Instead of this fancy beach holiday, for this term’s vacation I literally simply stepped out of my door – and my adventure began just there. One week solo cycling and wild camping with my 7 gear city bike, almost 500 km through central Germany.
First of all: I had no previous experience in freecamping or longterm cycling or how to ensure food and water supplies on the way while being on a budget. I mean, I consider myself quite fit and I follow many different travel blogs with related stories and I backpacked alone before… but actually doing this shit all by myself just out of a sudden idea was something completely different. And I’d do it again in a split second.
My first travel video ever
Bear with me for the sometimes poor quality 🙂
I was well prepared, which was the clue to it all (well in any case you gotta be extremely flexible and modest on the way, but that’s obvious). I knew the route and had sufficient navigation material, I knew my equipment and how to pack it well and set it up, I had repair stuff and knew how to use it (not so obvious, apparently), and – most importantly – I brought a huge amount of optimism. When my bike broke the first day, that was what kept my mind positive.
And off I went… and an adventure it was!
I got up in the mornings between 5 and 7 (depending on weather, daily distance, campsite and its potential agricultural use), I cycled between 50 and 85 km a day, I was freezing and sweating, starving and heavenly full of awesome food, I met great people and great lonliness. I reached personal limits and crossed them, I overcame fears and flinched from others. I was creative in repairing things and where I couldn’t, I was tremendously grateful for receiving help. I camped on wide meadows and in forests, in a barn between hay bales and in a castle ruin from 12th century. I experienced ups and downs, great joy and deep sorrow, and most of all I got to listen to my thoughts like it’s never the case in everyday life – although I just covered a couple of kilometres of physical distance to that, it felt like another universe mentally. The official route “BahnRadweg Hessen” is 400 km, but due to the extra way to get to the start from my home, as well as all the detours and lookingforafreakingrepairshopextraways I can easily add another 100. It offers everything a biker’s heart desires: Gorgeous views (check photos below), and it goes along old railways which have been turned into cycle paths and thus is a mostly paved route full of history to be discovered – and just perfect if you’re a beginner or wanna be sure not to be surprised by any mountainbike-like tracks.
Those moments on the road
Actually, my bike started making problems the very first day, with an annoying squeaking pedal. I was able to fix it for roughly 60 km by applying some oil, but on Sunday, the second day, it became so bad I was unable to keep going – and all the repair shops closed, of course. I was quite desperate, sitting on the side of the road… when a couple came by, took me with them to their home, and helped me cleaning and oiling with more professional equipment, which enabled me to keep cycling for another 100 km or so. The next morning, I arrived in Fulda and was able to get it repaired straight away (they said it would take the whole day, but were done after 1,5 hours!).
The same day, when it was time to find a place for the night, the route was going through a forest. And I was like… hmmm, I don’t want that anybody sees me, and fine me for illegal camping, I wanted to hide, not sure about what was good. So I actually pitched up my tent between lots of bushes and plants, not feeling good at all and very unsecure, I lay down, it was quiet… and I just knew, no, this isn’t good, neither for me nor my tent. So, I packed everything up again. Cycled 10 more minutes. Found the perfect spot on a field with amazing view. If you think, changing your mind is not worth it after having put so much effort into a certain decision – listen to your gut feeling! It’ll most likely tell you right 🙂
At some point, to take a photo, my bike just fell down, and the lamp came apart. There were times when I would be like “Oh screw it, I don’t need a lamp” or “damn it, where is the next repair show” or “daddyyyyy please help!” – but in the right spirit that I was, I used my imagination which cable had to go where, my pocket knife and a lot of duct tape, and it actually worked 🙂
I was sightseeing an old castle ruin, when I saw a thunder storm coming closer and began to worry where I would stay that night; it was 5pm already. So I thought… well, it is safest to be in some kind of building (instead of in a tent, somewhere on a field or close to trees), so I decided to stay in that ruin. Even if somebody would have come by, I was sure they would have approved due to the quite heavy weather conditions. It was a fantastic feeling! The ruin was from 12th century, and imagining what might have happened here and what people stayed here was really exciting.
There were heaps of fruit trees on the way, and so I was able to pick apples and plums constantly. Yuuuuuum!
I was couchsurfing one night because it was too cold (6°C only), and was warmly welcomed by a Russian-German Christian 11-member family and invited to amazing food, a warm bath and an interesting insight into their religious community.
Towards the end of the week, I really dealt quite intensely with some of my issues and, as it’s not always rainbows and unicorns, also had some deep, rather melancholic, thoughtful times full of doubt, not knowing whether my current life path is right for me, or which decisions are the best. I know this way is where I’m supposed to be, and believe in its importance, however this is not easy when you’re alone in the middle of nowhere and don’t have anybody to share your thoughts with, to get a perspective on the matters.
One day, there was a suggested route of 60 km, constantly uphill during the second half with a total incline of over 650 m. I had an altitude map that looked quite … ambitious for me and my 7 gear city bike. I was cycling and cycling and cycling and had no points of reference how far I was…. until I crossed the peak waaaaay earlier than I expected! I was like… wtf?! Either they did a miracle to my bike in the repair shop or I’m unexpectedly fit… but I did it, and that made me freaking happy 🙂
A journey in pictures
(click to enlarge)
After all, I figured some things out for myself. I realize I’m able to take care of my problems and do a trip like this by myself, if I need to, that I’m fully capable of it. I know I mostly prefer company and dear friends around be, but I also value the alone time to actually listen to my own thoughts and go through things. I learned once again how positivity, mindfulness and trust can lead the way, successfully. And, last but not least, you don’t have to go far to experience adventure – it awaits just outside your doorstep!
What a trip. So much yes!
Have you had any close to home adventures yet?