Sunday September 16 turned out to be a most beautiful day. But I didn’t know that for most of the day, sitting inside Avant Garde wondering what to make of the time.
So there I found myself, tablet in hand, sitting aimlessly at the dining table in our little second floor dining room. Before long, Michael, Manon, and Cyrille – my buddies from the previous night’s escapade to Vrijthof – had joined me as well in similar fashion of bored ineptitude.
Gradually, we began mumbling the things that we should do. Before long, and without hesitation once it hit me, I blurbed out “Let’s go for a ride!” Michael, also without hesitation, stood up immediately and went off to his room to get ready. Myself, Cyrille and Manon all proceeded to do the same; no word was given on where we should go, only “Let’s ride” echoing in our thoughts.
Within minutes we had mounted our noble steeds (read: bikes) and were cruising our way down Vijverdalseweg, the street that runs in front of Avant Garde. We decided to cruise around a ways, trying to find streets we haven’t rode on or areas we haven’t seen, but somehow inevitably ended up right back to where we had ridden time before. We headed back near Avant Garde, this time taking a different turn from last, but ended up in a higher-class neighborhood that provided no exit. Three times we found ourselves back in this neighborhood, each time riding from a different route; I’m not entirely sure how we managed to pull that one off.
Finally, Cyrille gave the best advice of the afternoon, insisting that we head back down Vijverdalseweg, passing Avant Garde, but continuing on down the road. And thus we proceeded as such, eventually finding ourselves upon the fringe of Maastricht. We cruised around for a while in this region before finding a rural pathway that lead out into fields of corn and soy; it felt like being among the crops of Missouri! Before long this path came to an (apparent) end, so we stopped and rested for a short, taking in the sight of a distant Maastricht.
I took a short dive into the corn nearby, but quickly realized that Signs made me horrified to be in such places, so I came back out. Looking up into the sky, I noticed the unique sight of a sun dog, a refraction of sunlight among the high-altitude cirrus clouds.
After taking in the views that proved that no camera can do justice to, we set off on a trail that we once thought to be a driveway (a couple of people were going along this trail, so it felt to be more than a driveway). The way was a little rough, which proved a bit difficult for Michael, who’s bike frequently gave out, but spazed back to working time and again. (Just earlier in our ride, Michael had mentioned how wonderful his €10 bike was…).
As the trail wound on, we determined that we wanted to take a route that would lead us further out from Maastricht, somewhere way out of way and into territory none of us had seen before. So our journey continued on, through the woods, past new sights, locales and villages that flashed by quickly.
One thing we did for fun was the ride nearly next to another of us, tap them on the arm, then ride off yelling “You’re it!” We proceeded to keep up this game for the duration of our ride.
One of the more interesting sights we saw along our ride were caves and ruins along the hillside that ran to our right. The caves appeared suddenly, numerous and small beyond count, appearing to wind in the hill in every direction. We stopped at large gaping cave, blocked off with an iron gate. Gazing in, there was nothing but darkness and distant memories that only the past may have known.
But just down the road a bit more were ruins, concrete pillars standing tall that once protected something. Turns out they were relics from WWII.
I’m not sure exactly how far we rode along the road/trail, but before long the sense of adventure was coming to an end, with the thoughts of Monday classes looming upon our minds. As the sun began creeping behind the hill, we turned our bikes around and began the journey back to Maastricht.
The following day, gathered once more in the second floor dining room of Avant Garde with Google Maps open, Manon, Cyrille, Michael, and I realized the breadth of our brief ride had brought: we came nearly 1/3 of the way to the German border. Perhaps another couple of hours riding and we could have easily happened upon Deutschland! Goal to make happen whilst here in Maastricht: get out to Germany by bike.
*For my foreign friends, C-SPAN is the channel that broadcasts proceedings in the federal government. It’s the perfect insomnia cure.