Making new plans

Enjoy some ice mate

Ice cream, almost as good as cycling

There something in me that wants me to hate cycling every now and then. That something had its turn a few weeks ago when I came back from Germany. I had successfully finished my talks about my winter adventure. I had a clear direction where to head to. I was fixed (not in the bike sense though). Then things happened at my best friends wedding that tipped me over. Before I get into the details, I should offer my congratulations to the bride and groom. It was a beautiful ceremony. I haven’t got much fashion sense but even I understood the “I need to get it now” look that every unmarried woman seemed to have in their eye when they enviously looked at the bride’s dress. Anyway, still suffering from my last fall my knee was OK to walk again, but far away from being used for cycling, indeed singlespeeding. To top things I pulled a muscle in my right arm, which got injured in my road bike crash in 2008 in Wellington and played up every now and then, while dancing at night. It was 2am, it was one of my best friend’s most memorable days and all of the sudden I felt like a cripple. I was standing on the dance floor with an ice pack on my arm, water dripping over my shirt, which was half-open, trying to ease the pain. I(t) didn’t work. Now there I was, being heralded as ‘a hero’ in the press, now being reduced to someone I didn’t like.I felt very vulnerable, it was a remarkable moment. I felt very weak but there was nothing I could do about it. Life happened as I was making other plans. To make things more complicated I had met a girl and all of the sudden I felt I could do a while without cycling. Maybe I could try to be ‘normal’. I had a good time doing what I was doing. I proved that winter is a great time for cycling and I had some great pictures to show people when I was 80 years old. I managed to get almost a full page in various papers, and I felt it was time to make different plans. I had had a rough week with loads of emotional havoc, it was all a bit too much. After not drinking any alcohol for weeks I had a few glasses of wine on the wedding and I very much enjoyed the result of it.

Coming back to Edinburgh on Monday night I treated myself to a whole bottle of wine in one night while thinking about what to do next. I was thinking too much and I remembered scenes from Black Swan, a film I recently watched and very much loved. One remarkable quote from the film I remembered was ‘the only person standing in your way is you’. My thoughts were in my way that night, and I wanted to destroy them, even if it was just for one night. The wine did the job well. The morning after wasn’t a pleasant one, as a cracking headache said ‘Good Morning’ to me, and not in a gentle way. I didn’t have that feeling for such a long time, and suddenly I recognised I didn’t miss anything. I felt stupid. Did I really want to trade in a healthy lifestyle with an remarkable record of mad tours on the bike, great pictures and stories I could tell for my whole life for a rather average party life, which was, let’s face it, slightly more expensive as well? NO!

I had not been on the bike for such a long time, almost four weeks now, but suddenly all I wanted to was riding again, as there were so many roads untravelled. I was hooked again. I was in Scotland, it was pissing with rain and my colleagues were surprised when I turned up at work after calling in sick in the morning. The felt I was mad, and I pretty much felt the same, in a good way. I still had a headache, but I felt free and good. It was the day my passion for two wheels was reborn. All of the sudden I started making plans again, and freed my mountain bike from the ban of being solely used as touring bike. I had so much fun, my knee was not too bad and improving day by day. I was riding again. The passion had returned. So I was chucking the idea around in my head to see the person that I had met at the wedding again. The only problem was that Hamburg was a wee while away from Edinburgh and simply cruising over for a good banter and chat was difficult.

But I made a plan. I would rethink my idea of cycling as fast as possible home for the family weekend we had in May and I could stop by on the way down there. I am still not sure which bike to take, the choice is between the road bike and the singlespeed. I have done an extensive amount of race touring on the road bike already, just with a saddle bag holding the bare essentials and clocking 300k at the most on a single day. But I am still slightly afraid of doing that on the singlespeed. But here we go, no matter if many gears or only one, here is the next trip in a nutshell. The plan is to take the bike and only a saddlebag, covering the distance from the last trip (or more) in less than half the time. It sounds a bit nuts, but with longer days in May and (hopefully) much better weather, entirely possible. Montane will be on board again to equip me with the right shells, so the weather is the least problem. The planned route covers a different area this time, kicking off with a stroll through the Scottish Borders on the first day, which will be roughly about 180k long. After taking the ferry from North Shields I will be heading northbound this time from Amsterdam to Lingen on the Dutch/German border. From there I will pass Bremen to finish day three in Hamburg, with a possible buffer day there. The toughest day will be the leg from Hamburg to Berlin, covering roughly 300km on a single day. From Berlin Leipzig will be the next stop, before heading further south to Erfurt and finally to Friedrichroda, where I will meet my family and celebrate the weekend in style.

Although it sounds like racing, I don’t see it as such. It will be fun, I am looking forward to long days on the bike, maybe my bum does not so. The trip won’t be cycle touring in a traditional sense, it will be more a week long time trial. Regardless which bike I take, I will only be taking a saddle bag, my bike, two bottles (one with water, one with stuff), some basic tools and myself on the journey. I will be riding most of the day and enjoy the evening s with friends. That’s the idea, keep an eye on this blog for more info soon.