiles where on the faces of the owners. I can tell you, this man has an great passion for bicycles and his awesome van is the proof. Here you can check his website and get in touch with him if you’d like to know more.

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This was the 10th year of the festival and it will not stop. Better, next year I will host the festival in Groningen, somewhere in the beginning of the year. From the plans we made, it’s going to be great! But before that, there will be the Herne / Germany edition on october 30/31st and contains of two days. One night of adventure films, co-programmed by me (if you make adventure films, get in touch, we’re still searching for entries) called the “Rough Conditions Adventure Film Festival” with films and discussions about the essence of adventure. The next day is the big festival day, with films, talks,  exhibition, critical mass and delicious food from the velo-kitchen. So write down the dates in your agenda, jump on your bike and cycle to Herne!

This is a list of the films played on the festival

~ Tokyo – a bicycle trip (Tokyo/Germany)

~ Swieto Cyklizine – Krakow (Poland)

~ Radlust (Germany)

~ The Man Who LIved On His Bike (Canada)

~ Fixed on Fixed (Australia)

~ Bendito Machine – Fuel the Machines (Spain)

~ Baikal Ice Trip (Poland) Winner Audience Award!

~ De Benen van Amsterdam (Netherlands) 2nd place Audience Award

~ Vorsprung durch Forschung (Germany)

~ Velodrool (Estonia)

~ Le tour du monde en velib (France)

~ Good bye bike (Canada)

~ Historyczny Rajd Warszawa – Radom ( Poland)

~ She Builds (USA)

~ Ride (Germany)

~ The Meeting (Czech Republic)

~ Groen (Netherlands) 3rd place Audience Award

~ Time for Vacation (Estonia)

For more inspiration on adventure, festivals or outdoor stuff, follow me on facebook!

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Without-A-Map: Maastricht to the Mt Blanc and back; pt6 – The end

Just around 500 kilometers to go, then I’m home. Then I made my way to the Mt Blanc and back from maastricht by bicycle. At least, I think it’s around 500 kilometers because I’m traveling without a map, and then you’ll never know how how far things really are.

After a beer-full evening at the International beer festival in Karlsruhe it was time for the last days of cycling. Mannheim was already signed in Karlsruhe so from there I was just following signs. But the signs got less, and at some point it seemed I was following the sun again. And the sun was there. Actually it was the only thing in my face and mind. It was 44 degrees and due to tailwinds it felt like 50. The roads where melting, I was melting and my cheese was melting. Finally after following the sun, asking people and having a look on the compass now and then I got to Mannheim, and made my way to the small town of Worms. The night was hot, but next day it cooled off and the temperature was more endurable.

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I knew if I would follow the Rhine from Worms on it would take me 60 extra kilometers, and I found a map telling me to cut the road and go to Alzey and further to Bingen, where the Rhine was there again, like a snake trough the mountains. It was definitely colder again! When I hit the town of Bingen there was a small party going on. I asked the people what the party was and they told me it was the “Winterfest”… A winterfest in the summer? Yes, since the temperature was just 14 degrees. This was 30 degrees less then the day before!

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Bingen, just 200 kilometers to go. That would be 2 days! Would I really be home before the weekend and could I celebrate the weekend with my friends? I hoped so! But my body thought different. When I woke up the next morning in a wine field just outside Bingen my throat was sore, my body ached and goosebumps appeared after being extremely hot and cold. Shit, I could not use this! I’m was close now! I hauled myself on my bike and cycled 60 kilometers in a trance. Finally in Koblenz I decided it was better to call it a day, search for some cheap accommodation and rest for the evening and night. For some kind of reason it was a hard choice to make. I was scratching my brain for 15 minutes thinking if I should go for a hotel or just tough up and go further. Why was this choice so hard? Why wasn’t i directly thinking about a hotel? First off is the money of course. But it also felt I was chickening out; if things weren’t like they should, I was taking the easy way. And isn’t adventure about finding your borders and stretching them? Seeing what you’re made of? Yes, but your health is the most important and your body has the biggest voice in this. So I decided for the hotel, rest and a good night of sleep.

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The next morning my breakfast was transported into the sink smoothly and with this action also the realization that a extra day in the hotel might be a good idea. I was so close from Maastricht, but also so far away… I spent the day in my bed sleeping. It seemed I overdid it a little, hardly taking brakes from when I started in Chamonix back to the Netherlands. The only full day I rested I was drinking on the International beer festival, and that didn’t do any good for my body. My mind needed it; the socializing, meeting people and having laughs with them, but the body needed different things. Rest mainly. But after a whole day in bed and a kind of ok night I had to leave the hotel. The hotel was booked out, so I had to go on. My stomach was still not good, but a little better then before. I did 90 kilometers from Koblenz to Bonn. Now I was really close and after a good long night in a hostel in Bonn my stomach decided a big breakfast was allowed in. With this I felt confident enough to make it to Maastricht!

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The weather was sure to test me a little, strong headwinds and rain. After beating this with some good techno and hardcore music pumping from my headphones I finally found myself in the Netherlands. Now it was just 35 kilometers to go, and one and a half hours to make it to the train station. My last “good” connection to Groningen went at 20:38. It was one and a half hours of cycling I’ve never done before. Pushing more then ever before, going uphill with a constant 15 km/h and when not going uphill trying be have a constant 25 km/h. But finally I’ve made it to the train station. I looked at the clock, 20:40… The train left… I didn’t care. I’d take the later, less good connection, but I’ve made it! Tired and cold I rolled into the train station but the pride of being there again after all these weeks was radiating from me!

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All these weeks of adventure, meeting so many good people, seeing such beautiful landscapes and doing so many kilometers made me feel great. Now it was time for a nice and long train ride home, where I could relive memories, phone with my mom and sister and just sit and listen to music. Thinking about the fact that it is possible to cycle from Maastricht to the Mt Blanc and back without a map.

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Next up I’ll post picture report, but in the meantime you can like my Facebook page!

Without-a-map: Maastricht – Mt Blanc and back. Pt.5, the Rhine

After crossing five countries without gps, maps or navigation except for my compass, the sun and my own made maps I’ve found the Rhine. My ticket home. Maybe…

I was happy to find the river that is one of the two big rivers in the Netherlands. Surely if I would follow this one I would end up home. But I also noticed the Black forrest in Germany was close by, and fore sure I had to check this out! A detour of three days was made to climb the hills of the Black Forrest with my bike. Now this was traving without a map again! A cool map was made by Mathias, who I met while camping, and a cool place to sleep was explained.

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This was not like the mountains, this was different. Climbing up for an hour, and downhill for 10 minutes. And again, and again. It nearly broke me. I’ve never went uphill screaming full of aggresion. I’d like to call it “constructive aggression”. But damn, after this I was done cycling uphill in 30+C.

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Quickly I found the Rhine back and started following it like described on the map Mathias made for me. 2 days passed where I just followed the Rhine. 2 days of nothing else then a river on 1 side, a gravel path, and trees on the other.

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There I went, on my way to Karlsruhe, where a hostel and an international beerfestival (nice surprise!) would be waiting for me. Finally in Karlsruhe, I found out I’ve been cycling northeast for 100 kilometers, in stead of northwest… The joys of cycling without a map, right?

Although cycling without a map is enjoyable, it teaches you how to be flexible and to go with the flow. I notice I am way more appearent of the surrounding and where I need to go. Detours are part of the day and frustration is a part of making a huge detour. If you want to learn how to deal with frustration, cycle without a map, it might leave you more relaxed then before…

Now I’m getting closer to Maastricht, just 500 kilometers left. At least I think.

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