The Ride | Bikepacking 3200 km from Basque Country to Prague to visit my mom

The Ride | Bikepacking 3200 km from Basque Country to Prague to visit my mom

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I'm Denisa, and this is the story of my first bike  packing adventure. From Basque country to Prague,   to visit my mom. I promised my mom a visit that  summer, but the idea of taking the plane didn't   sound fun. And so I got the idea - why not just  cycle to Prague? I will do the same amount of   kilometers like I would do in a plane or a bus,  but I can recreate it into something meaningful,   into a big adventure. Cycling across  Europe did sound like a fun choice,   and a more ecological one, and so I  made up my mind I will cycle to Prague. And soon enough my journey started.  In the Rolling Hills of the Basque  

country, I was cycling alongside the  Pyrenees, my favorite mountain range. I have already crossed them on foot, so I was  wondering what it would be like to experience   them in the saddle. I wasn't sure. Pp  until then, cycling was not something   that I knew well. I knew I have to push  the pedals to create a forward movement,   and I managed to change a flat tire, but  my expertise didn't go further than that.

But I knew my bit about long adventures,   and so I was confident that I can find solution  to any inconvenience that crosses my way. Small problems can look much bigger in  a perspective of a big journey than they   actually are. But whether the adventure is  small or big, the principle remains the same;   every day you wake up and decide to continue,  adapting to your environment one day at a time. And this time, I didn't want to write or take many  photos. I just wanted to ride my bike. I think,  

normally, my journal and photography and making  videos, it kind of acts as my companion. I didn't   have the same need to share the journey, as I was  already sharing it, I was sharing it with my bike.   I really found a great friend in my bike... and  the journey was somehow... between me and my bike. In one week I arrived to the sea, but I  must admit, I'm not a big fan of the sea.

So, why would I choose to ride 600 km  by the Mediterranean coast? Because I   love cats. One of my best cat friends I've  ever had is Mowgli. He lived with me for a   couple of months in Basque country, after  his previous owner couldn't take care of   him anymore. We bonded on a different  level. That's until he found his new   forever home... so that's why I took  the sea route, to visit my friend. You know, the beautiful thing is that I can just  pinpoint a place on the map, and say to myself,   well it's just a bike ride away. And every  day was the same, just push the pedals,   and as long as I would keep pedalling and  taking care of myself I could go anywhere.  

I could go absolutely anywhere. I followed  the coast to Provence, having a dip in the   sea whenever I felt like it. Which wasn't so  often, as I prefer the heights. Up until there,   I haven't done much climbing on the bike.  In the Pyrenees, there was a lot of hills,  

but they were rather short and spicy. In Provence  on the other hand, climbs started to be much   longer and they were testing my endurance more  than momentary strength of my legs. It was a   different experience, something new for me to  discover, something new to challenge myself with. And I'm always up for a good  challenge. By challenging myself,   I can discover what it really means to  be myself. If I don't challenge myself,   if I don't dare to go against the odds and against  what I believe that is possible for me, then I can   never discover what I'm truly capable of... and  what the real potential of my life really is. Provence was all up and down for me. I  was dealing with some difficult emotions,  

and at that time, my bike was such a great  friend to me. It would show me that I'm strong   even when I didn't feel like it, and gently  forced me to be outside in the sunshine,   instead of hiding under the blankets. Climbing  became my favorite tool to manage my anger,   and flying downhill would lift up all the clouds  of sadness. Thoughts were minimized to operating   the next pedal strokes, and with nothing else  than the next push on my mind, I felt free again. Anyway, I was up for a big climbing  therapy as I was about to cross the Alps.

It was the section I was the most excited for,  and also the one that I feared the most. Mixture   of excitement, fear and curiosity. As if I  had butterflies in my stomach, I was slowly   but surely falling in love with this new quest  ahead of me - climbing high in the mountains   with my bike. It's all right to have fears for the  dreams we have, but as long as we have the courage   to go after it anyway, well, the dreams stop to  be something that we do when we are sleeping,   but something that we do when we are living. "Am  I reaching for something too far and high here?" I  

was asking myself. And I did reach further that I  could see at that time, but it paid off. I did it.   Body was shocked, but obeyed my determined mind.  During the first climb, my legs were trembling,   burning, my mind was ready to go back and plan  another route. But I didn't listen. I kept   pushing my feet onto the pedals. One, two, one,  two, I kept counting in my mind, just to erase  

all thoughts that weren't serving me, and focus  on the one thing that kept me going - pedalling.   and that's how I arrived to my first real col  ever. And it truly fascinates me, how when   the mind thinks that something is impossible, it  will be. But once it lets go of its self-imposed limitations, suddenly, even the impossible  can become [Music] possible. Since then,  

I have climbed many more. In the rain,  storms, or burning sun. And I realized   that the most difficult thing about it was to  convince my mind that I'm able to do so. If I   were to compare myself with others, well, then  of course my journey is nothing extraordinary.   But compared to myself, compared with the  Denisa who never really rode bikes before,   I really did the Impossible in the category  of myself. And the past version of myself,  

and my limiting beliefs, is to me the only thing  that I care to compare myself to and compete with. [Music] After 1 hour of climbing I was sent back by  a bunch of workers the route was blocked and   they wouldn't let me pass not even if I walk. So  instead of crossing to Italy over a mountain pass,   I had to take a 5 minute train ride through  the mountain. Not so badass as cycling it,   but hey, I didn't buy a ticket for the train,   so at least I crossed the border illegally  which still makes it kind of... cool?

One of the greatest lessons that longdistance  hiking and cycling has taught me is that physical   strength is a reflection of the strength of the  mind. The mind tends to give up much earlier   than the body actually has to. By not giving  up to this little voice telling me I can't,   I can't, I realise that I can, that  I can do much more than the mind thinks. Climbing to Colle Fauniera  felt unreal. I was mesmerised, wet,  

and a bit cold. Surprised by my force,  unsure about where it's taking me. I   tried to go as fast as I could, trying  to be faster than the daily midday storm. As I was getting higher, the blue  sky turned into dark shades of grey,   and the rocky mountains were disappearing  into the clouds, occasionally peeking through,   as the wind was moving the clouds  around, to the sound of thunder, and rain. - I made it to the top, and the storm made  it too. Highest I've ever cycled to. I guess sometimes I'm a bit foolish,  but that's what makes me grow the most,   when I dare to take up the challenge and recreate   what was once unattainable courage to  admire on others, into a norm of my own. And that inner journey is much more  precious to me than any number of kilometers   ever could. Thanks bike, for taking me to  places I would only ever dream of, within,  

and without. Every day there would be a  storm coming around noon... I am all up   for the ambiance, but after a few days it just  starts to be annoying to be wet all the time...   and like not being able to stop, sit somewhere,  enjoy the view, eat your sandwich in peace...

I traded the daily storms in the mountains for  long rainy days in the fields. Coming down from   the dramatic alpine sceneries onto the flat ground  was a change. My only views were roads and fields,   freshly fertilised, to my delight. Instead of  riding high and slow, I began to ride fast and far   again. It was different and I genuinely enjoyed  riding my bike, as I stopped focusing on the   scenery around me, I was much more aware of what's  going on inside of me. it stopped being about a   pretty views, but rather about experiencing  whatever life brings in my way with a pretty feeling. Instead of pushing myself further and  further out of my comfort zone, as in the Alps,  

I began intentionally creating comfort again.  That meant taking myself out for daily cappuccino   stops and lunches at cute trattorias. I was  finding sweetness of simple things in life again. I didn't expect anything from this  section, and I suppose I got much more than   I could imagine. So much peace. From Lago di  Garda I followed the eurovelo 7, until Bolzano. Here's a little something I wrote about why I fell  in love with cycling. Whenever I put my cycling   clothes on, it's like wearing a superhero cape.  I feel strong, and confident. I can go anywhere  

I want. I can be fast, or take my time. I can  discover so many places, and pay very little for   it. I stay present for every kilometer, and there  isn't one part of the way that wouldn't be a full   body and soul experience. That means either  enjoying the sweetness of peace and freedom,   or bitterness of witnessing the battles of  the mind, and taking it all along for the ride Then from Bolzano I was making my way  to the Austrian border. And the scenery   changed quite drastically. Into deep  woods full of blueberries... they were  

delicious! I snacked a lot. Riding  in the south of Tyrol was very close   to riding in a fairyland. Beautiful  deep valleys, no busy roads, and many   well built cycling lanes. High mountains  all around me, but I rarely had to climb any. I was cruising through with speed and ease,  admiring each new peak that the valley would reveal. Rather than being  challenged by the road itself,  

I was challenging myself to ride consistently  a certain speed, or keep up with passing road bikes. Even the most beautiful views  can loose their spark over time,   as our brain gets used to any kind of  beauty, and the enchanting feeling gets   lost in the name of habit. Challenging myself,  and always seeking a new experience of the same,   rather than seeking something new  to feed my restless brain with,   is to me one of the most beautiful ways of keeping  my fire burning, the charm never fading, my life alive. I have arrived to the magical land   of strudel and beer. Food was scarce  on the weekends, but beer was always available. In cycling I find balance between  a masculine and feminine energy. I push hard,   with clarity and strong focus I crave  achievement, and I keep going no matter what,   whilst knowing how to surrender to  my bike, and my body. And trusting it

completely. Being in the moment and receiving  whatever the route brings to me with an open heart, remaining gentle and caring towards  myself, and my environment. Pedaling is such   a simple action, yet one that brings me great  sense of harmony, achievement and fulfilment.

And just when I thought I will have a  great and easy day... well I got a nice surprise. I had a big pain in my stomach,   which was increasing whenever  I had to push the pedals a bit extra. I would have to stop  often to breathe into the pain,   which in the insane head wind, hailing ,and  heavy rain wasn't much fun. Nice. love it. But I must say, I had to laugh about my  bizarre situation almost all the way.   I was soaked all the way until my underwear, and freezing. I had to take a little train ride  through the mountain which my body didn't  

appreciate... train ride was followed by  a long and cold downhill in a heavy rain   and as I started to lose sense in my hands,  I started to worry. All ended up well though,   and I think of this day with a smile. After  all, real adventure is never easy. Next stop:   Bavaria. To visit my friend Isabelle. When you are  friends with Germans, you have to make peace with   the fact that on your rest day you'll be going  for a little hike with 1,400 M of elevation gain,   and then back. But what an amazing day it  was. Isabelle asked me what I would like   to do. I said something high, and dramatic. And  she definitely provided. She's really cool like

that. After a few days, I was back on the  road, cycling away from the mountains. I cycled 2,800 kmet over the past 45 days.  Most of those days I spent in the saddle,   cycling towards my native country, where I haven't  been for almost 2 years. And tomorrow might be   the day when I cross the final border. And to  be honest, as much as I'm excited to do so,   I'm also a bit afraid. Curious, perhaps.  How will it feel, to travel in my own

country? Getting closer to reaching my goal,  I start missing the journey towards it.   Bittersweet feeling of achievement... in the  beginning, we wish to be in the finish line,   at the end, we wish to be back at the start;  fueled by all the possibilities, adventures,   ahead of us. Even if at times we don't feel that  way, through the sweat, tears, and hardships,   it's the passing moments between the beginning and  the end, that are always the sweetest part of the way. I got emotional when I crossed the border; and I  didn't expect that to happen. My eyes teared up,  

I felt fragile, I felt alive, I  felt shaken, I felt all I once was,   and all I am not anymore. And most of all,  I felt grateful for this incredible journey   that took me all the way home. Wether it's this  particular cycling trip or the broader adventure   through life in the past 3 years, that not only  brought me back to my home country on my bike,   but one that brought me back to the home  within me. To a peace of mind, to an open heart. I did it. I took another crazy idea from my mind  and I transformed it into a reality. That's what I  

really love about life... dreams do come true. If  I put all I can into making them happen, if I have   good faith that whatever idea from my mind that  feels aligned with my heart can become a reality.   If I plan, and if I dare to take actions. But also  leave space to chance, and the unexpected. And   trusting, wholeheartedly, that in the unknown  there is always a lovely surprise. That the  

unknown is safe, a place of unlimited potential,  potential of my life that is waiting to be discovered. I was welcomed home by my friends,  because funnily enough, I was too fast,   and my mom was still enjoying her  vacation in Greece at the time of my arrival. I'm glad I didn't take the plane.  This adventure was not one to miss out on.

2024-03-13 21:53

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