Sitting in an empty office, well equipped with a sleeping couch, shower and kitchen I am writing this sitting in the middle of Hamburg. After cycling 310 km, which started with cold temperatures, which then changed into heavy rain and while the temperature gradually rose during the day, the wind did the same. In the end of the day the gusts were so heavy that I stuggled staying on the bike at times. The positive thing about cycling in rather adverse conditions? I loved every single minute of it.
I don’t like New Year’s resolutions. Often they are short term targets that easily get dropped once the year has progressed. If it helps you to change things you would like to, then fair enough. For me that concept doesn’t work. There’s a thing that works for me, and that’s simple. If you don’t like something about you, change it. Not in the New Year, now.
And that’s why I loved yesterday so much. Not because the miserable weather. Not because the grand vistas, it was mainly grey wherever I looked. I liked yesterday because I had made the commitment with myself to cycle all the way from Schwobfeld to Hamburg. It wasn’t an unreasonable commitment, it was merely ambitious. It might be very ambitious for some, but not for someone who has cycled a singlespeed bike 265 km fully loaden through the hills of Scotland and England. It was a commitment I made knowing my body and my capabilities very well. It was one day not procrastinating, but doing. It felt amazing.I started with enjoying the roads in the Eichsfeld I had cycled a few times before, the last time unfortunately to visit my dad in A&E. It was nice to connect a positive experience with the roads now, part of the process of moving on after a rather eventful and sometimes tough two years. I listened to Stornoway’s Beachcomber’s Windowsill, which has now it’s firm place as most favourite album. I was singing along when the riding got more boring or tough in equal terms. When I couldn’t feel my hands after the first 120 km in the cold, I stopped for lunch at McDonald’s (as I could see the bike through the window and didn’t carry a lock). I treated myself to a cheesecake, wrapped a waterproof jacket around my core and changed gloves. For the second chapter Calexico provided some much needed sunny sounds to ignore the rain and grey clouds. I even got to practise my pretty much non-existent Spanish. By that time I also stopped looking at the kilometres and just cycled on. Another McDonald’s provided a nice cup of coffee while I smuggled mum’s Stollen in and enjoyed a late afternoon tea. Although promised the rain hadn’t stopped yet, but I only had 75 km to go. The closer I came to Hamburg, the worse the roads and cycle paths got, and while the wind had provided a nice push during the day, it now gusted all over the place, and sometimes even stopped me. I also learned the lesson that Goggle’s directions are best enjoyed in German, as the English pronouciation of German street and place names is sometimes pretty hard to understand. I loved my cycle through the old Elbtunnel and finally arrived to say hello to friend I hadn’t seen for ages. Later than planned, but I arrived. By this time I had totally forgotten that this has been my longest distance I have cycled on the bike since years. I had forgotten that roads are dangerous, something that had creeped into my thoughts ever since the death of Mike. They might be dangerous, but the biggest danger is to let this feeling control what you love. There was much more in the legs when I arrived, but I was also very happy to call it a day. A chat with Jan, a nice Falafel dinner and sampling the nice atmosphere in Central Hamburg ended a lovely day. And while I was crawlng into my sleeping bag out in the office where I crashed, listening to Stornoway’s ‘Drive on’ I felt I had a proper adventure. This is what almost every day at the round the world trip felt like, and it was easy to replicate that good feeling. Rather than ending a year with a very good feeling, I see yesterday as the start of a great journey in the future. The good feeling of having finally moved on from the last two years of telling myself those big distances on roads weren’t for me anymore. While I love off-road cycling as much, I also really enjoyed the feeling of road tripping over long distances, drifting through the landscapes and enjoying the open skies. Today I woke up with the good feeling of making a commitment with myself, no matter how small I or big, sticking to it and fulfilling it. While I had no clue how I finally get there, I knew that I wanted to get there, and changed direction where I needed. I tried and failed as many times it needed to get there. And I did.And while I couldn’t put it in better words, here’s the chorus from Drive On:
So fuel up your mind. And fire up your heart and drive on. Drive on, drive on. And when your days are darker, put your foot down harder. Drive on. Fuel up, and drive on. Fuel up, and drive on. Drive on.