The Truth About Solo Bikepacking

The Truth About Solo Bikepacking

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Humans are social creatures. We excel because we support each other. The beautiful things in life become truly valuable when we share them. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Especially about whether it is the right thing to do this journey on my own. Is this whole thing really worth it if I'm not sharing the experience with someone? And what does it actually mean to be alone? I grew up as my parents youngest child.

My siblings were much older than me. I could not participate in many of their activities simply because I was too young. And by the time I was old enough, they had already moved out. I got used to doing things on my own and later in my life I realized that I'm a pretty introverted person and that I actually enjoy being alone. I always enjoyed being alone. It's one of my biggest strengths.

And it's the one thing I didn't worry about when I embarked on this journey. Fear of missing out. It's what some people experience when they are alone over extended periods of time. I usually experience joy of missing out when I'm alone. But that doesn't mean that I too can feel lonely for a while.

Because being an introverted person doesn't mean that you don't have the need to socialize. And sometimes I also feel very lonely. Which makes me question whether I made the right decision. I continued my journey along the Danube from Serbia and after a short while I passed the Iron Gate.

So one of the reasons I wanted to cycle along the Danube to the Black Sea is because I wanted to see the Iron Gate. And I'm a few kilometers in front of the Iron Gate but I have to pass some very scary dark tunnels. I was full of energy and full of anticipation of what lay ahead.

For years I had dreamed of following the Danube to the Black Sea. And I had a lot of expectations. But that's the problem with expectations. Because after the Iron Gate followed a long stretch of emptiness, heat and discomfort. The last couple of days I've been following the Danube. First on the Romanian side and now yesterday I crossed the river and I'm now following the Danube on the Bulgarian side.

And as you can see there's pretty much nothing here. Except for lots of mosquitoes. You actually don't see a lot of the Danube. And most of the time you're really alone.

It's a lot of solitude. In roughly 220 kilometers I will be at the Black Sea. And for me this is a big milestone because then I have been cycling from the Atlantic Ocean along the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. So it's my third sea.

And since I'm in Romania and Bulgaria it's already my third time zone which is for me pretty mind blowing. I actually wanted to go to the Danube Delta but the heat and especially the mosquitoes made me change my plans and go directly to the Black Sea. First I was happy to have made it to the Black Sea.

The mosquitoes were gone but then there was this crazy traffic again. And on top of that there was this unbearable heat. It is really hot.

In the last couple of days it was even worse. Since I'm here at the Black Sea now there is at least some wind. But the way to the Black Sea along the Danube it was just brutal. There was no wind at all. Traveling alone in situations like these can be pretty tough.

It can really drag you down if you don't have any company to keep up the mood. At times I was just cycling for hours on end without meeting anybody and without seeing any people and especially in these rough conditions... start to get I don't know sometimes it feels like I'm getting crazy. But yeah I'm now heading south through Bulgaria. And my next big goal, my next milestone will be Istanbul.

And getting to Istanbul means getting to Asia. I would have never thought that I would be doing this. That I would cycle across Europe and get from the westernmost or one of the westernmost countries in Europe into Asia. Seems unreal but I'm doing it.

But still my mood wasn't getting better and for a while I wasn't sure if I really wanted to do all that any longer. It is in these moments that I have the most doubt. Am I perhaps not so well made for being alone after all? I think about the people who are close to my heart. I wonder what they are doing right now.

What if I may never see them again? What if it stays like this forever now? And why am I still doing this anyway? I knew right from the start of my journey that there will be phases like these and that they will end at some point. But at this moment I didn't believe in it anymore. I decided to continue driving for the time being. Up to Burgas and to take a few days off. I think it was the best decision at that moment.

Because when it was hardest I finally ran into company again. In Burgas I stumbled upon an amazing place where bikepackers could stay for free. I met some great people there and after a long time I really craved contact with other people.

Even me who is usually quite introverted. My mood improved dramatically and after a few days I was excited to continue. A new section lay ahead of me. My way to Turkey. Thanks to the helpful people in Burgas I already had a very special first destination in Turkey.

I got to this beautiful camp spot here. There is a little waterfall. Some guy from the hostel told me about this place and recommended going here. The nature is amazing and I was sleeping in this little rest area over there.

And yeah of course I had some very, very, very cute company. And now I'm heading into Turkey which I'm really having problems to comprehend. I'm now on the road for about three months, two days ago it was three months. It's nearly 10,000 kilometers and I am shortly before the Turkish border.

It's really hard to wrap my head around having cycled from Portugal to Turkey because once I cross the Turkish border it's less than 180 kilometers to Asia and I will have finished cycling across Europe. This is the dream coming true. I'm sensing...

...when I'm cycling there are these moments when a lot of energy comes up, when a lot of feelings of all different kinds and shapes and forms come up, where you feel happy and melancholic and sentimental. You think back to all the things you have experienced and it's a mix of very strong feelings and then you're crying and laughing at the same time. It's just this for me is what life is about. So now let's get the stuff ready and ride into Turkey.

This is crazy, man. After a last climb I finally arrived in Turkey. Sometimes you barely notice any difference when you cross a border and sometimes you enter a completely different world. It was like that when I entered Turkey. I could immediately sense the difference.

The hospitality of the people was just overwhelming. After a while I arrived at the city of Lüleburgaz and I got to my first destination in Turkey. The Lüleburgaz Bicycle Academy. It is one of many publicly funded projects in Lüleburgaz that aims to promote cycling culture. People can rent bikes here for free, learn to ride and bike travelers are welcome to stay here for a few nights for free to rest, repair and plan their onward journey.

I met Inanç who works here and was kind enough to give me a little tour of the place. Hello. Hi. Nice to meet you. I'm Martin. That's Inanç. Nice, we wrote, right? Yes, yes, yes. Please come inside.

Awesome, should I take the bike right away? Take the bike with us. Crazy, nice. I was completely overwhelmed by this place and I had a wonderful time. You really feel like you are part of a big movement here as a bike traveler.

This is the wall which is drawn by a couple from Belgium and two cycle tourists from France. This is the Equator Line and here all the cycle tourists put a dot to their hometown and they wrote their nicknames. For example, one guy from Germany.

Please don't forget to put a dot to your hometown and please don't forget to write your name. I would be honored. Yes, of course I will do that. Crazy, nice. The plastic bottles from the cycle tourists in 2021, the environmental year in Lüleburgaz city.

And we collected them here and we gave to the cycle tourists the Inox bottles. And the Inox bottles with the cycle tourists cycling around the world. Wow, amazing. This place is absolutely magical.

You can come here, you don't have to pay anything. And they will give you a bike and there is a nice parkour outside. And there you can go on a bicycle and you can just hang out. It's like a very nice community center. And they do a lot of great work to enhance the bicycle culture here in Turkey. And not only here in Turkey, actually pretty much everywhere in the world because they have this amazing guest center.

The Lüleburgaz Stars Bicycle Academy. So if you're a bicycle tourist, a bikepacker coming through Turkey on the way to Istanbul. This is an amazing place to stay. Come to Lüleburgaz to the bicycle academy and you can stay here for one or two nights. Sir, probably you have your own mattress and you can sleep with it here. We have a kitchen over there.

The other cycle tourists left some stuff over here. If you need anything you can take. If you don't use any stuff you can leave it here. The first one is the toilet and the second one is the shower. And we have a laundry here. If you want to use, let me

know. We have like powder, all the detergents. They have a lot of spare parts. They have

tools and you can fix your bike. They give you an incredible amount of help. And it's just... for me, this is unbelievable. And I wish there would be more places like these.

The people that work here are extremely friendly, extremely helpful. And I had an amazing time here in Lüleburgaz. What does it mean to be alone? When I meet people on the road, they often ask me why I'm travelling on my own. Well, that's a good question. Because sometimes it really sucks.

Yes, it does. Sometimes. But being alone doesn't necessarily mean being lonely. In fact, we sometimes feel very lonely, even in good company. Phases of loneliness happen in life, whether we are at home working or whether we embarked on the journey of a lifetime. I wasn't feeling lonely simply because I was alone. But being on my own helped me to recognize that something wasn't quite right with myself.

On this journey, this was the longest period when I didn't feel good, when I felt, in fact, lonely. And I was questioning whether this will go on forever. This is our mind trying to trick us into these catastrophic thoughts.

That once you're in a bad situation or once you are... things are not going as smoothly as expected. Our brain starts to extrapolate and predicts that this is going to go on forever. Which is, of course, not the case. It's like a catalyst for self-awareness.

You have to come to terms with yourself. When you become aware of what the real problem is and when you are at peace with yourself again, then being alone becomes pleasure. It's almost like a spiritual experience. Because you are not really alone.

You are part of a huge organism, a society, an ecosystem, a planet and a whole universe. I have made it to Istanbul and I can hardly believe it. It's right there in the background. However, I didn't come here by bike.

I took a train for the last few kilometers and left my bike in Lüleburgaz. Too many people advised me not to cycle into Istanbul because of the very dangerous traffic. Also...

I decided to take a little break from cycling. I decided to fly back to Germany for a few weeks. Yes, I know, I also feel really bad about flying. And believe me, I wrestled with myself for a long time.

But it is so important for me right now to see my family and my friends. And once I will be beyond Istanbul, it's gonna get a lot harder to get to Germany quickly. The amazing people at the Lüleburgaz Bicycle Academy helped me prepare my bike for the flight. Thank you very much again for that and also for everything else. I learned a lot about myself in the last couple of weeks about being alone and being lonely. It can be pretty difficult at times, but I will continue cycling alone.

Because I still enjoy it very much and I think that the advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages. However, I will try to make breaks a little bit earlier in the future whenever I feel the need to socialize. In the end, it's all a question of balance.

Thank you for watching and thank you very much for being such a great audience. I hope to see you again in a few weeks after this little break. If you enjoyed the video and if you would like to support me continue doing this stuff, there's a link in the description Thank you very much... ...and see you next time.

2023-08-06 07:39

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