I knew it would be like this and still my body aches, I’m tired, physically and maybe also a bit mentally. Sort of looking for a new balance and looking for confidence. Looking for confidence in my bike, my best buddy on this journey. I have got used to the hard saddle, mainly with the help of an enormous jar of Vaseline, but still take a spare tire with me all the time, because oof, those bad roads. Will the tyres cope and is there a wobble in my wheel or not? I am especially looking for balance and confidence in myself, because my god what is happening to me and how hard this life is!
I’ve been on the road for 16 days now, on the road in a new episode of a new existence. My choice of letting go of the ‘normal life’, getting on a bike and just go. It takes a lot of getting used to.
The last two years I lived in the always roaring city of Barcelona. I enjoyed an in a way extravagant life, had a career, got a cool job with an international company and excellent salary. I partied a lot, had access to enough booze and food and was always surrounded with people.
It seems so unreal now. Now that I am here riding through the rural emptiness of Northern Spain. What a contrast. I have spoken to maybe 2 or 3 people the last couple of days. For hours and sometimes for days it is just me and no villages or buildings where so ever. During this time of year everything is closed and villages look like they’re abandoned. 1200 kilometres showing on the meter at my bike, and many cold nights and lonely moments passed
I struggle with myself, my bike, my thoughts, my assumptions and whether I would like to share these inconveniences. I want to write, take photos about what I see and experience but how about this? Am I bold enough to confess not only to myself but also to another that even if I chose this life the inconveniences of it are pretty hard and it does not come easy. It is me who wants this so bad so why would I bother others with the things that make this so hard for me. I keep peddling kilometre by kilometre, curse at my bike and almost get discouraged because I really have to get off my bike again because the dirt and sand path is too steep and makes it impossible to stay on my bike. I keep encouraging myself almost out loud to keep going, 50 kilometres… 40… just a little bit more, come on, just keep peddling and you’ll get there eventually. The desolation sometimes nearly pulls me off my bike and it colours the surroundings.
From a life in which you’re constantly surrounded by people, you enjoy the nice weather and parties to a life in which you can only rely on yourself for 100% of the time, every minute, every day.
Calling home, thank god for the invention of the phone, talking to one of my best friends, I’m not afraid to share my doubts with him. I ask him what he thinks, I want to show and share the pure life, all of it, which includes the hardship. It is okay to share, right?
He reassures me and tells me I should. I still have my doubts, it is only been 11 days and what do people think of me when I already show my weaknesses?
He tells me: He you, get real, it makes complete sense. You come from such a different life with a warm house, a tv, a comfy bed, always surrounded with friends, regulated in work and spare time and everything comfortable. And now boom, here you are in the cold, and having to spend the long days on your own. Cycling in bad weather on awful roads, sleeping on a little mat, in a small tent, all alone on deserted camp sights and sometimes without as much as a supermarket to buy some decent food. It isn’t strange that this is the hardest part. As much as you love this way of life, isn’t it the transition that makes it hard in the beginning? It is as if you are resetting your life, in 2 to 3 months you’ll be completely adjusted, your body will be adjusted, but for now it is just fucking hard. Get real man, don’t hide it, show it.
Sometimes it’s friends or family you need to get back on your feet, to help you find out what it’s about and to help you see what is truly important. Because yes, I’m having a rough time and at times a really rough time.
Physically all went well, 760 kilometres in the first 8 days. Just straight through the rural Bask country. A nice result, but hard on my body. The patella band of my left knee is protesting, is begging me to take it easy because that’s the only way to restraint the severe annoyance. It’s really annoying because how much I’d like to go cycling, I am in constant frustrating pain. Of course that will end, but for now it’s really annoying. The choice is to take a few days off but in this deserted country I prefer to go on for now, no place to stay.
But my biggest enemies are the cold and the loneliness. I fight it, I cannot yet embrace it. Life on a campsite is maybe the best there is for me, but now, when it’s freezing at night and with all the rain, not for now. I have trouble sleeping and having to put a tent up in very cold weather after a day on the bike really sucks. Having to sit on the cold ground for fixing a small meal on my little gas torch, it’s pure poverty. All this only works when it’s not raining, when I’m lucky enough to have a dry night. Having to crawl into a cold tent in the dark and cold, you guessed it; loneliness crawls in with you. Those are the times I could really use a hot shower, a bed, as simple as they come and also just a chair and some space to just sit and recover.
Starting out like this in the fall and with winter coming I thought Portugal and Spain offered a good place to start, so it seemed. Of course I also thought about the challenges I’d meet in the mountains up north, but really optimistic, opportunistic perhaps, I just went for it and figured I could do this. And of course I’ll do it. Choosing this way of life means I’ll find my way again and I’ll know again how to deal with this weather and perhaps even worse. I know I can, I have done New Zealand during the fall and winter as well, so I can do this too. But now I know it takes some adjusting again.
And then there’s that sacred ‘need to’, I need to cycle so and so many kilometres within so and so much time, I need to get there the next day, I need to be careful with my money so I’ll go camping instead of staying in a hotel even when it is dead cold. All those ‘need to’ statements are in my head and travel along. I know. One by one I’m getting to know them. Actually, I talk to them and therefore talk to myself. And then I discover that because I’m always busy with where I need to go I forget to see and enjoy where I am. I escaped the pressure of a regulated life only to confront myself with timetables and regulations again. Funny guy. At some point I’m able to laugh at myself, but at times I just fight myself for it. Pure life, it shows that for myself especially it is a discovery. So here I am and here I go. Discover, experience and live life to the max. That’s me, I am in and I’ll go all in.
There are moments in which I feel the flow, the ‘yeah, this is it’ moments I know that will return. Now it’s all about buckling up, being a big boy and acknowledging that times are tough and knowing it also has to do with being who I am. I want this, I am looking for the contrasts and differences in life, always have done and probably always will. This includes the experience, the pureness and the intense emotions. Anger, frustration, pain, loneliness, joy and the delightful silence and love for life and myself. Human in development, explorer, adventurer, photographer with an eye for simplicity, people, panoramas. As a photographer I use the contrast from dark to light to enhance the beauty of the pictures. I intent to see my days in such a way as well. In contrast. Just in travel for sure. My journey has only just started.