Out of this world

Ever since I was a little boy I’ve been interested in technology: the rise of the internet , photography, video, radio, TV, … were things that always caught my attention. What also made me very curious was communication technology and everything that surrounds that. WalkieTalkies, Radios, satellite phones, GSM and later smartphones could trigger my interest at any given time. Later I added Network radios to the list and last but not list I finally got licensed to use a HAM radio.
Radio in general is a very nice companion when you are travelling, either digital or analog, it’s always nice to meet likeminded people on the air.

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Moulin de Ruy

“Toi et Moi” – Just the two of us.
Yesterday, we dropped our second girl at some kind of Circus/adventure camp so we were very keen to head out to the Ardennes for a little hike today. I had this 17km hike ready to play in my card deck for quite a while and today seemed like the perfect time to do it. Excellent weather, sunny with a touch of clouds and a refreshing wind every once and while.

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Tales from the Seaside

Finally had the time to do another ride away from home. Starting point would be “Oostduinkerke” at the Belgian coast. Those who know me are aware of my dislike for busy beaches and crowded areas. Nevertheless my friend @belgianbiker was there and that was the perfect excuse to get out and bring the family along: kids on the beach, boys on the bike. Everybody happy!
Getting there in traffic jams is part of the deal when going to the beach and the fact that I was in sleep deprivation wasn’t doing me any good. But I was focussed on making the best out of it.

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Podcast – De Doorzetters “Go-Getters”

Not so long ago I got interviewed by “de Pieters“. They are launching a Podcast Series about people with a fair amount of perseverance. I was honoured to be the first one in that series.

“Doorzetters” is a podcast about the art of life.
They speak with professional doers and their link with sports and exercise.
How sports and work guide their lives. They gauge motivations and stamina, effort and sacrifice. They talk about success and setback. About pushing through or letting go…

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TC – Saeftinghe

A very a-typical ride in my perspective. This 120 km ride is about 85% road only. The other 15 % off road is doable with a road bike and in case of doubt you can always found a way around the offroad sections.

I wasn’t in great shape this morning when I left but I decided to leave anyway and see how far we got. The gentle wind pushing me in the back gave me a false feeling of confidence. I paid that in cash on the way back. The winds from Saeftinghe until Antwerp, for about 50km, were very strong, head on and the landscape is unforgivingly flat with nothing to hide against the wind. But hey, part of the game we play. I had to boost myself a couple of times but in the end I made home tired but satisfied.

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Neeltje Jans

Sometimes we need a quick break, a burst of fresh air or some head space. We all have our favourite places we head to, to obtain that feeling. Or just because we like being there. One of my favourite spots is Neeltje Jans in the Netherlands.

Neeltje Jans is an artificial island in the Netherlands in the province of Zeeland, halfway between Noord-Beveland and Schouwen-Duiveland in the Oosterschelde. It was constructed to facilitate the construction of the Oosterscheldedam. After the construction, a fun park with attractions and other various expositions were built on the island, which are now connected to the shore through the dam. Another addition of the island is a nature reserve.

Neeltje Jans on Wikipedia
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MAT – Meet & Greet

Last couple of weeks things really went fast. Thanks to Empe Overland I got introduced to the Ministry of Autonomous Travel. A European network that is a build around the shared interest of Overlanding. It escalated quickly in getting involved and setting up an international Radio Network. So now we have on a regular basis contact with Overlanding enthousiast all over Europe, Spain, France, Germany, Portugal, France, Belgium, …, by just a click of a button! The network is growing fast! It’s really an honour to be part of this and even to help the network’s expansion. It’s also a blessing to meet so many new people in Europe with the same passion for Overlanding and share knowledge and experience with each other.

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Claim back your life

It wasn’t that long ago when I called the ambulance in the middle of the night to get me to the hospital. I had aches from my heart straight to my left arm for several days. You don’t have to be a doctor to know that it is a prequel of a heart attack. While lying in the observation room for a couple of hours I had time enough to contemplate on how I got this far: weighting 108 kilograms, 7 days working weeks, 5 hours or less of sleep a night, bad sleep, unhealthy food, too much food, way too much on my mind. I was even proud on my 2017 record of working 78 days in a row. Father of two wonderful daughters, I was around a lot but not always there…
And there I was, again in the hospital with some clear messages from my body… that’s it, no more! This wasn’t what I had in mind.
I even took a selfie to remember the moment.

So how did I get this far? How the hell did I allow to get this far? I’m a professional photographer & director. I have the coolest job in the world. I created a lovely family and we have tons of fun together in our spare time, over weekends and holidays. I have a bunch of good friends, … so what’s the problem?

The problem is wanting to have it all. The problem is ignoring the mental and physical messages I receive. The problem is that I like to work, I like to go on weekends with the family, I like to travel adventurous, write articles, test new technology, work on my car, plan trips, hikes, help out friends …

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Garmin Overlander

One of the key elements in our way of travelling, “Overlanding”, is the ability to discover remote locations, find adventurous small roads, camp on isolated places and be far away from everybody else. In theory the only thing you need is a good detailed map like a topographic map. This will tell you everything you need to know about a the terrain you are roaming. What kind of surface height, is it a dead end road, … I’m a big fan of using plain old maps, we use them on all our hikes. I’m quite skilled reading and interpreting topographic maps.
Even if you are using digital apps or specialised GPS devices, knowing how to read and interpret a map is key. Most advanced GPS devices also use topographic maps so that’s a skill you won’t waste your time on. If you want to know more on reading and understanding maps head over to the Navigation reading list.

The downside of paper maps is that they become outdated at a certain moment. In Belgium for example some regions haven’t been updated since 1995, a lot has changed since then. Another issue is bringing a whole library if you are travelling wide areas.
And last but not least, if you are wandering around the continent and just go where the wind blows, it’s kind of heard to prepare a set of maps if you have no destination set out.
Luckily we moved over to the digital era and tons of apps with updated digital topographic maps are available. I have some of them on my phone: GAIA GPS, Topo GPS, etc…
But i’m not a big fan of using those apps as main source of navigation. I like to use my phone for music, calling, looking up information of the area we are in, messaging in the car, … and you need constant cellular connection to navigate. Now I know you can download pieces of maps to your device but as mentioned before, if you don’t know where you are heading, that’s no use.

One of my most anticipated buys from the last few years was definitely the Garmin Overlander. I’ve seen similar devices on youtube channels in Australia and the United states but could get anything near that functionality here in Europe.

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GX – Douce Bois

This is the first ride that I created completely with the new Strava Routes function. Underground was set to unpaved and distance to about 100 km.
I was a bit sceptic about it because my earlier experiences weren’t that great. But I gave it a new chance and to be honest I was quite surprised by the result. Overall the route was great, it choose unpaved tracks over obvious shorter paved routes nearby. There were often times I wanted to opt for a little detour to get some extra unpaved pieces but I kept to the track.

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