Day -1, Hamburg, 3 km
Survival course 101, end of the first day. The participants are looking at each other, frightened, not certain of what awaits them after this hard day. The instructor enters the room and tells them, « My friends, the last test of the day will not be the easiest: you will all go home and prepare a bag so that you can survive for a year. Little constraint: you will have to carry this bag with you every day. Good luck ! »
I imagine that some of you (myself included to be honest) would have the impression of facing an unprecedented challenge in the history of Humanity, especially since I tell myself that each time I’ll have to climb I will regret any superfluous underpants that I would have dared to take. At the same time, I’m not sure I want to wear one of these underwear for 5 days in a row. Quickly said, a Herculean task, which I take on with enthusiasm as the start draws closer.
Quick summary of the results: T-shirts, underpants and socks (I would keep the exact quantities secret to not shock young readers), shoes and outfit for hiking (especially pants that can be transformed into shorts, Loub’s if you read me I hope that you are proud of me), swimsuit and flip flops (you never know, I could possibly meet the sun, even if the last days in Hamburg tend to prove the opposite), camping material (tent, sleeping bag, floor mat an d pillow), kitchen equipment, camera, computer, writing material, guides for the first 3 countries I will visit (Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland), a book (I count on meetings along the way to expand my library), bicycle equipment (including 2 spare tubes), first aid kit and sunscreen (even if my legs have already adopted the vanilla-strawberry style since the last bike ride), nice clothes to be able to wander in town without immediately passing for a tourist (even if my beard probably betrays me at first sight …), extra battery and various prepared meals, seeds and other dried fruits to feed myself on the road.
I spread out all this mess on the dining table and I start to tell myself that it will never fit in the saddlebags, that it will be much too heavy, that each time the road goes up I will have to push my bike or be towed by a charitable soul, in short, I start to lose confidence a bit… Then I try to make everything fit in the bags, and I must say that I am surprised at all the room that I have left at the end. I start to wonder if I haven’t forgotten something, if I shouldn’t take one or two more underpants, if I have enough food… I finally convince myself that everything will be fine , and that at worst I will not be in the middle of nowhere and that I will have the opportunity to supplement my equipment on the road or possibly get rid of the unnecessary if the slope turns out to be too steep.
I load it all up on Jay, and try to do a few hundred meters on the bike to make sure I can move forward and ride it properly. After a few difficulties at the beginning (the bags at the front of the bike amplify all the movements I make), I gain enough confidence to get on the road and drop off my stuff at Etienne’s. Result: the first 3 kilometers of my trip went without a hitch and I arrived at my destination!
In the end, I must say that I am quite satisfied with the result of this first mission I had to accomplish: in addition to covering all the primary needs which I imagine I will have to face in the coming months (at least weeks, but with a little optimism month too), all this material has the good idea to fit in my bags! I fine-tune Jay’s settings once again, check one last time that I have put everything in the bags while trying to distribute the loads as well as possible, look again at the route of my first day (follow the Elbe until I’m fed up with it or it is dark, depending on which event occurs first), take a look at the weather (thunderstorms planned for Monday towards Berlin, we’ll see if my coat is waterproof) and I finally consider that I am ready… I can’t wait for tomorrow!!