East 2 West, Rollerblading the Netherlands in winter. What did I learn?

This is the last part of the series about my winter rollerblading trip. Did you miss it? Here you can read part 1.

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Day 16, February 17th: St Anna ter Muiden – Scheemda
The last night wasn’t really cold. Now, that was really nice, because the night before was cold as ice! But still, on this relatively warm morning I went out early, because I pitched my tent illegally on a camping and also because today was the day I would be going home. It would be a seven hour trip taking the bus and train. The trip on my skates was 14 days in total, so you can say that 2 days skating is to equal to 1 hour in the train or bus. While I was sitting in the bus from Sluis to Vlissingen, I saw the roads I’ve been riding the days before. Beautiful smooth asphalt through the farmlands with a small village now and then. I didn’t feel the headwind from the comfort of the bus, but I knew it was there.


Once in the train from Vlissingen the memories started to appear; the last 3 kilometers riding on tiles in the dark towards the Belgium border. The beautiful sunsets, the national parks where I spent the nights in my tent, cooking delicious and simple food. In the beginning of the trip I asked myself why I went on this adventure, and what the adventure actually would be. Because every day I went to a supermarket to buy food. Every day I passed numerous villages so there were constantly people around. Or might the adventure be that I would camp out every night? I mean, then I could put a tent in the garden every night; it would make life a bit easier.

But no, it was the whole package. Every day from A to B and C on rollerblades. Living with my backpack. Not knowing where I’m going to sleep in the evening. And last but not least, all the emotions that come with such a trip. Emotions that change, as the road changes. Smooth road means happy thoughts, tiles mean clenched fists and an angry look. The emotions change depending on how much I eat, drink and rest during the day. A trip like this strengthens all the emotions you have. These kind of trips make you more wild; sleeping in a tent on the ground in the middle of nature, with all the animals around you (you hear them constantly, but never see them!), being dependent on the weather; the cold, sunshine, wind, rain and mist. Traveling from place to place every day; making kilometers and searching the best ways to go. But also your body becomes an important factor. Every day you feel the effort of your muscles, your skin being exposed to the weather and, especially in this case, the blisters. This all together makes you more wild than in your “normal” life. It’s like there is a flame bursting inside you. Like some kind of primal energy starts flowing. A energy we tend to forget because of our daily comfort. Central heating, hanging on the couch behind the tv or computer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy when I’m inside my warm house when it’s -10C outside. But to leave these warm and nourishing comforts, is good for a human. By spending 2 weeks outside in a tent in the middle of winter, a primal energy starts to flow inside you. And everybody has it, we are just not aware of it anymore.


But next to all the wild stuff with your inner caveman coming out, it’s also very exciting to go on an adventure like this. Not only going on an adventure is exciting, but some weeks before I started, I felt the excitement flowing through my body. Was I really going to skate across the Netherlands with a heavy backpack on my back? With me, not being a good skater at all? And sleeping outside in a small tent in the middle of the winter? How would that be? I kept on imagining it, and this gave me positive vibes of excitement through my body, a week before I actually went. Great!

Sometimes I was struggling. Sometimes there were no thoughts in my head for hours; I was just skating. Sometimes I was thinking about life, society and the world. The hard moments are the moments that count. These are the moments you grow as a person and see what you’re made of. Wandering for one and a half hour through a swamp, trying to search a spot for my tent for the night in the middle of farmlands. Three kilometers trying to roll over cobble stones in a pitch black street at the end of the day. Bad roads which gave the feeling your feet are being sandpapered. These are the moments you find your inner self and pull yourself together. These are the moments that make reaching the endpoint feel so much sweeter.


Of course these moments are overshadowed by the beautiful moments: flying through the forests of Gasselte, where there are only smooth roads and no other traffic. The nature of our biggest national park “The Veluwe”. Perfect sunsets and a chilly but clear sunrise on a meadow next to a windmill. Moments of pure bliss while sitting on a bench in the cold fog when the warm rays of the sun touch your face, and the only thought in your head is: wow, life is beautiful. But also a free cup of tea, a good conversation while drinking fresh coffee and experiencing Zeeuwse hospitality.

Now, would I do this again? Yes please! I’d love to! Actually I’m already looking forward to the next adventure, and for some kind of reason I think it will not take too long before I’ll go again.

To see other adventurers, trips and outdoor stuff make sure to like the Raw Sleep-out page.

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