Quit and Go - 7 months, 7 countries, 7000km
So we introduce ourselves, to this third travel report on the Rohloff News, though, it's been a couple of months since the last one. From June, we had only went 2000km by bike in two countries, Germany and Czechia, Everything was new and we were totally untrained and unexperienced. Those are our keywords for the new introduction.
Hello, we're Franzi and Fabian, two completely normal people, at the beginning of thei 30s, that used to work two completely normals Jobs and lived in a completely normal apartment, drove two completely normal cars- mostly to work and back. At the weekend we liked playing board games with friends, but mostly looked for peace on the couch and in front of the TV after a stressful week. We felt like life was just passing by, like we didn't use it and we were really unhappy with that.
Sometime at the end of 2019 we decided, that we wanted to change something, to choose a whole new everyday life- we wanted to experience life completely actively and conciously.
We decided to make a world trip- by bike.
So we made our first kilometers in the lockdown-Germany and went over the Elbe cycle path to Czechia. After getting our Covid vaccination we could go our actual prefered route, western over the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Spain to Portugal. This time we were allowed to cross the borders of our western neighbours, cycle on the wide cycle paths of the dutch and enjoy the right of way of the cyclers. After Czechia, this was a welcoming change. We crossed the Ijsselmeer on a dike, that was over 30km long from Lelystad to Enkhuizen all the way to Den Helder. From there we always cycled along the coast, through beautiful dike landscapes, over the Den Haag and Delft, we looked at both cities, further to the province Zeelande to Middelburg. In the Netherlands we spent our camping nights mostly one of the many farmer campings, that are really found everywhere over there. For 15€ per person on average (2 people, 1 tent), you get a spot between chickens and cows, a shower, most of the time a little outhouse or a bungalow and especially as cyclists your peace.
From Middelburg we went over into our forth country, Belgium. In Antwerp we found stuff like warmshowers (platform, similar to couchsurfing, only for cyclists) and an accommodation for 2 days to explore the city. After just 4 days in Belgium, we went over Ghent into country number 5: France
We were proud. Very proud, when arrived the sea in France. That was truly an undescribable moment for us being the first time on the cliffs of France, even if it was only the english channel- we would reach the Atlantic too, for sure. With arriving at the french coast, over confidence went up and our muscles and condition have also had a noticable change. While the altimeters in Czechia had us cursing and sweating, the cliffs in France had us less cursing, but surely equally sweating, but now we would happily drive them up and down. And up and down again. In France it was the first time feeling like we've actually arrived on this journey. As far as it makes sense to speak about „arriving“ on a journey. But we finally had the feeling of experiencing this journey like we had imagined it. We started a little rough and of course quite helpless in Germany- we had to handle route navigation and completey changing plans, because of the pandemic situation back then- we could follow follow the coast for the first time in France, the sea always to our right, to get into the direction of the sun and the south. So wehoped. How we all know now this year's summer turned out as a total disaster and we didn't get much sun on the bike. So going on, there was much water from above and wind from the front. As opposed to Belgium and the Netherlands though, wildcamping was much better possible in France. We always found a place for our tent, if it was on the beach or anywhere else in nature. The French still live after their saying „Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité“ (freedom, equality, brotherhood), which stems from the french revolution and is deeply ingrained in the constitution of France. Therefore everybody lets the others do as they please, as long as they greed and don't cause any trouble. The French love to go camping themselves in the landscapes, the nature and land can be used together. Therefore building up the tent in the evening especially on the natrual cycle paths, along the many channels, was relaxed and peaceful.
France is a big country and we spent pretty much exactly two months there. We first met other bike travelers on our journey, some coincidentally, some planed. We cycled with all of them for a while, exchanged our experiences, learned from each other, until the ways parted again.
The west coast of France was especially beautiful to us, on the same height as La Rochelle, on the south past Bordaux. In Arcachon, we climbed the biggest wandering dune of Europe- the Dune du Pilat- with over 100 meters. The view from the top to the sea side, was something that we've never seen before. It seemed like a different world being stuck in the deep sand on the top. Our tip for this destination: make sure to climb the dune in the morning. This way you avoid the other Pilgrims and the dune is almost empty.
We cycled through Le Landes, the biggest coherent forest region in west Europe. Created after the afforestation order of Napoleon. A good idea he had. It is artsy beautiful, idyllic and smells incredibly good like pines, heather and a lot of nature.
Over Biscarosse and Mimizan the coast led us further to Bayonne and Biarritz just before the spanish border. We were just before the Pyrenees now. Of course we wanted to cross thes, our first pass of 1000 altimeters, our first summit challenge. We were ready, we finally wanted to enter our sixth country on our world tour and we also wanted to cross the pass. Although we were stopped on a camping site in Biarritz.
Fabian's back gave up. After our start in Czechia Fabian had already noticed a heavy backache. While barely feeling anything while cycling, the pain got even worse in the morning and in the evening. We tried a couple of things until we reached the west coast of France. Tons of stretching exercises, appointments with an osteopath- everyone, who we talked with, doctors, physiotherapists assumed a sciatica, which is pain that comes from the sciatic nerve and goes over the lumbar region and buttocks, down into the leg. After the pain juust didn't get better in months, we had to demand a serious examination. We had to bite the bullet and pause our journey, contact international health insurance and go to a hospital. In Biarritz a CT (computed tomography) was issued. The results shocked us all and all of a sudden our world tour was strongly endangered. The CT showed, that Fabin had a disc prolapse ob the left side. He did the wrong back exercises every morning and every evening for months, because we had thought the pain had a different cause.
We didn't let that discourage us and we didn't want to cancel the tour. Fabian spoke to the doctors and got a green light for going on. Slowly and advisedly, no stronger vibrations and in no way heavy lifting.
How we continued our journey and how Fabian got over the first pass over the Pyrenees with a disc prolapse, will be in the next article.
Facebook channel: https://www.facebook.com/quitandgo/
Polarsteps travel route: https://www.polarsteps.com/QuitandGo
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuMk2oebn7YtqMpfIyMEHFA