The Way of St. James, the Alps, the Grand Canyon – somewhere in our head we all have this secret idea of a big adventure. And there’s no doubt we’ll do it one day. But until then, let’s include smaller adventures into everyday life. It’s just outside your door.
Thomas has given us great tips for spontaneous micro adventures before. We now had the chance to talk to Gunnar from Overnighter.de, a micro adventure guru in the German speaking countries, and asked him what it is that makes him love these small big adventures.
Hi Gunnar! What’s the idea behind the so called overnighters?
It doesn’t always have to be the big adventure: instead of dreaming of big rides all your life, you hop on your bike after work and pedal into the evening or night. Preferably into the forest. You look for a nice place to set your camp, roll out your sleeping bag, might open a beer and think about life and the universe.
What’s so fascinating about micro adventures?
In the film Ride the Divide they say: “You have way better thoughts in front of a fire.” Instead of dreaming myself to the next vacation for weeks, I’ll simply pack my things and go. Once I am on my bike, I automatically start to relax. I go around a corner and am in another world – it’s pure recreation. Through overnighters, I learned to listen to my inner self, take time for myself and to follow my need for relaxation, instead of pushing it away for months. Sleeping in the forest also teaches you respect for nature.
What’s on your packing list for an overnighter?
Generally, I try to bring the least possible. I always pack a cycling outfit and some clothes to wear in the evening, that are appropriate for the season. For sleeping, I bring a seasonal sleeping bag, a shortened sleeping pad and either another underlay or a bivvy bag. I almost never bring a tarp or tent. My cooking gear consists of an esbit stove, pot and spork, all made of titanium, and fuel, a lighter as well as an aluminum wind screen. Plus a knife, cell phone, camera, first aid kitt, tools, paper, drinks and food.
You do your Tours in any weather. What’s the philosophy behind that?
I don’t care about temperatures a lot. Life is full of stress, obligations and factors you can’t influence, I don’t want to depend on the weather as an additional factor. When I feel like doing an overnighter, I choose a bike, gear and destination according to the weather – and off I am. It’s like going to the beach: in the summer you build sandcastles, swim and sunbathe. In fall, you collect sea shells and in the winter you go on walks, drink grog and have breaks in comfy cafés. Every weather has its charms, you just need to have the right gear and attitude.
And where do you like to go? What are your favorite places in your region?
I love the Hainich, the biggest deciduous forest in Germany. The old course of the old intra-German border with Hanstein castle and Reinhard forest around Saba castle with Fried forest. The ride there over the Loccum-Volkeroda pilgrimage through Nieme valley are fantastic. But through my experiences I noticed: Ever region has its charms, it’s on me to see them and take them in.
What are you planning next?
There are ideas for bigger and smaller trips. There’s a little airport close to where I live, for example. I love the idea of an overnighter close to a landing strip, with a fire, and view to the mini tower. My two sons just got new bikes, naturally they will be tested during an overnighter. I am fascinated by the indian summer and there are a couple of hiking routes in Germany that I want to ride some days. But there’s no rush. Comes time, comes overnighter.
When are you going to do your first overnighter? Plan the route now and you are one big step closer to actually doing it.
All photos by Overnighter.de