Many of us like to spend our vacations thousands of kilometers away from home – we want to see the world, after all. Oftentimes, without really knowing the country we live in. Johannes, 25, from Dresden, found that odd. He packed his bag, swung himself in the saddle and started paddling around Germany. Four weeks and 2,526 kilometres later, he has seen most of his home country and many stories to tell.
Hey Johannes! How did you get the idea to ride around Germany? What was your motivation to actually do it?
In the past, I spent most of my summers on mountain bike trails in the Alps. I wanted to try something new and realized I had seen most of Europe, but didn’t know many of the cities in Germany, like Munich or Hamburg. This led me to the idea of riding around Germany on my bike and I knew immediately: This is my challenge!
But this personal challenge wasn’t enough for you…
I wanted to give my Tour a meaningful purpose. It didn’t feel worthwile to ride 2,500 kilometers without a real achievement. I know some people who work at the salvation army in a small town called Guben. They are a young team who work with children and teenagers. I had visited them a couple of times in the past and always positively surprised of how important their work is for the people in Guben. I knew they rely on donations and can use the money really well. I had found the purpose of my Tour.
Did you have any doubts or fears before the Tour?
I didn’t really have any doubts, but I was worried about whether my body will like what I am doing at all. Injuries or accidents could have forced me to give up at any time. I had great respect of the distance and wasn’t sure whether I’d reach a mental state at one point, where didn’t want to go any further. But I was lucky during the whole trip and none of my fears came true. The only thing I tampered with was the heat. I didn’t have any injuries or accidents, for which I am very grateful.
What did you bring on the trip?
Not a lot. Everything I brought fit into my 30-liters backpack: Two T-shirts for the evenings, one pair of shorts, my DSLR camera and cables. I brought two jerseys, short- and long-sleeved, a rain jacket, an extra tube, chain lube, a pump, a lock, lights and a first aid kit. I knew from earlier Tours, that I’d find someone who can help me with my bike when I needed it, no matter if that was in a city or in the mountains. This is why I usually don’t take lots of tools with me.
Where did you sleep?
The salvation army has a great national network of people. Through them, I had a place to stay everywhere I went. I simply wrote to the local office in advance and could either stay there or at their friend’s place. They all were very helpful and friendly and I met a lot of interesting people.
Did you also meet people on the road?
Yes, daily. I’ll never forget the old man who was riding an ebike and asked me for directions. When I was able to help him, he turned on the battery of his bike and rode next to me for five kilometers. He was on a spontaneous one-week trip with his bike and told me about his former job and problems. At one point, he didn’t want to go that fast any more and said good-bye. I’ll probably never meet him again, but I’ll never forget this encounter.
What did a typical day look like on your trip?
I would get up around 7:30, have a small of breakfast (I prefer to eat while I am riding), packe my bag and start riding at 8:30. I’d stop for lunch at one point and reach my destination around 4 or 5 in the afternoon. In between I’d stop for little breaks, to take pictures and for navigation.
One picture you’ll never forget?
I still think about the moment when I reached Köhlbrandbrücke in Hamburg a lot. Leading up there was an almost 3 kilometers long road, that in a spiral went further and further up until I was 50 meters high above the Elbe river. The view and the wind were spectacular.
Which was the hardest day?
There were three very hard stages. But the most difficult one was the one from Wiesbaden to Bonn with about 140 kilometres. Even though I often went that far in one day, here I had to go through a low mountain range. It was very exhausting to go up and down all the time and to top it all, it was raining all the time…
How did you plan your route?
I planned the whole route in advance with komoot. On rainy days, or when I had the feeling I was too slow that day, I’d replan the Tours, to ride less trails and more roads. Komoot took a big part in the success of theh trip. During all of the 2,500 kilometers, I hardly ever was on the wrong track. That’s really good for any navigation device. Great respect and thanks for that!
How did you charge your phone on the way?
I brought two external batteries, but never needed both of them completely. On a normal day, I’d use the phone’s and one external battery.
How much money were you able to collect? What is it going to be used for?
By now, I have collected 1,300 Euro. I want to reach many more people with my project and to collect more money, now that I have accomplished my goal. Every donation directly goes to the salvation army of Guben. A big part of it will be used for the renovation of a room where the children and teenagers can relax and get socio-therapeutic help.
Anyone who would like to donate for the project can do so on my Website.
What were the best three things that you experienced during your Tour?
The freedom to do whatever I want. Meeting many great people. Arriving in Guben and later in my hometown, Dresden.