How I started solo traveling
Today exactly 5 years ago I started my solo travel adventures, it all started with the #TourduPisa. Till this date I still have the picture of that trip as the background of my phone. It motivates me every day to get the most out of it.
On a Saturday night I was with some friends having a drink and chatting. Were discussed our Holidays, and I didn’t had booked mine yet. Three couples would meet up close to Pisa (Italy) for a week at the beach. With my crazy head I said I will cycle there… their reaction.. Sure..
I love cycling but on that moment I only had an Amsterdam City bike what looks like the one below. This simple bicycle brought me to the train station, pub and supermarket. That was also the only cycling training what I’d done. The next morning I decided to buy a Cortina touring bicycle on Fietsenwinkel.nl, not a crazy expensive one but after some research I trusted it was a decent bike.
What made me decide to do this crazy journey
I’ve three big passions, Marketing, Travel & Sports. I moved to Amsterdam played football there with friends but got the injury “shin splints”. An annoying injury and had to go to the physiotherapist twice a week and do exercise every day. Of course I was student and just moved to Amsterdam and the will to go out was stronger than the will to do the exercises. My girlfriend broke up, no sports, more working(sitting), cooking myself I gained more and more weight. It woke me up and realised that the only person who can change this habit of eating, sitting and laziness is ME. Its ME that has to put in the hard work to become fit, feel better, when you feel better you can win every challenge in your life.
First GOAL set
At that time I was working at Discovery Channel Benelux what was sponsoring the Mud Masters. Together with colleagues and partners of Discovery Channel we decided to do the 18KM Mud Run on the 16th of March 2013. WTF did I just signed up for 18KM running through the Mud with probably 10C’ ? I did… Fuck I need to train.. but it also gave me the goal I could work towards to.
I remember I set my training goals. First week every day 5/6 kilometer around the park. After 2KM I felt like dying, high heart-rate, couldn’t control my breath at all. Bit I decided to finish the round, walking running, waking running. Next day, cramped legs for sure, but I had to go. No option, I told myself just go every day and you will get better, it will go easier. For the whole week I suffered. On Sunday I planned in one day rest, on Monday I already could feel that I was getting better. With 6 weeks to go it gave me the energy to keep going, waking up every morning and go for a run no matter the weather or the cold.
The week before the Mud Masters it was 5’ C degrees and I knew we had to go through water and mud. The fear turned up, did I train hard enough? Am I fit enough to finish 18KM? On the 16th of of March I got picked up by 3 colleagues and we had to go, this was THE day. I looked at the temperature 8 degrees Celsius! At least it was warmer than the rest of the week 😄 It was an awesome managed event, with a lot of obstacles, running lanes, MUD and WATER. It was crazy cold but before I realised we finished I got In a flow state and stayed in there till I got to the finish line. This was an amazing victory! I want more!
After the MUD Masters I needed another challenge to get fitter and set my mind towards a bigger goal but didn’t know what goal yet. Nothing is impossible! When the conversation happened that Saturday night I knew this was the challenge I was looking for. It would trow me mentally and physically in the deep and stretch my limits but just enough without drowning. (At least that was what I was hoping for)
The big goal: Cycling to Pisa
For this cycling tour I had to prepare, food, bicycle, route and of course training. I had 3 months to do all of this. When people around heard about the plan to cycle to Pisa they reacted in different ways, some supportive some that I was crazy, some that I wouldn’t make it. On the 6th of July I started my journey. First day ended up in Bonn Germany. (I advance I booked an awesome hostel, so I had a normal bed to sleep in for the first night) second day made it to Mainz.
Third day I had a major physical challenge.
My outfit wasn’t good enough and started scratching between my bum and saddle, this required every morning a lot of willpower to climb the saddle again. But I made it into France on my way to Switzerland to get over the Alps where on the rest days the wound healed. As a big fan of cycling and the Tour de France I was amazed/ but also “surprised” by the mountains. I booked my hostel on top of the mountain (for 3 days incl rest days) so I had my goal set for that day, get there. Ater 140KM of hills and 15KM before the top and my hostel I was just done. My legs couldn’t go around anymore. It didn’t feel good but I knew I gave everything I had for that day. Sometimes you get a setback, deal with it and find a way to get to your goals. So I booked a hotel, slept like baby. The morning after I had an easy breakfast and I cycled up towards my hostel to relax for the other two days.
See here some tracks I cycled on the way to Pisa
When you think, from now on everything goes easy
Life is like cycling, when you think everything goes easy you will hit another challenge what you’ve to overcome. So also on the cycling tour to Pisa. I thought that If I cycled near the coast line it would be flat roads. (like we have at the Dutch coast line) But I can tell you now, Italy from Milan to Pisa is NOT flat at all. Ive seen hills of 18%. When I thought this is hard stuff to do, I thought about friends and relatives that have bigger things to fight like deceases, they don’t have a choice. They have to fight every single day without knowing if they will even get to the finish line. I only cycle here because I choose to, because I wanted this challenge. Go on and chase your goals.
Finish in Pisa
This trip took me completely out of my comfort zone, I learned to fully trust myself in every situation. From training, planning, making the route, waking up not knowing where I would sleep that evening and making sure I find a safe place spent the night, prepping food, speaking another language or take pictures for forever lasting memories. This tour had it all and made me grow as a person.
I will never forget the moment in Pisa where friends were waiting and we celebrated after three very hard weeks of cycling. This trip gave me the inspiration, nothing is impossible, set big goals face new challenges and give everything you have. Thats when I decided to make my way into China and start backpacking South East Asia.
Background of my phone <3
It is in the Swiss Alps at the Gotthardpas. This was the highest point of my #TourduPisa and such a great memory looking down and realising that you made it all the way up.