After having stayed in Kattrup, Denmark, for almost two months, I thought it was time to cycle back home again. It’s true that riding in shorts and a T-shirt is more comfortable than donning everything you’ve got, because it’s the month of December you chose to go back home.
I saw that as a challenge. It was a big advantage that I didn’t have to use my tent, because the hosts I had on my way up to Denmark where happy to welcome me in their cosy and warm houses again. I knew the way, just the other way round this time. All I had to do was keep on cycling.
And keep on cycling is the best thing (it’s always the best thing, since there is no greater joy than cycling) you can do when the temperature is just hovering above zero degrees Celsius. When you’re in motion, you get warm, and therefore you get sweaty. And that is where the danger lies. When you have a stop to eat a sandwich and a lukewarm cup of coffee from your thermos, you have to be sure to be out of the wind. Nonetheless you get chilly quite fast and need to swallow your dry bread and get going again so that your sweaty body doesn’t freeze. Busshelters are always the best options to have a stop, but during wintertime even more.
When I woke up in Osten-Isensee after spending again a lovely evening with the Warm Shower family over there, I didn’t feel quite well. Not really sick, but far from fresh. I hoped I would make it about sixty kilometers to Bremerhaven, go to the other side of the Wezer to Blexen/Nordenham and then take a train to Varel to get to Bockhorn to my last hosts or if I would be exhausted I would go further by train to Leer.
After waving the family goodbye I already felt after a few kilometers that Bremerhaven was far too ambitious. Hemmoor was more likely. I got there, bought a train ticket, texted my girlfriend that her rest would be over a day sooner than expected, because I reckoned I could get home already that day. And I could indeed make it to Groningen.
The local trains in Germany were great. No steps in the train, plenty of space to park the bike. Only the train from Bremen to Hamburg was shit. A little stairway to get in and to get down to the bike department. I didn’t feel the strength to haul the bike down and I especially didn’t like the idea to haul it back up again when I needed to get out in Leer.
Just before I had to leave the train a grumpy conductor mentioned the fact that the front train compartment had no stairs and that I needed to go there or get my bike down where I was. Either way, I wasn’t allowed to have my bike in the little hall where people had to get in and out. Luckily she wasn’t grumpy enough, so I was granted to stay there for the last ten minutes.
I arrived in Leer later than scheduled. I had to bike to Weener, since the bridge between Leer and Groningen is still out of business (a real pain in the ass!). I couldn’t quite find the station, it was dark, I was tired and I was late, so I missed the 17:00 train and had to wait three quarters of an hour for the next one. It was cold, windy and lonesome. My girlfriend texted me before arriving in Leer that I wouldn’t make Weener in time, so I had to stay in Leer in a refreshment room or something like that. Next time I will listen to her…
In the end I arrived in Groningen and was offered a warm meal and a bed. Although I didn’t have the strength to cycle home, it still felt a bit of a failure to take the train back home. But why? Is it not wise to do that? What is the gain to push yourself even more and maybe get even sicker than I already was? Why do I get that notion inside my head that I failed myself? I think my sister-in-law put it down very nicely:
It’s not cheating when your health is involved. It’s not winning if you ignore your body even if you reach your goals. Have a nice trip and take care!
But why did I get ill in the first place? What can I find as an excuse? My first host in Fjelstrup, Denmark, didn’t feel great that evening, but he assured me he wouldn’t breathe on me, as he told me with his usual sense of humour. Nonetheless, did he infect me? Or wasn’t I up to the task of cycling during winter? Can’t believe the last thing to be true. It had to be him, right?
I guess the most important thing is that I was feeling a hundred times better when I woke up the next morning. Fresh to think about new adventures!