Tell us a bit about yourself, and a little bit about some of the rides you’ve done in the past.
If I have to describe myself, I would say, I’m small. Very small. :) If I would ask others how to describe myself, I mostly hear back that “I’m an adventurous soul excited by the places my bike takes me – be they physical places on a map, or explorations of my own thoughts and feelings. With a love for beautiful winding roads and empty gravel tracks, combining tough rides with a lot of joy. A lawyer by profession, but prioritising my cycling to go on trips challenging myself into the extreme. Enjoying long distance riding (e.g. from Amsterdam to Berlin, from Mid- to South Norway) but also craving challenging MTB trips in the mountains.”
Tell us a bit about your bike, and how you load up luggage on a smaller frame?
My favourite bike packing bike is my Specialized Diverge, a gravel bike in size 49. For me my Diverge is the ultimate getaway bike, perfect for riding rough road, thick gravel, and chunky dirt. While being able to loading it down with packs and fenders for the long haul and still keeping me super comfy. My small geometry has always been a challenge as I have super super limited clearance (this will never change). Luckily most of the Restrap bags fit small frames and the Diverge has bolt-ons, which makes things a bit easier. :)
As full set-up for my Specialized Diverge I would use:
2x Fork Bags in the front
1x Bar Bag - Small with food pouch
1x Frame Bag - Small
1x Stem Bag
1x Bolt-On Top Tube bag
1x Saddle Pack
As full set-up for my Specialized Epic (full suspension) I would use:
2x Fork Bags in the front
1x Bar Bag - Small with food pouch
1x Back Pack
What’s your favourite local ride, and what makes it so special?
I call this the “Dutch Dunes Loop” A super scenic ride taking you through the Dutch Dunes and National Park Zuid Kennemerland. It provides you with all the good things our Dutch landscapes have to offer. The sea, wide beaches, beautiful forests, lakes, rolling hills and smooth tarmac combined with gravel tracks and the dunes may well be the prettiest in the Netherlands. If you're lucky you'll see fallow deer, roe deer and foxes, and you can also spot Scottish highland cattle and Konik horses roaming free. See route at Komoot. ( https://www.komoot.com/tour/183363893 )
Tell us about your most epic ride yet…
So many. But I think that’s my Transalp trip in 2020.. A 4 - 6 day bike packing trip crossing the Alps from refugio to refugio (mountain huts) in the snow. Despite the fact that it were MTB trails (including Gold See trail), we rode gravel bikes with bike bags. This was my first experience with Alpine MTB trails and my first ride with my new Specialized Diverge so I was quite nervous. I also have a slight fear of heights. I think 50% of the trip was hike-a-bike, with the bike on my back on narrow snow-covered paths, along super steep ravines. The entire trip was a great adventure and everything I did was constantly out of my comfort zone. It was a big challenge on paths that were barely accessible and actually not suitable for a gravel bike. Yet we did it and the views were to die for. It was epic. In 2021 we did another Transalp, and this time I decided to go on my MTB-bike. ;)
What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned while bikepacking/racing?
The diminutive nature of my bike frame means attaching my bag system took some trial and error. I am 1.56m “tall”. And with my bike being is so small that with size 49 I even have limited space to take the “usual” items, let alone to take the “unusual” ones. So I’ve learned the motto “pack light, travel far” the hard way. Note to self: don’t bring jeans on a Transalp trip through the Alps…
What makes cycling and bikepacking truly great for you?
I have this firm believing that you need to seek out adventure; to make life happen, because it doesn’t always come to you. I know it may sound a little cliched – but exploring new places, getting out on my bike and pushing myself to reach the limits of my endurance in the knowledge that I can still dig deeper and carry on, simply makes me happy. It gives me peace in the chaos that I call my mind ;) The sense of the unknown is what drives me. Getting out there and traveling is an opportunity to take a step back and reset.
What piece of kit could you not live without?
If you have any top tip for a newbie bikepacker, what would it be?
PACK LIGHT!!! Leave the unnecessary stuff. If you “think” you need it, you won’t. But always bring a dry bag and a power bank. And EAT. I guess one other rookie mistakes I made on my first solo bike packing trip from Amsterdam to Berlin. I told myself I couldn't have lunch until I crossed the German border (it wasn't until 200 km (124 miles) that I had my first lunch stop). In retrospect, pretty stupid and I’m still surprised I wasn’t bonking, but it got very very close. A no go.
What’s your go-to riding food and why?
Maurten!! Sugary stuff and traditional sports fuels contain most of the time unnecessary ingredients like colorants, preservatives and often cause issues with my stomach (pushes food back up and gives a lot of acidity). Especially on tough rides where you put a lot of pressure on your midsection. Maurten doesn’t cause issues for me as it’s using hydrogel technology, basically forms a gel in my stomach (it instantly converts to hydrogel in the acidity of the stomach) which enables smooth transportation of the “food” through the stomach to the intestine, giving a large supply of energy that my body can tolerate, without having to eating loads.
What are your plans for this year ahead?
- Riding from London to Holyhead - covering the story of the ‘crazy’ 427km race not seen in the UK for 40 years.
- Veneto Trail in Italy, a self-supported bike trip on dirt roads, trails and secondary paved roads from the Po Valley to the Dolomites.
- riding Amsterdam to Berlin
- Cycling Tenerife…
- and many more…