Not just a bicycle!
Growing up in Holland inevitably means learning how to bike. Young taught old done! A bicycle, called fiets in Dutch, is not just a pleasant means of transport. It also enables a human, ecological, healthy and spiritual way of traveling. Two wheels that take us anywhere at human speed. Fast enough to cover distances, slow enough to be in touch with the environment.
History of the Dutch word fiets – le vélo(cipède) in French
Language experts of the University of Gent in Belgium have clarified a 140-year old etymological mystery of the Dutch word fiets.
The modern bicycle, called vélocipède, was built by the Frenchman Pierre Michaux and was exhibited at the World Expo of 1867 in Paris. The Dutch word fiets has German roots. The German word vize, or vice in English, is used for surrogate or second best. Germans say ‘Vize-meister‘ to someone ending second in a race. It is also used in other languages, for instance: vice president. Probably fiets was a simplification of the ‘vice-horse’, so second best to the horse. The words ‘Fitz’ or ‘Fietse’ can still be heard in the German Rhineland and Westphalia (the common German word for bicycle is Fahrrad).
The choice for a Santos Travelmaster
When the idea for Cycloasis was born, I knew I needed a good bicycle; a custom-built bicycle was paramount. I found the Dutch brand Santos. A small team of bikers founded the brand in 1998. A visit to them in Holland made the choice clear, even more so, as I want to support small businesses that deliver quality and take on responsibility.
At Santos they combine absolute passion for biking with innovation and the best technology. This results in top quality bikes that meet the needs of its users. The Santos Travelmaster is not just a bike. James Bowthorpe established a world record with it: 29.065 km around the world in 175 days to raise money for a charity!
I bought the bicycle at A-Bikes, a small bicycle shop in Leuven near Brussels, of the socially engaged owner Roel Moons. A-Bikes is specialised in tandems, recumbent bicycles, electrical bikes, and adapts bikes for people with a handicap. Oh yes, and the orange colour …. that’s the Dutch touch!
My beautiful ‘Tour de France’ journey
Gliding through the French landscape, doing my Tour de France, at my own rhythm, in all freedom, silently, enjoying beautiful nature, and having time to stop, my childhood evergreen: Yves Montand’s ‘a bicyclette’ accompanies me! That song was played on the radio in Holland for the coverage of the Tour de France. You can sing it along!
Quand on partait de bon matin, quand on partait sur les chemins – À bicyclette
Nous étions quelques bons copains, y’avait Fernand, y’avait Firmin
Y’avait Francis et Sébastien et puis Paulette
On était tous amoureux d’elle, on se sentait pousser des ailes – À bicyclette
Sur les petits chemins de terre, on a souvent vécu l’enfer
Pour ne pas mettre pied à terre devant Paulette
Faut dire qu’elle y mettait du coeur, c’était la fille du facteur – À bicyclette
Et depuis qu’elle avait huit ans, elle avait fait en le suivant
Tous les chemins environnants à bicyclette
Quand on approchait la rivière, on déposait dans les fougères
Puis on se roulait dans les champs, faisant naître un bouquet changeant
De sauterelles, de papillons et de rainettes
Quand le soleil à l’horizon profilait sur tous les buissons nos silhouettes
On revenait fourbus, contents, le coeur un peu vague pourtant
De n’être pas un seul instant avec Paulette
Prendre furtivement sa main, oublier un peu les copains – La bicyclette
On se disait C’est pour demain, j’oserai, j’oserai demain
Quand on ira sur les chemins – à bicyclette