East 2 West, Rollerblading the Netherlands in the winter (Part 1 of 3)

Schermafbeelding 2015-02-18 om 17.25.30

When I looked outside I saw it was cold. There was even snow and ice. And I was about to make a 450 kilometer long journey from the most Eastern part of the Netherlands to the most Western part on rollerblades. If the temperatures would drop a little bit more, I could go on ice skates! I packed my tent, sleeping bag and backpack and off I went. The fact that I just learned to skate a month ago made it extra adventurous.

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Every day I wrote a small piece about my adventures, experiences and my mischief. The whole journey took 14 days, this part covers the first 5 days. Enjoy reading!

 

Day 0, February 1st
Today is the day, I am going to leave tomorrow….Yesterday I started packing and the total weight is 12 kilo’s. Way too much! Add another 2 or 3 kilo’s in food and drinks and I’m at 15 kilos. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really disbalances me on my skates! Luckily my journey starts in the middle of nowhere with little traffic. So no problem if I start off wobbling like a kid. This last week I’ve been feeling pretty tense with the upcoming travel
, but in a good way. I was floating in a dreamlike state, constantly thinking about the moment of departure. The German border, the most eastern part of The Netherlands. My thoughts kept moving towards this spot; and all I have to do is skate. Nothing more, nothing less. Putting one foot in front of the other. 450 kilometers long.

What heightens the tension is the notion of me sleeping outside in a tent. Which spots will I discover, will I be putting up a tent in a stretched out meadow, or in a beautiful wooded area? Will I encounter any foxes or other animals? Will the tent hold a night full of rain? Another strenuous element is the cold. Every day I’m checking the forecast, and yes……It is getting cold! But with a sleeping bag from Twin Seasons Groningen I’m sure this won’t be a problem.

bag

Tonight will be the last night in a warm bed, in a heated room and the last night of my daily routine… I’m looking forward breaking routine and going out on an adventure on roller-skates. Defying cold, preparing food on a camping stove, discovering places I’ve never been before and enjoying the beautiful nature The Netherlands has to offer.

Day 1, February 2nd: Bad Nieuweschans – Wedderbergen2

While I’m heating my supper (cup a soup with bread) I can hear some crows and ducks nearby. It’s dark and in the distance through the trees, I can see lights burning of a small restaurant. I’m really looking forward to tonight. The outlook of heating a sausage on my stove makes me happy….I might sound like a hobo and I feel like a hobo, but this is probably because I’m only 15 kilometers from home. I started today in a rainy Nieuweschans. After 3, maybe 4 hours of skating I’ve now arrived in Weddebergen, a well known place in these surroundings.

I think I’ve covered a distance of some 20/25 kilometers and the blisters are already starting to form….I haven’t experienced any muscular pains yet, but this will inevitably happen in a few days. Seeing the blisters already appear, kind of makes me worry a bit. What will happen after 5 days or 10 days? Time will tell and I will persist!

Tomorrow I’ll rise up early in the morning. A nice cup of coffee and hoping I’ll manage to cover 40 kilometers. It will be a lot easier when the streets are in a better state. Today it was so bad, the wheels of my roller skates sometimes felt they were square instead of round. It is an important choice I have to make. Shall I take the beautiful small trails, with a big chance on walking on skates instead of rolling, or will I go for the bigger roads, which are very boring, but easier to move on. A reoccurring question adventurers ask themselves; am I taking the normal scope or off the beaten track? Believe me, it is different on foot or on bike. Either way, you can get stuck, but on skates it is like someone is holding you back. I will see what happens tomorrow. First let me make a nice little fire!

Day 2, February 3rd: Wedderbergen – Gasselte3
The tent is still wet from this morning. During the night I kept hearing things sliding of my tent….When I woke up this morning my suspicion was right…The entire tent was covered with ice. Apparently it was pretty cold in the northern regions. But, all I needed was some coffee and I was good to go.

Today was a very hard day with new insights. After skating for half an hour, my feet hurt. The part just above my right ankle hurt the most. And I also fell on my elbow, without wearing elbow pads. It didn’t hurt that much in the beginning, but during the night the fun really started. My arm really started to hurt when I stretched it. Keeping it at a 90 degrees angle, was the best position. Add the pain of my feet and nightmarish scenarios start popping in my head. I will never make it, if it is this bad after 2 days!
And why should I go on? I can just go home. No, I will not! I’m going through with this and finish what I started. It’s personal. I’m not doing this for anyone else. If I succeed, it’s my personal victory and it will give me the opportunity to inspire others. To show people everyone can do this. With a sole and 2 socks in the left skate and a Kleenex in my other sock… It does the job and I’m even starting to feel some enjoyment. And the free tea I got at the best bakery of Stadskanaal heightened the joy. I went into the woods when it was already dark, so I don’t really know what it looks like here, but I’m looking forward to the sun rising through the trees in the lovely Provence of Drenthe. And a shower. I’m really looking forward to a shower.

Day 3, February 4th: Gasselte – Stroovledder
Today it was summer. At least, it felt like summer! The snow in the Drentse woods made me suspect it wasn’t summer after all. I felt really warm, but that was probably because I was racing on my skates. Yes, I was passing old ladies on their bikes, instead of the other way around. As you may have noticed, I’m getting into a skate-flow, even carrying 15 kilos on my back. The roads were perfect today and this is more to my liking. Long
live asphalt and concrete! Death to paving bricks and cobble stones!

During eating a nice big plate of scrambled eggs in a cafe, I decided to find myself a warm bed for the night, giving me the time (and warmth) to clean my roller skates. The Inn was 14 kilometers from where I was. It was 16:15, so if I hurry, I could reach the place before dark. The road to Dwingeloo was perfect; beautiful solitary asphalt through the Drentse fields with the sun setting in the background. These are the moments making it all worthwhile!

I arrived at Dwingeloo at nightfall. The streets have turned into……fucking paving bricks! I’m trying to roll, but it is almost impossible. Just outside of Dwingeloo you are aware being in the middle of nowhere. No streetlights anywhere. So I’m trying to find my way through the dark on those fucking paving bricks, using only a headband light…..On moments like these I somehow change into a primitive man, producing sounds like an animal! After half an hour I finally arrive at the Inn, with the outlook on getting a good night’s rest

These encounters give me the feeling I’ve already been on the road for 3 weeks. You can experience a lot in a short time. When I look at yesterday’s pictures of my snow covered tent, I get the feeling I’m looking at something what happened days ago. This is what adventure gives you. Do you want your life to look longer than it really is? Go on an adventure!4

Day 4, February 5th: Stroovledder – Belt Schutsloot
Adventure: “unexpected, exciting experience”

Imagine, you are in Zwartsluis and you have just bought food for the night. The only thing left to do, is find a spot for your tent. A beautiful sundown colors the sky red and you are looking at your map. There are no green areas on the map and all I’ve seen the last 2 hours are meadows…..What do you do? Recently I own a smartphone. Specially purchased for this trip, so you can keep up with my experiences. But it has more functions, so Googlemaps it is. It turns out there are green areas! Meanwhile I’m skating in the dark on a deserted country road and pass such a green area.

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It is in indeed a forrest and off I go, to find a spot for the night. What Googlemaps didn’t tell me is that the green area is swampy peat-soil….. After one and a half hours of hiking through the soaked woods, my courage, like my feet, sank to zero. Ok, fuck it! I’m getting my phone! I quickly find the phonenumber of a bed & breakfast.

The moment of calling the B&B, I’m getting the feeling I’m taking the easy road. Having a phone with me, decreases the chance on adventure. But that is what it is all about; adventure. If I would sleep in a hotel every night, would it still be an adventure? Having a phone with me, makes it a lot easier. What would I have done, if I didn’t brought one? I would have found a spot either way. The story would have been a lot more exciting, and the experience more intense. Even more, I would grow after such an experience, knowing that even if the going gets tough, I would still find my way.

You cant wait for the rest? Like my Facebook page, scroll down and read the whole story before I publish it here! 

Schermafbeelding 2015-02-18 om 17.29.42

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4 thoughts on “East 2 West, Rollerblading the Netherlands in the winter (Part 1 of 3)

  1. Tof verhaal, leuk om te lezen. Helemaal nu ik zelf ook onderweg ben. Mooie foto’s ook. Normaal heb ik een navigatie dat weet je. De westelijke balkanlanden kaarten staan er niet op, ik merk dat het avontuur veel groter is nu ik constant mensen moet vragen om de weg. Sommigen nodigen me uit voor een lunch of koffie, dat zijn de momenten waar ik me het gelukkigst voel. Met navigatie was dat niet gebeurd. Technologie is handig maar het sluit mensen af van sociaal contact, merk ik. Keep it up. Benieuwd naar je volgende verhaal!

    • Thanks man! Ja, technologie is wel handig als het echt moet, maar als je op anderen en op jezelf bent aangewezen groei je een stuk meer. En daar gaat het om toch? Dat je groeit 🙂 Dus veel pindakaas eten, extra hard de pedalen in trappen en je komt terug als een reus van 3 meter! (mentaal gezien dan)

  2. Hoi!
    I visit the Netherlands regularly and over winter mostly. So finding this rollerblading trip of yours has motivated me to do a long distance winter rollerblade trip of my own.

    I was wondering if you could give some tips on wild camping. I have read that there are specific places in the netherlands that the forrest comission allows you to camp in But I believe you went and camped wherever you felt like anyway? :’__)

    I was also wondering if you maybe remember what gear you took. I assume sleeping bag, tent, cooker, and socks are the main concerns? what kind of jacket did you wear or did you take an extra one for when you are not skating so as not to overheat?

    I assume there are shops and little towns everywhere so carrying too much food is not necessary.

    Basically i just wanted to say you are inspiring and bother you for some practical advice.

    Kind regards
    Jani

    • Hey jani!

      Cool that you want to do a rollerblading trip as well! I was camping at the places I found on the road, but I made sure nobody saw me. There are some designated places. Here you can find a map of these places: https://sites.google.com/site/paalkampeerders/kaart

      For the gear, i just made sure I would be warm during the night. During the day I just wore a big sweater and a thick long pants, but I was really lucky with the weather. The socks were very important to me, but also was a bivvybag to keep my sleepingbag dry and have a couple of extra degrees of warmth. And I took a cooker, so I could make my own food and coffee in the morning. The jacket I wore was a fleecejacket; warm and if it gets wet, it would dry quite soon. But be aware, dutch winters can be quite though… It can get -10 at night, so then I would advice to stay indoors.

      I passed many, many towns and nearly every town has shops so you dont have to worry about that. Just make sure you get stuff before closing time which is around 18:00 on most days.

      Good luck on your trip!

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