batec mobility batec handbikes

batec mobility batec handbikes

BATEC HYBRID 2

 

batec hybrid 2

 


In August 2013 Xavier Faure and his brother Iván travelled across Benelux, the former on a wheelchair with a BATEC ELECTRIC attached and the latter on a bicycle. They covered a total of 700 kilometres en 10 days! In this post, Xavier tolds us about their travel.

"The idea came from us both". Iván, Xavier's older brother, has a great deal of experience travelling the world by bicycle. He has travelled across Australia, Asia and North Africa. "Some time back, we both coincided in Malaysia, while he was on a cycling holiday and I was on a break. The idea arose then and remained in the air ever since. This year (I don't quite remember how), we recovered it and started to plan the trip just two months before. During the preparations, I felt a combination of excitement and apprehension: it was my first trip of this kind with the BATEC ELECTRIC".

They chose Benelux for two reasons: the first was that neither of them knew the area, and the second, because it is very flat, perfect for travelling by bicycle and accessible enough to move about on a wheelchair. "Our aim was to cover approximately 600 kilomeres, in daily stages of 70-80 kilometres. We decided to set out on August 1 and return on the 9th or 10th. But we didn't buy a return ticket: we didn't want to put limits on the adventure."

 

 

And so it was. The trip itself gradually adjusted to the pace of the wheels of this pair of brothers. So, even though they had planned to go from Amsterdam to Luxemburg through Brussels, they finally decided to go through the North of Holland ("they told us it was beatiful") and get to Luxemburg through Bruges instead of Brussels. "We would seek accomomodation when we arrived at our stopping place (it being August, this was no easy task at times) and we'd plan the route for the following day at night. The only premise that remained was travelling through Benelux."

We took only essential hand luggage and most of it was carried by Iván in saddlebags hanging from his bike. "I carried what we needed for the day." It was summer, and, "although some days it was very cold and we could have done with slightly warmer clothes", they had tought they'd need few clothes. They also carried two extra batteries for the BATEC ELECTRIC and two chargers. At the airport, the wheelchair and the BATEC ELECTRIC went through as a single item, so the luggage limit wasn't exceeded. "Iván's bicycle travelled dismounted in a box and the first thing we did as soon as we got to Amsterdam was mount it". Also there, they had their first pleasant surprise: there was a cycling lane right from the very airport!"

 

The trip in stages

So the first stage was from the airport to Amsterdam. We went through the city and loved it. Beautiful, liberal, full of bicycles and hardly any cars. An ideal city for wandering. There were so many bicycles, it was sometimes almost dangerous to walk through the streets ;-)"

The second and third day, the route took them north, "among the famous Dutch mills and a great amount of canals with their floating homes". In the fourth stage they started to return south, passing back through Amsterdam, where they bumped into the "rúa gay" pride parade celebrated every year on the canals. "It was a real show: thousands of people looking at the boats go by. There were so many people that it was hard to get across the streets".

"The fifth day was calm: it was hot (too hot), I got burnt and there were still canals and more canals wherever your eyes wandered". Sixth day: they started out towards Bruges because "they told us that it was the most beautiful city in Belgium". It was a long and tiring stage but the Faure brothers had planned a day of rest midway throught the trip and Bruges seemed perfect for it. It wasn't the pleasantest of surprises when they woke up the following morning to the only rainy day of the entire trip. On the one hand it was a bit of a blow, because it wasn't pleasant to visit the city under the rain, but on the other hand we were able to take advantage of it and rest more."

 

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Eight and ninth stages: stages to cover kilometres. "We did more thant 155 kilometres. We'd get up early and and wouldn't stop until almost night time. The weather changed and it was very cold, especially in the morning."

And, finally the last stage, the tenth: arrival in Luxemburg. "Here there weren't so many cycling lanes and there were many more slopes." Althought the two brothers wanted to return that day, it was not possible. "In order not to dismount the bike again we tried to go back by train, but they wouldn't take bikes. So we bought tickets for a flight the next day and stayed the night in Luxemburg and took advantage to get to know the city at leisure. At 3 o'clock in the afternoon of the following day, we arrived back in Barcelona. End of the trip." 

 

The trip behind the trip

There were surprised that people in Benelux do not use their mobile phones when they are in company. Also that small capacity motorbikes can use the cycling lanes, without a helmet. "The people were very pleasant and all spoke English, especially in Holland." The people were very pleasant and all spoke English, especially in Holland. In fact, it was the area we liked best, especially the northern area. It is beautiful and fully of harmony, with a lot of water (canals, lakes...) and gives you a feel of cleaningness and freedom. Furthermore, there are cycling lanes absolutely everywhere. The feeling of being able to travel through a country on a bicycle with the safety of not having to leave the cycling lane is fantastic and surprising". But it has to be said: "it was very cold. If that was their summer, we don't even want to begin to think of what winter must be like there!"

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Xavier Faure was born in Barcelona and has spina bifida (L3-L5). He is a Gestalt therapist, loves sports and currently plays rugby, table tennis and, sometimes, "less thant I should", goes swimming. He's a member of the board fo the Association of Spina Bifida and Cemfis, a disabled association from Santa Coloma de Gramanet. He is an old time BATEC user and currently has a BATEC ELECTRIC 2014, which he uses to move about the city and travel.

Iván Faure is a women's basketball trainer and an amateur photography and sportsman. For several years he has been travelling the world by bicycle, normally alone. To find out more about his adventures, which now include wheelchair touring, visit www.ivanfaure.com

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