My retreat into the mountains

Autumn always reminds me of my mother. It was her favorite season when the world around us became more and more colorful.

For a long time I couldn’t connect well with this time. As much as the days lost sunlight and hours, they seemed to gain rain. By then school had usually started again, which did not contribute to the general popularity of the third season.

But here in the south of France, surrounded by the last foothills of the Alps, I too began to admire the colorful mountain slopes.

By now, I am a big fan of autumn!

While it is cold early in the morning, the rising sun quickly warms the air to a pleasant freshness.

It is also a time when I can still eat fruit straight from nature. In the truest sense of the proverb, livig from hand to mouth.

The rose hips are finally getting soft and sweet. It is the first wild plant in this area that Druid Julian taught me to eat. The small beechnuts are an elaborate but very rewarding snack of the forest 🙂

I sit on the ground; leaning against a tree – a pine with silver-colored bark – and watch the leaves tumbling towards the earth.

A few days ago, on a full moon and also on Halloween evening, I set off with my touring bike, an immense supply of food and a great mood as a travel companion to spend the French lockdown (which came as a reaction to the second wave of the Covid virus) in a forest, located in a remote valley.

From my starting point south-east of Sisterons you could already see the mountain ranges between which the valley was embedded. Few people lived here, and the deeper you got into the valley, the more the immediate surroundings changed.

a view over the shoulder; back the way I came

What was initially a normal country road (a ‘real’ one, concreted, with central strips and delineators, without boulders blocking the way) soon turned into washed-out dirt roads and action-packed gravel paths.

Fewer and fewer houses lined the streets, giving way to colorfully overgrown hills, barren fields and forests.

Now the paths began to lead truly adventurous through the forest, steeply up and down, the only people rarely seen were mushroom pickers and mountain bike riders.

if you look closely you can see the bike – it’s so steep here that you have to carry the bags and the bike up one by one

I am sure that they had never seen such a heavily packed cyclist in this area; Their astonished looks almost confirmed this.

The mountains were already piling up on both sides and the valley began to narrow.

I had been following a river for a long time that I wanted to cross soon, assuming that the river side on the other side of the way was even less visited.

Since camping and in particular any kind of fire is forbidden in all French forests, I wanted to set up my base camp as far as possible off the beaten track. I also wanted to be able to leave most of my equipment and supplies behind without fear while exploring the area for several days.

So I started to cross the river.

My lessons learned from this are as follows:

  1. Shoes, socks and depending on the situation trousers should definitely be removed when crossing rivers, especially in cold seasons or generally cold regions of the world – otherwise you could spend hours or days getting them dry again.
  2. It’s best to carry your luggage piece by piece, as very few rivers have an easy-to-walk underground.
  3. … and very important … walk along the shore for a while. Perhaps you will discover a ford or even a bridge (in my case it was the former, and a few kilometers upstream a broken version of the latter)

I’ll remember that next time!

I’ll be in touch soon for the next part of my retreat, until then – stay in
Peace 🙂

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Ey, what´s it like south of Marseille?

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If you sleep outside in the hammock – and it is not winter – the daylight wakes you up much earlier than if you´re sleeping in a house. But just like in your bed, it is pleasant to doze off a little longer into the day 😉

If, like me that night, you sleep near a drivable road, you will also hear a few cars in the morning. So it is worth looking for a quieter place for a few more minutes, but in my case the vegetation was so thin that I was glad to find 2 trees standing close enought together to set up the hammock!

I am fast to pack my stuff by now. With a few routine movements everything disappears quickly into my beloved backpack, the Osprey Argon 70.

Swinging my feet over the edge of my hammock, putting socks and shoes on. I put my socks over the shoes by night so that no animals can crawl into them. The traces of snails on the socks show that the trick works.

Sleeping bag stuffed into his bag, matress rolled up; the hammock and mosquito net hung down, the quick release clamps used for hanging into the `suspension bag`, eating a banana and I am allready on my way towards the next mountain range.

On this short trip I only had my mobile phone camera on hand … luckily they take good pictures these days!

It is the beginning of October and I am a few kilometers south of Marseille, where some a few hundred meter high mountain ranges rise right next to the sea.

The classic trees in this area are pines. Their red-gray bark is deeply furrowed, the stems towering high or curved into bizarre shapes, they are wearing evergreen needles.

The vegetation under the pines is mostly flat, with thin leaves due to the heat, bearing thorns.

The faint smell of rosemary and oregano … whie lying heavy in the air in summer, now it´s only like a far memory.

While the Alps can often be seen in dark shades, the colors of the stones, rocks and mountains here range from white to light gray to yellow and orange.

And there are crystals here too!

I like to go off the beaten track. Small trails can be found even in the most remote areas, or maybe especially there. When the terrain becomes more difficult, you can usually only guess a path where the vegetation is a bit sparse.

My guess is this:

The resident animals have often been there all their lives. Their intuition draws on all of their accumulated experience in this area, together with instincts that have been refined over millions of years, and this allows them to quickly find the safest and most efficient path in a certain area of ​​terrain.

And you can see that.

Sprouting plants are trodden down again and again, stones slip out of the way, rainfalls may send masses of water on similar paths towards the sea.

If a creature (take me as an example) comes by that neither has access to local epigenetics nor has spent half of its life in the wild (a pity actually), it can guess where you can move around quickly by scanning for tracks.

Now I have already spent some time and a few hundred kilometers (or thousands? Probably not yet …) on unpaved roads, and was able to gain a lot of experience – but little in Mediterranean terrain, and so this excursion was a warm welcome exchange from the time in the big city of Marseille, which I will tell more about another time.

Apart from the urge to move through nature well-soled and packed with a backpack, the wide sky above my head, I wanted to see crystals in their natural habitat and start another try at my previously completely unsuccessful fishing attempts.

For both of these things, it seemed best to me to explore a hard accessible stretch of coast.

Both crystals and fish are more likely to be found where you don’t see a lot of people, I thought to myself.

My route was to cross the ridge next to a much visited bay and to descend the slopes to the sea.

I followed a well-trodden path. He writhed up the mountain, and while the plants initially offered a lot of space, they soon starting leaning in, then blocking the way.

This is where it starts to be really fun.

Most hikers have already turned back here.

Those who go further are mostly mountaineers whose precautions for climbing are often seen embedded in concrete in the rock massifs; Hunters whose plastic casings left from shooting I have to collect far too often from the ground; Backcountry backpackers who like to see places far away from the tourist meccas.

Striding forward on impassable and unfamiliar terrain, I’m soon wet with sweat. In these latitudes, the sun still has some power in autumn.

At this stage of movement, hardly a thought comes to my mind.

The vertical meters cost your legs strength. Every breath pumps precious air into the lungs, the rising and falling chest presses against the straps of the backpack.

Every step has to be right. My eyes ceaselessly scan the ground for the next place to put my foot safely.

I find it fascinating how intensely the mountains put me in the moment that is just happening.

If you fall, the game is over – even if you survive, you will likely break some bones that will make your way back to civilization no fun.

I did´t fall; Standing on the ridge I was overlooking the area.

In my immediate vicinity I saw shapes in the rock that caught my attention. The first beautiful crystals in the rock!

To my left is a bay with gently sloping slopes, a small settlement and a small harbor. To the Right the wilderness. I turned right.

Anyone who has already been in the mountains knows: going downhill can be more strenuous than uphill, both physically and mentally. Each step down involves a momentum of all of your weight and the downward speed that your thighs must support. And while you often feel your way uphill with your hands, you do it the other way around with your feet.

After an estimated 200 meters downhill I was near the sea and was able to see the rock formations near the water for the first time.

The mountain range fell towards the sea, steeper and steeper, until the last 10 meters were practically perpendicular to the waves.

Well, now I also knew why nobody comes here to fish!

Leaving my pack tucked securely behind a rock, I grabbed my fishing rod and began looking for a safe way down.

The wind swept around my ears and mingled with the sound of the waves crashing against the stone. Slowly, meter by meter, I climbed towards the water.

Now I was on a huge, flat rock, inclined 45 ° forward.

I looked carefully where I could go further. Hmmm … possible, but certainly not safe.

“… this is crazy!” went through my head.

I had maneuvered myself into a dead end and the smartest decision was to meet the sea somewhere other than the bottom of a cliff 3 seconds after slipping.

I climbed back to my backpack and looked around again.

Imagine a starfish viewed from above. The individual arms are the rock massifs that slide out into the sea. I was between two arms near the center and had to cross one arm to get to the next bay.

The terrain allowed me to complete the maneuver in about half an hour.

The last 20 meters towards the sea demanded me to climb again, but on a completely different and for me doable level.

When the sea was finally almost within my grasp, I saw how sharp the rock was shaped. So sharp that you could literally cut yourself open on it.

I stepped near the edge and looked down into the sea; there were a lot of fish. I also saw surprisingly large ones, and my first feeling was that I didn’t want to drag them ashore and kill them …

However, I had already eaten some fish in Marseille and I am firmly convinced that you should not eat anything you cannot catch and kill yourself!

So I threw out my fishing rod and tried (quite patiently, as I thought) with blinkers and wobblers. I didn’t have a good bait for normal hooks with me, that would probably have been the best option.

I will write another time about fishing and my experiences with it. For this time it is enough to know that I was unsuccessful (once again).

I was still concerned with the question about how cold the sea was at that time, and I was attracted by the challenge of the second question, how I could get back into my shoes with 10 toes after bathing despite these razor-sharp stones.

First: Cold, but comfortable after a tough hike

Second: slowly, carefully, and not without cuts.

The sun was already well above the zenith, twilight would begin in about 2 hours.

I made my way back; The ascent to the summit was another hour of sweaty work that I enjoyed doing.

here you can see how the wind and the waves shape the stone

If you should ever go to Marseille, I can recommend a visit to the “parc national des Calanques” and the surrounding area 🙂 Good shoes and, if you want to go off the beaten track, strong pants should be with you!

Best sunny greetings from the south! 🙂

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mountains, mushrooms & a druid

Even though it was past midnight, I dediced to leave Bern the same night.

You might think that is too late, but no, in fact I think it´s quite useful to leave later rather than early the next morning.

First of all, I am sure to have everything packed before sunrise, I am allready on my way, while wildcamping with my hammock chances are high I wake earlier than sleeping late in a house 😉

So I sat on my new bike and enjoyed the bright glow of my new lamp, which was powered by the front hub dynamo.

At the back a small red taillight shone, which also serves you for a while when you stand still- but for the moment, my luggage was in the way. Gotta fix that once I make the next ajustments with it.

Previously, if I really needed light, I had used my headlamp (Forclaz Trek 900). (I can only advise against Decathlon for durable, high quality outdoor equipment – this one is one of the exceptions to this rule, together with shoes from Iowa)

light sourceadvantagedisadvantage
dynamo + bike light> independent energy source>the light level is not always where you want it to be
> minimal energy loss due to friction
head lamp> always shines where you are looking at> does not last forever, has to be recharged regularly

I think I will use both lights in the future on particularly difficult routes in the dark. Nevertheless, I am very happy with this highly welcome upgrade.

I didn’t go far that night. I wanted to spend the night in a nearby forest that was on the way (I knew that), and on a mountain (I didn’t know that).

I was able to find out that with the amount of luggage I have to ride uphill, despite a new bike, it is still really strenuous, and as long as I didn’t switch to a motorized vehicle, it would stay that way!

Once again I decided to radically leave what I don’t use regularly in my base near Sisteron…

I wanted to finish the stretch from Bern to Vevey on the same day. It was quite lev flat, I followed the big roads, made a wrong turn in Freiburg and once again felt that I should get a different saddle for longer distances …

The road suddenly went downhill sharply near Vevey, and I rushed toward Lake Geneva and Vevey in the dark with the wind howling in my ears. If it had been daytime, I could have enjoyed the mountains and a fantastic view.

a few days later I passed the same place again

Rushing down I was caught between the fun of the fast, never-ending descent and the nagging certainty that I would have to cycle up all these vertical meters again later.

When I finally stopped at the level of the lake in order to pinpoint the end of my journey, my fears became certain:

About 5km north of me, up steep vineyards, was my destination. If I had driven smarter or had reminded myself how steep Vevey is on Lake Geneva, I could have saved myself that.

Now the long and painful ascent began. Unfortunately, I still lack the retorical means to suggest how enormously difficult this section was. I had already covered over 120km in under 6 hours with over 20kg of equipment and food, it was raining and the small paths between the vineyards were in no way inferior to the slopes of house roofs.

In retro perspective, it would have been easier to follow the winding roads made for cars uphill …

Although I am proud to only push my bike when there is no other way, that was soon the standard. I reached my limits here – the paths were sometimes so steep that I pushed the bike with all my might, then pressed both brakes so that it didn’t roll back, drag my body after and start all over again in order to advance at all.

The short breaks that I took again and again lengthened more and more while I ate grapes that were just before the harvest and negotiated with myself how far I could go before I had to go to sleep on the spot.

I must have fought for a good hour when I saw a small horse paddock on a relatively flat area, next to a fence between an area filled with earth for parking and a small canal, and I decided to stay.

I saw only one way to stretch my hammock – between the fence and a tree in the paddock, above the small canal in which an even smaller trickle flowed. While inspecting the surroundings, I felt a slight tingling sensation on my right knee, similar to what I know from nettles, and therefore paid no further attention to it.

I climbed over the paddock to tie the hammock to the tree and the horses sped away. I attached the other side to the fence. I sat spotlights from the nearby house, and switched the mode of my headlamp to the more inconspicuous red light mode.

I swung myself into the hammock and noticed that I was touching the edge of the canal at the level of my thighs while lying down …

Oh, that’ll be fine, I thought wearily. In addition there is the insulation mat and


-zuup- I sat between the cracked hammock & the stones in the wet and was much too tired and still at peace with everything to get upset about it. I was planning to buy another shorter and lighter hammock anyway and had written to Globetrotter a good week earlier about a manufacturing error and a possible exchange. (just to be clear… the manufacturing error and me breaking my hammock are too entirely non-related topics… I was just lucky I wrote them earlier and could use this fact for my advantage)

The rain had stopped in the meantime and I put my sleeping mat on the soft ground next to the fence, covered my bike and equipment with a tarp and put another one next to me so that it was within arms reach in the case of a night shower – but I thought the chance of a wet night quite low, because the sky was clear now and in fact I stayed dry through the night.

Go to the next page to see some really neat pictures!

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trans-mechanics in Bern

From the lake constanz we continued our trip with high spirit, well-filled bellies and more money to spend on food and bike-parts.

With new Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour on the bike we rode along the bay of lake constance, then the bank of the Rhine river, which flows out of it. We followed it until we got to the Rhine Falls, the most powerful waterfall in Europe.

While riding on the south side of the Rhine, we were in switzerland. Now, we went back north to get some spare parts for the bikes and I bought even more provisions (now accounting to a full mountain of supplies) to get through the expensive country of the swiss.

Again we crossed the boarder, which is the Rhine in this area, and put up camp only 10 meters from his bank. Without knowing, we were resting close to an old military point of WWII, the Fort Ebersberg. Getting up the hill surrounded by deep woodland the next morning was a refreshing physical exercise really different from riding the bike. The way was well build, as I remembered and expected work from the swiss.

From here, Michelle and I went seperate ways and agreed to meet again at near Lausanne.

I had always made the experience, that while traveling solo you interact with the world in a different, closer & more intense way. You are focused on the outside-world, your inner reaction and your interaction with it. With a traveling buddy, your attention and perspectiv will always be drawn to him or her, and take something of your absorbition into the scene.

I have the feeling, that while traveling alone you recieve a lot more interaction with local people, invitations for sleep & food and especially for sharing some time together instead of traveling in a group – yet maybe, that is just because I usually move alone.

Well, back to the Rhine river.

At the very first hill I realised, that I had bought way to much food. Cans of fruit, bananas, cans of beans and lenses, bread spreads, kilos of nudels & rice, cookies, nuts and also gas for the cooker… the weight must have been well over 10 extra kilograms.

Every mountain, hill and every elevation felt like my trailer was pulling me down, had extra brakes or turned into an anchor that ripped open the asphalt as I was fighting to get up, soon soaked in sweat.

Soon my anchor, the trailer I had pulled for over 900km, should be left behind.

“Hey there! Your trailer hangs pretty badly to one side!” – things like that I had heard a lot, unsually from people sitting comfortably in a car, overtaking me and slowing down to say that which I ***** know myself very well.

“Yeah, thank you, I know allready… Thank you anyway!” would be my usual response.

This trailer I got as a present from my mom for my 25th birthday.

After the first few rides, its end was leaning to the left side. With time, it got more & more, until it was at something like a 30º angle. The tire got worn down only on the left side, shreading it quicker than me realising that this would happen. When it was done, all I could do in this moment was patch the inner tube, change the direction of the weel and hope for the best.

I could contiue to ride with it for half a day. In defense for the trailer I got to say, that its pretty neat to travel with one, because your centre of gravity sits quite low, which allowes for better maneuverability, leaning into curves and stability in comparison to saddlebags. Also you have a lot of room to easily handle your equipment.

Again I had to make a decision. What now?

Replace the tire, get a new trailer, continue without?

I didn`t want to get a new tire, that would only shut up the symptom of the problem for a little while – not get to the real problem. I am interested in more medium-longterm solutions. To buy a new trailer hier, in switzerland, would propably be one of the most expensive places on earth.

I put all my stuff onto the rear rack and decided to look for a good trailer in france, maybe even make one myself.

The following days riding to Bern where one of the hardest I had so far on this trip. Even though most of the way was pretty flat (I was riding along the Aare, which eventually also flows through Bern) I was exhausted from the few inclines just after getting onto swiss territory and the high tempo.

One morning I was swimming in a specially beautiful part of the river. Returning to camp, there was a woman waiting for me. She saw me and wanted to be sure I made it out if the water alive – thanks for that!

I was invited to breakfast, enjoying some coffee, the eggs from the free chicken roaming the garden and good conversation with Tamara and her son Lino. He was just about to finish his formation as a bike mechanic and wants to go travel was well. What a good position to start your travel life from! All the best to you!

When I was back on the saddle and on the move, the heat of midday wasn`t far. I was looking for a opportunity to make a productive break, as there is almost always something to do – stretch the body, tighten up some screws on the bike (or as you say in swizz & france, “velo”), take notes about the travel or your thoughts.

Or, you can look for people who like to share knowleadge or information about the area you`re in. I met a really cool fisherman, who enriched me not only with Tips & tricks for fishing, but also with some proper equipment for my fishing rod!

Finally, I got to Switzerlands capital Bern – and I was not early. My rear rack was not made to take such a big load and the aluminium part used to adjust the height was bended (and put straight again by me) so many times, I was afraid it would be fragile and break.

When it was bended too strong, it would put pressure on my weels or even, if it was on the right side, interfere with my gears!

So you see, I was pretty happy to arrive at Ariels house…

I was happy meeting him again, and soon we took the dog of his neighbour and where walking the evening round with him. Tired from the last days on the road, I went to bed early and slept very well…

… and the next day something happened, that really took me by surprise…

the upgrade – bike lv. 2

While visiting Ariels neighbour the next morning I met Maya, Ariels sister. She lived in the same house, one floor over him. We had seen each other the day before, I had mistaken her for somebody I knew and had said hello with way too much enthusiasm 🙂

Maya is also a passionate about riding the bike. I was telling her about my faszination for the Rohloff-Speedhub, which I`d love to one day build into my traveling bike! It is propably the most durable and at the same time lowest maintenance trainsmission on the planet – while also, of course, being one of the most expensive…

She told me, that not so long ago she bought herself a new bike, which doesn’t have a Rohloff, but a similar one, running together with a beltdrive instead of a chain. When I saw her bike, it was the first time I saw this kind of drive system.

And her old bike? Well that one, she said, she wanted to send to Africa. If I wanted, I could just take the rear rack of that one, no problem! “You`re lucky, I was too lazy to bring the bike away, and now it seems really usefull :)”

“Soo… If your bike goes to Africa and I may take the rear rack… Could I instead send my bike there, and continue with yours?”

I should just swing myself on the saddle (after fixing the tires) and ride for some meters to tap into the bike/rider-connection, she said.

I didn`t need to hear this twice. While riding down the street, I immediatly fell in love with the agile 26″-bike!!

It was from the company Price, with 26″-Dt-swiss-rims, wheel hub dynamo + superb light, disc brakes and a shimano slx 3×9 derailleur system.

Swizz Quality, baby!

After a long & heartwarming hug, I grabbed my tools and started to work. The bike had been standing round for quite a while, and I need to adjust the breaks and the derailleur. Also I used from my old bike

  • the speedometer
  • 3x bottle holder
  • bicycle stand
  • saddle
  • front removable basket (which should become the basis for a super useful modification later)
  • the good old bell I got from my grandma

In addition, the bottom bracket, the ball bearings between the pedals, were worn out and had to be replaced. I also wanted to take these from my old bike, as well as the front chainring – but I didn’t have the specific tools for that. So off to the bike shop!

‘Der Drahtesel’ & ‘Velafrica‘ were less than 3 km away from me, the first a bike shop, the latter a euphoria evoking bike workshop with almost endless spare parts, that makes bikes fit for Africa.

In the bike shop, I wanted to change the bottom bracket and the front chainring, as well as buy and mount a new rear one (9-gear 12-36, for all those who want to know exactly). I was told that there waws hardly any time & staff for this. Of course, I was told I could also not do it myself here, for insurance reasons, all the usual talk you hear in a bike shop in these times of corona.

With a lot of persuasion and even more persistence, I was finally granted my wish. I was able to carry out all operations and the day was drawing to an end … The next morning I was back on the mat, this time at Velafrika, where I met much more cooperation and encouragement.

This time I wanted to replace my fork, as my old fork had a suspension with a quick release on/off switch at the handle bar – a somewhat bigger undertaking, with no guarantee of success – a 28″ fork with rim brakes, on a frame with disc brakes and 26″ – could that succeed?

Well, learning by doing, grab them tools again and go at it!

It was a lengthy affair with a few complications as I had no experience with disc brakes. In between I thought I had to reverse everything again, but the persistence and patience paid off and the transformation succeeded!

It occurred to me now that the frame is made of aluminum and that I could possibly exchange it. I would like to have a steel frame one day because of its resilience, elasticity and the possibility of “patching” it with the welding device while on the move. I ran around the area with a small magnet and looked to see which frames attach with a “click”, as aluminum, titanium and carbon are not magnetic, yet (most) steel is.

I couldn’t find a frame that would have fit all components and yet I was extremely satisfied with the upgrade of my bicycle!

The reliability and quality had raised enormously and I am honestly so very grateful to all the people, shops, bikes and good vibes involved

Thanks a lot!<3

my old bike from the Fahrradoase stays with Velafrika and will go to Africa soon – bye bye!

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work´n´travel at lake constance

We had crossed the Black Forrest, rode more than 2000 vertical meters up the many hills & valleys and taken the pleasure of rolling them down just after.

Having arriven in Freiburg im Breisgau, we had earned us a day of active rest, stretching out the hard days of traveling out of our bodys. We used the time to get in all the burned calories (+some extra) and also went over our equipment to have it better organised and at hand more quickly.

Now we had to make a decision, one which is elemental and ever-present for every traveller, always with far-reaching and unforseeable consequenzes:

WHERE next? WHICH way to turn?

  1. The most important near-term-goal of this voyage, Sisteron, lies in the South of France. The boarder to France, the Rhine, lies only a few kilometers West of Freiburg.
  2. It would also be possible to turn south, as I wanted to meet a very special person near Lake Geneva – a druid, who knows the european fauna in a very interesting & exciting way. I met him traveling some years ago, where he made the first tattoo I recieved in my skin and inspired me many times in the years to come.
  3. Just before the start of this journey, I was working for nature protection and meet again a kind & funny dude who I count amoung my friends now. Jonas lives at the lake constance, where germany, swizzerland and austria meet. We had talked about seeing each other again and he had invited us into his house. It seemed to be quite a detour, and I prefered to go south-west instead of east.

He only said: ” Just think about it & make your decision, all will be fine. But, you know, I would be really happy to have you here :)”

Michelle wanted to see lake constance, the biggest & deepest lake of Germany. And so the decision was done, we would turn East. While studying the map to choose a route, I found that the Feldberg – the highest non-alpine mountain of our home country – lay with only a little detour on our way to Jonas. Naturally, we wanted to put him on our list of “been there, done that”, and 400 additional vertical meters didn´t seem to be much of a deal – at first.

After riding over 100 kilometers, having meet amazing people, a hard fall of the bike while decending the Feldberg and a jellyfish-like knee as a result, we rolled into Merkelfingen near Radolfzell.

Jonas awaited us with a hospitality you rarely find in western europe these days.

He left us the bed he made himself and used to sleep in, to take his couch as his new sleeping spot (as much as I value his gesture, the best sleep I get is still in my beloved hammock ;)), he cooked an asian welcome dish of our hungry stomacs made of veggies & rice, and while he played a russian kind of “battleships” we talked about the up-coming days.

Jonas would be working, the family of a friend was just renovating an old barn to live in. The guy managing & leading the work was a young, dedicated man who uses almost exclusively organic, sustainable materials.

Excited I asked if it would be possible for me to work there as well – and just a few MINUTES later at was clear that I could start the very NEXT DAY!

Pretty exactly 400 vertical meters (again :D) and 25km, a route climbing more and more the longer it went was my new daily ritual in the morning.

Gladly I learned as much as I could about construction. The dream to one day build my own house and help others doing the same has been growing steadily the last years. To one day own a piece of land, somewhere in the forest next to (or even in) the mountains, has been a big part of my vision of my life. Yet, everytime I had imagined the progress of starting my life in this kind of environment, the idea of building my own shelter gave me a lot of respect – how do you start it? How do you continue? What do you need, and how long & how much does it take?

The following days I made walls with wood and a mix of clay, stones, sand and straw, sanding wooden beams, carried & used “tons of” concrete, put volcanic stone and underfloor heating, insulated walls and ate massive amounts of nudels at night.

Michelle came to work with us at the third day and near the end of the week we put our hammocks under the roof of another barn nearby to be closer to work, and save the energy-consuming way to work every morning and sleep directly next to our work.

Construction work feels satisfying. You can literally see what you have done for +8 hours. I could help to build the home for a family who has had some hardships. To get to know them better and better gave me much joy.

I felt a very good connection with our construction leader Severin, and we made the agreement that I could be his apprentice one day. He would need one, maybe two years to have the certificate to do so.Will I be back by then? We will see…

Deniz, the young father of the family, had many presents and much help for us. A bag full of food, new bicycle horns for my bike, an old phone as replacement for Michelles´dying one, personalised 3d-printed tools and best wishes for our way…

I wish them all the best and hope we will meet again in happy times 🙂

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