Just around 500 kilometers to go, then I’m home. Then I made my way to the Mt Blanc and back from maastricht by bicycle. At least, I think it’s around 500 kilometers because I’m traveling without a map, and then you’ll never know how how far things really are.
After a beer-full evening at the International beer festival in Karlsruhe it was time for the last days of cycling. Mannheim was already signed in Karlsruhe so from there I was just following signs. But the signs got less, and at some point it seemed I was following the sun again. And the sun was there. Actually it was the only thing in my face and mind. It was 44 degrees and due to tailwinds it felt like 50. The roads where melting, I was melting and my cheese was melting. Finally after following the sun, asking people and having a look on the compass now and then I got to Mannheim, and made my way to the small town of Worms. The night was hot, but next day it cooled off and the temperature was more endurable.
I knew if I would follow the Rhine from Worms on it would take me 60 extra kilometers, and I found a map telling me to cut the road and go to Alzey and further to Bingen, where the Rhine was there again, like a snake trough the mountains. It was definitely colder again! When I hit the town of Bingen there was a small party going on. I asked the people what the party was and they told me it was the “Winterfest”… A winterfest in the summer? Yes, since the temperature was just 14 degrees. This was 30 degrees less then the day before!
Bingen, just 200 kilometers to go. That would be 2 days! Would I really be home before the weekend and could I celebrate the weekend with my friends? I hoped so! But my body thought different. When I woke up the next morning in a wine field just outside Bingen my throat was sore, my body ached and goosebumps appeared after being extremely hot and cold. Shit, I could not use this! I’m was close now! I hauled myself on my bike and cycled 60 kilometers in a trance. Finally in Koblenz I decided it was better to call it a day, search for some cheap accommodation and rest for the evening and night. For some kind of reason it was a hard choice to make. I was scratching my brain for 15 minutes thinking if I should go for a hotel or just tough up and go further. Why was this choice so hard? Why wasn’t i directly thinking about a hotel? First off is the money of course. But it also felt I was chickening out; if things weren’t like they should, I was taking the easy way. And isn’t adventure about finding your borders and stretching them? Seeing what you’re made of? Yes, but your health is the most important and your body has the biggest voice in this. So I decided for the hotel, rest and a good night of sleep.
The next morning my breakfast was transported into the sink smoothly and with this action also the realization that a extra day in the hotel might be a good idea. I was so close from Maastricht, but also so far away… I spent the day in my bed sleeping. It seemed I overdid it a little, hardly taking brakes from when I started in Chamonix back to the Netherlands. The only full day I rested I was drinking on the International beer festival, and that didn’t do any good for my body. My mind needed it; the socializing, meeting people and having laughs with them, but the body needed different things. Rest mainly. But after a whole day in bed and a kind of ok night I had to leave the hotel. The hotel was booked out, so I had to go on. My stomach was still not good, but a little better then before. I did 90 kilometers from Koblenz to Bonn. Now I was really close and after a good long night in a hostel in Bonn my stomach decided a big breakfast was allowed in. With this I felt confident enough to make it to Maastricht!
The weather was sure to test me a little, strong headwinds and rain. After beating this with some good techno and hardcore music pumping from my headphones I finally found myself in the Netherlands. Now it was just 35 kilometers to go, and one and a half hours to make it to the train station. My last “good” connection to Groningen went at 20:38. It was one and a half hours of cycling I’ve never done before. Pushing more then ever before, going uphill with a constant 15 km/h and when not going uphill trying be have a constant 25 km/h. But finally I’ve made it to the train station. I looked at the clock, 20:40… The train left… I didn’t care. I’d take the later, less good connection, but I’ve made it! Tired and cold I rolled into the train station but the pride of being there again after all these weeks was radiating from me!
All these weeks of adventure, meeting so many good people, seeing such beautiful landscapes and doing so many kilometers made me feel great. Now it was time for a nice and long train ride home, where I could relive memories, phone with my mom and sister and just sit and listen to music. Thinking about the fact that it is possible to cycle from Maastricht to the Mt Blanc and back without a map.
Next up I’ll post picture report, but in the meantime you can like my Facebook page!