Share the wealth nature offered to all of us.
my name is Sebastian and I am currently trying to realize a youth dream: to cycle from my home (then Germany/ now Sweden) to Nepal.
I cannot fully explain why I feel I have to realize this dream, but I am for sure looking forward to the adventure, to gradually moving forward in beautiful nature, and the conversations with people I would most probably never have met otherwise.
To do sports I a very reliable way to get happy for me. However, I have no illusion that I will need to have a strong motivation to move forward in times it is wet and cold outside and I feel afraid and lonely inside.
Humans cannot survive and move forward without meaning, so I want to add additional meaning to this bike trip:
I have worked for the mitigation of global warming for more than two decades now.
It was not before last year that I was convinced that solving the climate crisis will be very difficult to achieve in a world in which our joint natural resources are distributed extremely unequally among all of us, the citizens of the world:
How shall you care for the climate if you are poor and to bed hungry?
How can you care for the climate if you are afraid to lose your status quo in a materially oriented society?
Would you care for the climate if you are rich, you want to stay rich and all your power depends on the extraction of fossil energy?
I have not met anybody who knew how rich humanity is already today:
If one sums up all the material fortune on the globe (money, houses, cars, company shares, etc), and divides this wealth humanity has been endowed with by nature (or simply taken from it without asking) by 8 billion global citizens, everybody would permanently (as long the global wealth does not decrease) own around 55.000 Euro. (Source: Credit Suisse, Global Wealth Report 2022).
With this amount of money, you for sure do not have to go to bed hungry.
Just knowing about this simple fact might reassure many of us that we have already received (and maybe even more than) our fair share of the material fortune. Is it not liberating to know that you do not have to strive for owning more in this case?
Would it make you even happier to voluntarily share your fortune with those who urgently deserve it?
On my bike trip to Nepal, I will for sure meet many people which own more than 55.000 €.
And much more who own less.
It would for sure make me happy if could send your donations to those who need and deserve them.
Share the wealth nature offered to all of us!
1. I will save the contact data of people I meet on the bike trip who own less than 55.000 €
2. The total sum of donations will be shared equally among them.
3. For the sake of my security, I will organize the payments once I am back in Sweden.
4. I will try to find a known charity to check and confirm that the donations are distributed as described above.
5. The platform provider of this crowdfunding campaign provides a money-back donor protection guarantee.
6. The Earth4All initiative has come up with a pragmatic and inspiring approach to reach a fairer global wealth distribution and tackle the climate crisis politically. I can strongly recommend their new book Earth4All published in 2022: https://www.earth4all.life/a-major-upgrade
The trip has started! :-)
Two days ago, my bike was fully packed and my wife Anne gave me a warm farewell in our garden Hemse. Christian, a friend of mine accompanied me on the first day to Visby by bike. So this was i nice start. Though around 0 degree, the clothing was warm, the travel conversations were good and we had tailwind as Philip Wilner had wished me. It started to snow in Klintehamn, but we did not wet either. So we arrived in time at the ferry port in Visby in the afternoon. Anne and my daughter Helene came there to give me a warm hug there as well. I am so grateful that both of them let me go on the trip which come to my mind when I was still in school. This is quite extraordinary, I think! Many asked me why I do this trip, and I do it of course for the adventure and since I like bike tours. But I have to admit that I do not know completely why, I just feel the trip has to be done.
And since many wanted to follow the trip, I thought this would be a good opportunity to attract some publicity for this fundraiser, so I will write about my trip on this site from time to time.
Yesterday was quite a wet day with 7 hours of steady rain between Oskarshamn and Rockneby. So I was really happy after a warm shower and the best Tikka Masala I have eaten so far. :-)
Today it is white outside and there is a strong north wind, so I want to use it on my route to the south.
I am really surprised that many are so positive about this trip, so I want to thank you for your good wishes, interest and support!
I arrived in Trelleborg! :-)
One might think that there is plenty of time to write a blog if one bikes "only" 60 km a day. But the truth is that a large part of the day remaining after the biking is already filled up with unpacking, taking a wonderful warm shower, preparing food, eating (all kinds of food are usually very much appreciated, especially cheese after the meals), finding a place to stay for the next night, packing, and so on... Sometimes I am also simply too exhausted to write.
Now, after 9 days of biking, I have already left the most northern point of the journey (Visby) left behind me, and the most western point (Rostock) will follow tomorrow morning when I arrive with the ferry in Germany.
I have been biking into the night several times now and i start to get additional orientation by the upcoming stars (i think now when l start to bike southwards it will often be toward the Orion constellation). Jupiter and Venus are currently shining very bright and close to each other on the western horizon, which is why the Swedish police received many calls from worried citizens who were afraid of drones (according to SVT).
Every day I use to meet another group of animals (herons, rabbits, eagles, gulls, deer, kites, and brants) which makes me happy. I feel more connected to both the animals and the nice oak trees I meet now. They feel like companions, especially when I have spent a night outside. By the way, zero degrees is still comfortable in my sleeping back, - 4 degrees not. On the photo above, it was so cold that one tent bar was still standing after removing the tent stakes since it was frozen into the ground. :-)
After Rockneby, the weather has been very sunny, so it was a good time to see the farms of Blekinge, the navy city Karlskrona, the beautiful center of the seaside city of Ahus and the wide and hilly landscape of Skåne. In Hammenhög, I received a warm welcome from Tore and Annika in Hambo. This is an old brick-stone school that was transformed into a very beautiful and cozy housing project by a group of motivated and clever elderly people who wanted to live together. It was inspiring to see that this plan has been realized in such a positive way.
The travel in Germany started in quite an unexpected way: When we left the ferry at 06.30 in the morning, the Chinese mobile holder for 40 SEK which I had bought in Kalmar some days earlier gave up and I lost my mobile without noticing it for 30 seconds. When I turned back, the mobile had already been picked up by a driver. I was quite astonished to hear that the driver was already on the Autobahn when I called my mobile number from another phone. He did not want to come back but decided instead to leave it at a gasoline station in Upahl 88 km west of Rostock...(!). To get there with train and bus took 2 hours, back to Rostock Central station only 45 mins since a very friendly man in his fifties in a brand new Mercedes drove me back there.
So at noon, the bike ride could finally start.
The sun was shining, it was the warmest day of the tour so far and the bike lanes through the beautiful landscape were so well paved that it seemed to me I was going downhill all the time (which of course is not realistic when you start at sea level.
What a contrast to 1,5 days earlier: In Blentarp, I had been so exhausted when I woke up that I was sincerely thinking of ending my trip in Rostock and turning back to Gotland. The daily biking without break took had taken its toll. But somehow everything got a bit easier in Germany and I managed to get to Berlin without break.
In the beautiful little town of Röbel, Bille and Boldi shared their house, homemade bread and liver sausage and high-end oat milk cappuccino with me. It become a long evening in which I learned that the huge real estate ownership of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern can be traced back to local princedoms.
It got cold again on the following days so I was very thankful to be able to warm myself and my bike in Nicos and Rike's castle plus a nearby sauna in Berlin-Charlottenburg.
Two days later, the front wheel rim broke in Golssen. The local bike shop owner Erich helped me to fix the wheel until late in the evening and prepared me with preparatory stories about his trips to Georgia.
Uli and Benny, Peter and Wendy, Tomas and Anna
In Bad Schandau at the river Elbe, my old youth friend Uli met me. It was good to cross the border to the first really "foreign" country, the Czech Republic, together.
The river Elbe cuts her like a knife through the Elbsandstein-Mountains between Germany and the Czech Republic. So very nice to cycle indeed, with only a little high rise. On the Czech side, we met my university friend Benny who had arrived from Karlsruhe with a brand-new green Brompton folding bike, minimal baggage and some back pain. So we took a modest ride together until Leitmeritz. The next day however turned out to be more exhausting than planned: I had to take an extra ride back and forth since I had left my water filter bottle in Leitmeritz (thanks for waiting for me !) and finally we arrived in a fancy golf hotel with a dead alligator on the wall of our Egypt style hotel room just north of Prague. The next restaurant was only 5 km away. To be sure, I asked Uli: "Is there any elevation on our way?" He answered fast and in a very convincing manner: "It is just flat." So we left, hungry and exhausted on the last short ride. That Benny groaned the loudliest I can remember could simply be explained by the fact that the beautiful local Czech restaurant revealed itself to be located on the local summit of the area, 200 height meters above our hotel. You can truly believe us that we fully enjoyed the cool beer and the delicious goulash and dumpling balls before simply rolling home. :-)
The last kilometers to Prague were comparably easy and we soon arrived on the Moldau river:
Benny left in Prague, and with a good amount of tailwind, we were already in Bestvina the next evening.
From there, Uli left to take care of his sick daughter. I planned to simply continue upwards to the watershed between the north sea (via the river Elbe) and the black sea (via the river Danube) on a height level of about 750m when a local bike dealer conclude that I had to buy a new bike since the twisted frame of my old bike did not allow for fixing the back wheel any longer... The amazing pension hosts Peter and Wendy in Bestvina had not only driven Uli and me to the next restaurant the evening before, but now they transported me and the bike 40 km to the next city and helped with the translation for the bike purchase! I was already picturing myself on a brand new golden gravel bike when the second bike dealer simply removed the shift protection and tightened the back wheel of my old bike again. This saved me not only 2.500 Euro but allowed us also to have a nice lunch conversation before I finally started to the watershed at 14.00 in the afternoon. Thanks again, Peter and Wendy!
Already on the morning of the next day, I noticed that the little water streams in the forested mountains were flowing in my direction of travel. :-) With decreasing altitude, it got slowly warmer, but I also had a heavy headwind coming up from the Pannonian lowlands for the first time in my travel. Two bike racers gave me some windshield and motivation on the last hills before Brno. This city turned out to be an important logistic hub on my travel:
I bought a spare rim for the back wheel since the old one was already thin. Fielmann had started to make spare glasses for me in Oranienburg just north of Berlin, send them to Prague (which I had already passed) and further to Brno where I finally got them. In addition, they gave me the water bottle which I had forgotten in Leitmeritz and which had been sent there. On the way to the Slovak Republic, I had by chance planned a stop right at the beautiful castle in Lednice.
What to expect in the Slovak Republic? I noticed that I am always getting a bit nervous when entering a new country.
Would it be safe? How would the country be for bikers? Was there any understanding for crazy long-distance bikers? I did not even expect that I would be able to pay in Euro after paying in Czech Kronor the days before.
Anyway, I met only welcoming people in the Slovak republic. Especially in Bratislava, which for some reason had been connected with negative associations of a grey and rough city in my imagination. It turned out to be wonderful! First of all, I met the Danube river just before the city.
It got warmer and warmer and spring was now clearly arriving.
My original plan had been to pass through the city but then when I was just considering staying a bit longer, someone was shouting at me: "Come on! Where are you coming from? Where are you heading to? Is there anything you want to repair in our fully equipped self-repair bike kitchen? Do you want to stay at our apartment tonight? " It was Tomas with his girlfriend Anna from Vienna. For sure I wanted to! I used the opportunity to exchange my back wheel rim (in the meanwhile I was even invited to some cool beers) and was even able to discover the old city center of Prague with Tomas and Anna. Thanks so much, Tomas and Anne, that was an unforgettable day in Bratislava! :-)
An der schönen Donau
My brain seems to have reached its memory capacity, it is just happening too much every day. This is further complicated by the fact that the Danube bike trail I am often following (or Eurovelo 6 and 13 for the professionals) switched between Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Serbia again, Bulgaria and Romania again so far. So once you have learned to say "Hello, Thank you and Good Buy" in the local language plus got the exchange course to EUR and SEK in your head you can restart your brain again in the next country. At least at my age... But the photos I took give me at least some orientation in the last 10 days. And since I keep coming back to the Danube, this splendid lifeline again and again, this is my red thread for this chapter.
The extent and the pomposity of the monumental building in Budapest are simply crazy. I find it a bit ironic that the parliament seems to be the most important and beautiful building in the Hungarian capital. After a 2 hour long monument and restaurant stroll, I found a restaurant with really good Hungarian Letscho and Gundel Palatschinken just 100 meters from my hotel. Next time I will use trip advisor from the start...
South of Budapest, the Danube splits up in two river arms simply to allow each Hungarian family to build a picturesque little cottage with a garden directly at the river bank and a beautiful pontoon in the reed next to it. With a warming wind from the south and spring birds singing, this was just amazing. :-)
I already knew the Danube is a big river from my mother's hometown Neu Ulm in Bavaria. But here, the river first turned into a huge lake and then nearly into an ocean bay.
For the first time in four weeks, I was able to bike without hiking boots, but with shorts and a merino shirt in the sun at 20 degrees Celsius. That was pure happiness after all the chill!
From here on, I started to store heat and cold and send it forward to the next stations of my trip where I might probably need it.
Hungarians love fishing, so I took the chance to test the famous Hungarian hot fish soup at the local fish soup festival in Kiskunhalas. Not bad, I would say...
Close to the Hungarian border, a local bike mechanic told me that I was the first biker to pass on the Eurovelo bike trail this year, so I felt a bit like a swallow that announces the "tourist spring". Just 30 min later, I met Waltraud and Martin on their bike with trailers. We invited each other to a cappuccino, and they had very helpful and joyful lessons to tell from their hike and bike trip which had led them from Switzerland and Austria to Uttar Pradesh in India and back to Hungary. I am especially thankful for the dog defense advice...
The travel through Hungary finished with meeting a lovely host family and visiting the very nice thermal bath in Moralholm. The influence of the Roman Empire is still sensible on this long trip...
Crossing the border to Serbia (and thereby leaving the EU) was a sunny experience. On the other side, I needed some time to get used to music videos with half-naked women on TV channels number 1-7 and wild garbage dumps. However, a very good Balkan grill restaurant in Negotin with a huge load of grilled sheep meat, tomato and cucumber salad, pepperoni in garlic and vinegar and white olive bread brought me back into life after several hundred hight meters through the Carpathian hills on a mountain bike trail.
Yesterday I realized that this area is a brown bear habitat on both sides of the Danube River. I had asked a local car driver in the hills to confirm that bears only live on the Northern side of the river (since we were on the Southern side). But he smiled and said unexpectedly: "Bears? Yes! while pointing at the hills around me. Which did not contribute to relaxing me since it was slowly getting dark. Shortly after that, Kevin (one of two long-distance bike riders from Fürth/Bavaria which I had met while crossing the Danube on a river ferry one day earlier) come running towards me and told me that he was sure that he had heard a bear roaring. I did not fully believe him at this moment but we nonetheless decided to hang our food in a tree around 50m from our tents before sleeping this night. This was quite probably not a stupid idea...
Two days earlier, my bike navigator had led me on a nice new little bikeway from Serbia to Romania. I was somewhat surprised that nobody was there except a small closed border tree which was easy to round. A little later, I even passed a Van with a large camera and a running diesel generator without getting suspicious. The Romanian border police officers that stepped out of the Van shortly after that though were a little bit more concerned, informed me that I had illegally entered the European Union, and sent me back to Serbia. This border crossing is only open on the weekend...
Long-distance bike travelers
Meeting other long-distance cyclists is of course nice. Within the first 2 months of the tour, I had only met 6 other bikers alike (typically easy to identify by a large number of bike bags):
- 2 well equipped British racing from Prague to Berlin (we met them at the cafe where thought I had lost my water filter bottle)
- 1 unidentified biker who was eager to climb the hills west of Budapest and did evidently have no time to lose
- Kevin and Natti, two funny guys in their early 20ies from Fürth that want to reach Japan: By chance, they had started their tour in Northern Bavaria on the same day as I started my tour on Gotland. Since I am traveling with a 26-year-old bike and a 27-year-old Hilleberg tent, I had already gotten some comments on my sparse equipment. However, I had for sure been on a luxury trip compared to their tough ride when we met in the middle of Hungary: Natti was wearing plastic bottles instead of shoes since his only pair of shoes was still wet. His scrappy mountain bike was creaking like hell with every pedal turn. The front brake had been fixed with matches, his back brakes did not work at all. Kevin could only use the largest of the three front chainrings when we climbed up the already mentioned Carpathian "bear" hills. With new back brake shoes I had given Natti before these hills, Natti managed at least to slow his bike down from 60 mph to 40 mph during a speed contest before making a rollover in a nearby bush on the downhill ride to the Danube. With the luck of the youth, he only had to remove some thorns from his skin before being able to continue... The boys had slept in a tent 80% of the travel so far and even made a side trip to the Bavarian Alps at around -7 degrees with wet clothes to visit an old friend! We traveled together until the small city of Bechet in Romania, where the boys turned southward towards Istanbul. I hope to meet you again in Asia, tough guys! It is possible to follow their adventure with really funny youtube videos here.
- Amber, from Belgium with a beautiful and solid Koga bike was on her way home from the Mediterranean when we met her at the Danube. She mentioned that she preferred to camp in old, abandoned houses and took a small puppet with her to deter unwanted guests from her tent.
Without this bike trip, I might never have visited the Slovak Republic, Hungary, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria. That would have been a pity! The wild, untouched Carpathian mountains are beautiful, and we received uncounted happy greetings from children, adults and elderly people in Romania on a sunny Sunday while racing with backwind towards Ruse.
On this day alone, I might have counted around 50 storks. :-)
Both Romania and Bulgaria are blessed with a warm climate and seemed to have fertile soils and plenty of water as well. So I was wondering why I meet many people who owned not much more than a horse wagon, collecting wood in the forest for heating or sale. They did not seem to be unhappy, but the profits from the large acres seem to be concentrated in the hands of a few.
Construction workers from Pakistan told me that the irrigation systems they were building were installed on arable land owned by investors from Germany and the US.
They invited me and the fantastic hostel manager Gabriel (see below) to Pakistani dishes after dawn due to Ramadan. When it got cold and rainy, they even invited me into their hotel room since I had put my tent in the hostel garden because the hostel was fully booked.
One week later, a Swedish citizen from Iraq mentioned that it is usually the poor that invite the rich since they depend on each other since those with money can buy autonomy. Maybe this is true?
After 6 weeks of bike riding, I started to feel like the slogan on the Bulgarian hostel plate below:
Everything was in order once the bike was on the road and kept moving again, and a rainy waiting day could even make me feel a bit useless...
Anyway, I was very glad about the Easter break after arriving in Varna (Bulgaria) on the Western coast of the Black Sea.
The plan was to ship my bike and baggage with the ferry above from Varna over the Black Sea to Batumi (Georgia) and visit my family on Gotland during the Easter holidays, but the captain of the ship decided at the last moment (when the ship had already closed the bow visor) that he did not want to have a sole bike on the ship...
In the end, Horsens (my bike) and the baggage flew back and forth with me to Sweden before I could continue the trip on the eastern side of the Black Sea.
Although I have had a course in material science at university, I had not expected the effect 3.000 km of continuous shocks and vibrations caused by a 100 kg biker and around 25 kg of baggage would have on plastics, aluminum and steel.
- The mobile holder broke in Skåne.
- The bike stand broke in Berlin.
- The front rim broke in Brandenburg.
- The left lowrider mounting screw broke in Hungary
- One luggage rack screw nearly unscrewed itself in Serbia
- The right lowrider mounting screw broke in Bulgaria.
- The new chain I had bought before the trip had reached the end of its live time in Varna.
- The rear cassette which was new before the trip had to be replaced in Batumi.
With enough spare parts and the additional help of bike mechanics in Ahus, Röbel, Berlin, Gollsen, Prague, Brno, Solt and Märsta, all of it could be fixed quite fast (thank you again for that !). Probably, damages would have been less with a specialized long-distance touring bike. But no bike can escape material fatigue, so I wonder how well the best bikes are designed today.
Anyway, I did not have one single tube puncture to the west of the Black Sea. :-) !
After a six-week trip on the bike, flying the same distance home again in less than 4 hours felt somewhat strange... The whole trip back went as planned with the small exception that DG had a sensor transmitter error because of which the ferry to Gotland could not leave Nynäshamn. Since it was beautiful sunny weather this could not bother me. After all, the unexpected get normal on such a long journey.
How shall I express my thankfulness when my two tough girls picked me up at midnight in Visby and welcomed me at home with Tibetian prayer flags in our Garden in Hemse? And still loved me after taking care of everything at home without me? I felt just right to be home again. :-)
Georgia, the biker's paradise
The first unexpected thing which happened on my way back to the ferry to get the flight from Arlanda to Batumi was a broken V-belt in the bus from Hemse to Visby which stopped us in Klintehamn.
It was my luck that I had already ordered a taxi to the ferry in Visby for the bike transport, so I reached the ferry (and the flight via Istanbul) in time. My old school friend Adrian also had a little bit of a struggle on the way from Munich to Batumi: The passengers had to leave the Lufthansa plane and spend the night in the airport due to a necessary tyre change... So even airplanes can have unexpected profane rubber problems!
I could not believe my eyes when I discovered that the flight back went straight over Gotland and I could even spot my home town Hemse from above. :-)
The view from our hotel balcony on the 25th floor in Batumi was fantastic: The Black Sea to the East, Batumis Skyscrapers in the Middle, and the Caucasian mountains with snow on the top to the West. Plus Adrian's orange full suspension mountain bike with SRAM gear shift plus good old Horsens waiting for the next adventures.
Adi and I had barely heard anything about Georgia before, but it turned out to be a perfect country for bike trips:
- A warm and pleasant climate, and still everywhere a small spring with cool water to refresh
- Extremely good and extraordinary food
- The Georgian cross was invented for WindPro enthusiasts
- Very kind people plus peaceful animals (even dogs!)
- The Goderzi mountain pass on 2.000m above sea level with around 4m of snow which allowed for bike canyoning in the smelting water on the way down
- Tailwind and the terrain inclination allowed for a maximum speed of 65 km/h on the last 135km to the capital Tbilisi
- And of course: A fearless friend who (nearly) never lost his good mood:
From the largest lake in the world straight into the desert in Kazakhstan
To arrive in Aktau, at the border of the Caspian Sea and 60 m below sea level, was a shock. The airplane (including the national Judo team of Kazakhstan) arrived at 01.00 am in Aktau. My passport was checked at customs, and the responsible officer seemed to not like (or understand) something in my passport. He asked his boss to help him, but his boss could not solve the issue either. They called the next-level boss, who maybe had already been sleeping at this time of the night. He was not amused, simply explained “German passport” and I could finally pass the passport control about 1 hour after the other passengers. I had booked a room in the hotel Victoria online (it turned out later that the real name was "Victory") which had promised an airport transfer but nobody arrived at the airport. A cab driver drove me and a Russian businessman to our hotels. The city was huge. In the hotel, which seemed to be built still in Soviet times, my room was on the 5th floor. There was no escalator, so I had to walk up and down 3 times to bring all my baggage up. It was hot since the warm water in the towel dryer of the bathroom could be switched off only by the city administration. And of course, since it was already in the steppe created by the rain shadow of the Tienshan mountains some thousand km to the east. It took me 3 days to accommodate myself to the new situation. Then I started to like Aktau.
The city is thriving due to the increase in oil export via the harbor at the Caspian Sea to Baku. From the well-visited Pan-Asian restaurants at the lake shore, I could watch a long row of oil tankers leaving the city around the lock. As well as beautiful sunsets. There were – like in Georgia – many Russians around. At a small, temple-like building at the shore, I was able to semble my bike again. I bought 12 liters of water and 3 liters of juice for the desert. A lot of food, including conserves and even sunflower oil (which I bought due to its high-calorie content but never used).
On the last evening in Aktau I took a bath in the largest lake in the world (the Caspian Sea) although i had not seen anyone else swimming at the long beachfront during my stay in Aktau. It was refreshing to feel the cold of this huge mass of water. I tried to save the cold and humidity of the sea for the thousands of km of dry land mass that was lying ahead of me. Two deserts – the Karakum and the Kyselkum desert – and no more ocean before my return to Sweden. Even though I had e a huge respect for the desert I set off for the last part of my travel on a hot afternoon on the 28th of April.
The bike was heavier than ever before and the landscape was grey and dusty already in Aktau due to the water scarcity. I bought some last tasty Samsa "delicious dumplings filled with sheep meat and onion" before leaving the city. At a gas station on the outskirts of the city, I decided to discuss the track the Komoot bike navigator had suggested for the travel to Uzbekistan. It did not follow the main road to the east but went directly northeast into the desert, thereby shortcutting around 40km. Three men tried to convince me to take the main road. I asked them about the quality of the desert track and whether it was easy to lose, and their answers were reassuring... I also calculated if was able to walk to the next house if had a bike failure that I could not repair. In the worst case, about 40 km. That for sure would be tough, but doable. So I went on with the Komoot track despite their warning: "Car? Yes. Humans: No".
On the first part of the track, the road was bumpy but still asphalted, and there were still orange Chinese Shacman trucks and a few other cars passing me. After some time, there was no more mobile connection. In the evening, I passed a lonely small production site. One worker appeared from a container and told me that natural gas was extracted from the ground here. He gave me a liter of water. After that, I followed two rusty large pipelines, then even these pipelines were gone. No more cars, it got really quiet. The tarmac had ended, so it got more cumbersome to climb up the stony path with the heavy bike. In the evening, I put my tent beside the path. during this afternoon and evening, I had drunken about 6 liters of water. I was quite sure that I was on the correct path due to the GPS track of my mobile, but still not 100% sure. And you want to be 100% sure to go in the right direction in a sheer endless desert without water resupply options... The Cyrillic wall map I had bought as an offline backup in Aktau was only partly helpful, since the offroad tracks had the same colors as the high lines, and the maps did not seem to be 100% up-to-date. So it was a relief when i could confirm my position with a second GPS device. I decided to put the 2 x 5 liters water bottles in the tent to have them close. When I examined them, I discovered that one of the containers had a small leak and was slowly losing water. I distributed the water to my empty bottles. During the night I woke up two times and enjoyed the starlit sky above me.
The next day was expected to get even hotter, so I stood up at sunrise. A steady strong and warm wind blew from the east, the direction of my travel. I could charge my small battery pack with the solar panels Adrian had brought to Georgia while packing my baggage, so communication would not be a problem. I started to cycle. The route went uphill at an inclination steeper than expected. The wind got stronger. The rocky bumpy path was difficult to bike. It got hot and hotter. Even though I went forward as fast as I could, I moved with less than 10 km per hour. Under other conditions, I would have simply rested to wait for the headwind to calm down, but firstly I did not know when this would happen and secondly, I did know that my water storage was limited. I met some camels on the way. And a turtle. A turtle in the desert? They apparently can survive on the little water they receive by eating the spare vegetation. Still nobody in sight anywhere. My route seems to be correct, but there is no landmark to prove it. Finally, I arrive on a gravel road and meet a car there. The driver calls me “Superman”, but I do not feel very strong anymore. I still head east, the wind is blowing constantly towards me, and i have to climb on another hill. There is still no settlement i sight Before reaching the top, I release a scream since I am so exhausted. The nearby camels watch me with surprise. When I reach the top of the hill, a small village (Beki) and the main road is in sight. What a relief! I finish the track with my last energy, wash and cool down in the teahouse (the Kazakh version of a German Autobahnraststätte). The next 3 hours I spend drinking, eating, resting and talking to the younger son of the house owner. So I got the desert adventure I had been looking for. It was tougher than I had expected. For the next 2 desert weeks to come, I decided to stay on the main road.
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