Ride for Wisdom: pilgrim Ann Verboven on pilgrimage by bike


Ann Verboven and two friends decided to cycle the Walk of Wisdom . Ann wrote a wonderful report.

DAY 1 Nijmegen-Ooij-Erlecom-Kranenburg-Groesbeek

The St Nicholas Chapel in Nijmegen. Round, a circle, people connected. Marieke who touches with lyrics and original melodies.

Nele, Kristien and Ann (or is it Thelma & Louise.. and Charlotte). We mindfully eat a waffle with fruit and goat cheese. With attention. We plan that for the whole ‘trip’. ‘What’s on your mind at the moment?’, is our table conversation over tea.

The Ooijse Polder at 18 km per hour. Kristien indicates the speed, with attention, silence, for the beautiful nature. On a pole a buzzard or is it a sparrowhawk… definitely a bird of prey.

The Bay of Bison, lovely at 28°. We share this place with the cattle in the distance, perhaps connected by the same thought. A walking pilgrim passes by. We invite her for a tarot card. Short haunting moment for us, for her.

These modern pilgrims urgently need to get on the road. 5.30 pm and only 7.5km left on their e-bike. Embracing the inertia, we let go of the bison bay.

Pick up a first bird ring at café Oortjeshekken.

The sky is dark, thunderstorms in the distance. We cycle 18 km between the drops. How beautiful is the world in which we live.

Kranenburg. Picking up our second ring. There we enjoy the same delicious trout with vegetables. All experiences shared.

Our ‘ride’ continues at dusk, still 8km to go to our B&B in Groesbeek. We drive through the forest, hilly. The sun disappears. Just a little bit of searching for the right farm. It’s dark now.

10 p.m. ‘The time of arrival doesn’t matter’, we were told. The man of the house didn’t expect us anymore and thought we were ‘brave women’. Who would have said that in recent years?



DAY 2 Groesbeek, Kranenburg, Milsbeek, Plasmolen, Mook, Malden, Heumen, Overasselt, Wijchen, Nederasselt Grave, Velp

Awake at 5:30 a.m. ‘Let me explore the neighbourhood’. Alone. My do-mode kicks into action. The beautiful cows and their calves force me to stand still. To look, smell, their proximity, experience… which I never experience. So happy to see all those calves with their mother. That line in Marieke’s song, which touched me so much yesterday in the chapel, softens my ‘trauma’ as a child. A calf that was ‘taken away’ immediately after birth, a distraught cow!

The beautiful scenery catches my attention, hiking, Ann. Even up to that slope. All I hear is the rustling of my feet on the gravel path. So quiet. ‘Is this really possible, I really don’t hear anything else?’. My attention shifts and I call myself into the NOW.

8 a.m. breakfast. Outside. ‘Is it true that those clouds are only so beautiful above us?’ ‘Yes’, we conclude with three. The wide surroundings are as beautiful as the clouds. The breakfast fresh, tasty, extensive. Enjoy. We talk about who and how we were as children. The clouds provoked that conversation.

At 9 a.m. the Metta meditation of Sister Viranani, a Buddhist nun. It’s all possible in a modern pilgrimage. We zoom in and in. It works. We are sucked into a stream of love, goodness, kindness for an hour and a half.

‘Everybody’s life/meditation-practice look different. Trust yourself no matter what it look like. It’s your path.
Just keep going. Just keep going. Just times going.’

We resonate together. Group bubble hug. We feel different bodies again. We had already forgotten about that a bit in corona time.

Now we have to flip our switch. From Being to Doing Mode. It’s 11.30 am The tall, gray-haired man of the B&B, just now on his horse, waves us goodbye.

The junction signs attract our attention. Guides us through this Gelderland. Each time a number that says to where and in the meantime one with the road, the environment, the moment. Of Being practical on the road for a while. Let’s do it this way in life and not the other way around, my thoughts seep in.

Too much do, Kristien concludes. Let’s sit down in the forest for a while. We eat what we have in our bike bags. In the meantime, we look out on an old Ice Age landscape.

Node 11. Nele leaves for Nijmegen. We will miss her. You have to work. Group bubble hug. I love these 2 women. We let go of one here, towards another junction.

We now have to get on with it. A thunderstorm is predicting on the weather app. We want to be at the Emmaus Monastery in Velp on time. Kristien trusts the universe, Ann especially her legs. We pass the Haterse fens. Still stand still for a moment, look, absorb. Too little time to enjoy this splendor of land and color. ‘We’ll come back here’, we both decide.

16.30h After some searching we found the patch tree. A friendly man and child lead us there. We cycle together for a while. Fresh blue, organic berries on the way back. Another chat with the organic farmer. About a lot of water, peat and certainly no lime. Kristien enriches because now knows that a drip hose also matters.

The Lady Chapel. Kristien says: ‘trust me, we’ll skip a few nodes’. I trust her. Mary and the logbook of WoW in this lovely little chapel.

The thunderstorm is waiting, we pedal on.

5.40 pm We ring the bell at the Emmaus Monastery. Kristien meditates with us at 6 p.m. The horrible text from the Bible is at odds with what she expects here. But… provides a lot of material for conversation.

6.30 p.m. dinner. Blessed, pure, abundant. Our Lenten meal this afternoon and efforts are richly rewarded. Thanks, Mark and Bernadette.

9.30pm I’m still looking at my WoW band. Today I added the bird rings of Gennep-Mook and Middelbaar-Heumen. This pilgrim pigeon is not flying home yet. I still want to read but fall asleep.

DAY 3 Grave, Ravenstein, Niftrik, Wijchen, Leur, Hernen, Bergharen, Horssen

5.30am Awake and rested. Some yoga exercises in this simple room of the Emmaus Monastery. Lamp-table-chair-bed-sink. Everything you need.

The body now wants to go along. A magical place on the water with a bench. The fog lifts, fish, birds, trees… and me. I am writing yesterday’s report.

7.30 am we agreed to meditate together. Yet another Emmaus guest, joins in. Kristien reads a meditation from ‘the way of nature’. I focus on the lily right in front of me. I love this flower. Sitting, in meditation, to watch it open up will be for another life. That of a Buddhist nun.

8 a.m. Breakfast.

Me-time. I download the app of the monastery and do the guided silent walk in the garden. Wonderful! In the meantime, Kristien has embraced the earth and sniffed the ground. ‘So pure’, she says afterwards.

The app leads me back to our meditation spot. The lily flower now in all its glory. We share what’s on our minds. Children, family, husband. What’s going on, as friends, between us. Grateful for the candor.

12.30 p.m. lunch

1.30 p.m. departure

Today we collect the rings from Grave, Oss and Wijchem.

We take a detour to the picking farm in Wijchen ‘Sfeer van Willems’. Kristien connects with farmer and farmer’s wife in no time. She takes the word ‘harvest mates’ with her instead of ‘the pickers’, with us.

Horssen is nearby for our B&B. We cycle on, look for something to eat. Everything closed on Monday. There is a thunderstorm in the distance.

We meet another pilgrim (booklet with maps in hand). Man alone, 37 km in the legs. “I don’t like wisdom,” he exchanges in this brief moment. “What is it about men?” Afraid of being sisis?

Highest level 25km/h. The wind picks up, the thunderstorm nearby. The message is to keep pedalling.

We ride our bikes into the garage of the B&B and the heavens open. The universe is on our side.

The somewhat perfectionist hostess offers us a drink. Delicious. We benefit from her drive to be perfect.

Kristien reads from Herman Hesse. The chapter ‘the son of Sidharta’.

Laughing out loud because of my commitment to a work for our youngest son about ‘soup innovation’. The tube she gets at her son’s work. ‘Are we doing so well for our children?’. ‘Yes, is the decision’

I fall asleep.

DAY 4 Afferden, Deest, Winssen, Ewijk, Beuningen, Weurt, Nijmegen

8 a.m. Breakfast. Extensive. Everything perfect. Also a bag for our lunch. A chat with the farmer about his Galloway cattle. Kristien is considering a new cow.

10 a.m. How blissful is this. Life meditation by Nele on 30Now. We are already on our way but we don’t have enough time for the ideal place. We choose some mighty weeping willows, we include the highway sounds.

We talk afterwards and I share what has been on my mind for a long time with and about a best friend. How do we get our doors open again? Kristien listens, broadens,… thanks Kristien.

Today we follow the Maasdijk to Nijmegen, just like the real hiking trail. Again a completely different beautiful landscape.

Pick up the ring in Druten and Beuningen.

We descend the dike and look for a place for lunch. ‘What can we guarantee?’ ‘How can we guarantee?’. We free wheel in our spiritual thoughts. Kristien compares us/our thoughts with the neurotic behavior of the butterflies, bees and everything that lives in the grass. And yet, a forest seems peaceful and tranquil when you look at it all.

We motivate ourselves to leave this beautiful place along the Meuse. Hop to the city. ‘Go pilgrim go, every step is an act…..’ sings the song of the opening ceremony in my head.

An organic ice cream on the dike.

The city is getting closer, you can feel it with all your senses.

We enjoy our last kilometers. Yes, those are storks in the field.

The bridges over the Maas and Waal rivers. I just heard 2 girls singing: ‘The land of Maas and Waal…’ That song from my ‘girlhood’ suddenly takes on a different dimension.

We pick up the rings that we missed in the Sint Stevenskerk in Nijmegen. Just sniff this beauty.

Eat and then go home. Where exactly is that car located? We were both very sure, but that turns out not to be the case.

We end up back in Berg en Dal, through the forest, through the residential area, past the University of Nijmegen. It was a really beautiful, unexpected ending.

Home. We’ll cram in some spirituality. Kristien reads aloud. Too tired to reflect.

At home. Gratitude.

Ann Verboven