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Inspiration, Tools and Support for your own Great Bad Adventure Idea » Riding Solo » 1 – Leaving is Never Easy

1 – Leaving is Never Easy

I’m being crushed by my bike that just tipped over on the escalator and sent me (and itself) cartwheeling down the moving steps. Like a helpless, dying and surprisingly outdoorsy-clad June bug, I lie at the bottom of the escalator steps, each rising stair hitting me in the back, bike bouncing on top of me. I crawl out from underneath the wreckage as a blonde woman and two British tourists attempt to lift the bike off me. It bucks and keeps being pulled up the stairs, only to tip over again. Finally, we’ve caught it. The two Brits carry my bike up the stairs for me, panting. “It’s heavy!” No shit, Sherlocks, but also: thank you, honestly. I carry it up another 4 flights of stairs on my own, only to make it to the train station platform and realize two things: 1) my train has left (June bug postures will do that, especially when you’re cutting it close time-wise already) 2) the jar of soup I had been carrying in a little backpack was crushed in the Cartwheeling Escalator Incident. I’m happy I haven’t been stabbed in the back by my own food supply. I’m unhappy that the soup is now running down my lower back, soaking through my sweater, and into my bike underwear. It’s gonna be a looong way to the Nordkapp.

I’m taking my bike from the city streets of Berlin to the Nordkapp, Norway –

the northernmost point of the European mainland.

It’s not really the northern most point, but damn, I’m not going to get nitpicky. It’s got a weird flag that looks like a game of unmotivated tetris, just two z-shaped figures in yellow and red interlocking.

It’s never been my dream to go to the North Cape. It wasn’t even on my radar of Places That Exist till a week ago. “Why would she do something so stupid then,” you might be wondering. To be honest, I  wonder that as well. Perhaps it’ll be epic. Or perhaps I’ll go down in history as most ill-prepared long distance biker EVER. Time will tell.

But for now, I am ready to face being crushed by my own bike in an attempt to get there.

My butt hurts. And the question that I keep asking “Why the heck am I doing this?” remains unanswered. I woke up this morning on the ferry heading towards Trelleborg.

Before the ferry ride I’d had a few hours left to kill, and had gone to the Rostock climbing gym, @45_grad.
I bumped into an old friend, and made a new one, telling them the tale of what the heck I’m doing here. We all had a good chuckle – if out of disbelief at my attempt, or at the absurdity of it all, I’m not quite sure. After getting a few nice boulders in, I head on.

The night, which I spent in the equivalent of a honeycomb cell for human inhabitants instead of bees, was cold. The blanket was a thin sheet, and I’d been too tired to get my sleeping bag out of the bags. I traded that laziness in for a restless night, waking up every hour or so, shivering.

The cells next to me are filled with a tall Russian motorcyclist, who I’d chosen to be my new travel buddy a few minutes before. We’d both been running through the ferry, looking like headless chickens, unable to find the sleeping capsules. When I asked him if we should look for them together (two headless chickens reign supreme, or something) he sighed a breath of relief and offered , in a thick Russian accent, to carry my bike bags. I basically melt on the spot. “Yes, please!”

Two other non-apoid beings shared the honeycomb with us, a young teacher and an older man who works for customs. We exchanged adventure war stories. I tell the story of my Escalator Cartwheeling Incident. She tells the story of how she once got on a bus with a reduced price ticket, even though she didn’t have her student ID on her. Adventure war stories are relative, I guess. The man just listens, sipping his beer, quietly bemused. He asks me: “Why are you doing this?” I don’t know.

Everything smells of soup.

I struggle up a small hill. My average speed has dropped from this morning’s 21km/h down to just grazing the 6km/h zone. I’m hungry. I envy every big car that passes me by, while simultaneously cursing them for their carbon footprint. I’m not making any sense, and I’m putting it down to lack of food. I take a break atop the little hill I just huffed and puffed myself up. A Raw Bite bar (Spicy Lime, perhaps not the best combination with a low water count, but super yummy) and a pear dipped in peanut butter and honey. It’s negative star rating cuisine, but if it helps me through the next 23km, I’ll be officially making that food my weekly Sacrifice to the Biking Gods (not to be confused with the Viking Gods).

As I sit on the ground, sweat slowly cooling as the evening grows cold around me, I envy Past Me, who had the delightful pleasure of literally feasting for breakfast this morning with her friend @melindavigheu. I’d dropped her a message shortly after I’d gotten off the ferry. “I’m really close to you, wanna meet me in Lund?” Melinda, the sweet and spontaneous angel of a friend that she is, gets that 6am message and makes her way from Malmö to the Lund train station. She gets there 3 minutes before I finally arrive, as my GPS signal betrayed me, and I got lost over 5 turns in the city.

In a lovely café, which offers way more food than I expected, she invites me for breakfast and we dive into a nearly 4 hour conversation on climbing, biking, love, relationships, work, moving countries and friends.

We also chat about how I should stop eyeing the train schedule. “You can do it without a train!” Her motivation motivates me. After a visit of the local bouldering gym (Klätterhall), I roll on.

The evening is lonely. It’s been some time since I’ve sat in front of my tent alone. I’ve only ever shared it. With family, friends, partners – the climbing, and the regular romantic ones. Last summer, I went on a solo kayaking tour along a few lakes. The tent and I got caught up in a thunderstorm. I was alone, and I was terrified. Gripping the lining of my sleeping bag, I braced for the impact of every wave of wind smashing into the fragile structure of my tent. Trees collapsed around me. I texted my then best friend my exact coordinates, in case something happened. Tonight, I won’t be texting my coordinates.

Because for one (don’t worry, mom!), I’m in a safe camp. There’s a house with a young family down the road. They waved at me as they cleaned up their yard. There’s a house across from me. The moon is shining, the skies are clear, and I’m sitting outside my tent, eating lentils drenched in unsalted butter, cheese and bread for dinner.

Why am I on this trip? I still don’t know. I just know that being 40km shy of Lund isn’t enough distance to Berlin yet.