29 October 2007

Meet the parents

When you ride a bicycle for hours on end, you somehow have a lot of time at hand to think and reflect. So I suddenly remember that during Christmas last year, my brother's girlfriend Elin talked about her parents' farm in central Sweden.
I call her and asked about the location. "It's close to Ostersund...", she says "...in theory you should pass by somewhere there very soon."

Indeed, I do. I am just a dayride away from Ostersund then. With quite strong wind from the back and a couple of extra calories from a giant pack of peanuts I arrive at the farm late in the afternoon after a 140km ride.
Now the first thing I need after not washing for more than 7 days is a good shower. But I arrive just at the right moment for milking the 70 cows. So since I already stink more than the cows ever will, Elin's mother puts me into warm clothes and takes me to the barn.

Here we go. Milking is easier than i think. Well... I am supported by a team of professionals (both cows and farmers) plus a very modern milking system.

Elin's parents have not had any problems with their milk in 23 years - for that they even received a gold medal from the King of Sweden!!!

I finally stay here for two days. The weather gets very stormy and it rains the whole time. Quite good timing.
In the end Elin comes down from Tromso to visit her family as well. What a nice surprise!

From Berlin to here it was 1300km. Full of energy and well rested I start for the second half of the journey north...

27 October 2007

My most beloved handlebar(s)

Some people just shook their heads when they saw my cockpit... TWO handlebars!!!
What is wrong with Tim Haus this time?
Hey! Let me tell you what... this is the best cockpit I ever ever ever had on a bike.
My bicycle already weighs two tonnes (metric) and a half, so why bother about an extra stem and handlebar?

Additionally to the racing bar (Modolo), I chose a high riser MTB bar (X-tasy) and brought them to roughly the same height. Now I installed regular cross-country-brake-levers on the MTB bar (you need spacers from 25,4mm to 26,2mm) and led the brake-cables through them... The result is fantastic!!! The handlebar(s) offers a perfect range of positions: racing for the road and wide for technical stretches. On top - where both bars touch - it is very wide, so I can comfortably rest my hands...

Try it out!

Central Sweden

We arrived in the heart of Sweden - the region around Ostersund. Again, we enjoy a day with beautiful weather! My bike and I take a small break on the roadside. Warm tea and biscuits keep me going, my bike is happy just with the landscape.
We make around 100km to 150km every day now... the air is fresh, the forests smell like wet wood and mushrooms and once in a while we still hear and see some of the last migrating birds go south.

Up and down, up and down... I never thought I could become friends with a "road". But hey, after hundreds and hundreds of kilometers through forest, forest and more forest...
Note: the little yellow sign indicates that the E45 is a "Vorfahrtstrasse". This means that E45 goes first, everyone who intersects with the E45 has to wait. Funny enough, there was no intersection after this sign for more than 40 km...

The E45 will most probably take me all the way to the north, past Kiruna into Finland - almost another 1000 km!!!

A typical morning. I wake up on the terrace of some cottage next to a beautiful lake. The temperature is just above zero. Reluctantly, I peel myself out of the nice warm sleepingbag and get the coocker running. A big cup of fresh coffee starts my day.
After I eat, I change into my cycling clothes, all stinky and cold. Brrrrrrrrrr.
Then I pack my stuff onto the bike. After some morning excercise the new day on the road starts...

25 October 2007

First days in Sweden

Tim in Sweden - that's how it looks like...
The weather is fantastic compared with what I expected! Light clouds and sometimes I can even see bits of blue sky. My bike and I are both in a very good mood.
From Goteborg we follow the E45 direction north. On the ship I had visited the "Trucker's Lounge" and asked around about the best way to get north. Everybody agreed - E45 is best. At the moment there is no snow and anyway - even though the road is called "Express" - in the north I might meet a vehicle every 5 minutes only!

My first day brings me all the way up to "Lake Vanern". I take small side-roads that wind through the idyllic Swedish landscape. When I ask for water at a farmer's house, he tells me that this road has just been elected "Motorbike-road-of-the-year". That makes sense... I didn't see more motorbikers anywhere else in Sweden... (I think I saw all in all 5... :)
In the evening I am too lazy to set up camp, so I just sleep on the porch of this mission. Perfect.

For all those who thought that we Globetreters live off instant noodle soups: fresh vegetable soup!!!

After some days I decide to buy one of those reflective vests... everyone and everything here in Sweden wears them. Hikers, dogs, horses, moose... (just kidding). The truck drivers had told me so. And - it helps! Cars and trucks see you from far away, especially in the twilight which is very long during morning and evening hours. I feel very safe now. The light that I installed just before leaving Berlin works fine, too. Now i am ready for the winter.

And the truckers proved to be right again: No bloody vehicle for ever!!! everybody who is tired of the traffic in Berlin, New York, Paris or Sydney... move up here.

I am now in MORA on the E45. My luggage has settled: Living room in the back left, bedroom in the back right. Clothes and workshop in the front left and kitchen and bathroom in the front right.
everyday stuff and fresh food in the big pack behind the saddle.
It is pretty chilly in the mornings now. Today it is minus 5 (celsius) when i woke up. A truck driver called Mira (who slept on the same parking lot) brings me a cup of hot tea in the morning. Then he interviews me in front of his mobile phone to show me to his children.
Thank you Mira. And have a good trip!

Leaving Germany

Ok, how to avoid cycling for two days in the rain? Catch a tonsillitis (Mandelentzuendung)!!! I was down for two days with fever and a swollen throat that reminded me pretty much of my days in China when i had do spend 10 days in hospital in Shanghai. Well... long story short - Penicilin works wonders. Plus lots of soup and hot tea makes a happy biker again after a couple of nights of good rest.

Thanks Micha and Michael!

Once I was on the road again, I went straight north and followed the Elbe-Luebeck-Kanal, a beautiful stretch always along the shipping channel. I slept on the shore of "Lake Ratzeburg" and woke up to a beautiful sunrise!

In Luebeck, I inquire about the ferries that leave from Kiel. Now that i had to spend two days in bed and should start again slow, taking the ferry from Kiel seems sensible. The ferry to Goteborg in Sweden leaves every day at 1930 (7:30pm). Hmmmm, if i ride pretty much normal speed, I should be able to catch it.
But normal speed on a normal road! The north Germans had simply modified the normal road and made it one of their super-high-speed-for-cyclists-forbidden-mega-autobahn. Luckily, they installed a bicycle path next to it but unluckily, the guy who had to build that bicycle path went home after leading the cyclists into the next forest and ending the path there.
Damn! If I follow the tourist-cycling-path passing all the sights, I will never ever arrive in Kiel.
I decide to go on the road. Honk, honk, honk. I calculated without the Germans! After one terrorizing hour, I leave the nice (and straight) road to Kiel and take the tourist-path.
But good enough: 15 minutes before the ferry leaves, I stand at the ticket counter and board the ship - bye bye Germany!

17 October 2007

The first days - Out of Berlin

"On the road!" After several glasses of sekt, a small convoi of bicycles leaves Berlin direction north. On such a beautiful, sunny day, I am totally euphoric and full of energy. I know that i have to start off slow to not overburden my knees. Years ago, my winter trip from Berlin to Black Forest ended in Leipzig because I had fucked up my knees in the cold. This should not repeat...

I am deeply moved by all the people who came to say good bye and to wish me luck. Thank you so much! The biggest surprise is to see my mother, who - with a broken leg - comes all the way from the south of Germany to the Brandenburger Gate!!!

The way takes me along beautiful "Alleen" - long streches of road with trees on both sides - to Neuruppin, where I arrive in the dark. After a relaxing night in the local "Strandbad" (Swimming area at the lake side) a new and equally beautiful day brings me along the Elbe-river to the infamous town of Gorleben. There are times in the year when Gorleben is far more lively than now... This makes me think of testing my winter-equipment.

All farmers in the area are busy with the popato-harvest. Big, huge machines that look as if they come straight from a science-fiction movie drive over the fields all night. I sleep in my tent on a "Deich" overlooking the Elbe-river. When I wake up in the morning, the harvester is still there... they must be working in shifts.

I ride all day along the Elbe-river, a cycling trip that I can highly recommend to everyone! Easy riding and beautiful landscape. Finally I remember that from long ago, I know some people in Lauenburg, which lies just on the border between the old GDR and DDR. From there it would be straight north to L├╝beck and Kiel where I plan to take a ferry to Scandinavia.
Why not pay them a surprise visit?

9 October 2007

Farewell in Berlin

Sonntag 14.10.2007 - 12:00am
Brandenburger Gate, Berlin.

Everybody is welcome to join in for a ride, so bring your bikes! Campers - bring your tents and sleepingbags too...

6 October 2007

Tim(e) to leave Germany

The dream to cycle around the world already exists for so many years now. I write "dream" - not "plan" - because I haven't been planning much until now. I know that I want to cycle all the way around. That's more or less it. For say - five, six, maybe seven years?
My bicycle, my tent, my sleepingbag and burner are ready to go... what more do I need but to start?

October 2007 - it's time to leave.
The idea is to ride from Berlin (Germany) all the way up to Tromso (Norway) this winter. At such a late time in the year, this adventure might present quite a challenge. Short days and long nights. By the time I arrive in Tromso there will be no more sunshine for the coming 2 months.

How much snowfall will there be? Which route should I take - direction Oslo and up the coast or better through Sweden along the Baltic Sea and then via Kiruna westwards?
Is my tent good enough to cope with wind and weather? Is my sleepingbag warm enough so I won't freeze during the cold polar nights?

I am 32 years old. I have no possessions but what I carry with me (plus 3 banana boxes full of photos in a cellar in Berlin).

There are many open questions. But there is no more doubt... I am leaving next week. The trip around the world finally begins!!!