My RBC cycling buddy, Gary, just returned from his cycling trip in the Pyrenees kindly posting his pictures online. Eighteen, twenty years ago Wouter and I did a cycling vacation in that same area. Admiring Gary’s photos unleashed nostalgic feelings and so I went searching for my pics from that vacation. Very sadly I couldn’t find them – Wouter, if you’re reading this: do you still have them? – but the search action did turn up other photos that had faded from memory. With your indulgence I like to share a few and the stories behind them.
In this photo from right to left Jan Christiaan van Winkel (JC for short), Mary Sullivan and me. I believe this is May 1990 or 1991. JC and I went on vacation together to the US. First visiting Mary here in Montvale, New Jersey. We all three worked for KPMG Peat Marwick at the time – JC and I at the software engineering group in the The Netherlands, Mary at the group in Montvale. This is on the balcony of Mary’s apartment. She was hosting a Kentucky Derby party. Of course, it needed to be explained to us what the Kentucky Derby was. This was around the same time that I tried to join a software project for KPMG in Montvale and move to the US. This led to month long stays at the Marriott in Montvale and all my furniture in storage in Holland but not the intended permanent relocation. After six months of uncertainty I bailed out. Mary was with Peat Marwick’s mainframe audit group and she lived through the 70-ies and 80-ies heydays travelling everywhere keeping IBM and other mainframes running. Great stories!
From Montvale JC and I flew to the west coast to spend time with Chris Borton (left in the picture). Chris was the son of an American father and Dutch mother. The year before he interned with us in The Netherlands on a Rotary scholarship. Chris is quite possibly the smartest and tireless person I have ever met. While in Amsterdam with us, I experienced him as a truly excellent programmer, he studied at the University of Amsterdam, he played violin, he did folk dancing, he founded a software company with two friends, he spoke Dutch and German, he rode his bike and had time for a girl friend. Yes, sadly, past tense. A few years after our visit Chris was diagnosed with leukemia and passed away shortly after at age 31. The evening before his death he and Joan married. His family established a memorial scholarship fund in his memory. I am still grateful that Chris together with his brother Benjamin stayed with me in England the year before.
Leon and I on our recumbent cycling vacation in the summer of 1992. We rented these two M5’s and camped along the Belgium coast into Normandy and back. These bikes were extremely fast on the flat roads and declines. But if the road went the other direction, uphill that is, oy, not so easy. The climb to Blanc Nez in France, man, that hurt. We got much attention with the ‘bents. Especially in France. Car drivers, others, would react so enthusiastically to seeing us ride these contraptions that it still amazes me no accidents happened. Every day during the trip I expected to hear a loud bang behind us of a passing car hitting a tree after staring at us. This vacation also featured Leon writing daily postcards to Anneke whom had stolen his heart just before our trip. The Belgium and French coast is mussels area. So every other day Leon and I would conquer buckets of the shelled animals. When I was back in Amsterdam Yvonne and Huub invited me for dinner. “Oh, ” thought my sister, “he likes mussels so much. That’s what we’ll make him tonight!”
In April of 1997 Ronald and Petra stayed with me in Cupertino, California. I had just moved to the US for Apple in January who then laid me off in March. I was busy interviewing with Sun during Ronald and Petra’s vacation. We rented three motorcycles for the weekend. Zaheda joined on the backseat of mine and we rode from San Francisco north over the Golden Gate bridge along Highway 1 and land inward to the Santa Rosa area where this picture was taken. On the way back to San Francisco, Petra’s (or was it Ronald’s) bike broke down. Ronald and I pushed all the buttons, shook the bike, kicked the tires. Didn’t fix it so it was clearly broken. We asked at a farmhouse near to where the bike had come to a stop if we could make a phone call and agreed with the rental company and the farmer that we could leave the bike there. And so we carried on on two bikes. Before you get alarmed, we did wear helmets, gloves and jackets when riding. This picture was just posing outside the motel.