more biking
  • Day23

    On top of the world

    September 20 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 57 °F

    I spent a couple days in Germany after I finished biking, with good company and good scenery.

    After skirting the Alps for a week, I finally found myself in them. They were spectacular. We were literally in the clouds. I did not want to leave.

    Bike trips have had a profound effect on my life. They have provided me with access to beauty and adventure that I don't think I would have otherwise ever had. They have allowed me to develop resourcefulness, independence, and a good sense of what my limits are. I never want them to be over, but I also feel a deep appreciation for home and my life when I come back.

    Last year was the ten year anniversary of my first one. In 2008, I rode my bike across the United States. It was my first trip, it was a charity ride where you raised money for Habitat for Humanity and spent some time building houses along the way.

    I did not know that I would end up falling in love with biking, or that I'd end up being an electrician. I feel profoundly lucky that as an 18-year-old, I heard about a crazy opportunity about two things that sounded kinda cool and decided to take it.

    So anyway, I did some math out of curiosity. In the past 11 years, I've bike toured about 8,500 miles, in 9 different countries and 25 states. 2,200 of those miles were with Andrew (who I miss dearly and cannot wait to tour with again). Roughly 2,500 miles were completed alone.

    Not bad for someone who was too afraid to learn how to ride a bike at all until almost high school.

    And, for the record, I may say "alone," but I am forever grateful to people, ranging from strangers to dear friends, who have hosted me, given me rides to and from the airport, fed me, and encouraged me.

    I never feel as free or happy as I do when I am on a bike trip, and if anyone ever wants to find out how to get into it, I am always SUPER excited to talk about it. As far as travel goes, it's manageable with a very reasonable amount of money compared to almost anything else, and is completely accessible to a wider variety of fitness levels than most people assume.

    One of the most cherished memories I will have of Germany is how many people of ALL ages I saw traveling by bike. I turned 31 last month. Of course in the grand scheme of things that's pretty young, but I am excited to know that it is in fact quite realistic to believe that I still have decades of bike touring ahead of me...

    Until next time!
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  • Day18

    840

    September 15 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 79 °F

    Well, after 1350 kilometers (which sounds more impressive than 840 miles ;-) ), I made it to Zürich, Switzerland.

    Finishing a bike tour alone in a foreign country is a little strange. Nobody knows what I just accomplished, or cares.

    Not that I do it for people to be impressed, but it's a little anti-climactic to spend many, many days thinking of this moment, and then you get to your hostel and they're just like, "ok, here is your key."

    Well *I* know what I did. And it was crazy. I have climbed SEVEN THOUSAND FEET in the past few days. I have descended almost the same amount, on steep, thrilling and terrifying downhills. My legs hurt from climbing. My hands hurt from braking. I don't have any Swiss money, so today I got by on some gas station coffee and snacks for 44 miles, since most small local places don't let you charge and grocery stores are closed on Sundays.

    I am in Switzerland, so when I finally arrived and settled in, I ate cheese for dinner (specifically raclette - cheese melted over things) and had chocolate for dessert (ice cream) and I didn't really know what else to do with myself, so I went for a short bike ride to see the things. Of course.

    Lake Zurich, it turns out, isn't just a Chicago suburb, but an actual Lake, in Zurich, Switzerland. There are lots of swans, and the snowy-peaked alps can be seen in the distance.

    Tomorrow I take a train back to Germany to like, actually vacation for a few days before going back to work. I averaged 62 miles a day on this trip, carting my 100lb bike and gear. My body needs a break.

    I'm going to be filling in everything from the past few hundred miles tonight. More beauty to come.
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  • Day18

    Der Schweiss

    September 15 in Switzerland ⋅ ☁️ 59 °F

    I rode 44 miles through Switzerland to Zürich. The first 30 miles, the scenery was...well...

    The final 14 were literally 95% uphill in 90 degree weather.

    My last day of riding was supposed to be easy, but

    I forgot.

    It's a bike tour.

    Nothing is easy.

  • Day18

    More cows

    September 15 in Switzerland ⋅ ☁️ 57 °F

    We interrupt this irregularly scheduled update for a picture of this cow having a grand old time brushing itself

    This is a thing. A mechanical cow-brusher.

    It makes me happy.

  • Day17

    Bodensee

    September 14 in Germany ⋅ 🌙 68 °F

    Last night I enjoyed sunset on Lake Constance, then took a full moon ferry to Switzerland on the other side.

    I have lots of updates about the mountains to get to when I have wifi again, but I wanted to at least share that I did not freeze to death, but have merely been alone without service in the mountains for a few days.

    43 more miles.
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  • Day17

    Elevation

    September 14 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 70 °F

    Ok, no, I did not technically "cross the alps"

    But, like, I climbed for so long, for so many hours, up and up and up, and the alps were like, RIGHT THERE.

    Maybe, just maybe, I climbed a little baby alp?

  • Day17

    Cows

    September 14 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 59 °F

    Cows are like, A Thing, in the alps.

    They are very cute, and they are everywhere.

    Also, they all have bells around their necks. There were a few times I thought I heard a bicycle bell behind me. Nope. Just a cow in the distance.

  • Day15

    Beauty

    September 12 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 72 °F

    My day off was unexpectedly magical and I am feeling re-energized for biking. More on that later.

    For now, I am at mile 633 of my trip, at a beautiful lake in the foothills of the Alps. I've been in awe all day.