PIEPERPAD – getting back to those spuds

Our little ride, providing a guard of honour for Mr van Woerkom. Photo credit: @Greenpeace/Deiman.

Mevrouw T and I had a busy day yesterday. Trips on five different trains, a 50km bike ride, a chat to the CEO of Dutch transport association ANWB and a quick master class in potato-growing.

The event was a reception for those who’d planned, supported and ridden the Pieperpad, ‘the Spud Trail’. Anyone who hasn’t yet read about our epic 1000km cycle ride through Nederland should click here.

We were invited to join the celebrations at organic farm Doelwijk, some 25km from the nearest train station – Barendrecht, near Rotterdam.

Getting there was half the fun. Buying Dutch train tickets from the dispensing machine can be complicated when you’re flustered because your train leaves in two minutes, and we ended up with tickets for two dogs and for the high speed Fyra train to Rotterdam that won’t take bikes.

The Sprinter train got us to Barendrecht, only more slowly. Various conductors agreed that our bikes could travel as honorary dogs, provided we kept them on the leash.

At Barendrecht station we climbed on the dogs bikes and rode on to the Pieperpad event, naturally getting soaked by an unpredicted traditional Dutch downpour.

By the time we arrived it was clearing enough for a happy potato to bounce out to greet us.

Fortunately they didn't ask us to try on the potato suits.

ANWB director Guido van Woerkom was there too and rode around the farmyard with us for a short photo opportunity. The ANWB has supported the Pieperpad by producing the guidebook to riding the route.

It was also great to meet fellow Pieperpad cyclist Danielle van der Zalm, just back from riding the route from south to north.

We rode into headwinds most of the way from Friesland to Zeeland, so we presume Danielle had tailwinds.

Nevertheless, her effort of riding every centimetre of the route over 19 days was a mighty achievement.

For Danielle’s report (in Dutch, sorry, but with great photos) click here.

Then outside in farmer Shaula Tak’s field we enjoyed a lecture from potato scientist Sjefke Allefs on the problems and possibilities of breeding spud varieties which will resist phytophthora. I have to look up that word every time to know how to spell it; ‘potato blight’ is easier.

Shaula shows us how she does it.

We take the humble spud very seriously now.

Finally we rounded it off with a glass of wine and a couple of elegant potato dishes.

Van Gogh's Potato Eaters would have looked less miserable if their spuds had been served this way.

Then it was back on the bikes, back on the trains, and back to explaining the dog tickets to the night train conductors.

Big day!

Vincent Van Gogh's Potato Eaters. Spuds have come a long way since 1885, but there's still work to be done.


Filed under Cycling, Holland

2 responses to “PIEPERPAD – getting back to those spuds

  1. Great story about the dogs! I love those stories about our great railways and the service they provide.

  2. What an unusual trip with your dogs, er, bikes…. Love the friendly potato who greeted you.

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