To Paris on bike: ‘A lot of ass hurting’

| Michaela Nesvarova

Many Dutch people go cycling on ‘Hemelvaart’ (Ascension Day). Two UT students Radhika Kapoor (Creative Technology) and Thijs Hamstra (Advanced Technology) took it a step further and decided to bike to Paris. In three days. ‘It hurt a lot. You need to train your butt for this,’ says Kapoor.

Radhika Kapoor

Cycling to Paris within three days. How did it go?

Kapoor: ‘It was not as successful as I wanted it to be. The plan was to bike from Enschede to Paris – which is about 620 km in total - in three days. We left on Wednesday morning and planned to ride 150 km on the first day, 213 on the second and 223 km on the last day. We managed the first day but the last fifty kilometers was absolutely horrible! We don’t have a lot of biking experience. Neither of us did any long-distance cycling before. We were cursing as hell. It was very exhausting and there was a lot of ass hurting. On top of that, Thijs got massively sunburned. He was so red! It was like one of those bad photos you see on the internet. We thought: let’s just wake up tomorrow and see what happens. I woke up the next day, but Thijs didn’t actually sleep at all because he was so sunburned. But the sun wasn’t shining on Thursday, so we decided to try to make it to Antwerp that day.’

Why did you even decide to try this?

‘I wish I knew. I just woke up one day and decided to bike to Paris. I was bored in Enschede and wanted to do something. This was a crazy idea and I wanted to see if it was possible. The whole way I was evaluating, though. “Why am I actually doing this?” For bragging rights, I guess.’

Did the timing have anything to do with Hemelvaart? It’s kind of a Dutch tradition to go cycling that day.

‘It’s funny that you say that. We basically cycled through the entire Netherlands, but didn’t see many people on bikes.’

Did you eventually make it to Paris?

‘We did, but not very successfully. It hurt a lot! You need to train your butt for this, not your legs. So we decided to take the bus for the last part. That was a bit sad. I really wanted to make it. I will try some other time. But France is scary, man! There are no cycling paths, nobody pays attention to the traffic lights or the driving lanes. And we were on bikes – with a bus behind us and a bus in front of us. Scary. Then, to catch our bus back to Enschede, we had to cycle to an airport and ended up cycling on a motorway. Google maps sent us that way and at some point you can’t turn back anymore. You have to commit. It was the best adrenalin rush ever!’

Will you try to cycle to Paris again?

‘Yes, I will definitely try again. I want to make it. But next time I would do it with better ass cushions. And some sunscreen. Because if Thijs didn’t get sunburned and we had some more training beforehand, it would have been doable. It would have been a huge pain in the ass – pun intended – but it would be doable. Plus, it gave me great stories. I cycled on a French motorway!’

Do you have any similar plans for the near future?

‘I want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. In this case I have a specific reason, though. I want to raise awareness and money for a school in India that takes care of girls from the lowest Indian caste. By doing so, they prevent child marriages because they look after the girls until they are eighteen years old. I want to get attention for this cause.’