Riding for Hope, humanity and love
Apologies for not writing earlier, but those of you who follow the project in social media knows what is going on. Theres a lot that has happened and places I have visited: Amsterdam, Ouddorp, Renessee, Bruges, Lille, Bapaume, Etoya, Paris.
Lets start in order, so Steenwijk was nice and we continued to Amsterdam. On the way we got an grazy idea to cycle in one day to Amsterdam to save one day. We figured it was 120-130 km and my longest day so far had been maybe 90km, so i knew it was going to be a tough one and that it was! The route to Amsterdam ended up being 160 km, we arrived to our host around 01:00 am. The last 30 km were a huge battle, i just didint have anything left in me but we were too close to stop, Sofia was the gps and the next day she told me that at one point she had to lie to me about the km so i wouldnt give up. That was well thought of her 🙂 Next couple of days were quite a haze because my body was trying to recover, what I have realised is that i dont eat enough and thats not good for the muscles..i just dont want to force myself but i need to buy somekind of protein powder so i can mix it with water. Usually i have two meals per day but these last few days it hasnt been so easy because in France at the countryside theres no markets or no people for that matter.hehe. Thank you Paul for hosting us in Amsterdam, sadly I forgot to take a picture.
After Amsterdam we went through The Haag and off to the islands that are on the North See just before English Channel. This was one part of the route that I had really been waiting for, the coast. First place where we camped was Ouddorp, after an hour or so we found an amazing place, long empty beach with white sand and wild horses ♡ That day the wind was good so we got around 90km.
Next day we faced the worst wind ever, I dont know how much it was but maybe around 40m/s. Imagine cycling a long bridge on the sea or the most beautiful coast cycling on dune with the sea on both side BUT with such heavy wind that you bearly move. This day we got around 40km, but it felt like 100km. Next day was the opposite, tail wind and sunny, amazing views and Belgium coming up.
We arrived around 7pm to Brugges which is this beautiful medival old city, problems was that there wasnt a lot of places to camp before the city. We asked from few people on the street if we can stay with them (our batteries were running out so we needed electricity) but it wasnt possible, we were just going to give up and head to the nearest forest when we saw a house with people outside. I gathered all my courage, walked up to this man and said ”Hello my name is Laura and she is Sofia. We are from Finland and cycling to Madrid. Can we sleep in your garden?”. He looked at us and smiled, he was totally surprised (of course) but seemed happy and willing. He went inside and asked hes wife, she said yes and that was the begining of an great story. They had four amazing son and both parents were so kind, we got so much love. Sofia left the next day to meet her friend and I stayed for one night more to relax and give time for my knees. Later that evening I found out in the shower that i got a tick in my back, you can imagine the panic i got into. I walked up to the mother, asked if she could look at my back and so there i was with her and one of their sons. They tried to get the beast out of me (yes it was a tick–big one) but it was stuck too hard. Next they started to look for a doctor in call, found one, told that they have a Finnish woman here with a tick. Ten minutes and we were on our way to the doctor, he was a bit mad that we tried to get it out without right tweezers. He got it out and luckily I didint get the borealis disease because theres no ring around the spot.
I am really gratefull for this family and the care they gave us, I truly left a piece of my heart with them. Sadly I forgot to take a photo because we had such a hassle that night and next morning most of the family was at work. It was the first day I cycled alone and it was also the first time crossing a border alone, but it was exiting and felt right. I felt free because I was able to make decission on my own and stop when I needed, i was really unlucky with the weather and route though. It rained the whole day like crazy and I used Google maps which wasnt a good idea since it direct me into a big road with trucks (rain+trucks+big road=not good). At one point I had enough, went to smaller roads and downloaded an cycling app called Komoot. I made it to Lille, France exhsusted but happy. I DID IT! In Lille I had two days off to recover since my legs were still dead tired from Amsterdam and the windy day at the islands of Zeeland. This was 80km.
I had two amazing hosts, first night Jean-Baptist really near Lille and two following nights Helen and Antoine in the center of Lille. Again I forgot to take pictures and again I am really gratefull for the love these people gave me, it teaches you a lot. At this point Sofia was still in Belgium, we had planned to meet in Lille but she had been thinking past two days how she really wants to see the mountains at alps and she had decided to continue on her own, which actually was a really good decission since we have such a different speed and it didint feel nice to either of us. This way we both can be more free and go on our own speed, win win.
Before leaving from Finland i was a bit selfish for example in sharing but now im thinking ”what can i give more” and also I feel like im gradually starting to respect myself and learning to say no. Theres a difference in giving, you can give a lot by sharing and loving however theres a limit to that. Sometimes you need to learn to use the word ”no” and refusee in giving your time and effort, I cant live forever by always thinking about how other people feel or thinking that i will cause trouble to someone, instead I could think ”what happens if i say no”, by saying no I can start something new.
I asked Helen and Antoine about freedom, Helen thought that freedom for her would be to travel and work at the same time where as Antoine felt like its ok to work in one place because it enables the possibility to travel (they work really long hours). They bought a kleinbuss on their last travels in South-America and now its in Lille where they are learning to repair it, pretty cool! Last morning in Lille i had jooga in a park with maybe 100 other people, then i left to continue toward Paris and left my tent behind (send it to Finland), bought a hammock. My legs couldnt take the weight so it was the only option.
Huh, this is a long blogging. I should write more often 😀 Next of was Bapaume, i was planning to go 15km more but the fireman of Bapaume thought different. This was a perfect day, good wind, sunny and warm. Also first real high hills (maybe highest point 250m) which was a change for all the flat in Germany, Netherlands and Belgium. It was around 7 pm and i was running out of water, there hasnt been a lot of houses or possibilities for water and i was getting worried, THEN i spotted a fire station and a fireman. I walked in and asked for water, he was a bit surprised but happy to help (for many people its wierd that a woman cycles alone and nevertheless from Finland). He asked where I will sleep and i said that i dont know, he got worried. Soon i was in their kitchen surrounded by ten fireman, they fed me and arranged a place to sleep. I felt like a princess, it was unreal.This was around 75 km.
Ten minutes and i was at some kind of hotel…now this is where it went a bit wrong because the fireman told me that its for free but in the morning i was followed outside by the owner of the house and she wanted 30 euros…”Money money”. It was aqcuared, I tried to explain that the firemen told me its for free. She didint understand, I tried to offer my last cash 12 euros or so but she refused. I left as fast as i could.hehe.
Ok, I think its time to stop writing for now and tell the rest later. Now im in Paris, had 4 rest days and my legs are feeling better. Paris is amazing but it needs to be experienced with someone, either a friend, lover or local, new friend. I love cycling in Paris, its so chaotic that its fun. It feels free and i love all the different cultures, versatility.
Now I am seriously thinking about continuing cycling when I reach Madrid (Sofia keeps encouracing me,
”once in a lifetime”) but it means i need to say no to few things back in Finland, organise and I need to get my money situation in order. What do you think? Do you want to read more about my travels, about freedom? What if I had my own blog or an organisation that enables equal rights (freedom) for people that dont have it?
What started as a quest for freedom, an idea to help raise awareness for victims of trafficking in human might actually be the turning point in my life. Lets see.
Äiti, rakastan sua mut mitä jos jäisin ♡
”älä pelkää kyllä pidän itsestä huolen, ja laulan pappadaduda pa duda dapa
Mä oon kujia kulkenut
Jäljessä lapsien parvet
Niiden silmissä iloa
Ja kovan elämän arvet
Sydän huutamaan jää joka hetkeen
Mutta tartun niihin muistoissa
Vaikkei tavattais koskaan
Kaikki kulkee mun matkassa
Isä olen täällä maailman toisella puolen, ja laulan pappadaduda pa duda dapa
Äiti älä pelkää kyllä pidän itsestä huolen, ja laulan pappadaduda pa duda dapa”
With love and respect
Riding for Hope