Screaming thighs and duct tape
A worn-down hotel in the Bayern mountain area. I have now cycled 1100 kilometers and I sit on the porch constructed out of eight square meter soil, covered with a green blanket in a desperate try to make it blend in with the over grown lawn. The gutter leaks with one drip every other second. In an attempt to make it play major scale, I place a glass where the water hits the grass. A nicer sound, I believe.
My dream of cycling 10,000 kilometers from Sweden to Nepal is more and more taking on a realistic feel. Two days ago I felt more alive than I have ever done before, now I know it is possible, I know I can make it to Nepal.
A light breeze moves the dripping water, I slide the glass a bit to the left, my world is small now. Where will I sleep tomorrow?
I felt Alive! In winds up to 60 kilometers per hour I had an internal fight between will power and despair. No people where seen for three hours, the local news came at me in my phone with a notification, a sent out warning to stay indoors. I climbed 530 meters in one go while rain constantly smattered on my filled over the top bags. Nothing would stop me now!
At lunch time I took out my phone, “Yes, I have one bar!”. Surf to warmshowers.org, a website for cycling nomads where one can find a place to stay over night. I locate Rudolf, according to the GPS two hours away. Five signals are heard:
– Hallo, ich bin Rudolf.
– Hi, my name is Marcus, I’m from Sweden, on my way to Nepal on bike.
– Hi Marcus, I thought it was my Swedish colleague who called, the +46. I now realize you found me on warmshowers. I should’ve deleted my profile years ago.
In a fully graffiti painted old post office, refurnished as a bus stop, I heat up goulash soup on my field kitchen. The construction workers on the other side of the road suspiciously looks at me while I fumble with my phone pressed against my shoulder and ear, trying not to burn the soup.
– Oh, ok. So you don’t take in cyclists then?
– Did you say you were cycling to Nepal? I did that back in the eighties, I know what kind of situation you’re in with this weather on top of being tired. If you can make it to my place before 5 PM you can stay here.
I check the time, 1.24 PM.
– I’ll be there!
We hang up, I carefully force down the not yet done but way too hot soup in to my belly, eat 500 grams of Brie cheese, pack my stuff and jump on my bike. My thighs are screaming for rest; they always do after a five-minute cool down.
Lichtenberg is finally reached, the feeling of being one of the soldiers from the thirty-year war pushing through northern Bayern energizes my whole body the last hundred meters, I’m going all the way up. I knock. A tall man with a smile between his ears answers the door, it’s 4.45 PM.
– Hello Marcus, welcome!
Mi casa, su casa he says as he hands me a local beer. My mouth has never tasted such fine brewing, it gently massages my tongue and the small amount of alcohol is noticeable even before I swallow, my body grasps energy as a bear waking up to spring salmon flowing through its cave. He shows me how the laundry machine works and light a fire in the living room, a thumbs up and a winking eye signifies my efforts as he leaves for the monthly municipality meeting. I spend the rest of the evening in front of the fire with a big cup of tea.
Alarm goes off, 6.15 AM. We sit down at the all too big breakfast table for a two-person family, Rudolf smiles with troubled eyes while starting his sentence.
– Marcus, with all that nice gear, you’re going to, I’m sorry to say, draw unwanted attention to yourself.
The thought has crossed my mind earlier, that my equipment might be attractive for someone.
I thank Rudolf for his hospitality and cycle down the cobble street, the bicycle shakes from the bumpy road as Rudolf’s’ words echo in my head. I have to spray my red bags and duct tape the bike. It’s still raining heavily and some of my clothes are wet since I washed them the night before, my tent is still wet as well.
The coming hours consists of descents, ten degrees Celsius, and even more rain than the day before. Since I barely move my legs in the downhill’s the cold very quickly makes itself notable. On the country side in south Germany I experience the strongest hypothermia I have ever been trough, what on earth have I put my self in to. I try to find a tree big enough to give some cover from the rain. Eventually I find it. I change down to my bare skin, my whole body is shaking and I can’t feel fingers nor toes. Two minutes of jumping jacks gives me a couple of degrees’ warmth, seven kilometers left until my badly spoken German gives it a try to bargain with the Hotel I am now sitting in.
In my loneliness my thoughts go back to the ones I’ve met during my trip so far, my family and my beloved Maria whom I separated from when we after six years realized we needed to try our wings on our own.
I throw myself out there. I will make it.