There are certain things you imagine when thinking about a bicycle trip around the world: sunshine, nice people, good weather, birds singing, forrests and rivers, bicycle lanes without cars,.. and so on. And while this is true on certain occasions there are times when you face the complete opposite.
It’s getting dark outside. And it’s raining. When we leave Burger King the conditions are bad for cycling. Still, we need to get out of Budapest in order to find a hidden spot where to put our tents. We don’t keep our smartphones (navigation) on the handlebars because of the rain, so we more or less cycle blindly through the capital city, constantly looking out for the Danube River. Our mood is always tense when it’s raining. This time it’s worse because we haven’t find a camping spot, yet. After taking the obligatory quick photo in front of the Parliament building (we need to drive away some Chinese who are occupying the spot) we keep on heading out of the city and soon find a suitable wet piece of gras.
After two more days in Hungary we arrive at the Romanian border (“Where are you from?” – “Austria.” – “Austria??” – “Ahm, yes.” – “Ahm, ok.”). Ahh, motherland, I think. However, what comes next may be one of the worst cloud-bursts I’ve ever witnessed. The weather in Hungary has already been kind of annoyingly cloudy-rainy-unstable. But that’s nothing compared to the current downpour: low-hanging, dark clouds shoot massive raindrops and eventually hail down at us. Although the clock shows just 3 p.m. it’s already dark. And to make matters worse the temperature drops to freezing 5 degrees celsius.
Our destination for today is my grandmother’s in Romania. That means another 60km through crazy weather, resulting in a total of 170km this day. We’re completely exhausted, but the prospect of a warm bed and food tonight keeps us going. And then suddenly, out of nothing, my cheap rain clothes from LIDL give in: I feel the exact moment the rain breaks through the water-resistant fabric, feel, how the cold water reaches and touches my skin, how it trickles down my back, my legs, down into my shoes. After just 5 minutes I couldn’t have been wetter even if I’d jumped straight into a lake. Not a single inch of my body is dry anymore. And the wind’s still blowing hard, hitting me with cold air. I’m freezing. In this condition we need to keep driving for another 5 hours. The street is a single, large puddle. Cars overtake us, then and now splashing water at us from the side. I wonder what the drivers might be thinking about us. Dominik’s driving right in front of me, his rear wheel shooting the contents of the street’s puddles up my face straight into my open mouth. Against my will I’m forced to taste the flavour of Romanias streets: asphalt, dust, dirt,.. and holy what, is this horse shit?? I hastely spit out. That’s bad, is all I can think of. Please make it stop. Let us arrive.
The only thing keeping us warm now is the physical effort of riding the bike hard. And boy do we kick hard! Although much needed we don’t dare to make longer pauses then 2 minutes. Seconds longer and you start shaking uncontrollably, making holding the handlebar straight impossible and therefore making further bike riding impossible. And what shall we do then?
After what seems like years we finally, completely exhausted but relieved, arrive at my grandmother’s. Everything suddenly goes quick: a warm shower, warm food and a warm room with even warmer beds. Good night.
The only thing that could have made this day worse was if we would have had to put up our tents in the rain and sleep wet. If such a day will come in the future? Yes, there’s no doubt about it. However, that day is not today. Today we’re at my grandmother’s. Today we’re saved.
(This blogpost comes late because I had to rewrite it (I deleted it by mistake a few days ago). Currently we are in Ukraine. Here it’s raining and snowing and it’s cold and we have to make 100km a day, so we’re a little behind keeping you updated. We really try to catch up in the future.) ju0