Saturday, August 27, 2011

Day 30 - Mission accomplished! - Stockholm (Bromma) - 85 km

We did it! We finally arrived in Stockholm after 2898 km of tarmac, gravel, ferries, mosquitos, lakes, trees, sweat, sun, rain, cold, heat and lots and lots and lots of fun!

We dedicate this day to our parents, our family our friends and all of you guys who followed us on this blog and wrote us nice messages.

We also wanted to thank very warmly all the people who hosted us on our way, offered us some water, some coffee, some one finger salutes or some high fives: Thanks to Ellen and Kuen in Belgium, to Marie and Jacques in Amsterdam, to Gabi in Lubeck, to Eva and Bo in Smaland and to Dave and Christine who are giving up privacy for the well-being of the crew.

A special thank you to Bjorn also who posted most of our messages when we were out in the wilderness!

Photos to come!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Day 29 - Adventure - 99km's - in Granlund (95km from Stockholm).

Another day basking in the beauty of the Swedish forrests. For lunch we opted to finally open our can of fermented (not pickled) herring. Vivien was momentarily blinded as the pressurized can erupted upon puncture, spraying juice into his eyes. In the end we were truly defeated by the fish, almost all of us gave it a taste, but much was wasted, and we apologize for this. The smell was truly horrendous, and it tasted about the same, worse yet were the burps that came up the rest of the day. We ask any Scandinavian readers to please let us know how people can enjoy it.
In the afternoon we were truly in the back-country. Vivien led a tour of a dairy farm and netted us 500ml of fresh milk; we saw a ten year old boy driving one on the bigger tractors that we have ever seen; and a Volkswagen enthusiast gave us a flailing one fingered salute, he presumably thought we were Dutch.
We found yet another perfect lake side camp site, our last. With a small campfire and plenty of marshmallows we will reminisce about our adventure. 30 days, 6 countries, and a lot of stories. It is so different to wake up every day and not know where you will sleep, or what weather you will face, but it is really exciting when you find the perfect spot at the end of the day and feel satisfied that everything worked out. So different from our generally predictable day to day lives.
Tomorrow we should reach Stockholm, and prepare for our third semester. We dedicate the ride today to our two new classmates Antonio and Ray who left their PM3E family to join ME3 for the Stockholm semester!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day 28 - 2700 km's later - 108 km.

Dave has proved to be quite the fisherman, plumping up small fish with all sorts of grubs, but no luck yet. We enjoyed a morning of cycling just north of lake Roxen riding up and down windy roads through medows and forests.
Our beatiful surroundings reminded us of Alejandra and so we dedicated our day to her. Can't wait to see you this weekend.
We went for a swim before lunch and were entertained by fighterjets and swedish school kids playing games like tug-a-war and toss the gum boot as we ate.
Rob managed to attract the pee of a rather frightening looking dog on his leg and shoe shorty before we passed a small village titled Bjornsnas. Which brings us near the town Krokek beside the estuary Braviken.

Reposted - Day 2 - Crusing Along the Mayenne River - 106 Km - North of Laval

We dedicate today to our dear friend, Guy. We wish him and his wife all the best as their wedding draws near. We spent most of the day riding the dusty trails that border the Mayenne.
The days scenary included an abondance of blank faced cows; new age fisher men speckled along the river bank dressed in camouflage; countless locks decorated with flowers, churches and peniches; blasts of dust from Bjorns popped back tire ( times 3 ); and an Elvis Presly concert.
Which brings us to our place of rest, nestled between a cow field and the river in which we bathed and washed...

Day 27 - The Wilderness - 119km - Next to a river just west of Alvestad (West of linkoping)

Today we were truly cycling in the wilderness. With no lunch in our bags we cycled 57km along gravel roads up and down steep hills through the forest before reaching the first town - Trehorna. Here we asked a man mowing the lawns if there was a grocery store in town. His reply was "No, but if you want I can open my restaurant for you!" We had stumbled on a newly opened hotel/conference centre made from an old school next to a lake. The place had a really chilled out atmosphere and could be a potential location for the next ME3 retreat! We hammered some more K's in the afternoon, and Dave was excited to see his first Elk after missing the previous sighting. We arrived as it started to get dark at a great spot next to a river where we had an ice cold swim and well needed wash. We also found an old fishing line complete with hook so tried our luck. Unfortunately the fish attracted to our worms were too small to bite the hook! We dedicate this day to Yu Sheng. Dave was reminded of interviewing him in the first Ricardo class when he said he enjoyed chilling out together in a small group - which is what we have been doing the last 29 days! We hope he has enjoyed chilling with his friends back in Taiwan!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day 26 - smaland - 105 km - near Signesbo

We left our camping spot around 10 to go straight north until Jonkoping, a city we have been having fun trying to pronounce with a Swedish accent. We had quite a surprise when we saw a men who we asked directions to, 40 km later, making sure we were on the good way. He even got out of his car to continue the previously started conversation. We had a long break enjoying the rays of sun we have been wishing for since we left France. We also renewed with the hills long gone since eNormandie as we headed north-east after the break. We saw some young fellows who seemed to be just entering the undergraduate world judging their behaviour and dressing code. They reminded us and our first days with ME3 and because of that we dedicate this day to Lili, who started early our Facebook page that made the first link amongst some of us. We landed on a beautiful peninsula we were allowed to squat for a night. Mosquitoes are fiercely taking over as the sun is going down. ll

Day 25 - Red houses and station wagons - 115km- store mosse national park

Inspired by Anna we had a record early start time and one of the highest average speeds. We encountered our first paparazzi, as the regional newspaper in Unnaryd had been alerted of our arrival. We opted for the scenic route across the island Bolmso, then headed straight North for a National Park. We have passed hundreds of red houses and learned that the Swedish love of red is due to the low price as it is a byproduct of mining iron. We met the dog breeder who won day 2 of the Paris dog show and we are staying in one of his fields on the edge of the park. Vivien created an inspiring meal with roasted potatoes and grilled pork. The park is a huge wetland housing plenty of birds which we can hear in the distance. We dedicate this day to Kinga and we hope she is having a great time in India, we can't wait to hear about it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Day 24 - Chilling at Anna Tengnäs Dream House - 0km

Today was the a day of accomplishing dreams like swiming and fishing in a swedish lake,eating freshly caught and smoked rainbow trout and walking around Anna's forest. Her parents have been great guides and hosts, and we are really thankful for their hospitality.
While doing our loundry their was a sticker 'NOANOA' on the washng machine wich reminded us about our dear Jessica's project. We dedicate this day of chilling to her and wisch her to have the oportunity to develop further her NOA project!

Interlude Photos from Amsterdam to almost Copenhaguen

Day 23 - Traveling to Tengnäs - 94 km

After our usual breakfast of fruit, yogurt, museli and instant coffee we pedaled out of the forest - that bordered the sea - towards the exposed fields of south western Sweden. We enjoyed our lunch in a small town square entertaining the tourists (and locals) with our presence. Elk were spotted as we winded through a forest of long tall birch and pine trees. And so, we dedicate today to Lucia who volunteered in ornithological park this month (LPO). We even found a Norwegian stuck in a trafic circle going round and round and round...slightly better off than the Danes that fell into the water fall at Danska Fall, or so the legend goes. Which brings us to Anna´s place, hosted by here parents. We wish you were here Anna!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Day 22 - mmmm sweden - in the forrest

in the forest, between the beach and a ufo somewhere on the west coast of sweden. Today we started the third and final leg of our journey by checking out an interesting Design Thinking exhibition before leaving copenhagen. We fought our way out of denmark against strong winds, along treacherous paths littered with canibalistic slugs and lined with stinging nettles. A short (one way!) ferry ride later we finally arrived in the promised land and our 6th country. Sweden welcomed us with friendly smiles and bitterly cold winds coming down from the arctic. We dedicate this day to Ana S as we now arrive in her second homeland, we look foward to her helping us with the swedish language!

Day 21 - 102 km - Straight finish of phase 2 - Copenhagen

We prioritized distance in order to spend some time in the capital city. The route was fairly straight with the typical scenery of wheat and corn. We happened upon possibly our nicest lunch spot yet as we parked on a rickety platform thAt stretched 30m over the shallow sea, along a pristine white sand beach. After a short swim in the frigid waters we shared a Dan-cake to celebrate Andrea's birthday, who we dedicated the ride to.
We opted for a youth hostel which was a bit of a scam as there were additional charges for everything.
We shared a few beers along the canal to celebrate the 2000km mark and the start of phase 3 of the trip "into the North". We went to an all you can eat all almost put them out of business with our bikers' appetites and our unwillingness to pay 15DKK for a glass of water. What a beautiful biking city with and incredible style of bikes, even Bjorn would go unnoticed here.
The night was warm with 5 people in a 4 person room, ventilation must have been an additional charge.
We will head for Sweden tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day 20 - Live and learn - Vordingborg - 96km

After looping around a bridge and tiring our fingers riging our bells to not run into tourist we finally made it to the ferry.we left our bike behind all the trucs we went up to enjoy the trip. After 45mn of eatg,chilg,playg cards and drickg coffee we went back down to our bikes to go out.What a suprise,All the trucks had turnd around...yes you got it, the fery was on its way back to G...failure. 1h30 later we were finally ìn DK! We allready had the chance to enjoy their great bike lines, windmils, cost, and endless sunset that we dedicate to our dear Hakan!

Day 19 - Mosquito night - 93km - in grossenbrode, germany

We awoke to the breakfast of the year prepared for us by Gaby early in the morning before she left for work. It was the complete organic special with more choices than most village grocery stores. We took the morning to tour Janne's childhood stomping grounds. Claudia and Rob by canoe, the others by self guided walking tour. We departed at 3pm and headed North with our sights set on the ferry to Denmark. With John leading the way with his new horn he cleared the tourists from the coastal paths as we rode along the Baltic Sea. We are camping now on the coast and getting our first taste of the mousquito's that Anna has promised us in Sweden. We dedicate today to Kevin as we were reminded of him with each Rittersport (Riddersport!) we ate throughout Germany. We know Kevin wishes he was with us rather than on a cruise boat in the Mediterranean.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 18 - Going to Gabi - 78 km

We awoke this morning in our very own beds. That's right! Big pillows, fluffy duvet covers and more than an arms length of unoccupied rollover space for the first time since operation bike tour commenced. After cleaning our sand caked bicycles and a couple coffees we biked through Hamburg, ate some vendor food, checkout a bombed church and followed a small river out of town towards Lubeck (and more importantly to stay with Gabi, Janne's Mom). It was a relaxed day of cycling, no cows but a couple of storks...good vibrations, except for a brief section of cobble stone road. The Reggae music playing from Johns ghetto blaster reminded us of Rochelle and so we dedicate today to Rochelle. Simultaneously, Vivien was listening to the track "the score" by the fugees (4:37). Check it out Rochelle. This evening, we enjoyed a delicious home cooked meal and the company of the lovely Gabi. No wonder Janne is such a sweet heart.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day 17 - Sunday Rainy Sunday - 102 km - Hamburg

Today started with a persistant rain that convinced us to seek for a dryer shelter than our usual tent. We made it to Hamburg a city we all wanted to visit. We took to nicest ferry up to now and saw the biggest port of Europe. Cranes and docks are endless. We dedicate this day to Ahmed because today is Pakistan's national day. Sadly a bomb killed 18 people near Dera Allah Yar. Our thoughts are with you.

We are returning from a late night walk and are a bit tired so we'll end this post by wishing you a good night. We'll see you tomorrow.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Day 16 - "moin moin" - 110km - Bremen

Today the real north german experience started with the disappointing mismatch between maps and signs on the one hand and on the better hand Wieners, Wursts, Beers and a funny way to great people: "moin moin" (which means something like "good morning" but can be said the whole day).
We made it to Bremen today. A Beautiful city where we organized our own beer tasting at a nice and clear lake once again. We dedicate this day to Peter and his associated application Pete-Pedia thanks to which we found out that Weißbier contains wheat.

Day 15 - Nother Day Nother Country - 123km

Today we rode for Janne who embarked on his very own bike trip this very morning. Way to go Janne! We will miss Holland and the Dutch people, with their one finger saluts and their unusual use of the alphabet.
An ensemble of 4 bicycle bells announced our arrival in Germany. We quickly noticed a reduction in cows and and a sharp transition to strong brick German houses. The rain stopped today allowing for our first absorption of vitamin D in many days, which we welcomed during a swim and scrub in one of mother natures tubs.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Day 14 - Already 2 weeks - 115km - near Groningen

We have had rain wind and cold for multiple days now but today we at least had the luck of biking and eating before it started pouring. We are staying in the backyard of a lovely lady who offered us some salad from the garden. Landscape of land below the sea level is quite impressive and often houses have their own moat.
We dedicate this day to Dayo whos mom asked "are they biking to stockholm because they are poor?" He is probably wondering why we are still biking and did not hop on a train. We hope you are enjoying your trip in west africa. We will dedicate tomorrow to Janne, as he will be leaving on his own bike trip.
Today we also hopped on three small ferries (outrageously expensive) saw a herd of sheep baa'ing in chorus. Also we saw about 20 cows with the same middle white vertical stripe. Dont think we are bored, we are just connecting with nature...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Day 13 - Start of phase 2 - 133km (new record) - Close to the dutch Zurich

The first mission of the day was to get out of an european capital by bike which was easy peasy!
Troubles started when we found out that Viviens back wheel was broken and had to be replaced. But we were lucky in our bad luck since we were 2km away from a bikeshop with nice people and where we got to try electric bicycles and a pennyfarthing (check out in google).

After cycling along a dyke with a strong lateral wind, we started to cycle the longest dyke in europe with wind in the back between sea and sea. (30km long - done in one hour!!)
We established our own record for the longest distance ridden without using hands.

We dedicate this day to Björn who took a train to Berlin today. We already miss him but look forward to an early start tomorrow morning ;)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Day 12 - Museums and Sightseeing - Amsterdam - 26km

wow, one day we spend only part time on the bike and mostly indoors. After 11 days in
the wilderness thats kind of a strange feeling.

Being in Amsterdam, we dedicate our off day to Ashreeta as we unfortunately missed her here and she also gave us helpful tips how to plan our evenings. and it will most likely be the most lazy day of our trip.

Right now John and Dave try to plan the route for the next days, which includes reading out names of towns in Holland and Germany. At least for Björn, that is unimaginably funny.

Also a thing that happened for the first time on the trip was riding bikes alone and not seeing everyone the whole day.

Like yesterday we are staying with 2 friends of Vivien who invited us to their beautiful place close to the amsterdam city center, which we turned into a mess right away..

Marie and Jaques (with cat)

The mess we created

We were also provided with entry cards with which we could enter every museum for free without cueing, which was a really awesome possibility to see a bunch of places.

Tomorrow the group will get a little bit smaller (and faster, concerning the preparations in the morning) as Björn will take the lazy train to Berlin and enjoy the rest of the trip like you, from the blog.

Day 11 - Amsterdam - 69km

only a short update:

Due to the enormous work we did on day 10 (with a little help of the wind) we only had about 50km left to reach Amsterdam.

John was enthralled by the bike culture here. Quote: "this is bike wonderland, my dream city".

We started our touristic program and had a nice evening in a pub.

Day 12 is an off day which we will spend in amsterdam.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Interlude - New Pictures

A new load of impressions of our trip

Day 10 - The land of the wind powered bicylce - 131km -Leiden

We dedicate today to Eric since we had a powerful 25 knot wind pushing us along, allowing us to break our distance record. And we passed hundreds of thousands of kite surfers. We passed along 30km of dykes with ocean crashing to our left and the calm, controlled sea to our right.

We took our first break after 75km to fill up on fries with the special dutch peanut sauce and ice cream. We also celebrated our first 1000km with a fine bottle of champagne before hopping on a small ferry. We are camping now in a beautiful park surrounded to by canals and cows.

We have a special dedication to Andrée and Carlos (Claudia's parents)who supported us in Chateauguay yesterday by biking 100km each. We are really proud of you.

Day 9 - Already Holland!! - 90km - Old Zeeland

After the shining smile of Ellen and Koen this morning and getting 6 free torches in the local car shop (nice sponsor) we cycled to Brugge, had a quick visit, fries and waffles and continued towards Holland. Cycling along channels almost all the way to the ocean, we got again one level higher in the bike way quality!
After taking the ferry to Zeeland (after which New Zealand has been named) rain started to pour...
we still made 20km more with 15 degrees, rain and wind until a mini-camping.
The number of bikers that we saw today was impressive as well as the umbrella-on-the-bike-technique.

We decided to dedicate this bike journey to Lintang our dear friend from Indonesia, where they have the 4-on-the-motorbike-with-umbrella-technique.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Day 8 -Leaving France, welcome Belgium - 111km - Westkerke

Laziest beginning of the trip. Thanks to... Internet. There is so much to do when you have connection to interwebs. 12:00 was the departure which did not stop us to do our part and hammer more than 100km.

So now after almost exactly 6 month we left France and now ride the bikeways of Belgium. Our way so far was: 92 90 82 81 25 24 64 23 22 21 51 50 66 31 45 43 36 01 85 86. Everyone who travelled through Belgium or France by bike knows what that means :)

Being quite exhausted and desperately on the search for a place to stay we were picked up by Ellen and Koen (speak "Koon") who offered us their back yard and a warm shower. And did not stop with that but also gave us beer and wine. (although Koen mother is a little concerned about the strangers and told him to have an eye on us)

Just plain perfect!!

Ellen and Koen and their soon to be around daughter whos name we know now but are not allowed to tell anyone. (its a nice name)

Today we rode for hsin hsang because after 700 kilometers we saw the sun this morning and thought "so far so good".

The Bike Crew - additional information 2

To complete the proof that we are all experienced bikers here a picture of rob riding an (electrical) tricycle


shortly before leaving france, here are some additional pictures.. for all of you who have too much time :)

click on the picture to access the whole album / cliquez sur l'image pour acceder l'album complet

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Day 7 - singing in the rain - 98km - between therouanne and cassel

After seeing the sun in the morning, it left us for the day and we had to ride through the rain instead. One hour after arriving it stopped raining and the sun came back. Perfect timing.
This brings us right away to the person we were riding for today: it is the lovely barbara who is probably right now dancing on some Brazilian beach with a huge mojito in her hand, because it was her who raised the concerned question: "are you really sure you gonna enjoy this?"

Due to cold feet and wet shoes we decided to use a real camping spot today which brings a couple of advantages: 1. electricity (important when after a day like today the battery of our solar system isnt charged) 2. warm showers 3. Internet (so we can upload some pictures and give an impression of our journey so far).
This also makes it possible to write a slightly longer text, compared to our sms blogging of the last days.
But most important, we were for the first time able to read all your comments. Thanks a lot for all the good wishes!

highlight of the day was being invited by a old woman for a coffee while just looking for some shelter from the rain for a few minutes. she also warned us that we have a good mountain straight in front of us (more than 10%, thats tour de france style). So with that in mind we will prepare our food and go to a good sleep.

And you can watch some pictures:

The Bike Crew - additional information

some additional footage for the bike crew and the proof that björn was really a professional rider: