NEMO ambassador Erin Nelson is currently riding her bike around the world in hopes of being the youngest person to complete the journey solo. We recently caught up with her in Germany.
WHERE I’VE BEEN
I am 5 months into my bike tour of the world and am currently in a little village outside of Frankfurt, Germany. I have biked about 3,200 miles out of the 18,000 I will be covering. A quick re-cap of where I’ve been: After crossing the US from California, I boarded a plane from New York to London. From London I headed to Drover and caught a ferry to France. From Dunkirk, France I biked to Paris and stayed there for 5 days. After touring around Paris, I headed to Brussels. From there, I went Amsterdam and on to Frankfurt.
The entire trip through France was wet – raining for 8 days straight. Three of those nights I camped in the forest. I remember one day I started early, about 6 am, and biked til 3 pm. I pulled off the highway early and decided to set up my Mio in a small patch of trees, not far from the road. It was raining hard. I was searching through the forest looking for a good place to set up my tent but there were thorns and twigs and sharp rocks everywhere. So, I took the bags off my bike and started walking with 20 pounds of gear in each hand, a bag on my back, and my laptop and sleeping bag. I saw a tree house, or maybe it was a duck blind, in the trees, so I thought this would be as good a spot as any to set up camp. I dropped by bags on a fallen tree so they weren't in the mud and then headed back for my bike. I staked out my tent, blew it up, and hung my things to dry inside. I was soaked, but what could I do?
It was now only 4 pm and too early to sleep, so I, unwrapped some French bread with butter that I picked up earlier. I read my Bible, listened to my iPod, filmed an interview for my blog and tried to fall asleep. I was pretty cold because my Tuo Lite sleeping pad was stolen at the airport in London, and I was lying directly on the thorny ground. At about 2 am, half awake, my mind started playing tricks on. I kept hearing cars, gun shots, the French police, and I was scared. I was lying on my back when I heard a growling sound close to my tent. Then I heard a tapping on the tent. I held my breath trying to hear as much as I could. I was too cold to get out of my tent to see what it was, so I just laid there, holding my breath, eyes wide open, heart pounding. Was it a coyote, a wolf or a bear? After a few more minutes I came to my senses and realized it was my stomach growling and the rain drops from the trees falling on my tent!
I am averaging about 55 miles a day, which is less than most people on this journey, but I have taken the time to enjoy myself along the way. I have met nothing but good people for the most part.
4 broken chains
1 broken spoke
WHAT I’VE LEARNED ALONG THE WAY
Along the way I have had a few riding partners; the company is nice. I’ve realized how much I love America and see how lucky I am to be an American. I’ve learned that what makes people happy, more or less, is their children. I don't complain about the weather anymore – actually, I don't complain about a lot of things anymore, like cars and people. I am more tolerant. I can’t really explain it; I guess you just have to be here. So far, the journey is harder than I expected, but worth it.