23.08.2018 The next chapter of Tour4life started successfully yesterday. The first days my dad will be with me. On first day we already had some technical issues we were able to fix on our own. Now we reached my sisters place near Ulm where we could spend a nice evening yesterday.
26.08.2018 First stage is already passed.
Yesterday I left my father some kilometers to Basel at a train station. We never had a time like this father-son-time before. It showed us our similarities but also our differences. It was a really nice time and we both enjoyed it. Thanks to Magda from my voluntary organization where we had a really nice stay in Ravensburg.
This first stage was a good possibility to get more familiar with the peculiarities of Pino (it's the name of the bike). I didn't had the possibility to make a test ride with all the luggage before so the behavior with up to 250kg (including passangers) is different. I think we will become good friends anyway.
Yesterday we had rain, wind and not more than 15 degrees the whole day... everything I didn't expect for my escape from the incoming winter. Today the sun shines again and my next stop will be Taizé.
02.09.2018 Leaving Taizé never easy.
The first days on my own let me realize the dimension of the tour I started. Before I was still in my 'German-Mode'.
To my luck someone built a channel connecting the Rhein and the Rhone. The cycle path sidelong the channel was frequently used by cyclists. So I mostly where accompanied by others with whom I had nice conversations. I also got a lot of recommendations for my tour in Europe and in America.
The channel led me directly to Taizé. I have never been there before but heard a lot about it and I have a lot of friends who are crazy about this place. My expectations were fulfilled and y had a really really nice and extraordinary time. With my group I had really meaningful talks and met a lot of inspiring people. Taizé was a good place to leave some things behind and get more focus onto and more felling for the tour.
Today I have to leave this paradise but looking forward to pick up my brother tomorrow at the airport in Lyon.
10.09.2018 Tour4life meets cooking4life.
My stage from Taizé to Lyon was accompanied by Aga, a woman of my Taize group. She wanted to go south to a wine yard to pick grapes with some of her friends. So we packed her backpack on top of the Pino and followed the transformed old rails to Macon which are now serving as bike way. She is very chatty and has seen a lot of different sites of this world what made the time very diverting. I stayed the night with them in between the wine yards and went the next day to Lyon to pick up my brother Raffy. Good luck to Aga on her further way and her further place to live.
My brother and me visited Lyon, followed down the Rhone and reached the mediterranean sea. On our way we had a lot of fun and did some nonsense brothers are doing. We enjoyed life, swimming in the rivers and the sea, slept outside and like my brother is a chef we had great dinners of course. My brother is a very positive guy so he is always in a good mood and was very motivating to me. Good luck Raffy with your new job and the linked changes.
11.09.2018 Why do I need a visa? Why are there borders?
As you already may know I'll take a container ship from Valencia to New York on 20th of September. I decided to travel that way to realize what it means to pass the Atlantic Ocean. Nowadays people are taking a flight half way around the world where they arrive in some hours and take it for granted. It is also more simple to transport the bike by ship than by plane and I want to make the experience to be really disconnected from the common ways of communication.
But it is a little bit complex to arrange the transit to the USA. First you need a lot of documents like ensurance or medical certificates for the ship. And second you need a visa for the USA. Normally when you travel to the US by plane or with a cruiser you get a ESTA Visa for 90 days easily. This is because the carrier pays for the ESTA System. My carrier doesn't participate in the ESTA process because tourism isn't its main object so I had to get a common B2 visa. Therefore I had to visit the US Consulate with a pile of documents to present my issue. First they refused it but after some clarification already on the tour it was issued. I'm so happy that my passport came with Miriam(my last planed companion in Europe) to Barcelona and now I have all the needed documents.
I'm a optimist but it was really stressful to start the tour without knowing if the thing with the visa will work out.
As traveler you dream of a world without borders so things like that wouldn't be a problem.
Hope everything will be accepted and I'll be able to go onto the ship.
13.09.2018 Visiting the doctor.
Don't worry, until now nothing bad happened to my co-drivers or me but there is another companion which has to stay in good health. The Pino(name of the bike) already traveled from Germany to India in 2015 and from South Afrika back to Germany in 2017. Before it was in a rental service and now it estimated has its 35.000 to 40.000 kilometers. Respect to the material and Hase Bikes the producer that it's working for so long because with the weight and some circumstances the Pino is often in conditions it probably wasn't 100% meant for.
Some small issues always appear and some parts have to be replaced but the main components are still the first.
On my more than 1.600 km through Europe till now I had the first issue after 3km. In Lindlein, Germany I already worried about the brakes in the back but I only needed to change the brake pads than it worked fine again.
Now in Barcelona there came the real problems, one was a broken spoke on the back wheel and the other was the front brake which blocked and didn't open again by itself. Changing spokes is something I normally can do on my own and I got some for replacement with me, but non of the spokes had the proper length. So Miri and I went to a bike shop in Barcelona and ask if they can help us. Jose Manuel from Bike World Barcelona had his workshop full of bikes and a lot of work to do but he helped us a lot. Changing the spoke was the small task but analysing the brake in the front took like one and a half hours. Opening and cleaning the brake saddle, changing the liquid, checking the line and in the end we had to replace the handle because the bolt in there didn't work fine anymore. Thank you BikeWorld Barcelona and Jose Manuel with your great experience. Now Pino runs really smooth again and is prepared for the next thousands of kilometers.
17.09.2018 Viva España.
My last companion on my journey through Europe was Miri. We know each other since about seven years, studied the same subject and lived in this time for one year together in a shared apartment. She joined me when my brother left and together we made all the way down to Valencia.
While I was planing the trip I had my doubts about the way from Barcelona to Valencia. A lot of people on the internet wrote that you have to ride a lot of busy roads or that you should avoid the coast.
We made a rest for one day in Barcelona to discover the city. It was the 11th of September and we didn't know that this is the national day of Catalonia... which in fact is not a nation. Nearly everything was closed and more than one million Catalans were in the streets for protests. Catalunya and its independence was a present topic during all the way to Valencia and for sure the most controversial. It was interesting to see how this discussion is affecting the life there but we don't have to be there again for this date.
We left Barcelona and in the end we had a really nice trip down the coast. We rode along the beaches for kilometers and kilometers per day and busy roads were the exception. During the rides along the beach we enjoyed live having Picknicks at the beach and having a bath in the sea where we wanted to. That way the trip got more decelerated and thanks to Miri fo the nice time.
Miri left and I'm im Valencia now waiting for my container ship to come.
23.09.2018 Waiting in Valencia.
The original plan was to leave Valencia with container vessel CMA CGM Amber on 20th of September heading to New York. In advance the ship was changed to CMA CGM Coral, that didn't affect me in anyway.
Between Miris flight back and my departure I would have had three days more to enjoy the city. In Taizé a woman told me about the website warmshowers.org, it's a community among cyclists similar to couchsurfing but better ;-). So I wrote to some Valencians on warmshowers asking if they would host me for this period until my ship leaves. The first answer I got was from Sara and Martin, a British couple living longer in Valencia then they lived in Britain before. Very interesting personalities: sustainable and alternative way of life, interested in politics, cyclists(at least Martin), nature and plant lovers. We had nice conversations, we visited their garden outside the city, with Martin's Daughter and her boyfriend I spend a day at the house at the coast south of Valencia, watched a part of a cricket match,... with these activities and the very interesting city the time passed by very fast. Even when my departure was postponed to 24th of September I knew there will be no reason to get bored. For Sara and Martin my extended stay was no problem, quite the contrary, they don't want to host people who plan to stay for only one or two nights. I had a really nice time in Valencia and it was much much more than only "waiting". Thanks for the hospitality and the opportunity to life this week together with you.
Tomorrow morning I'll prepare Pino again and go to the port, expecting Coral will be there then.
Finally everything worked fine. Pino is on board, I'm on board, Atlantic crossing can begin. Looking forward to 11 days of isolation on the sea.
03.10.2018 What to do on a container vessel?
I reached New York just today. The last ten days passed much faster than I expected before, although we retarded the clock by one hour almost every night. There is always something to do on a container vessel: Explore the vessel and asking the crew about tecnical stuff, visiting the bridge and ask the officer on watch about nautical stuff, talking with the crew about life on sea and life at home, having a barbecue with the whole crew in the back of the ship, enjoying sunrises and sunsets, watching the stars at night, having a bath in the small pool, strengthen the back in the gym(siting on the Pino is not the cycling position I'm used to), chilling in the sun on the front deck, reading a book or listen to music on a deck outside, writing diary, watching out for anything on the sea, repairing stuff for the Pino in the engine workshop or watching the dolphins playing with the nose of the ship.
In total we were five passangers on the Coral, fully booked. So for some of the activities we came together or we had nice conversations and "tea time". Thank you all for the nice time. For sure I never got bored out on the sea.