Author Archive

Back home!

Montag, August 10th, 2009

10.08.09

Yeah, it‘ s true, I‘ m back home in Friedrichskoog. Can‘ t really believe it so far. It was hard to find wi-fi during the last week when I cycled from the airport in Düsseldorf to Friedrichskoog. During the next days/ weeks I‘ ll try to write a bit about my last cycling days – and about what it‘ s like to be back home, wake up in the same place for a while, not having to worry about water or food (though I was never really worried, but I think you know what I mean), not living out of a bag anymore …p1000285.JPG

Flying back to Germany

Mittwoch, Juli 29th, 2009

29.07.09

While writing this I‘ m sitting at the airport in New York (JFK). I have a 9 hour layover here – quite a long time, especially after only about 2 hours of sleep! To make things worse I have to psh my luggage around, because I‘ m flying with Air Berlin from here. From Jacksonville to New York I flew with JetBlue. The good thing was that they didn‘ t charge me for the bike. They had a promotion because of the Tour de France and bikes flew for free this month.

It took me about a week to cycle from Miami Beach to Jacksonville. Not very exciting, but I might write a bit about it later.

The last 4 days I spent with Larry and Lin, I had a great time with them and the days were over way too fast. Larry was so kind to drive me to the airport this morning, leaving his house already at 4am!

I drove around in the AirTrain a bit and wanted to stay at the Terminal where I have to check in later. But since they didn‘ t have free wi-fi there I got back on the AirTrain back to the JetBlue Terminal where I came from.

I will arrive in Düsseldorf tomorrow morning, so my plan was to put my bike back together and cycle 50km or so. Larry just laughed when I told him that and said that I‘ ll probably take a Taxi to the next hotel and sleep the whole day … Well, we‘ ll see;-).

I guess it‘ s time for another AirTrain ride, before I fall asleep here and miss my flight!

BTW, my bike-box has never been in so good shape after a flight! It pretty much looks the way it did when I checked it in! The less money you pay for it the better care they take of it!!! (that sentence doesn‘ t really sound correct, but I think you get the idea!)

CU in Germany

Anja

Riding again … with a hurting butt ;-)

Samstag, Juli 18th, 2009

18.07.09

56,6km, 2:51h, Ø 19,7 km/h, 127 hm

 

This morning I could finally pick up my bike from the bikeshop across the street from the hostel in Miami Beach where I stayed since monday. I didn‘ t plan to stay that long, but they had to order new shifters which didn‘ t arrive till yesterday afternoon. So I spent the last days with checking flight-prices to Denver where I wanted to visit Laura for a few day while waiting for my bike (but the prices were just outraegous, I even went to the airport to check on last-minute deals, but it was ridiculously expensive – that was too bad because I was really looking forward to spending a few days with Laura in Colorado, but I guess I can‘ t have everything;-)), reading, walking through Miami Beach, shopping and going to the beach. Miami Beach isn‘ t the right kind of city fo me, it‘ s the super-dooper party-city. I prefer it a bit more quiet – and those quiet spots were hard to find there. At the hostel I met so many different people – nice, fun, interesting and a couple realy crazy ones! So at least it didn‘ t get boring.

Today I actually already got up at 6am and went to the Lincoln Road Mall with Amanda. No, no shopping today, I did that yesterday. Amanda wanted to take pictures of some sculptures there and I wanted to practice a bit on the skateboard I bought yesterday (I always wanted to have one of those longboards, now I do!) without too many people around. It was already pretty warm – sweating at 6am already!!! How would that be 6 hours later on my bike?!?

At 8:30am I ate breakfast at the hostel (breakfast, lunch and dinner are included), then packed my things and picked up my bike at 10am. New shifters and cables, cassette, chain, pedales and tightened spokes – should be as good as new!

It was already 11am by the time I cycled north on the Ocean Drive (A1A). The many stopplights were pretty annoying at first because I just couldn‘ t make it before they turned red.

After a while it got better, less stopplights and a better rhythm. The road was, except for 4 bridges, totally flat. For a while I left the road to cycle right on the boardwalk, with oceanview. Pretty nice. I cycled past many beaches and even more appartment-blocks and hotels.

I had a hard time to find a store, gas-station, restaurant or whatever on my side of the road to get more water. The traffic wasn‘ t too bad but I didn‘ t want to cross the road because it was a divided highway. Finally I had to because I was very thirsty. Finally I did it anyway and bought some Powerade, water and baby-carrots at a grocery-store. I sat in the shade for a while, put some more sunscreen on and then convinced myself to get back into the heat.

I cycled past the Fort-Lauderdale/Hollywood airport and back at the beach I stopped and relaxed in the shade of a palm-tree for a while. The water looked so refreshing, but I was too lazy to change into my swimsuit.

Some kilometers later I decided to stop for the day and checked into a hotel in what I think is called Lauderdale by the sea. But I‘ m not sure, the towns here just merge into each other.

At the grocery store I bought a 12 “ turkey and cheese sandwich for dinner. I wanted to eat half of it at the beach and save the rest for breakfast tomorrow (there‘ s a fridge in my room). But I couldn‘ t find any beach-access nearby!!! Everything was blocked by huge buildings full of appartements. So I walked back to the hotel and ate the sandwich in my room. I was starving and ate the whole thing! There‘ s free continental breakfast here tomorrow morning at 8am. So I‘ ll eat there before I leave.

It was a very easy ride today, all flat and some great ocean-views. Nevertheless my butt hurt when I got here – from my first (and hopefully last) crash on my skateboard;-). I guess I was a bit too cool cruising towards the boardwalk with a cup of coffee in my hand – I saw the whole, but it was too late. At least I saved my coffee!

Moreover I have a little cold, sweating – AC – sweating – AC, that‘ s what you get then. I‘ m looking forward to going to bed soon, in my huge kingsize-bed.

 

Good night

Anja

Leaving Panama …

Montag, Juli 13th, 2009

13.07.09

I only got a couple hours of sleep last night and overheard my alarm-clock at 3:15am! When I realized that it was already 3:50am – my taxi was ordered for 4 am! But this is Panama, the taxis wouldn‘ t be on time anyway, right?!?
Wrong, just after I jumped out of bed and got dressed it was already there! It wasn‘ t a regular taxi, but the guy who works at the hostel arranged it, because he had a pickup that was big enough for my boxed bike, my trailer and myself. The fare was big, too. 27$, though I heard that other had to pay 25$. But I was just happy that I would get to the airport without any trouble.

At 4:35am, when I got to the check-in counter I was surprised to see that there were already many people though the flight was scheduled for 7am! A guy asked me if I wanted to wrap me bike and trailer in plastic. I said “no” and he only tried it one more time. Sara and Sebastien had a lot more trouble to avoid the plastic, but they flew with another airline. The bike was no problem, but I had to pay 100$, sport luggage. I said that it was a different price on their website, but they insisted on it. Ok then. My trailer was a regular piece of luggage and free of charge. The woman at the counter was very friendly and explained me patiently some things I didn‘ t understand on the customs form I had to fill out for the US (it was in spanish).

The security check was no problem and so I found myself at the gate already at 5am. Unfortunately all the stores were still closed. I couldn’t even get a cup of coffee – at least not in the part at the airport where I was.

The boarding was accompanied by another security check. A quick glimpse in the carry-on-luggage of most people, I was picked out to step aside, behind a plastic-wall, where my stuff was checked. But she didn‘ t even see the small extra-pockets in my bags. Then I was checked again with this “hand-thing”, then I had to take my shoes off and then I was finally allowed to board the plane.

The plane left pretty much on time. They sold a snack-box for 4 $ and a “Gourmet Cookie” for 3 (!!!) $. For one cookie!!! Beer was 6 $ (too early for it, anyway), headphones 2 $ (but I couldn‘ t see the TV from my place good enough). So I stared at the huge white clouds outside for a while, slept a bit and had a hard time to realize that I was really leaving Central America! It‘ s only a 2:50h flight from Panama City to Miami. Not even 3 hours to cross the countries I cycled through for nearly 8 months!!!

At the airport in Miami I was a bit nervous at the immigration, because I neither had an exit stamp from the US nor an entry stamp to Mexico in my passport (the border crossing in Tijuana was just a mess). So I waited in line and finally it was my turn at the immigration …

The officer was impressed by all the stamps I had in my passport and asked me what I did there. He asked me if I cycled alone and congratulated me to my trip! Then he saw my US-Visa in my passport and said that I would need to fill out the white form instead of the green one I handed him earlier. I said I didn‘ t know and that I thought the Visa would only count once. I apologized but he only said it was no problem and that I should fill out the white form (quickly, because of the long line). So I did that, got my stamp and am allowed to stay another 6 months in the US now … What a waste!

My luggage was already there, the bike-box still in one piece;-). I really didn‘ t expect that because I saw from the plane how the luggage-guy handle my bike! Very roughly. I was pretty upset when I saw that – I thought I could expect better care after paying so much money for it… but it‘ s always like this, I know.

I grabbed a luggage cart and pushed my stuff to the customs. They asked me the worth of my bike – but not where I bought it … I had to put all my stuff on a conveyer-belt and it got screened again. I thought they already did that in Panama!
Then I was finally done and headed into the arrival-hall where I bought a coffee and a mini ham and cheese croissant from a more than rude person at the coffee-shop.
I took a taxi (they are so big here, no problem to put my bike-box on the back-seats) to the Hostel in Miami Beach where I made a reservation, checked in and brought my bike to the bike-shop across the street … how convenient.

Anja

PS: It‘ s hot here!!!

It‘ s time …

Sonntag, Juli 12th, 2009

12.07.09

… to leave Central America! It‘ s been a great time here, as well as in North America – and I‘ ll miss it! The people, the scenery, the constant change that cycling brings.

 

But I‘ m not quite ready to go home, yet.

Tomorrow I‘ ll fly from Panama City to Miami/Florida. From there I‘ m going to cycle north to Jacksonville and visit my friend Larry, another cyclist. From Jacksonville I‘ ll fly to Duesseldorf on the 29th of july.

Yes, to Duesseldorf! I decided not to fly to Hamburg, because I‘ d like to finish this adventurous trip in a – how I think – more fitting way. I‘ d like to cycle back to Friedrichskoog, give myself some time to reflect on the events of the last year before it‘ s time to settle again.

 

Though I‘ m a bit sad that my trip is gonna be over soon I‘ m looking forward to seeing my family and friends again, playing volleyball, sleeping in the same bed every night and to my new job at another school. I‘ m ready for a new chapter in the game of life!

 

Thanks to everybody who supported and motivated me on my way!!!

 

CU soon

Anja

Panama City

Donnerstag, Juli 9th, 2009

09.07.09

Chamé – Panama City

73,5km, 4:31h, Ø16,2, 749hm

total: 10954 km

 

When I woke up I saw that the tire of my trailer was flat! A piece of metal was stuck in my new 6 $ tire!!! I really expected a bit more for my money;-). However, I said hello and goodbye to a now different crew of fire-fighters and left at 7:15, after eating a banana for breakfast. Everything went well, I climbed the one hill I knew about and was happy that the hardest part of the day was over. Nothing could stop me anymore from getting to Panama City today – I thought.

Then, just after Chorrera, my shifter didn‘ t work anymore!!! I only had 3 gears left! I didn‘ t have many problems on this trip, but these last days just seemed to be a big challenge for me! 35km to go, how hilly could it possibly be? I just kept cycling, what else could I do?

1%, 2%, 3% grades were ok, but 4% in a medium gear was pretty tough. Two times it was steeper, so I had to push my bike up there. Cycling wasn‘ t much fun on the autopista from Chorrera anyway, because the shoulder was pretty bad. It had those RILLEN in it that make car driver wake up. And there were many of em, about every 3 meters! At some parts there was no shoulder at all.

I heard from other cyclists that the police stopped them when they wanted to cross the bridge over the canal because cyclists are not allowed there. Some could convince the police to go anyway, some got escorted by a police car and others had to wait for a pick-up to give them a ride. During the last days I‘ ve been thinking a lot about what I would say to them. But now, with my gears not working any more I knew I wouldn‘ t argue with them and just hitch a ride.

But, again, things were different than expected. The bridge showed up on the left hand side, a police car passed me, I kept going, one more curve – and the bridge was right in front of me! I kept going, waited for somebody to stop me, but it didn‘ t happen. So I pedaled hard to make it all the way up there without having to push my bike. There was a lot of traffic, but they all gave me enough room. Once I reached the top of the bridge I got out my camera and took some pictures while rolling down on the other side.

I made it!!! Finally I reached Panama City!!! The way this last week turned out to be, with loose spokes, flat tires and only 3 gears left I really didn‘ t think I would make it – at least not in the saddle of my bike!

A few minutes later I stopped at a gas-station for a cup of coffee and two empanadas. A woman who worked there asked me where I was going and told me that I had already passed the road to Casco Viejo, the part of Panama City where I wanted to stay. She told me how to get there and advised me not to stop on my way. I should just keep going because it‘ s a dangerous area. Once I‘ d get there it would all be ok because there‘ d be a lot of police around.

Well, I stopped to talk to someone on my way anyway, but made it safely to the hostel.

 

Anja

Camping …

Mittwoch, Juli 8th, 2009

08.07.09

Penonomé – Chame

72,5km, 4:11h, 17,3km/h, 515hm

 

Wow, I really felt that wine I drank last night when I got up this morning! So I was even slower than usual and ate breakfast at the hotel-restaurant. It was almost 10:30am when I was back on the oad. The day was pretty uneventful. I wanted to stop in Coronado for the night, but the hotel was 75$ for one person!!! I didn‘ t feel like a sidetrip to the beach to check out prices there. The woman at the hotel said there was another hotel in Chame, only a few kilometers further. So I kept on cycling, but couldn‘ t find a hotel there. Some guys at a fruit stand told me that other cyclists had stayed at the fire station across the street. So I asked there and only minutes later I pitched my tent behind the fire-station! I really didn‘ t think that I would make use of my tent again! The guys at the fire-station were all friendly and pretty curious about my gear. I had dinner at the chinese restaurant and then brought back a big box of ice-cream (from the chinese supermarket). So we had some ice-cream together and I was in my tent by 9pm.

Rollin‘, rollin‘, rollin‘!!!

Dienstag, Juli 7th, 2009

07.07.09

Santiago – Penonomé

96,1km, 4:57h, Ø19,3km/h, 294hm

 

It was a nice but uneventful ride today, most of the day it was overcast, around 29degrees. It was pretty flat and I cycled further than I wanted to, but it was so nice. Panamenians are very friendly and like to wave, honk and greet a lot.

I checked onto a hotel for 26.40$. More than I usually pay, but the room was great! Maybe even the best room I satyed at! I felt kind of out of place there in my sweaty bikeclothes, but what the heck…

There was even a hair-dryer in my room! But it didn‘ t work or I was too stupid to use it.

I walked to the huge supermarket across the road and bought a box of cheap red wine. Since I didn‘ t eat anything since breakfast it worked pretty good. I must have been drunk, cause I actually paid 5 $ (!!!) for 2 hours of wi-fi which only worked in the lobby!!!

After some time on the internet I ate fish with a garlic-salsa and salad for dinner. The rest of the evening I kept going back ond forth between my airconditioned room at the 2nd floor (40 steps;-)) to drink some wine and watch TV and the lobby to be on the internet.

So I was up pretty late and knew I wouldn‘ t be getting up early the next morning!

 

bike + bus

Montag, Juli 6th, 2009

06.07.09

Las Lajas – Santiago

65km, 5:21h, 1046hm, Ø12km/h, (+ 60km/400hm by bus)

 

It was pretty togh riding today, hills and hills and hills… When I reached the highest point of the road the bump in the tire of the trailer became worse. I was exhausted and knew I couldn‘ t make it to Santiago today. So I took bus to Santiago (3$, bike free). I didn‘ t want to stay at the motel near the bus-terminal and cycled towards what I thought was downtown. I found the places, asked for a hotel but couldn‘ t find it. An english-speaking fellow told me that I‘ d have to go back to the Interamericana, there would be some hotels. So I did. I stopped at the Hotel Gran David, which looked so nice at first that I was almost afraid to ask for the price. It turned out that it was 14$, so I stayed. The AC in my room was louder than it cooled off the roon though. There was no hot water and internet cost 1$/h on an internet-terminal.

I was happy to find a new tire (6$) for my trailer at a store that had everything, kind of like Walmart. When I tightened my spokes again I saw that I had a flat rear tire (maybe that made the cycling a bit harder, too…). So I changed the tube, ate a big salad and a gyros-pita at the restaurant next door and went to bed exhausted.

 

 

Cheating

Montag, Juli 6th, 2009

I´m in Santiago now. Due to some bike-and-time-problems I did some bus-and-biking … and I actually feel bad about it.

More when I find a place with wi-fi … this keyboard is just too annoying.

Anja