We’re off! The beginning of a new chapter

Dries Van Ransbeeck
Road to the Rising Sun
4 min readFeb 18, 2019


It has finally started: our long expected bike tour from Brussels to Tokyo. From the latest preparations and goodbyes before our departure to the first hundreds of kilometers on the road, we’ve been through a lot of different emotions. Via a series of blog posts and short videos, we want to keep you updated every 2 weeks.

The last weeks before our departure were quite hectic and definitely more stressful than the bike journey itself so far. We moved out of our apartments, finished the handover at work and prepared the last parts of bike trip. On top of this all, Manon also organized the big Hack The Gender Gap event.

Once this all was done, it was time to say goodbye to family and friends and leave Brussels on a very beautiful Sunday morning (with sunshine!). Manon made a short video showing what our departure and first days on the bike in Belgium looked like:

Video: departure in Brussels and first days on the bike in Belgium
The big day had finally arrived: our departure with family and friends at the Grand Place in Brussels
Our departure at the Grand Place in Brussels

Our first day on the bike took us from Brussels to Namur. As we wanted to cycle the first day with family and friends, we organized an open peloton day. 6 brave cyclists decided to join us for a wonderful ride through the hills in Brabant Wallon and defy the cold weather!

Our peloton on our first day

New chapter, new opportunities

Now that we have arranged all tasks which come with our departure, we finally have the mental space to think ahead and decide what we want to get out of our journey to the rising sun. One thing is clear: it’s the beginning of a new chapter and, most excitingly of all, is the opportunity to define ourselves what this chapter is going to look like.

Manon’s first interview in Saarbrücken with the incredible Hildegard who learnt to cycle at 33 and did meanwhile bike tours in many countries around the globe.

And so, where are we now?

We’re now exactly 2 weeks on the road. We left on Sunday morning 3 February and have cycled around 800 km from Brussels to Munich, through the South of Belgium, Luxembourg and western part of Germany.

2 weeks on the road: we cycled from Brussels to Munich https://roadtotherisingsun.be/

In the next 2 weeks, we’ll cycle from Munich to Bratislava, by first pedaling to Passau and then following the Danube river.

What about the winter weather? So far, so good!

It has snowed quite heavily the week before we left. Fortunately, this was before we left and, so far, it didn’t hinder us while cycling. There’s still some snow left on hills (mostly above 600m), but we succeed in finding roads which are free of snow. As we’ll be mainly cycling along the Danube in the next weeks, we don’t expect to experience many difficulties with the weather. Fingers crossed!

It was hard to cycle on smaller roads with snow in Luxembourg

Crazy yet brilliant idea: getting back from Tokyo by train

As it’s too early and cold at this time of the year to camp, we prefer to sleep inside and stay with locals. Thanks to Warmshowers, it’s fairly easy to find hosts, who know what it is to travel by bicycle, willing to welcome us for one or more nights. After a day of cycling, it’s always so rewarding and heartwarming to arrive at other cyclists’ places and hear their stories. We’re super grateful for the wonderful encounters we’ve already had via this platform!

One night we stayed at Hildegard and Gerard’s place near Saarbrücken. They will participate in the Friedensradfahrt 2020, a long train/bike journey from Paris to Nagasaki, and brought up the idea to get back from Japan to Brussels by train: first the Trans-Siberian Railway from Vladivostok to Moscow and then the night from Moscow to Paris. Of course, this is way too far in the future for us, we’re not sure yet if we’ll arrive in Japan one day, but it’s good to know that there’s almost always an alternative for simply taking a plane. ;-)

To end with: some pictures

Not all roads are flat and made with asphalt
We truly enjoyed cycling in the south of Belgium in winter weather
Guillaume (host in Luxembourg) showed us his cargo bike. Perfect for a city trip!
Happy Manon and beautiful vineyards along the Mosel in Luxembourg

See you in two weeks!



Dries Van Ransbeeck
Road to the Rising Sun

Making slow travel the new normal · Co-founder Welcome To My Garden · Former coordinator @OpenKnowledgeBE