Linda Devisch and her partner Dirk are cycle tourers from Belgium who love ‘moderate adventure’ – in other words, they don’t mind effort, but they also don’t mind some luxury from time to time! Linda shares the couple’s travels on social media, but their trips are never planned in detail: “We know what direction we want to go and the rest comes by itself.”
Hey Linda – tell everybody where are you based and what you do!
I live in Halle, a medium-sized city about 15 km from Brussels. I used to work in food, and also in the clothing business. I love cooking healthy food and always need to have some knit work going on. Photography has always been my favourite hobby. When I was 15, I worked during the school holidays to pay for my first camera.
Dirk and I have known each other for about 30 years but we only became a couple some 18 years ago. At that time, I was living in Belgium and Dirk was living in Singapore. I started working part time so that we were able to spend time together and, when Dirk stopped working, we explored the idea of starting a B&B in the south of France. When we didn’t find what we were looking for we decided to build our own house in Belgium, which kept us busy for the next four years.
How long has cycle touring been a part of your life?
While I always loved to do things outside, it really only became a bigger part of our life when we started going on holiday by bicycle. When Dirk returned back to Belgium, we began doing trips by motorbike and we’d go camping. As we had already bought most of the camping gear, setting out to do the same by bicycle was an easy step. Our first trip was a short tour in the Algarve and this was such an eye opener that we then invested in good travel bikes allowing us to climb any mountain with a smile on our face.
What’s been your favourite trip?
We usually find the last trip was our favourite as most of them are unique with different types of landscapes, food, people, etc! We often want to stay longer at the places we visit and we’ve already decided that, when our family car gives up, then our next vehicle will be a camper van so that we can at least start with the return trips!
So, where will we return to first? Ireland or Scotland. In Ireland, we cycled around the coastline and in Scotland, we walked the West Highland Way.
How do you find a balance between being active and life’s other responsibilities i.e. work and family?
While we don’t have a daily job anymore, we still don’t want to be away for too long in one go. Our kids all have their own lives and don’t need us around but we still both have our mother and when you’re at her age, it’s nice to have family around. So far, we’ve only been cycling in Europe and when we’re on a long trip and away for more than six weeks, we try to cut the trip in half and return home for a few weeks. We leave our bikes somewhere in a safe place using family or friends connections or via the Warmshowers network.
Is there anyone who inspired your love of the outdoors?
Some 15 years ago, when we were again on a search for a house in the south, Dirk met an elderly couple somewhere in Portugal who were on vacation with their bicycles and rode some 30 kilometres every day. Reflecting on this, we decided that this was something we should also try. Whenever we’re on a bicycle, we have this feeling of freedom and living a more simple straightforward life. The only thing you’re thinking about is what to eat and where to sleep – all the other things become irrelevant.
Do you find that being outside has a positive impact on your wellbeing and mental health?
About 15 years ago, I was diagnosed with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) and I have been taking rather heavy medication for this. My joints still regularly feel painful in spite of the medication but, remarkably, this rarely happens when we’re on the road with the bicycles and living outdoors. It really seems that this type of exercise and sleeping in a tent outdoors is doing me well!
What is it about cycle touring that you love?
There are three things: First, it’s slow travel and you experience nature and the places you’re travelling through in a much closer way. You will not only see it but also feel it. Secondly, everyone you meet is nice, interested and wants to help if you’re in need. Usually I don’t find socialising easy, but so many people have a genuine interest in what we’re doing when we’re on the bikes. Lastly, while we are always a pair, you are still having to pedal every meter yourself. It’s a vacation together, on your own.
When did you discover FINDRA?
were touring in Ireland and I was searching on the Internet one evening for sustainable brands selling merino base layers and discovered FINDRA. Unfortunately, FINDRA was not stocked in Belgium so I could not try the fit in a shop and I hesitated buying. It kept on popping up in my mind though and I finally ordered directly from the website. No regrets, very happy!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
When I was about 11 years old, we learned at school how to knit. For homework, we had to knit a long shawl and we had six months to finish it. It wasn’t my favourite pastime and reluctantly I started, always putting it away, doing a few more rows after a couple of days, putting it away again. About two weeks before the deadline, I sprained my ankle and I still had to do most of the knitting and what I already had looked terrible. Back then, elderly women would often sit on a bench or chair at their doorstep and what did they do? Knitting. So I went outside and when my neighbour saw my piece of art she shook her head and said that it looked terrible – no way was I going to get a good mark with it. She convinced me to start all over, she explained it again and motivated me to come and sit next to her so that she could assist when I went wrong. In just a week, my shawl was finished and I was ridiculously proud of it. The piece of advice I remembered for the rest of my live was: If something does not work out, learn from the mistakes you made, do not worry about all the effort you already have put in and start all over again.
What’s the key message you would like to highlight to our followers?
I am very bad with words so writing a motivational message would be extremely difficult. I’m also not the person who likes to give advise as everyone has different priorities, views or criteria.
Personally, my own motto is “lead by example” so what we do is share images of how we live our life. We hope that this will inspire people to find their own adventure and like it as much as we do.
Edwards Menagerie by Kerry Lord“Whenever there is a birth, one of these homemade animals is part of the birth day present from me.” An adorable collection of over 40 cute crochet animals to stitch – ideal as gifts for babies and children or just to make for fun! The patterns are arranged by skill level – beginner, intermediate and advanced.
There goes my miracle by Bruce Springsteen
“We saw Bruce for the first time live only a few years ago and were impressed with the level of energy which came from him and the band. This version is from the movie Western Stars which reminds us of watching him live.”