24

This post is dedicated to all those who are interested in how a typical day on the bikes looks like or to those who wondered what we’ve been doing all day long and last to those who thought we’ve been on a never-ending vacation.

6.30am (4.30am in Asia) – The alarm goes off. I pretend being still fast asleep, Johan starts stirring.

6.35am – Johan: “It is almost a quarter to seven, we have to get up”. I am ignoring this, still pretending to sleep.

6.40am – Johan: “We have to hurry now”. Me (thinking): ’Why the heck do we have to hurry, did we book a train? A ferry?’ “We need to be the first ones in the kitchen so we have more space.” Ah, that explains.

6.45am – “I am still so tired and it is so cold outside, can’t we sleep a bit longer?” “We set an alarm and what is the point of setting an alarm if we lay in? GET UP NOW!”

6.47am – “What language do we speak today?” “German.” “AGAIN? We’ve been talking German for the past three days, it’s Dutch today!” “So if you know, why do you ask?” “What are you wearing today?” After quickly smelling at my T-shirt: “Same shirt as yesterday, new shorts, you?” “Yeah, same, same.”

6.50am: We are finally getting dressed into our cycling gear, mattresses and pillows are getting deflated, sleeping bags propped into the front panniers together with pyjamas, head lights and books, mattresses folded and packed, clothes packed. If the tent is dry it will get packed as well, otherwise that’s the last task before leaving.

7.15am: Short trip to the bathroom.

7.20am: Get the kettle going for a good cuppa and the porridge cooking. Getting annoyed for the first time about people cooking smelly food and about cleaning up other people’s mess.

7.45am – Enjoying porridge with dried and fresh fruit, topped with cinnamon and walnuts. First treat of the day. Yum! On top of this huge porridge Johan is eating four slices of bread with peanut butter, honey, jam and/or Nutella.

8am – Preparing and drinking a cup of coffee, discussing today’s route, preparing our lunch for the day, cleaning the dishes and packing the kitchen panniers. (In Asia we only cooked our breakfast ourselves, all other food was much better and cheaper bought at street stalls or small street restaurants).

8.30am – Brushing teeth and packing the bikes; this is usually also the time when people start talking to us and asking all kinds of questions.

9.15am – We’re leaving, finally. Sometimes it took us more than two hours to get ready, believe it or not.

9.30am – “Did you see this nice little coffee shop at the corner? They are selling Lavazza coffee! Shall we have a cappuccino?” “Great!” “Oh, and look at these nice muffins, I think we deserve this, we have a long day ahead.”

10am – Now the work begins. Up the hills, down the hills, against the wind, with the wind, in the rain or in the sun, whatever Petrus has on offer for us that day. Short stops for pictures, sightseeing, asking for directions, natural breaks, whatever. On normal days (meaning if we weren’t climbing a pass or cycling on unsealed roads all day long) we usually cycled between 80 and 100km, our overall average was 75km per cycling day. Our longest distance was 147km.

12pm: I stop, take off my helmet and say: “I am hungry, we have to eat now, I am already trembling!” “Already? We just had a muffin! Let’s go a bit further and look for a nice spot for lunch. There is a village 5 km from here. Do you still manage?” We somehow were rarely hungry at the same time.

12.10pm: Lunch! Sandwiches with cheese and salami. Again! This cardboard bread, plastic cheese and salami is almost coming out of our ears as the German and Dutch would say. Back in Asia we were yearning for sandwiches but after two weeks back to the Western world we really missed Asian food.

12.30pm – We’re cycling again. The downside of an already prepared lunch is that we don’t rest enough.

Short stops for pictures, sightseeing, asking for directions, natural breaks, whatever.

4pm – Time for a snack, a banana or cookies or an energy bar, whatever the cook has on offer.

4.10pm – Cycling again.

Short stops for pictures, sightseeing, asking for directions, natural breaks, whatever.

5pm – Arrived somewhere with hopefully a store or even better a supermarket. Grocery shopping for dinner, breakfast and lunch after a long discussion what we’ll have for dinner. So much easier in Asia – there is something to eat in the smallest village as people usually eat out and don’t cook at home.

5.45pm – Arrived at a campsite (guesthouse in Asia). It takes about 10 minutes to find a good spot to pitch the tent and includes a huge discussion about the tent’s position as we both seem to have different views about where the holes are and where the ground is higher. We were also trying to find a spot with sun in the morning to get the tent dry as quickly as possible and almost always managed to be the last spot at the whole campsite with sun. Johan finally starts putting up the tent, I am washing our dirty clothes hoping they’ll dry until the next morning.

6.15pm – Inflating mattresses and pillows, unpacking sleeping bags, pyjamas and books.

6.30pm – Finally cooking our dinner and enjoying a mostly good and often healthy meal, discussing the events of the day. In Asia we were already showered at this time and ready to choose dinner from the many stalls at the night markets.

7.30pm – Cleaning the dishes, packing the kitchen panniers, returning to the tent to discover that we are by now surrounded by 10 campers with sliding doors (an important detail, to be explained further down).

8pm – Shower time, with hot water at an official campsite, with cold water at all other free campsites.

8.30pm – Updating our diaries.

9pm – Bedtime. Hanging the still wet laundry inside the tent. Eventually we’re both nicely tucked up in our sleeping bags, with reading lights on and books in our hands. “What a nice day today!” “Yeah, what a great day once more.” Our neighbours, not realizing that we can hear everything, continue laughing and talking and yelling and worst of all – opening and closing the sliding doors of their cars. Open and close and open and close and open and close….

9.05pm – The book next to me is falling on Johan’s chest. Today he read one full page before he fell asleep. I am switching off his light, he puts his book aside. “I already slept, you woke me up!”. ‘Oh really?’ “Sleep well.” “Sleep well”.

9.15pm – Open and close, open and close, open and close…..

9.30pm – I am falling asleep as well. Lights off, book away, crawling even deeper into my cosy sleeping bag and gone I am.

1am – Open and close, open and close, open and close….

3am – Sh… Had too much tea in the evening, out for a pee. Inner tent zipper open, fly sheet zipper open, which is completely wet from condensation by then and of course waking up Johan. “Leave your door open, I have to pee as well”.

3.05am – Back in the tent after what felt like a kilometer’s walk to the toilet and back.

5am – Open and close and open and close and open….

6.30am – The alarm goes off. Another day begins.

Our rest/tent sites:

Campsite in Austria

Campsite in Austria

Stealth camping in Turkey

Stealth camping in Turkey

Freedom camping in New Zealand

Freedom camping in New Zealand

Staying at a school in India

Staying at a school in India

Campfire in the Indian desert

Campfire in the Indian desert

Preparing breakfast in the middle of nowhere

Preparing breakfast in the middle of nowhere

Preparing breakfast at the hotel

Preparing breakfast at the hotel

On the road: 

Seeking shelter from the rain

Seeking shelter from the rain

Coffee on the go

Coffee on the go

Money, money, money....

Money, money, money….

Where can we refill our water bottles?

Where can we refill our water bottles?

Another puncture

Another puncture to be fixed on the way

Wishing for a puncture instead of sticky clay mud

Wishing for a puncture instead of sticky clay mud

Lunch break

Lunch break

Arrived somewhere:

The daily struggle with the mattress

The daily struggle with the mattress

Enjoying a 'cuppa' after dinner

Enjoying a ‘cuppa’ after dinner

Cooking dinner

Cooking dinner

Handy laundry rack

Handy laundry rack

Too cold and humid to leave the laundry outside

Too cold and humid to leave the laundry outside

Our 'neatly' organized tent

Our ‘neatly’ organized tent

Finally getting some rest

Finally getting some rest

 

5 thoughts on “24

  1. I think this is one of your best posts ever. It gives a real insight into the daily reality of your journey. I’m sure it wasn’t always easy, but must have also been exhilarating. What courage you both have. How’s life back home after the great adventure?
    Alison

    • Thank you. Life is very different now, we still have to get used to it. But tomorrow we’ll embark on a new mini adventure for the coming three weeks. We’ll cycle to the South of France via Switzerland, very mich looking forward to it.

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