From Amsterdam to Berlin in less than four days
I was at the point in my life where I needed an adventure. A new challenge through which I could evolve.
Some “me” time to reflect.
So, I decided to do something I’ve never done before: a transfer ride. I started to plan my route and eventually decided on Amsterdam to Berlin. 800 kilometres and 4000 meters of altitude over 3,5 days.
I’m a performance-oriented cyclist, but I knew this trip would be different. Big challenges aren’t exactly my thing. Not the fastest route, but the most scenic.
My Canyon Ultimate was packed with around 8 kg of warm clothes, some spare tubes and a rain jacket.
Just me and my Ultimate living in the moment - that's what I set out to do.
I was fully prepared and everything was ready to go, but I was so excited the night before that I could barely sleep.
Completely exhausted, I set out the next morning. As soon as I heard the sound of the wheels rolling on the tarmac, the adrenaline started to rush and the lack of sleep didn't even matter anymore.
I planned out my route so that I would be riding mostly on tarmac, being I had to maintain my speed to take advantage of the daylight hours. But the many unforeseen gravel sections made it difficult to keep up my pace.
At one point, my route led me into a dim forest when the sun began to slowly appear on the horizon. No roads in sight, just gravel tracks for miles. I normally love riding gravel, but not at that moment. Stones crunched under my tyres and I prayed they wouldn't break through.
And then it happened. I heard the awful sound of air deflating from my tyre. A flat. For a cyclist, there are few things worse than having to change a tube in the dark. But what’s worse, a few kilometres later I got another one. My new tyres weren’t really cooperating and I lost precious time. The gravel path seemed to be never ending when I realized I was all alone in a dark forest with no cell service. 60 km to go.
Being chased by my own shadows, I started daydreaming. What if there are wolves? Or vampires? Or worse? My imagination ran wild and I started getting a little creeped out. I decided to take a short cut, which happened to be over a highway. Germans drive super-fast so it was a little bit terrifying.
It was all the better to arrive at my destination in the evening safe and sound!
The following day was the last stage of my trip. Only a few kilometres to Berlin.
Finally, there I was with my Ultimate in front of the Brandenburg Gate.
I made it! Wow! I must have been standing there for two hours, with my head in the clouds. I was so happy!
Even weeks later, I look back on this adventure with a smile. And the next trip is already in the works.
A 540 km trip in Norway called the “Den Store Styrkeproven” has caught my attention. Who knows? To be continued…
P.S. A lot of cyclists told me they would never be able to do this. But I honestly believe that anyone can make such a trip. You just have to be open to the challenge, don’t overthink it and just go for it!
The adventurer: Sanne Hitipeuw
Photographer: Vincent Engel