Roermond — Frankfurt: 328km

To be honest, I’m not sure what to write about here. I have high ambitions and hope that I can construct a narrative that is interesting. A travel journal that is more than a blog about cycling. One example is Ilya Pfeiffer; who wrote about how he cycled to Rome, but in a way that is worthy of a book. A good book. In it he constructs his philosophy of the hill. I can’t even remember what it was exactly, but the theme elevated the book. One of the issues with hope or expectation is that it highly influences your perceived reality.

Today I’ve been thinking about what my philosophy might be, but didn’t get that far. What I did start to realise that this is going to be though. We’re in Frankfurt right now and I’m writing this from a weirdly modern, vacated, business hotel in some corporate district. The lighting here looks more like a bad nightclub than a classy hotel and I won’t say more about the food then that it had carbohydrates in it.

The reason it’s vacated is actually because it’s the 1st of May, which is a public holiday in Germany (Labor Day). Unfortunately for us. Well not really the fact that it’s a public holiday but rather that everything is closed, two days in a row. Yesterday one of the spokes of Xander’s back-wheel broke a mere 20 km south of Bonn, which was the starting point of our second day of cycling. This being a Sunday we were not able to get any further than trying our luck at a hotel that rented out bicycles and claimed to have some workshop setup that we could use. Tough true, we weren’t helped much further as we didn’t bring a spare spoke, nor have the ability to replace it ourselves. The chef of the hotel, was surprised at our preparation. But after accepting that fact, he wasn’t able to help us further anyhow.

In our desperation we decided to continue. We had already lost a few hours, and thus quite a few kilometres. We ended up in Boppard, after cycling along the Rhine for the whole day. The route was beautiful, with castles lined up on either side around every bend. When almost at Boppard we encourtered a procession of drunkards, who had trouble understanding the concept of a bike that wants to cycle on the cycling lane, and almost freaked out at the sight of recumbent bicycles (which is probably what everyone does, but most aren’t that intoxicated to show it). Anyway, we shouted at them, and they returned the favour. So was our first encounter with the Boppard locals. Later we learned from a poster that the last day of April featured a “weinwandlung”, which explained the state of being of the locals.

It was already late when we finally went for dinner, and the busy weekend seemed to make even that hard. Only the third restaurant was willing, albeit reluctantly, to serve us something. Eventually the waiter was happy to chat to us, though it took him to realise we were Dutch, and for him to say “Oh you’re Dutch, why didn’t you say that before?” In a tone that was quite indignant. He was friendly though and we learned he used to own a restaurant in Enschede, which allowed us to joke about his Dutch accent a little. “Coooola”. (I know, says the guy from Limburg).

So the gist is: This journey is going to be tough. We were planning to cycle approximately 150km per day, which would allow for 4 resting days in between and 4 days in Istanbul. Right now we’ve cycled respectively 120, 90 and 120km. Obviously we’ve had some bad luck along the way, but to assume that that won’t happen seems foolish. Tomorrow we’ll have to get Xander’s bike fixed, so that won’t be a full day of cycling either. Lastly the pains are starting, which might influence our ability to continue.

There is this one quote however that I keep coming back to, and which is highly applicable this journey: “We do things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” — JFK. It’s the adventure, the stories and the hardship that count. We’re scratching resting days and we’ll get there eventually, even if we have to cycle to the airport directly. We’re far away from home today, and will be further away tomorrow.

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