“Nothing that is worth anything is ever easy.”
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27/7/2017 Belgium, Brussels
On Thursday I finish packing my bike, dividing my poorly planned route and rush to Vienna Airport to have some time for a beer before take off. In Brussels I stay in a hostel and in the evening I meet with Tina and Goran, two racers from Macedonia, for a beer. Next day we meet again for a slow ride through cobbled countryside to Geraardsbergen.
28/7/2017 Belgium, Geraardsbergen
Starting hall is busy, organizers are giving instructions and shouting out numbers that were assigned to each rider and by which they are called to hand out compulsory approvals, pick up SPOTs and get ready for bike and equipment check. I feel little bit tense and wish to start already, waiting before the race is the worst. You know you should try to sleep, but you can´t. At 21:00 people start to gather at a main square and it is slowly getting dark. Minute of silence for Mike and we are off for a loop through the town in an amazing atmosphere that locals created. This is even better as we pass town square for the second time and climb the Muur. People with torches standing on the both sides of the road, shouting, wishing good luck and waving at us. As I reach the top, suddenly there is no one. I look at my gps and blindly start to follow my route with any idea where it is going to take me, just hoping for the first checkpoint.
I feel good. Riding through Belgium, passing Brussels and heading to German border just to pass Aachen from south and continue towards Coblenz and along the Rhine river to Manheim and south-west to Stuttgart. Everything goes prett good, the peloton splits in two groups, one heading much directly over Arden forest and the other heading much norther from me to join Rhine river sooner than me. Seems like I took the altitude meters of the first group and longer distance of the second one. Never mind, I know I have planned later stages much better. Or haven´t I?
Round midnight I arrive to Bingen and decide to stop for some sleep. Phone call to the local hotel and price €120 per night sends me automatically to my first bivouac, little behind town and next to a river. Quick wash, good night beer and sweet dreams.
29/7/2017 Germany, Bingen – Schloss Lichtenstein
I wake up at 7:00, packed and ready to go at 7:30. First of all I head to nearest petrol station, shoveling down some pastry and coffee. Looks like a sunny day in a saddle. I head towards Worms and along the river to Mannheim and Stuttgart. Thanks to continuous punctures I have to stop about five times, but it helped me to avoid the storms. It was getting dark, when i reached park next to Stuttgart. Round 2:30 in the morning I got to Schloss Lichtenstein and to the first checkpoint, took out my sleeping bag and crawled in and fall asleep instantly.