Gijs Bruinsma knows what he likes: “Gravel riding.” And he knows why he likes it: “It fulfills the desire to explore new roads.” But like anything outdoor adventure-related, there’s a little more to the story than these pithy comments. Gijs is a Dutch gravel rider based in the town of Zeist, southwest of Amsterdam. And he doesn’t just “like” gravel riding. Being the co-owner of a Dutch cycling-event company, and a professional cycling location scout for a number of cycling brands, Gijs has built a life and a career around riding.
Like many members of the komoot community, the adventure of finding new roads is a big part of why he loves riding, and he’s just as happy using komoot to explore local gravel near his hometown, as he is to explore more exotic corners of the world.
When we asked him what his favorite local komoot Highlight is, he didn’t skip a beat: “I love different unpaved sections, especially the gravel climb up to the highest point in the Utrechtse Heuvelrug National Park.” The park – the Netherlands’ second-largest forest and home to over 100 bird species – is less than 12 miles (20 kilometers) from his home in Zeist.
Further afield, a recent route reconnaissance for an event took him to Uganda – a trip which highlighted one of the things he loves most about riding: Despite the most meticulous planning, there will always be some unknowns!
“In East-Africa nothing is as it seems. The route took me through beautiful small towns and I met nice people – experiences which I could not have anticipated beforehand. Cycling really brings you closer to your surroundings.”
Not only does riding put you in touch with the environment you’re riding through, but in some cases it brings you closer to the forces of nature. Another route recon took Gijs to western Germany, where he rode a short gravel loop solo, in some pretty testing conditions:
“…the weather was severe – icy cold with whipping rain, but it gave me some magical moments out in the wild.”
Komoot can’t control the weather conditions but certainly contributes to finding some good routes. For Gijs, one of the things he likes most about komoot is the idea that the tool is strengthened by the people who contribute to it:
“It relies on your contributions to the community, and in turn, you depend on inside information that other local users provide.”
Gijs has a number of bucket-list Tours he’d like to plan with komoot, including a gravel bikepacking trip in Morocco. He says, “I still have the Dirty Kanza high on my list, but not for this year… Instead I want to go to Morocco again. I visited as a teenager by train, in my mid-twenties by bike, and when I was thirty-something with my partner and a backpack. Now it is time for a midlife trip on my gravel bike!”
You can follow Gijs’ adventures on komoot here.