I wanted to turn back at this point. Unfortunately, I hadn’t even started.

This is a video of me failing to get onto my bike. The first official 5 minutes of my trip. In case you were wondering, this isn’t how you should get on a motorbike. Or how you should pack it. Or what size clothing you should be wearing. Or the heat you should be in.


My route

▣  Highly recommend       Boring but safe      Shit. Boring, strenuous & dangerous       Incomplete

Hrs estimated duration
Hrs actual riding

What I thought would happen
I’d jump on my bike, ride off into the sunset and wild camp somewhere close to the Danish border.

What actually happened
I got lost, sunburnt and made it one hour away from Berlin where I paid 15€ to fail miserably at camping.

I’m off. In the wrong direction.

I’m finally on the move. I’ve got Google maps in my ears and the wind cooling my dripping torso. I actually yelled WOOHOO into my helmet at this point. And then, I took a wrong turn.

Don’t EVER mistake ‘Autobahn’ (highway) for ‘Hoftbahnoff’ (central train station). I can tell you now from experience that this mistake is actually so stressful that you will sweat your way to the other side. That is to say, if you’re already sweating cats and dogs because its fucking 30 degrees outside and you’re literally wearing an entire cow on your body, then making an error such as this will actually allow you to stress out so much that you stop sweating. It’s possible. It happened to me. Liberating feeling of yelling woohoo immediately replaced with a frustrated FUCKKKKK.

So, around and around I go until I manage to find the direction that Google maps wants me to go. You see, when you use Gmaps offline it can’t re-route you. And when you’re wearing leather gloves you can’t use a touch screen. And when you’re on a highway going the wrong way you can’t pull over. Argh…

On the Autobahn

So I finally get on the autobahn in the right direction. The cars are flying past me at ridiculous speeds. I have this perpetual fear that my luggage is slipping off. I regret having such a deadline to get up north. Taking the autobahn is NOT a good idea. Firstly, it is really dangerous. Secondly it is really boring. Thirdly, it wastes a lot of petrol. Repeat: do not take the autobahn.

Taking a pit stop

I pulled over to check my bags at a servo. But undoing them was a bad idea. I couldn’t redo it so had to take everything apart. I finally managed to put them in one bag. Go me.

5 minutes later…out of gas

I knew I should have got gas when I pulled over before…I now had to take my carefully packed bags off again in order to reach my fuel tank. I could have cried, but actually I couldn’t have on account of being so dehydrated from the blistering heat. Proceeded to take another 20 minutes to put bags back on.

An Hour later

Took a wrong turn — but for the better. I pulled over to get directions and realised that my backpack was wide open. Like a gaping mouth. It’s incredible nothing fell out.

On Google’s orders…

I eventually turned off the autobahn. Unfortunately I had wildly typed in the town name within the general vicinity of where I wanted to go, rather than specific directions, so I arrived outside an old lady’s house. To put it in perspective, I envisioned myself enjoying a nice break at a national park full of lakes. Catastrophically different.

You know that feeling when somebody’s watching you but you can’t see them? I had that feeling. I know that old lady was creeping on me for at least 5 minutes straight behind her curtains, wondering what the fuck had rolled up next to her lovely rose garden before she cranked open the window to help.

I’m not exactly sure if she did offer help, but I yelled back “everything is gut! Klein problem!” Yet what I meant to say was KEIN problem.  The difference between the two? I was actually saying to her I have a little (klein) problem, instead of there is no (kein) problem. That must have been very confusing for her because I said it in such a sing-song cheery voice. *facepalm. I only found this out later in Sweden.

Running to the internets

So here I was, supposedly at a lake but parked in front of an old ladies house. So I did the only thing I could do, I backtracked to the last McDonalds and calculated a re-route. Because I was such a newb at the time I was only using Google maps, however now I have this awesome free offline apps called maps.me. Get onto it.

My final destination

When I got to McDonalds I realised it was already past 8pm. It’s deceiving over here in summer, the sun doesn’t go down until 10pm or never. I left Berlin around four. Google maps said it would only take two hours. I must have spent two hours packing my bags 500 zillion times along the way.
So at this point I was a broken human. I had been driving on the grey, mundane, soul sucking autobahn all afternoon and I was wondering if this trip would at all be any fun. In fact, I kinda had this hollow feeling of regret. Maybe this trip was just a cool idea on the outside, but a whole lot of misery to do alone. I was craving freedom, but I was anything but free at this point. Everything was an effort, my body was exhausted, my brain was frazzled, I was beyond hot and bothered.
When you get to this point you give up caring about anything. Nothing matters. Planning? Every single bit of energy you had for exploring is channelled into finding a place to sleep. Calories? You’ll shove the most energy dense food in your mouth in hope that your body will puff out just enough energy to get you home. Money? You’ll throw wads of cash if somehow you could be transported right then and there to where you need to be.
So, at this moment I gave up trying to get anywhere further. I simply zoomed in on a close by patch of green on Gmaps and decided that was where I was going to wild camp.

Falling head over wheels

Of course on my way there I took a wrong turn. I arrived at a dirt parking lot with two campervans illegally chilling out.
I made a hasty decision and went for a u-turn to head towards where I had originally intended. Unfortunately my front wheel slipped on the gravel.
It wasn’t even a real struggle this time, it was quick and it was shameful. I got up, dusted myself off and pretended to have things under control. I tried to lift the bike as the German guy who saw me last time fall over showed me. This entails placing your left hand on the handle bars and your right on the back side of the bike. To my dismay, and admittedly, delight, one of the campervanning couples jogged over and helped me lift it. I don’t get embarrassed often because I do stupid things all the time, but I felt way uncool.
I thanked them and hastily rode off. A couple of minutes down the track I arrived at my destination. Turns out it wasn’t a patch of grass after all, it was an actual campsite. And not a free one either, a pricey one at 15 Euros. I mean, that’s more than a hostel in some parts. But I guess it makes sense, those crazy Germans love their camping. There’s probably so many of them fighting their way into campsites that they had to raise the prices as a matter of demand. There wouldn’t be enough towel space on the lawn otherwise.
Anyway, so by this stage I was over everything. I paid the 15€ and roared my bike into this peaceful campsite, disturbing the silence the way an iPhone alarm set to foghorn disturbs a bedroom at 6am. Everybody looked. I’m the coolest person in this campsite at the moment if I can just manage to stay on my bike…
There are two couples campervanning next to my spot. I roll in, turn the bike off and dump my gear all over the place. I’m too tired to give a damn. It looks like war torn syria with everything everywhere.

Constructing my tiny tent

It’s a minimalist tent so how hard can it be? And I brought the instructions just in case. Turns out it takes me plus two Germans to figure it out. I didn’t really want the help because it totally made me look so uncool (again) but I didn’t really have a choice. When a German wants to help you, they’ll stop at nothing.
So, it turns out the reason we couldn’t put up the tent was because there wasn’t any tent pegs included in the tent. (Actually there was, they were underneath my pile of shit when I cleaned up the next day). Even more embarrassing.
Anyway one German went off and found big talon-like tent pegs for my tiny wafer thin tent and the other, a huge sledge hammer to nail the coffin down. German’s like to be precise and efficient you know, none of this pansying about trying to push twiggy tent pegs down all willy nilly. It makes sense, I guess. But it looked absurd.
I finally crawled into my tent and lay flat face down on my matt after an exhausting day. No matter how hungry or dirty you might be, exhaustion always wins out.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • John says:

    hahahaha……laughed at that video mounting the bike…..we have all done that, got on, dropped a glove, got off and picked it up…got back on and realised keys in pocket..glove off……..and on it goes….and still to this day it happens…..

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