Featured Riders: Eelco and Joppie (aka: Jake)
Dutch Ultralight bike tourist and sports medicine professional Eelco dropped by to do a few days of hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and (of course) to visit yours truly. Eelco is an avid ultra-distance and Ultralight cyclist in The Netherlands. He came to America last week for a business meeting in Atlanta and decided to extend his trip for a short bike tour to the Smokies. He rented a Trek 2.1 in Roswell (just outside of Atlanta) and cycled his way up through the pretend mountains of North Georgia and into the ‘oh so real’ mountains of North Carolina. In true Ultralight fashion, he is carrying his kit in a small backpack. Eelco is an ultra-distance cyclist in The Netherlands and is quite accustomed to pushing the envelope of riding extreme distances with the barest of essentials. After a few days of hiking in the park with my wife Raquel, Eelco headed back to Atlanta to catch a flight home.
Traveling with Eelco was Joppie, or as he has become known in America, Jake. Jake is a refugee from class 6c of primary school De Leerlingst Haelen (The Netherlands). Jake and Eelco decided to split up here in the Smokies citing “artistic differences”. The tension between the two was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Jake pulled me aside the first night he was here and asked if he could stay for a week then travel with us on our Outer Banks tour. He said the whole trouble started before leaving Europe. Jake had decided the two should cross the Atlantic by stowing away on a cargo ship, but Eelco insisted on flying. Once in Atlanta, Eelco insisted the two would cut costs by renting only one bike. Quite naturally, Jake was very insistent he have his own bike. Eelco would have nothing of it and Jake finally relented. Riding double on a single seated bike caused Jake more embarrassment than he could handle.
By early Saturday morning the two were no longer on speaking terms and neither made eye contact. But oddly enough as Eelco turned the corner of our driveway and disappeared from sight Jake broke down. He was inconsolable. Tears and snot poured from Jake as he began telling us of all the good times he and Eelco had enjoyed; the sunsets, the camp fires, the long conversations about philosophy, religion and women. “You never really know what you have till it’s gone”, cried Jake. He spent the next day crying, eating ice-cream and listening to country and western love ballads. We will try to get him back on the open road as soon as possible to break this miserable funk.