Location: Nova Bystrice
Km on the clock: 998
The day started with a little disappointment. I just entered the small town of Nauen and stopped at a supermarket to buy some snacks for the day. I took of the handlebar pannier and the little bicycle computer off the bike before I entered the store - as I always do. Apparently I pressed one button of the computer for too long and reseted it through that. Shit! I'm such an idiot. I must have had 625 kilometers on the clock by then - probably even a little bit more. While sitting outside the store and having a little picnic I thought: Does that mean I've to start over? It still counts right? Oh well, seems like from now on I've always to add those kilometers. :D
I arrived Berlin sometime in the evening the same day. I brought a bottle of wine as a gift which my friend Vivian and I had for dinner as we were catching up about what happened in our lives over the past few years.
I spent the next day with some sightseeing. I felt good to be in the capital again. It's been already a while since I've been here. There's so much history around here so that someone could stay here basically forever to explore it all. However, I left Berlin already the next day being excited to keep going to Czech Republic and its capital Prague.
I pedaled for three days through the southern part of Brandenburg and Saxony until I entered Dresden. One night I pitched my tent at the Inline-Skate-Bahn in Brandenburg. It provides broad cycling lanes and the tarmac of most parts is like new or is about to get renewed. It's just great fun to ride around there. While I was setting up my tent I heard some noise in the bushes nearby - maybe 15 meters away from me. I walked towards it to take a closer look and discovered a big fat wild hog. It ran immediately away when it scented me. I thought: Oh great...at least this time I know what kind of animals are around me at nights and as long it doesn't try to get into my tent while I'm sleeping then everything is cool!
The two days in Dresden went by really quick. I stayed at a hostel in the Neustadt. Lots of other travelers from all over the world stood there as well. So I hung out with them in the evenings to chat and have a drink whereas I used the days to explore the city. It has also already been almost a year since I was here. Last time I came with a friend to spent a weekend and just to have a good time.
I was excited but also nervous when I left Dresden. Today would be the day that I'd leave Germany and enter Czech Republic - excited about all the adventures that will lay ahead of me outside of my home country but also nervous how I'll get along in a country where people don't speak my language and probably not even English unless I'd be in the cities.
I pedaled alongside the river Elbe and could already see Czech Republic on the other side of it. I was wondering if I was also already in Czech and I just missed the border sign. I stopped to ask two ladies biking the other direction - one in her twenties, one in her fifties - if this was already Czech Republic and if there'll be some sort of sign at the border. The younger one answered with an American accent: "No, this is still Germany but Czech will come very soon. However, there's no sign which says that you're entering the country." A bit disappointed that there wouldn't be a sign to take a pic as proof that I really made it through Germany and will enter the next country I kept going for a few more minutes until I reached the border with a quite big stony sign stating that I'd enter Czech Republic now. How can someone miss that? :D
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Location: Somewhere in Brandenburg
Km on the clock: 612
It's 30th June 2019 at 11 am. I just arrived at Flensburg Hafenspitze (tip of the harbor) after already cycling 20 kilometers from my mom's. The Hafenspitze was the official starting point of my traveling the world on a bicycle journey.
It was a hot and sunny day with up to 35 degrees Celsius and the last chance to say goodbye to Family and friends. As the bells of a nearby church were ringing at 12 o'clock it was time for some last hugs and kisses and time for me to leave. Now there was no return and the dream finally came true.
It was that hot that I needed a first break after already one hour 20 kilometers outside of Flensburg. I even felt that exhausted that I took a nap on a bench in front of the church in Satrup. :D
The next days I made it through the hilly eastern part of Schleswig-Holstein. Some hills were that steep that my maximum speed was in between 8-10 kilometers per hour and quite a pain in the arse. I realized that it would time some time to get used to a life on a bicycle. Going downhill on the other hand was fun. I reached speeds of up to almost 40 kilometers per hour and made me forget of the frustrations of going uphill immediately.
I spent the first few nights either on campsites or with family or friends. After staying in Hamburg at a friends place for two nights I headed east towards Berlin alongside the river Elbe. Originally I planned to cycle down in direction Prague from here but I got invited to stay with another friend in Berlin for a few days. I didn't see her for a few years so it would be great opportunity to catch up after such a long time.
From now on I camped in the wild every night. That was the adventure that I was looking for. Especially the first night somewhere in nowhere behind the embankment was a bit spooky. I woke up in the middle of the night hearing some grunting right next to my tent. The same creature also seemed to repel its horns on a tree next to me. I didn't know how to react. Should I make noises to chase it away? Or should I keep quiet and wait until it's gone? Since I was simply too tired to chase the beast away, I decided to stay quiet and tried to fall asleep again. That plan worked out pretty well. I guess dealing with the noises of the nights is something that I also have to get used to. :D
If you enjoy reading this blog then please support my fundraising campaign to equip two school class rooms in Darfur, Sudan. Cheers!
I'm passing a group of people waiting for the next ferry at the terminal. They're looking questioningly at me, probably thinking: What is the guy with the bright orange jersey and the small backpack with a flexible tube attached to it doing here? And why the heck is he running around here?
I'm leaving Dagebuell Mole and feel highly motivated with music in my ears. I'm passing Dagebuell Kirche and I stick to my running strategy which means I'm walking for five minutes after running for 25 minutes. This strategy is working well for the first two hours and 20k until I arrive in the town of Leck. My legs and knees are doing very well but the weather conditions are turning into the hottest day of the year thus far. I definitely didn't take brutal heat into consideration when preparing for this run.
From now on it feels like I'm going through hell and I simply run as long as I can and then walk for a while or even take breaks. There's literally no shade on this stretch of the route. Only once in a while there's a tree. So, the sun is burning down on my head, which is draining and exhausting. I start asking myself Why the hell am I doing this? I don't really have an answer to that and just keep moving. At some point I realize that a car is slowing down next to me and the driver opens the window. I look straight into the smiling face of a friend saying Hey man, here you are! I've been watching out for you. How are you? Telling him how miserable I am at that point makes the both of us laugh and also lets me forget my struggles for a moment. However, it's great to see a familiar face somewhere in nowhere which gives me the motivation to make it to small town Schafflund and cross the 35k line.
I enter a supermarket get some ice cream and a coke. I feel like I need to cool down and also that my body demands sugar. After finishing the ice cream and the coke in the entrance area of the supermarket right under the aircon my mother and a friend show up. She asks How are you feeling? Although she can see on my face that I'm not in the best condition anymore. So we're sitting down a bakery and grab a cup of coffee. I feel great after that break and get ready for the final 20k in direction Flensburg. The lady behind the counter asks me What is your mission? Where are you going? So I tell her that I'm running from the North Sea to the Baltic Sea and now it's only 20 more kilometer. She starts laughing and shaking her head saying Only 20 more kilometers? That's nuts! I can't even run for 2 minutes. She wishes me good luck and I continue my way.
From now on I feel great and wonder what has been inside that coffee? My legs and knees feel good and even the exhaustion is gone. Luckily, this part of the route offers lots of shade which also helps a lot. Step by step I pass the villages Wallsbuell, Unaften and Handewitt. There, I make another ice cream and soda break at a gas station. I think I rarely enjoyed those things so much before in my life. And the thought that I now almost made it to Flensburg excites me a lot. So I get ready to run again, pass the Flensburg airport after some time and then finally make it into the final place of this run - Flensburg. I can't believe that I'm almost at the Baltic Sea side now and feel very excited. I know from now on it's only downhill but first I must make a quick visit at the Villekula project as promised which I dedicate this running project to.
I run downhill and at some point there's my friend Kevin already waiting for me on his bicycle to escort me for the last kilometer. I turn into the square at Flensburg Hafenspitze and voila I made it to the Baltic Sea. I accomplished to run 55+ kilometer and feel totally fine. I did not expect that at all and am very surprised with myself. I expected to be exhausted and under pain at that point but I'm not at all. I guess the hard training over the previous six month paid off. So I simply go home with a smile on my face!
Now the time has come! Tomorrow I’ll do my first ultra-run. I’ll attempt to run 55 kilometers (approximately 35 miles) from the North Sea to the Baltic Sea. From shore to shore. This will be the biggest running challenge of my life thus far. It might be the biggest challenge to my body and mind.
The furthest distance I ever ran was 42 kilometers during the Minority Marathon in Flensburg, Germany in 2005. This marathon was definitely the most painful sports experience in my life because I was not well prepared. I started to train about three months earlier and the longest distance I ran during that time wasn’t even half a marathon. I believed that if I can make it to the half marathon mark of 21 kilometers the other half of the race will probably be mind over matter. Well, that day I found out that this thought was pretty naïve and only partly true. I mean, I finished the race because I forced myself but at the same time I realized that my “training” was just pathetic. I still remember the moment when I passed the 24k mark. My legs were already tired and I felt that I was only a few steps away from actual pain. I thought “Why can’t the numbers be switched? 42 kilometers instead of 24 kilometers! Then this idiotic idea to run a marathon would be finally over”. I didn’t have to wait long for the pain. It started just a few kilometers later at the 30k mark. Here I thought “Why the hell am I doing this? Just go home” but at the same time I thought “Okay…you made it this far…from here it’s only another 12k”. And this was the point where my initial thought was right, from here it was pure willingness to finish this race. I still don’t know how I did it but what I do remember was this amazing feeling when I crossed the finish line. In this moment, I didn’t know if I should laugh because I was extremely happy that I finished the race but at the same time I just wanted to cry due to pure pain in my legs. In the end, it was a mixture of both feelings and the next day I could barely walk.
After making this painful experience I swore to myself that I’ll never do such a long run in my life again. And here I am now. Tomorrow I’m attempting to run the width of my home state Schleswig-Holstein. It’s probably the narrowest part of the state but still 55 kilometers which makes it 13k more than the marathon distance.
I think this time I’m more prepared than 13 years ago. I started to run again about one year ago. Just in the past six months I ran more than 1,000 kilometers to increase my endurance. I also worked on my musculature and stability to avoid injuries throughout this challenge. This is something that I didn’t do at all in 2005.
Nevertheless, I had to deal with some aches and pains during my training. Due to that, I even had to postpone this challenge. I wanted to do this run one week earlier but it was just impossible. My left knee had another agenda to this challenge than I did. I really hope that we’ll be on the same team tomorrow!
This time I have a running strategy. My plan is to run for 25 minutes, then walk or rest for five minutes and then start over again. The idea of this strategy is to get along with my power as long as possible (ideally until the end), to avoid cramps or injuries but also to drink enough to stay hydrated. I also didn’t have a strategy 13 years ago. I simply started to run as fast as I could and I did quite well until the half marathon mark where I arrived approximately 1.75 hours. At that point I thought “Wow…Chris…you’re really good at this! You’ll finish this race in pretty good time if you just keep running like this”. Well, you already know how well that worked out. So let’s see how that strategy is gonna work out.
Right now I wonder if I trained enough for this challenge or if it’s going to be another painful experience. I’m quite nervous to find out. And who knows…maybe it’s just a matter of my mind. If you also want to find out, here are the three ways how to do so:
1. Instagram - On here I’ll give regular updates throughout the run so simply connect with me or search for #NBSUltra.
2. Runtastic - This app will give you live information about my position.
3. On the road - Places I’ll come through are: Dagebüll Mole (Start), Dagebüll Kirche, Maasbüll, Risum, Leck, Sprakebüll, Bärenshöft, Schafflund, Wallsbüll, Unaften, Handewitt, Villekula Flensburg, Hafenspitze Flensburg (Finish). So just watch out for me!
Last but not least, some people say that I’m crazy attempting to do such a long run. Maybe I am!? Who knows!? However, I believe that I can accomplish this challenge and also, I’m not only doing this for myself, I’m doing this for a charitable cause. With this run I’m trying to raise money for the Villekula project in Flensburg. Villekula is a gardening project which allows kids to learn about the whole process of how to garden, harvest and prepare healthy meals. Unfortunately, this project currently doesn't have any direct access to water which makes their work more than challenging. So if you also think that I’m crazy or you believe that I can accomplish this challenge, please make a small donation to them. All donations will be used to build a fountain on the Villekula land. Here you can find Villekulas’ bank information. Purpose (Verwendungszweck) for a donation should be "Brunnnen NBSUltra". Cheers!
Since I accomplished my bike trip through Germany (Expedition1000GER) – from Oberstdorf to Flensburg – people asked me the same two questions over and over again:
I actually never expected that the first question could come to someone’s mind so I never expected that I would be confronted with it because for me the answer is pretty obvious. Although I had to deal with shitty weather conditions for about half of the time I definitely would do it again. No doubts! Imagining that I wouldn’t have done it and didn’t make the experiences that I made throughout this journey doesn’t seem right to me. I don’t want to miss any of them.
I was in rather mediocre shape before I went on this trip so I wanted to find out if I was capable of accomplishing a 1,000+ kilometer bike ride without any training beforehand. Well, now I know I am! I met some wonderful people during this journey which also means that strangers became friends. I also saw places of my home country that I never expected to see. I visited beautiful cities such as Augsburg, Nuremburg and Bamberg in southern Germany. I even spent some time in an emergency room in Hildesheim. This was definitely not a sight that I planned to visit but it made this trip for sure unforgettable for me. The most thrilling part was definitely to find a place to stay at the end of each day. I stood at hotels, guest houses, hostels, camp sites, crushed a couch but my personal favorite was to camp in the wild. It always gave me a feeling of freedom to know that I’m the only person out there. So once again, yes I would definitely do it again!
That brings me to the second question which I had to think about for a while to figure out what I would do different next time.
The first thing that came into my mind when I started to think about it was the following question:
Would I take my old bike again and attach everything on it that I think I need throughout the trip or would I get an actual racing bike, optimize my gear to a minimum and try to cover the whole distance in the shortest amount of time possible?
Honestly, both ideas seem charming to me because both combine my passions traveling and endurance sports. However, when it comes to such a challenge my current focus is more on the traveling part. The sports aspect is more a positive side effect. I'd prefer to stop whenever and wherever I want and spend some time doing whatever I like in that moment. This leads me directly to the first thing I definitely would do different next time. I would take more time. On this trip I limited myself to a time frame of two weeks. Hence, I had to cover 70+ kilometers on average per day. This approach gave me only very limited time to spend at places where I really would have liked to stay longer. Sometimes it even gave me the feeling that I had to rush when I actually wanted to explore new places and thus I couldn’t enjoy all aspects of them.
Pedaling through the rain and sometimes even through thunderstorms brings me to the second thing I would do different next time. I would definitely add a solid rain poncho on my kit list which covers the whole body while cycling. Additionally I would take a pair of rain shoes to keep the feet dry at any time. It’s everything else but fun to keep moving with wet feet. I mean I took a rain jacket and even rain pants with me but the quality of them was definitely questionable. There is a saying that there is no bad weather, only bad gear. Now I agree with it 100 percent and the experiences I made with the weather on this trip clearly proved that it is quite naïve to believe that the weather would be great all the time only because the calendar states it’s summer.
So here my personal advice in summary:
If you've any further questions or you need some kind of advice for your next trip or challenge, don't hesitate to contact me.
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