This is part two of my winter journey on rollerblades, part 1 is over here. By now I was quite used to the cold, and I felt the spirit of adventure rushing through me. Soon I would be half way, take a rest day at a friend and have my blisters fixed. But what came up there I didn’t expect…
Day 5, February 6th: Belt Schutsloot – de Vuursteenberg (near Hattem) After 5 minutes on the road, I noticed a car was following me. Ordinarily I would slow down and allow the care to pass. Not this time…. The car kept following me en when it finally overtook me, somebody was screaming out of the window…. It was Trudy, a friend of mine from Groningen, together with Sjoerd! They came all the way from Groningen to bring me a cup of coffee and a banana. Beautiful! We stopped at a resting point and while we were talking about the newest and most trendy outdoor equipment, I was enjoying a lovely cup of coffee. Thank you Trudy and Sjoerd! Awesome! And off I went, on my way to the Provence of Gelderland.
I’ve seen the country change over the last couples of days. From the desolate potato fields of Groningen with its awful roads, to the woods of Drenthe with its perfect spots to camp illegally, to the swampy waterlands of north-eastern Overijssel where reed is harvested. The next time you see a house with a reed roof; you know it was probably won in this area. A nice way to learn something about your own country. What I’ve also learned is that roads follow a certain formula. Between villages and cities, roads consist out of smooth asphalt and concrete (except in Groningen); a true paradise for skaters, and my feet. As soon as you come close to a city or village, roads change into crappy asphalt. And when you finally enter a city or village: fucking bricks….Every single time! In between villages I’m a speed machine and as soon as I enter the village, I turn into a stunt pilot…. But for now, I’m camping in De Veluwe and lets hope all I’ll find here are beautiful forest roads and wild boars. Who knows, I might see one while setting up my tent!
Day 6, February 7th: De Vuursteenberg (near Hattem) – Elspeter bos Meanwhile I’ve been philosophical, shared ups & downs and giving you a heads up on my whereabouts. But what hasn’t passed under review is what an average day of a skatepacker (thought of it myself and I think it is well invented) looks like. I will now give you an extensive overview of today, Saturday the 7th of February.
05:00 – The cold wakes me…After seeing fresh ice on the inside of my tent (after just one hour) I knew it was going to be a cold night.
05:30 – 07:00 During catnaps I’m dreaming about Arnold Schwarzenegger…
07:00 The alarm clock rings, but because of the cold and dark, I’m snoozing till 08:00
08:00 – 08:10 Staring….and thinking how can I keep warm but still do things.
08:10 – 09:00 Making coffee with frozen water from my bottle. Damn, it sure was cold.
09:00 – 09:05 Will I eat soup with bread or just bread? (everything just goes slower when it is cold)
09:05 – 09:35 Eating bread (without soup)
09:35 – 10:00 Mapping out the way ahead
10:00 – 10:20 Taking care of feet, washing myself with wet wipes and getting dressed
10:20 – 11:00 Packing tent, backpack and find a way to the nearest road
11:00 – 11:03 Wondering if I will ignore the just received advice
11:05 – 14:00 Skating through the woods, beautiful roads covered with ice, snow, branches and other stuff. Did 10 kilometers In 3 hours. Maybe next time I should follow the given advice?
14:00 – 14:35 The Jumbo supermarket in Heerde: 1 meatball sandwich, eaten directly. 1 bottle of Spa lemon cactus. 1 bar of Daim chocolate. 1 can of lentils. 1 package of nasi spice mix. 116 grams of green beans. 1 thick piece of chicken filet. 5 pieces of gingerbread. 1 banana. 1 bag of peanuts, unsalted. 35/40 people who are glaring at me.
14:35 – 15:00 On my way to Epe. I’m at the end of my strengths and only skated 15 kilometers!
15:00 – 15:15 Trying to find the right way from Epe to Elspeet. Backpack on, backpack off, raincoat on, map at hands….
15:16 Yes, found my way out of Epe!
15:17 – 15:40 On my way to Elspeet, no water left, rain ,wind and I’m tired. Music gives me the energy to go on.
15:40 I’m stopping at a house asking the folks standing outside if I can get some water
15:43 I’ve been asked to come inside. I’m drinking a nice cup of coffee. Just lovely, chatting a bit, laughing and no skates on my feet
16:10 – 18:00 FULL SPEED AHEAD! Hills, woods and silence. Every now and then a car, but mainly the sound of skates on the road. I see lots of wild boar tracks
18:00 – 18:20 Walking into the woods, trying to find a good spot for the night
18:20 – 19:10 Setting up tent, making my bed, change clothes and I dive in!
19:10 – 20:10 Cooking and eating. A bit scared wild boars are going to steal my dinner.
20:10 – 22:00 Writing, mapping out the way ahead and taking care of my feet
22:00 – 22:30 Reading and chilling
22:30 Arnold Schwarzenegger…
Day 6, February 8th: Elspeter bos – Casa de Peetzak (Hilversum) When I get a whiff of my odor, I wonder if other people can smell this too. I guess they do, but I haven’t been receiving any strange looks yet. At least, no stranger than people look at me speeding on my skates. It has been 4 days since my last shower. Using baby wipes does the job, but it’s just not the same. I feel like a hobo; heavy backpack, greasy hair and a nice penetrating smell of adventure surrounding me.
Today I’ve covered the most kilometers up to now. Around 50 kilometers! When I saw the bar where I was meeting Peter, I was very happy….Oh, I was so fucking happy! Not because I made it all the way to Hilversum, but because tomorrow will be a day all about chilling. Sitting in front of a tv, drinking tea. And washing. And a trip to a skate store. And writing. And checking documentation. Am I going to chill tomorrow? Yes, I will. No skating. I’m going to give my feet and legs a rest. You have to, after a week of on-going skating!
I’m noticing my emotions are stronger. Today I was really angry. I came across a 5 kilometers long road with paving bricks….But I’ve also been laughing out loud! On a viaduct I saw a guy waiting for something, looking at the road. I asked him what he was doing. He replied: “I’m filming trucks passing by”. Ok. I decided to wait for a while and when a truck drove by and we did the universal ‘honk the horn’ gesture’ and the trucker honked! Ha! That was perfect movie material! The boy was radiating and I wished him all the best of luck. The smile on my face lasted for 15 minutes….
These are the things that make it all worth while. The ups and downs that go with such an adventure. But tomorrow no such thing. Just chilling and now for another beer!
Day 8, February 9th: Casa de Peetzak (Hilversum) My legs are still hurting from yesterday’s 50 kilometers. My right ankle is really swollen! I’ve made the right choice taking the day off today. But the more I’m resting, the harder it gets to reach my final destination at the 16th. But I really need the rest, at least my feet and legs need it.
Many things happened this past week. I’ve been wandering through a swamp in the dark, seeking a place to sleep. I’ve endured frozen forest roads and made lovely meals in the freezing cold. I’ve cursed paving bricks and praised asphalt. And I’ve been wondering what the fuck I’m doing. Why do I put my sore feet back inside the roller skates? For adventure? But what is the adventure? Skating or meeting people on the way? Or is it starting at point ‘a’ and not knowing where point ‘b’ is, subsequently setting up my tent. I think it is a combination. Camping, going from ‘a’ to ‘b’ only using your own strength and not knowing what you will encounter. Searching for the unknown and submit to it. But also knowing you stand strong in varied and strange situations.
When I look back, the extreme moments are the once that get stuck in my head; skating in the dark on 3 kilometers of paving bricks. My tent covered in ice. And the beautiful forest road which I zoomed over. But there are also moments when nothing happened, also in my head. Just nothing, like a meditation. And these are beautiful moments too.
I am worried about my right ankle….It is still very swollen and I hope this will heal quickly. If you have any advice, let me know! (Update in March: I used anti-infammatory pills, cooling spray and kept my ankle up. It was “better” the next day)
Day 9, February 10th: Casa de Peetzak (Hilversum) It has been 48 hours since I came rolling into Hilversum. My clothes are fresh again. I ate as much food as an entire family would eat in a week. I cleansed my body, peeling away the greasy layer that kept my body warm. And my ankle is…., well, it is still attached to my leg. I’m carrying with me a package of inflammatory agent and some cool-spray and this should keep me going. After 48 hours it is starting to gnaw at me. I am looking forward getting closer to my final goal tomorrow and finding a new spot for my little portable house to sleep in.
It is getting more difficult trying to find the right route and a nice camping spot. In the northern and eastern parts there are lots of woods and little roads (making it easy to find the way). Where I am right now, it is a different situation. The map shows a lot of roads, towns and very few green areas. But this is also a challenge which I gladly take on! Who knows what hidden treasures I might find?
I’m hoping to reach St. Anna ter Muiden within 6 days. It is the most westward place in The Netherlands, all the way in the deep south of the Provence of Zeeland. I still have to go 200 km, so you do the math! (let me do it; 33,3 km per day). And then there will be the finish. A huge victory! And you know how I’m going to celebrate this? With a one-way ticket back to Groningen. This will be a personal triumph. No flags, cheering people or other festivities. No finish line, just a blue sign saying; BELGIUM. And I will leave a message on it. This will be my victory!
Ps. Maybe I will bring the sign with me 🙂