Agence Future Travel log 2.2: Europe - Setting out
We rode to the Belgian-Dutch border in a day. From there we headed for Hanover, Germany to visit EXPO2000. We appreciated the citie's well-laid cycle paths.
At the expo we covered a story about the dancers' strike in the 'Hall of Work'. We followed the arrival of a rally of electric vehicles and met up with the Belgian participants from the VUB.
In our theoretical model this world fair's visions' identifying characteristics were design, mediation and finance. Although many of the representations at EXPO2000 bring positivist accounts of historical scientific development and progress, formal aspects of the representations -the prevalence of the image, the ubiquity of the screen- can be classified as post-modernist.
Later we found out what cycle friendly public transport can mean on our way from Hanover to Kriftel where we met up with Paul and Daniel from HP Velotechnik.
Bram enjoyed a week of work on the bikes, turning them into veritable 'expedition-beasts' as he puts it. Meanwhile I was writing and making what seemed like an endless list of last minute arrangements. Paul turned us all into real-life television stars again when he got an ARD crew in who spent an afternoon filming for the regional news.
From Kriftel we rode along the Main past the centre of Frankfurt where, after the previous night's television coverage, we did not go unnoticed.
We were glad to find ourselves in the beauty of the Main region. We wanted to follow the valley of the river Kinzig towards Fulda but soon enough we lost the river and were weaving ourselves a way through the woods and over the hills. We were introduced to the highest gradient slopes (15%) either of us had ever tackled on a recumbent bike. Our progress was slow and we needed to get on towards the East. So after 178 beautiful kilometres we took a train to Torgau in the former DDR from where we rode to Cotbuss. In this East German mining town we found out what bike-unfriendly public transport means when we learned that the new fast, ultra modern international trains cannot take bicycles.
Our second night on a field near the village of Neuses, which exists exactly a thousand years this year, provoked a brainstorming session concerning the nature of the changes this place had witnessed up to today and those it would witness in the next 1000 years. The following day the unchanging aspects of human life demanded attention. A traditional village-fair, with pies, rabbit shows and the local brass band did the trick. This community has been throwing parties for ten centuries, and as far as we could tell, is planning to continue doing so in the next ten centuries too.
Further down the road we talked with a retired lady who had given us shelter from the rain, about the probable evolution of re-united Germany. Her account of the East with emphasis on how quickly it has been able to catch up with the West involved her 'life-history' to argue her personal opinion. In Wroklaw (Poland) one of the men drinking on the terraces outside the station offered us his opinion on Polish history and how it would continue. Again, this required the summing up of the man's life resume, job-titles, emigration, marriage, education, children, etc. Reliance on personal experience for the formation of arguments about the future comes out strongly here.
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