The road to Ingen

by Inge Hoonte

Yesterday afternoon, I biked to the most senseless destination I stumbled across on the map: Ingen. I was spending a few days at my sister’s house on the outskirts of Utrecht, and always like to explore new terrain while I’m there. It’s an active way to give my brain some new paths to navigate, other trees to see, houses for sale to wonder about living in, places to snack and sit and just be quiet for a moment.

 

My body and mind were craving some long distance to shake off the build up of the past few weeks. An exciting upward curve that was coming to an end, partly due to it being week five of gradually working on my endurance, and the prospect of a rest week after this one. It was quite warm the entire week and I had already biked a few days, so I was also looking forward to the temperatures dropping a bit. On the other hand, there was the upward curve that came to a halt the day before as another unavailable crush cancelled our plans to finally meet up, months after having met. Although he had a valid reason, I knew this was never going to happen and refused to mope around. I had to go for an all-day adventure, in motion, by myself.

 

Passing through Ingen would only mean a slight detour along the general direction I wanted to head into. It would all take longer anyway as I didn’t have small change for a ferry, and the bridges across all these rivers are far and few in between. I also managed to end up on some pedestrian tracks again, which initially lured me in disguised as fun-looking gravel roads, but quickly spit me out in bumpy, grassy fields. Climbing over barbed wire while carrying my bike on my shoulder, and maneuvering through thistles and stinging nettles, I plowed on telling myself the immediate blisters would only be temporary.

 

For kilometers on end, I'd been repeating a few lines of a Murder City Devils song that popped into my head, which goes like "Iggy, baby, Iggy, baby, I like the sound of you, strut strutting in those tight pants, in those tight pants." My ex-boyfriend had put it on a mix tape for me fifteen years ago, and it always struck me as hearing him sing Ing-eh instead of Ig-gy. As I don't know the lyrics very well, it became quite the repetitive soundtrack for this ride...

 

After about three hours, a blue road sign indicated that Ingen was 1km away. I didn't know what to expect, but I didn’t think that Ingen would be quite this boring. Since I'd seen it on the map that morning, I'd been musing about a town full of people named Inge. Some old Inges, some baby Inges, a funny Inge, a poetic Inge, a thin Inge, a grumpy Inge, an Inge sitting in a field full of red poppies while reading a book. Maybe I’d even bump into the red-haired Inge I was in school with when I was 9. But no. None of this. I passed twocafes that didn't look all that appealing, a man stepping out with a foamy drink, and a lady on a bike taking the kids to see their father, I was informed while eavesdropping my way past them. Slightly disappointed, and weirdly relieved to get out of there, I hadn't stopped anywhere except to take an out of focus picture of the Ingen town sign. I really craved a snack, so I pedaled to the next town across the bridge and got some ice cream.

 

However, the rewards of this trip came in the form of a lovely narrow road meandering along a river, taking me through an old town, where I saw an old sun dial on the side of someone's house. There were a few amazing bike lanes, lined with trees on both sides, proceeded by no-cars-allowed signs, leading me to swimming children, wild berries, a dog barking at me from the top of a John Deere tractor, storks hanging out in a field, a cat jumping around a meadow in a near perfect half circle, and swallows carrying out their fly-catching dances alongside me.