Survival in the dangerous lands of North-West-Germany
At the moment we’re still really poor; Especially me, since I’ve just bought my (damn expensive) touring bike a couple days prior to our departure. This means that we have to save at every opportunity and can’t afford any luxuries. Of course, a coffee or a beer every once in a while are absolute necessities that we wouldn’t be able to go without, but in effect this strategy means wild camping every night and supplying ourselves from supermarkets.
While that’s all fine, we do anticipate things to be just a little bit different on our „real“ tour to Tokyo though: Then we’ll be using apps like „Warmshowers“ to connect with the (surprisingly big, and so warm-hearted) bike-traveling community, and from what we’ve heard there will also be plenty of nice civilians offering support in exchange for an interesting story. And also, we’ll be able to spend the money then that we earned in half the year leading up to our journey.
We’re not concerned about wild camping, even though it is illegal in Germany. We’ve wildcamped in forests and on hills, but also on the lawn in front of Lübbecke’s and Hannover’s town halls.
Funnily, the morning we woke up in front of the town hall of Hannover, we were greeted by police officers when we came out of our tents. They were more interested in our story than our camp in front of their city hall, asked us how we’d slept, wished us good luck and even gave us route advice.
Now, we’re in the Netherlands, in Hengelo, and we’ve set up camp yesterday in the garden of an evangelic pastor, Marc. He invited us for breakfast, and while we munch down on crispbread and wonderful jam, he tells us about his charity trips to Sri Lanka. We tell him about our plan to bike to Tokyo, and he is less impressed than anyone I’ve told before, which just feels so good because he doesn’t seem to have a crumb of a doubt about us being able to pull it off, while at the same time he seems to understand the complexity and danger of the endeavour.
After breakfast, Marc has to leave for mass, and we have to get back on the street: Amsterdam is waiting for us.
WHAT ABOUT HYGIENE?
Well, forget about the luxury of a warm 10-minute shower in the morning, which is absolutely the best thing about civilisation, period. On a bike trip morning, you replace that wonderful feeling of warm streams of water running down your neck with the equal amount of coffee, running down your throat.
Jokes aside, after a while, two young men doing continuous exercise and living off of can ravioli start to smell seriously bad.
When the point came at which we could not only not stand being close to each other, but insects in our immediate vicinity started to fall out of the air, killed by an olfactory overload, we started looking for a body of water.
Our map told us there was a lake close by, but we were separated from it by a small strip of forest, which we decided to push our bikes through, because there seemed to be no road leading to the lake. When we arrived at the other end of that strip, we noticed a small, maybe 2 meters wide canal. There was no good way to get over it, no way to go around it and it was filled with very muddy water.
Naturally, we did what we had to do: We built a makeshift bridge out of all the small tree trunks and branches we could haul over there, and tried to cross the canal.
Naturally, Quentin fell into the canal, and as he sat there covered in mud, the both of us realised that we hadn’t made the smartest decisions that day.
When we finally got to the lake, it turned out to be little more than a pond in the front yards of several garden houses. A cold ass pond, at that.
A more pleasant experience happened in Lübbecke, when I discovered that the doors of the local indoor pool were open for school swimming, and Quentin and me sneaked in between classes to take a hot shower that felt like heaven. I’ve never appreciated showering as i did at that moment.