Bike and Boat Adventure

On May 19, 2022, 12 members of Covenant’s Koinonia Class met in Bruge, Belgium. Together we enjoyed this charming town for a couple of days before boarding the 70-meter-long river cruise boat, The Fluvius, which would be our home and base for the next 8 days and 7 nights as we made our way to Amsterdam via bike and boat.

The boat had a 44-passenger capacity, but there were only twenty-five on this trip, so there was plenty of room in the boat’s salon where we played cards and board games as well as conversed with our fellow travelers.  There was a sizeable contingent of Germans on board, two women from Patagonia and two other women from the United States.  The bikes were stored above deck behind the bridge, and there was a sun deck in front of the bridge which was a great place to watch the boat’s progress and observe the wonders of the locks through which we passed. Typically, the boat traveled by day while we biked; although, we had the option of remaining on board and not biking on any particular day.

Each day after breakfast we prepared a sack lunch for our ride, mounted phones with a downloaded navigation app on our handlebars and selected a route option – with distances ranging from 20-38 miles. After our ride, we met the docked boat in time for socializing and relaxing before a chef-prepared dinner.

The bike rides were phenomenal.  We passed through beautiful countryside and villages where flowers abounded including brilliant red poppies and lilac rhododendrons; witnessed varied grazing animals like dairy cows, sheep, horses, even llamas; traversed along scenic canals and rivers; crossed over rivers on bicycle and pedestrian ferries.  We biked into large cities like Ghent, Antwerp, and Amsterdam but often it was the small villages and the countryside that were most enticing.  Some special memories are in the less populated areas, including stopping at a strawberry farm that had an automat and sharing pints of sweet-tasting berries, and having a personal tour and tasting at a cheese farm. As we rode, we took in the beauty of God’s creation—arching trees over bikeways, a cuckoo’s call, towering windmills along verdant canal banks, rustling leaves in the wind, and waterbirds flying low over ponds.  We ate our packed lunches at outdoor cafes right along the bike path while we added a crisp beer, and, in one case, tasty pieces of apple pie with generous sides of freshly whipped cream.

But what further impacted us all was how we took care of one another.  As Carolyn Schluckebier recalls, “As the group rode, it seemed that natural roles developed. We had navigators, socializers, sightseers, laggers, and sweepers!  What a wonderful mixture of talents and interests.” On several occasions, we took wrong turns but there was always someone who shepherded us back on course. We had a couple of minor injuries and together we laid hands on with a group prayer for recovery.

Sharing Meals and Making Memories

Much of the trip was about sharing, so it was appropriate that at the end of our trip in Amsterdam, we shared a communal meal, a Rijsttafel (a shared rice table), at an Indonesian restaurant.  After the meal, we all went our separate ways but not without knowing we had shared the shore via bike and boat and a magnificent experience that would continue to provide us with many unforgettable memories.

Covenant’s Koinonia Class which has been meeting since the early nineties, has always been an active and highly social group. We had plans for this bike and boat trip in June of 2020, but, because of Covid 19, we had to cancel. However, our resolve to reschedule was not dampened. Two years later when the pandemic proved less threatening the trip was rebooked for May 2022. None in our group were avid cyclists, but that didn’t stop us from embarking on and embracing this unforgettable adventure.

Patrick Schmidt