I have finished the last leg of the Emigration Tour and now I am in Sweden in the region of Värmland – where it all began 15 years ago. Wonderful to ride those roads again where I first learned to ride. The sun has been shining and Sweden is at its best.
I was lucky to get company with a good friend from Gothenburg and onwards. She was on her way further north so it was perfect – after a night at my parents’ I followed her a bit on her way saying goodbye at the petrol station in Molkom.
I’m in Belgium, the campsite is strangely empty but at the same time filled with flags and garlands supporting different football teams. There are some retired people walking around and chatting to each other. The showers required some strange device to work and the hot water too, I wasn’t given this, nor was I registered when entering. I have no clue about the price; I was just waved in with vague instructions on where to put up the tent. I misunderstood them, naturally, but could stay where I was.
At first riding in Belgium was a disappointment, despite having the GPS set to avoid motorways I was sent on them anyway. But after a while I got to ride some absolutely magical little roads, not more than a paved cow path, and some country roads too, in-between fields, looking pretty much like France.
Finding petrol stations has been a hassle, not only do I try to avoid paying with card since I got several stations putting a 100 or 120 euro hold on the card for 10 days. Some stations only accept cards, and some of them don’t even accept mine if I try to use them. The GPS has shown to be hit and miss in this area; it shows not only petrol stations which are closed down but also those which are not yet built. I learned the stressful way that I need to start searching early to fill up in time,
It is colder up north, I need to sleep with my thermals and today I rode the whole day with the liner in my jacket, a long sleeve top, scarf and the thicker gloves. The wind was cool. It made me wonder why I left Spain.
I’m not sure why but the riding makes my shoulders and neck hurt. Even though I should be better trained than last year my problems are greater. The human body is a way too fragile construction to put up with all the fun the brain thinks of – riding back roads for 9 hours a day apparently is more than my body can take, regardless that it is for fun. Today I did some yoga in between my tent and my bike. It made me feel free – once upon a time I was a teacher. That seems so long ago!
Entering Germany was even cooler. I felt like a hardcore camper when deciding to still opt for camping when it was raining, I was convinced it would clear up – besides, the hotel bed might be uncomfy. Better not risk it. The campsite cost 4 Euros and an additional 50 cents for the hot shower. And it did clear up, just a bit later than I would have preferred. To compensate for not having a hotel room to withdraw to I went for a run. It was rewarding, I did my fastest 10km ever on that nice countryside road outside Bremen.
While uploading this I’m already on the ferry and it is about to leave Kiel. The last day was rather eventless. I had a short ride GPS set to “avoid motorways” as usual, suddenly it tells me it has found a new route that saves 97 minutes, do I want it? Why not? Of course, it directed me onto autobahn. Rather soon there was a massive queue due to construction work, I surfed it like a Spaniard, riding past on the curb, some small cars started to follow me and I felt like the leader of the rebellion. Well, thanks to a combination of German roads and Spanish riding styles I arrived in Kiel with plenty of time to do shopping.
I went to Louis Motorrad and got carried away almost buying both boots and trousers, well I need both but it would have set my budget back 500 Euros, and how would I add it to my packing. Further more I started to worry that new boots would give me blisters, can’t risk that with my marathon training. I had to give my apologies at the counter and in the end I only got the trousers. I hope they are as ace as my first impression.
Second day has come to an end, I crossed the river La Garonne and realised that yes, it is not only a wine. Now I’m hiding in my tent to not get mosquito bites, I got some nasty ones already and I don’t fancy more. My tent is on the small side, I can barely sit upright in the tallest section. But it was the smallest and lightest one when packed – pros and cons ?
Today I have been riding the whole day using the GPS and it works beautifully. Even though I can’t use it with audio, I always ride with earplugs, there is no problem understanding where to go when on the open road. When trying it in Madrid city it was a bit trickier though. I should have got one ages ago if I had known, well, well.
Today I rode north from Huesca crossing the Pyrenees passing Lourdes and further north east. I have stayed on the small roads and since I covered about 400k that was a full day. I have seen so much beauty. I opted to go on a small and twisty mountain pass since I don’t know when I’ll come back to the Pyrenees again. When crossing into France I did shed a tear, but then I stopped in a café and had a French omelette with cheese and felt that life is good.
The most spectacular thing I saw today was a valley where there where flocks of birds of prey hovering over the ground. Since I was on a viewpoint rather high up I could see them from both above and underneath. It proved difficult to capture this on camera though, Christopher should have been with me, he would have managed better.