Experiencing myself – three weeks on the road – totally unprepared.
A camping site, in the southern former east Germany. I have cycled 1047 kilometers and I’m sitting alone by a big bathing place next to a glossy lake. There are no longer any tourists here, the only ones still enjoying the camping and the late summer warmth are families that rather take an extra beer than to fix the fungus attacks on the caravans. I dip my toes in the water, for a swede it is still bathable.
My focus is on where I’ll sleep tomorrow night. Yesterday I had three flat tires and the last couple of kilometers I had to drag my bike to the camping ground, in the town Weißenfels.
I started my journey from Gothenburg, Sweden, August 24th 2017. In 200 days I will cycle to Nepal. Without experience in neither cycling nor wild life I took the decision last spring; I want to experience myself and let go of all my prejudgments. Left behind is my beloved partner since six years back.
Without knowledge in how to even fix a flat tire, I have a dream. Without cycling further than to the supermarket a kilometer away I wanted to see the world from a bicycle. In this dream of mine people are humble, they are habitants of Earth rather than citizens in a specific country. They are curious, politics is up there, we people down here, nothing separates us from one another.
I ride out of my home town Gothenburg and would you believe it, I get lost within the first 20 kilometers. Some little rascal has switched the signs around along the bicycle paths. With a frustration-happiness I cycle on with my bruises from the saddle, my buttocks hurt like nothing before, laughing in the back of my mind, knowing that if it would have been me in my youth who switched the signs, I would have laughed.
Out on the country side, my compass shows south, no need reading the signs anymore. Helsingborg is my first part time goal, with a guardian between me and the continent, “Hallandsåsen”. For over twenty minutes I paddle with full force to conquer the 200m elevated hill, I can’t give up! I will go through the Alps, I can’t give up, not this small hill! My legs move rapidly in lowest gear; the sound takes my mind to the steam-machine I had as I grew up. I am a machine these 20-minutes, I WILL NOT GIVE IN!
40-something racing cyclists pass me on the way up, old men weighing in far over me, my bike and my bags. If they can do it, so can I. As I reach the top the whole cycling team awaits my arrival, they cheer and clap their hands, my response as I pass them with an undefeated look in my eyes; “No need to rest, you can do that while going down!” A euphoric scream makes its way out of my lungs and throat, vibrating the tip of my tongue as I have never felt so alive as I start to descend. 36 kilos of gear on the bike, excluding the bike, bags and myself starts the Newtonian trip down to the bottom of the hill, this is my time, this is me.
Top speed 57 km/h. I’ve never ridden a bike that fast before and as the speed took off I rolled for as long as I could, I call this the rolling-challenge. No paddling allowed. As I nearly lost all my speed I take a turn in to the first house I see, a newly built house with six cars in front of the garage, no lawn yet, only gravel. The lady of the house is highly suspicious of my appearance but she says she’ll talk to her husband about me camping on their lawn. A man enters the scene, not short, not tall but buff. A smile gives away his personality before his gentle voice does: “Hey! You can put up camp over here.” He points with his whole arm at the small dirt field down by the river. I do a thumbs up as a response.
Ten minutes later the man approaches my tent, he asks if I eat cod. My answer is: “I was just about to boil six eggs, mash them up with orange marmalade, but yeah, cod is ok.” A hot shower later I find myself in the family’s kitchen together with their kids, grandparents and co-workers, a Sunday dinner is served, I was allowed to take two times from the walking table buffet, I took three…
The day after this I get invited by a Kurdish family living illegally in a rented house in the south of Sweden. For Muhammad, the father of the family, freedom is to choose where you want to live, choose profession and not being forced in to marriage.
– You have all the freedom you need here in Sweden, why you cycle to experience freedom? Everything you would ever need besides from that, love, you cycle away from!
In Denmark I slept at Citas’ place, a mother of two who illegally lives all year around in her allotment house. We spoke far beyond bed time. I got surprised in how honest a conversation between two people who don’t know each other, who will never see each other again, can be.
The guy I stayed with in Rostock, gave me his side of the spectra; “We are all children of mother earth; everybody needs to throw themselves out there to even grasp the tip of the iceberg in understanding travelling, it’s not just charter travelling.”
Half my trip so far has had bad weather conditions; I’ve broken nearly all the things possible to brake on my bike and belongings. I’ve never felt so lonely as I’ve done after I left all that I kept close and loved. I have neither ever felt so alive! Many thoughts fly through my mind: Do I dare to put my bike here for shopping…, should I leave the planned route to take a somewhat safer one…, The everyday life in Gothenburg is getting blurrier by the day – focus is now on how to get dry, get enough sleep and food.
I say yes to everyone who cross my way with an invitation. An invitation for coffee, help or sleeping arrangements are enough to turn a rainy day to sun. I throw myself out there, with out a life line, in to unknown peoples’ hands. For three weeks I has worked, I will see if it continues. The road provides for those whom say yes, for those who want to experience themselves.