Joined May 2018 Message
  • Day23

    On top of the world

    September 20, 2019 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    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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  • Day17

    Bodensee

    September 14, 2019 in Germany ⋅ 🌙 20 °C

    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

    Cows

    September 14, 2019 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    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.Read more

  • Day15

    Beauty

    September 12, 2019 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    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.Read more

  • Day14

    There will be no intermission

    September 11, 2019 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    When I was 15, my dad took me to a concert at the metro in Wrigleyville with my best friend, Amy.

    We went to see the Dresden Dolls, and afterwards we got cheese fries at Wrigleyville Dogs across the street. It was back in the day of all-ages shows and smoking in bars. They played punk-cabaret and I was enraptured with the singer, Amanda Palmer, who was so raw and honest and personable.

    Over the years, I have watched from a distance as she went from punk singer to piano-playing songwriter extraordinaire. She is always pushing boundaries, highly controversial, and though imperfect (who isn't?), immensely inspiring to me for her honesty and compassion.

    She used to live in Regensburg, Germany, and while I was there I realized she was playing a show the same night that I had decided to take a day off, a short train ride away in Munich.

    She has always cultivated a kind and generous community online, and before I even had time to make a decision about going, a fellow fan offered to host me in her home so I could go to the show and not have to worry about finding a hostel.

    It turns out she is a construction site manager and bicycle tourer.

    I don't believe in fate, but it was obviously fate.

    So I went to see Amanda Palmer, and just like every other time I've seen her, it was an uplifting and beautiful experience. She talked about motherhood and abortion, about autonomy and responsibility, art and politics. And she played the piano.

    It was a perfect show to see while bike touring. This is when I feel free and inspired to be a better person, when I am extra susceptible to such influence.

    I had been sorry to miss the show when she came to Chicago, but now I know. Fate
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  • Day13

    Regensburg

    September 10, 2019 in Germany ⋅ 🌙 13 °C

    Nobody wants to hear this, but I nearly had a very bad crash today. Literally one mile from the city, my handlebar bolts loosened and I spent a terrifying five seconds or so imagining how terribly this was going to hurt and how hopefully I didn't die, but surviving a crash like this seemed pretty inconvenient, too, and there was just no good way out, and I hoped no one would be put off from cycling forever because of this, etc.

    Luckily, I lost a lot of momentum at the bottom and was able to brake enough to coast to a stop without falling. One of the bolts was stripped, but I tightened the rest enough to get me to my hostel. It should be an easy replacement.

    It was a very stressful end to a rough several days.

    I decided to take a day off to re-evaluate my trip (my initial 80-miles-a-day plan was a bit ambitious given the weather and the climbing....have I mentioned the climbing?), work on my bike, hydrate, figure out the rest of my route, do some laundry, catch up on these posts so no one worries I've crashed my bike (only almost), clear my head, you know, "rest." I wasn't scheduled to do all of this until Friday, but I think it's time.

    Anyway, Regensburg was one of the cities I was most looking forward to visiting, so I am not disappointed to have to spend a little extra time here.
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