October 5, 2013
Day 29. The dream of German bicycle roads turned into a bit of a nightmare today. First of all, you can never know when a well asphalted road will turn into a road covered with gravel or even forest path not suited for rollerskating. The second challenge is route planning on the go. We constantly have to plan and track two routes one by bicycle roads for Karlis and another by public roads for us. The two routes often go apart from each other and afterwards it’s hard for us to find our loan skater. In one instance today Karlis phoned us and told, that he’s on a forest path and can’t go on by this route, but we had lost sight of him approx. 10 km back. The only way to find him was to look at the map and find the worst possible track that he could have taken and hope that we are right. Thank all the road gods that we were right, because Karlis has no live GPS transmission, so there’s no way for us to locate his exact position. The scary part is that we haven’t gotten to really big cities yet and already have encountered routing problems. What will come next? But the good news are that we haven’t lost Karlis yet and are ready for a new day and challenges. We are spending this night at our friend Karin’s place in Hamburg, so no sleeping on the roadside tonight. The early start payed off and after the daily 100km Karlis finished in daylight for a change, even though the stumbling through the maze of bicycle roads took more than expected and the total skating time summed up to 6h.
October 6, 2013
Day 30. This was a calm day for a change. No problems with the routing, no accidents and no major technical problems. The only problem that we encountered was a broken wheel on Karlis skates. The wheel base just cracked making the wheel unusable and strangely enough it happened on an even asphalt. We suppose that the wheel was damaged before when traveling under more challenging conditions and now it just gave up. It’s a good thing that we have spare wheels, so Karlis was up and going again in no time. Today we crossed Hamburg without getting lost or loosing Karlis once and we hope that it means that we are getting better at routing and the problems we encountered yesterday are in the past. After Hamburg we were traveling mostly by small country side roads surrounded by farms, orchards and farming fields and moving towards Bremen which we will reach tomorrow. After the daily hundred we ended up in Kirchtimke. Try to find it on a map, we dare you!
October 7, 2013
Day 31. Today was a big day for us. The first and most important thing is that we crossed into the second half of our trip timewise. 30 days are behind us and another 30 await us in the unknown future. It really doesn’t feel like we have been on the road for a whole month. The second thing was the three thousand mark which Karlis crossed today. So we are somewhere in the middle also lengthwise. The third thing was the arrival of our friend Matīss form Latvia who brought Christmas to our camper early this year, It took us a while to dig through all the boxes of gifts and provisions that we received form our families, good friends and supporters, We got new wheels for Karlis skates, some good Latvian beers, a lot of Selga cookies and other food provisions and of course a ton of good wishes. We thank you all from the bottom of our collective heart. It took some time to load everything into our limited living area and now it seams that we are as packed as we where when we left Riga. Matīss not only delivered all the boxes and bags of goodies, but also joined Karlis for a ride, so the second stretch of today Karlis shared his road with a friend. The only negative note of today was Karlis unsuccessful attempt to fly when a screw on one of his wheels got loose and blocked the wheel. No injuries though and after a short repair our skater was good to go again. The packing and rearranging of our home took a while, so today after 101km we finished after dark.
Day 32. Today we woke up in a camping from the previous era. No internet, no hot water in the sink and shower coin machines that look like Shopenhauer himself could have used them in his time. And the most peculiar thing about this camping was the price 25 euros. For what? Ok, enough about bad things. This morning we shot some scenes for our new video, so soon you will be able to continue following the adventures of Karlis alter ego. For the first part of todays stretch Karlis was riding together with Matīss which was a good thing because when traveling together the time passes faster, but on the other hand traveling together makes more room for mistakes. Karlis got his pole stuck in the wheel spokes of Matīss bicycle and broke yet another pole. For the second part of the day Karlis skated alone again but even that didn’t save him from a disaster by nightfall he broke another pole, so now he is left with just one. Today after 105km we finished in a place called Wettringen. Karlis is joking about the situation that todays result is 2:0 poles against him. We’ll figure out how to overcome this issue tomorrow.
October 9, 2013
Day 33. So, a little bit about our day. We started with a pole hunt but apparently in the countryside of Germany you can’t buy roller skiing poles. So this morning Karlis started with just one pole. It looked a bit weird but Karlis was convinced that one is better than none. For the first half of the day Karlis and Matīss were stumbling around in the net of small country roads, constantly ending up on gravel or sand and turing back to find a way suited for Karlis skates. When skating, let’s call it that way, on sandy roads Karlis needed the second pole so badly that he started using one of the broken ones. Afterwards we could not decide, which was funnier skating with one pole or with two poles of different sizes. After lunch they got fed up with going back and forth, so our super team decided to ignore the cycling route generated by Google and choose the bigger roads, hence increasing the distance traveled between towns, but getting a better speed. Today we crossed borders for 7 times because our route took us through parts of Netherlands and then back again to the German ground. At the end the only thing that helped us to determine the country we are in was the bar of the German mobile operator’s signal in one of our phones. After completing todays 105km stretch we ended up in Germany, but we are spending the night in a camping in the Netherlands and tomorrow morning we have to return to Germany to continue the ride. It’s a good thing that there are no more borders or at least no border control between these countries anymore =) Today we said goodbye to our friend Matīss, because his journey with us is now over. Tomorrow morning Karlis is starting solo again.
October 10, 2013
Day 34. After the daily 105km we ended up in a small town of Echt near Roermund. After the finish we drove our house back to Roermund to pick up the first guest, who actually spent a night with us in our small home. It was our friend Gjanno, who made a little detour to catch us on his way from Amsterdam to Berlin. When we had picked up Gjanno it was already quite late and we still had no idea for a place to spend the night. We tried our luck at a local camping near the city center. The camping was already closed but the manager, who lives in the same building, offered us a spot. Unfortunately without internet connection. The camping place was quite expensive and we kind of needed the net, so Zane apologized and politely said, that we won’t be staying here after all. The manager started yelling and cursing and didn’t want to let us leave, because, as he alleged, he had already printed out the receipt. Nice customer service, don’t you agree? We drove around for some time till we found an empty parking lot some 200m away from a suburban district. It looked like we wouldn’t disturb anyone, so we parked our home there. After 5minutes an angry man came and ordered us to leave in plain Dutch. He took the time to get dressed and walk to the far end of the parking lot just to throw us out. So far the good people of Roermund turned out not so good. After the cold shoulder of Roermund we drove out of the city and stayed in another parking lot. The evening went on cozier than ever because now we were six people in our small flat. Italian pasta, Latvian beer (just for the supporting crew of course) and chatting with friends always is a good mix.
October 11, 2013
Day 35. For the first part of the day we left Karlis alone on the route and focused on getting our guest Gjanno to a place suitable for hitchhiking back to Berlin (one night with the road punks was enough for him) and getting our hands on a free WiFi, to find a store in Cologne where we could by new poles for Karlis. He has broken five poles already and today was skating with two broken ones, which got shorter and shorter with each push. After an hour of WiFi searching, ten minutes of internet browsing and five minutes on the phone we finally booked one pair of poles in a store located in the center of Cologne. Cologne is more than 80km off our route but it was the only place where we could find the right poles. The rain and short poles made the second stretch of today’s route a bit of a challenge for Karlis, because his skates were slipping on the wet asphalt and the short poles prevented Karlis from pushing himself further with enough force. So basically for the second part of the day Karlis was quite slow. After 71km at 17:00 we ended todays route and headed straight to Cologne, to get there before the shop we found earlier today closes. After 1.5h drive we finally reached Cologne and got the poles. This time Karlis bought titanium poles and not the carbon ones. We hope that these will last longer.
Day 36. A new day with new poles. The new titanium poles are a little heavier than the carbon ones but they are definitely much better than the broken ones. So the morning starts on high spirits and we roll into Belgium in a good mood. During the first part of the day our luck turned. The brake system on one of the skates got loose and blocked the wheel, making Karlis to fall while skating downhill. It’s a good thing that he had his knee pads and long sleeved jacket on, because otherwise he would have left a lot of his DNA on the asphalt. We patched Karlis up and he was skating again in an hour. After this unfortunate event it didn’t get much better. We had to cross a village with literarily no roads because of road construction works the village center had been turned into a sandbox maybe suitable for cats and little children, but not for Karlis. It was a struggle, which continued on a bicycle road to the next town. Some locals we met on the way assured us that the particular bicycle road is fully asphalted and all in all very good, which was and overstatement at the least. The asphalt ended after 2km but the road that continued for another 18km transformed into a graveled path. This surprise threw Karlis off his course again, making the route 10km longer. While we were eating our lunch and Karlis was resting his everything we got visited by the local police. The policemen took all of our passports for identity check and wanted to know what we are doing in this region. Of course we obeyed the voice of the law and provided our IDs and answered all of the questions, but the main question still remains how the purpose of our visit is police business? We guess the guys were just bored and had nothing better to do than browsing our passports. It turned out that we are not criminals after all and the policeman wished us good luck on our journey. Due to a small change of our route today we passed through Luxembourg, so to get to Gibraltar we will cross 10 countries instead of the planned 9. After 113km we reached Bastogne in Belgium where we got an unexpected visit form local Latvians Aivars and his son Axel. They were following our adventure online and finally decided to visit us in person and greet us in Belgium with the best local beer. True Latvian welcome. We spent the evening in our camper by a cup of tea or Belgium beer chatting. It was a truly heart warming evening with our new friends.
Day 37. The first part of today we spent in Belgium. It was quite windy and for some time Karlis had to break his way against the force of nature. After a while the wind got stronger, so even on downhill slopes Karlis had to push himself forward with the poles to keep moving. After lunch we crossed into the French ground with beautiful scenery but not so good asphalt, so for the second part of the day Karlis was struggling with uphill slopes and scrublike surface of the road. We had a late morning today and it caused us to go on under the cover of darkness. It’s a bit scary for a lone skater on the narrow and hilly country roads of France, so for the last hour of todays journey we decided to escort Karlis from the back with our camper, providing him with lighting and at least some protection from cars passing by. We spent the night in Stonne small village which has witnessed the full brutality of WWII.
Day 38. A wet day for Karlis it was. Change clothes two times he had to. It seams, that we are following some kind of historical route of combat places because we have never seen so many monuments and beds of honor in such a small region. Karlis got tired of the asphalt conditions on small country roads, so today we tried our luck on medium highways. So far so good, looks like the French are more tolerant to rollerskaters than the Germans. At one point the supporting car lost Karlis in a city called ChalonssurMarne and Karlis had to ask for directions form a local cycler. It’s hard to communicate with the locals, because even young people speak very feeble English or don’t speak English at all and our French ends at Omelet du Fromage. Somehow Karlis was able to explain which direction he has to go he had to try to pronounce the name of the next town three times till the cycler understood him and repeated the name correctly, which sounded nothing like the things that Karlis had tried. After this first victory Karlis tried to let the guy know that he doesn’t want to go on a highway, so he said something like „Road le petit“ and it worked. After some time the BOB crew got reunited again. Somehow we found ourselves in the dark again and Karlis got a bit scared of the traffic, so we ended at 96km.
To be continued in part 5 (?)…we are sorry, Karlis finished this tour successful, but we have no recent (original) reports from the tour… (the editorial staff)
Read more about Karlis tour (pictures and more): https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bored-of-Borders/437858949608891?ref=ts&fref=ts