• english
  • dk
  • /


      - WT Highlights
      - Photo Gallery

      Nicolai Bangsgaard on Flickr Nicolai Bangsgaard on YouTube

      Listen to WT Podcast on iTunes

      Need WT translated?

      Share/Save/Bookmark

    Archive for December, 2009

    Day 1.362 – Sick, Solo & Sober (UK)

    Thursday, December 31st, 2009

    I don’t recall having been sick at all in 2009.

    Today, on the very last day of the year, was unfortunately my time. As if the Gods of Justice just realized this, and then decided to drop this untimely flu on my back. Evidently, they didn’t want to let me go for a whole year without any sick leave, with all due respect to the millions of souls around the world who’ve been less fortunate health-wise in 2009. It’s the worst timing ever, but there’s nothing I can do. Gallons of honey-sweetened camomile tea with fresh lemon, gigantic cat naps, being warm and toasty all day…Nothing seemed to do the trick, and after such a wonderful 2009, this end is hard for me to take…

    This is how I spent most of the last day of 2009...

    Looking left from the apartment on the 4th floor, at about 00:00 01.01.2010. Brussels, Belgium.

    View from apartment at 00:00 01.01.2010. Brussels, Belgium.

    We had it all planned, Pablo and I. Private dinner party, followed by a huge NYE party downtown. My fever has been fading slowly all day, but I never recover enough for the party. I encourage Pabs to go to the party nonetheless, to party like a viking for the two of us. And my friend can do just that. :-)

    Looking right from the apartment on the 4th floor, at about 00:00 01.01.2010. Brussels, Belgium.

    View from apartment at 00:00 01.01.2010. Brussels, Belgium.

    Last year, on NYE 2008-2009, I was in Cuenca, Ecuador I had no-one around partying with, didn’t feel like partying, and went to bed before midnight and was dreaming when 2009 replaced 2008.

    This year, I just made it past midnight.

    A different way of spending NYE: Solo, sick, and sober.

    A different way of spending NYE: Solo, sick, and sober.

    Wherever you are on this wonderful Planet:

    HAPPY NEW YEAR

    (or – as you might prefer:

    AFRIKAANS gelukkige nuwejaar / voorspoedige nuwejaar
    ALBANIAN Gëzuar vitin e ri
    ALSATIAN e glëckliches nëies / güets nëies johr
    ARABIC عام سعيد (aam saiid) / sana saiida
    ARMENIAN shnorhavor nor tari
    AZERI yeni iliniz mubarek
    BAMBARA aw ni san’kura / bonne année
    BASQUE urte berri on
    BELARUSIAN З новым годам (Z novym hodam)
    BENGALI subho nababarsho
    BERBER asgwas amegas
    BETI mbembe mbu
    BOBO bonne année
    BOSNIAN sretna nova godina
    BRETON bloavezh mat / bloavez mad
    BULGARIAN честита нова година (chestita nova godina)
    BURMESE hnit thit ku mingalar pa
    CANTONESE sun lin fi lok / kung hé fat tsoi
    CATALAN bon any nou
    CHINESE xin nian kuai le / xin nian hao
    CORSICAN pace e salute
    CROATIAN sretna nova godina
    CZECH šťastný nový rok
    DANISH godt nytår
    DARI sale naw tabrik
    DUALA mbu mwa bwam
    DUTCH gelukkig Nieuwjaar
    ENGLISH happy new year
    ESPERANTO feliĉan novan jaron
    ESTONIAN head uut aastat
    FAROESE gott nýggjár
    FINNISH onnellista uutta vuotta
    FLEMISH gelukkig Nieuwjaar
    FRENCH bonne année
    FRISIAN lokkich neijier
    FRIULAN bon an
    GALICIAN feliz aninovo
    GEORGIAN გილოცავთ ახალ წელს (gilocavt akhal tsels)
    GERMAN ein gutes neues Jahr / prost Neujahr
    GREEK kali chronia / kali xronia
    GUJARATI sal mubarak / nootan varshabhinandan
    GUARANÍ rogüerohory año nuévo-re
    HAWAIIAN hauoli makahiki hou
    HEBREW שנה טובה (shana tova)
    HINDI nav varsh ki subhkamna
    HMONG nyob zoo xyoo tshiab
    HUNGARIAN boldog új évet
    ICELANDIC farsælt komandi ár
    INDONESIAN selamat tahun baru
    IRISH GAELIC ath bhliain faoi mhaise
    ITALIAN felice anno nuovo, buon anno
    JAVANESE sugeng warsa enggal
    JAPANESE akemashite omedetô
    KABYLIAN asseggas ameggaz
    KANNADA hosa varshada shubhaashayagalu
    KAZAKH zhana zhiliniz kutti bolsin
    KHMER sur sdei chhnam thmei
    KIRUNDI umwaka mwiza
    KOREAN seh heh bok mani bat uh seyo
    KURDE sala we ya nû pîroz be
    LAO sabai di pi mai
    LATIN felix sit annus novus
    LATVIAN laimīgu Jauno gadu
    LIGURIAN feliçe annu nœvu / feliçe anno nêuvo
    LINGALA bonana / mbula ya sika elamu na tonbeli yo
    LITHUANIAN laimingų Naujųjų Metų
    LOW SAXON gelükkig nyjaar
    LUXEMBOURGEOIS e gudd neit Joër
    MACEDONIAN Среќна Нова Година (srekna nova godina)
    MALAGASY arahaba tratry ny taona
    MALAY selamat tahun baru
    MALAYALAM nava varsha ashamshagal
    MALTESE is-sena t-tajba
    MANGAREVAN kia porotu te ano ou
    MAORI kia hari te tau hou
    MARATHI navin varshaachya hardik shubbheccha
    MOHAWK ose:rase
    MONGOLIAN shine jiliin bayariin mend hurgeye (Шинэ жилийн баярын мэнд хvргэе)
    MORÉ wênd na kô-d yuum-songo
    NDEBELE umyaka omucha omuhle
    NORWEGIAN godt nyttår
    OCCITAN bon annada
    ORIYA subha nababarsa
    PASHTO nawe kaalmo mobarak sha
    PERSIAN سال نو مبارک (sâle no mobârak)
    POLISH szczęśliwego nowego roku
    PORTUGUESE feliz ano novo
    PUNJABI ਨਵੇਂ ਸਾਲ ਦੀਆਂ ਵਧਾਈਆਂ (nave saal deeyan vadhaiyaan)
    ROMANCHE bun di bun onn
    ROMANI baxtalo nevo bersh
    ROMANIAN un an nou fericit / la mulţi ani
    RUSSIAN С Новым Годом (S novim godom)
    SAMOAN ia manuia le tausaga fou
    SANGO nzoni fini ngou
    SARDINIAN bonu annu nou
    SERBIAN srećna nova godina / Срећна нова година
    SHIMAORE mwaha mwema
    SHONA goredzva rakanaka
    SINDHI nain saal joon wadhayoon
    SINHALA suba aluth avuruddak vewa
    SLOVAK šťastný nový rok
    SLOVENIAN srečno novo leto
    SOBOTA dobir leto
    SOMALI sanad wanagsan
    SPANISH feliz año nuevo
    SRANAN wan bun nyun yari
    SWAHILI mwaka mzuri / heri ya mwaka mpya
    SWEDISH gott nytt år
    SWISS-GERMAN es guets Nöis
    TAGALOG manigong bagong taon
    TAHITIAN ia orana i te matahiti api
    TAMAZIGHT assugas amegaz
    TAMIL iniya puthandu nalVazhthukkal
    TATAR yaña yıl belän
    TELUGU నూతన సంవత్శర శుభాకాంక్షలు (nuthana samvathsara subhakankshalu)
    THAI สวัสดีปีใหม่ (sawatdii pimaï)
    TIBETAN tashi delek / losar tashi delek
    TSHILUBA tshidimu tshilenga
    TSWANA itumelele ngwaga o mosha
    TULU posa varshada shubashaya
    TURKISH yeni yiliniz kutlu olsun
    TWENTS gluk in’n tuk
    UDMURT Vyľ Aren
    UKRAINIAN Z novym rokom
    URDU naya saal mubarik
    UZBEK yangi yilingiz qutlug’ bo’lsin
    VIETNAMESE Chúc Mừng Nǎm Mới / Cung Chúc Tân Niên / Cung Chúc Tân Xuân
    WALOON bone annéye / bone annéye èt bone santéye
    WELSH blwyddyn newydd dda
    WOLOF dewenati
    YIDDISH a gut yohr)

    Share

    New Photo Album From Western Sahara…

    Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

    View photo album as a…

    a) Slideshow

    or

    b) Normal album

    Share

    Day 1.361 – Gent – The Raincovered Jewel (photos)

    Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

    Gent, Belgium.

    Lunch in Gent with Pablo...

    Gent, Belgium.

    Gent, Belgium.

    Rain in Gent...

    Share

    Day 1.360 – St. Michael & St. Gudula (photos)

    Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

    St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, Brussels.

    St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, Brussels.

    St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, Brussels.

    St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, Brussels.

    Pabs eating Vietnamese in Brussels

    Mojitos, prepared by Pablo.

    Dinner in Brussels...

    Share

    Day 1.359 – Balletjes In Tomatensaus

    Monday, December 28th, 2009

    Brekkie with Pablo in Brussels.

    Roy d'Espagne, Grand Place. Brussels

    Manneken Pis...

    He's a popular fella', this Manneken Pis Boy...

    Grand Place, Brussels.

    Post-Xmas strolling in Brussels.

    Pablo and I eating Indian in Brussels.

    Balletjes in tomatensaus, Chef Toon Style. Delicioso!

    Balletjes in tomatensaus, Chef Toon Style. Delicioso!

    Share

    Day 1.358 – Tour de Brussels

    Sunday, December 27th, 2009

    Fuck...

    Oysters and champagne, standing.

    Xmas sausages in Brussels

    Tiny alley in Brussels...

    The beautiful Sint Hubertusgalerijen in Brussels...

    Street musicians in Brussels.

    Brussels' magnificent town hall on Grand Place

    Night Street, Brussels

    Cheers, buddy!

    Share

    Day 1.357 – Reunited in Brussels (UK)

    Saturday, December 26th, 2009

    (Text might appear right here soonish)

    5.20AM, La Rochelle Train Station, Boxing Day 2009.

    Eurolines bus to Brussels...

    A decent start...

    Toon and Pablo in the kitchen...

    Toon, serving delicious mussels in Brussels...

    Mussels in Brussels...

    Mussels dinner with Toon, Guillemine, and Pablo...

    Ferris Wheel in Brussels

    Merry-go-round, Brussels, Xmas 2009.

    Nicolai, Pablo, Toon, and Guillemine in a Brussels bar...

    The Drunk Pirates in Brussels...

    Night time art in Brussels

    Share

    Newsletter from Paris

    Saturday, December 26th, 2009

    The landscape outside the window of my Paris-bound TGV train is still covered in the darkness of early morning while Central France invisibly whizzes past. Sitting in this much-faster-than-my-Koga train on Boxing Day 2009 gives me a moment to reflect on the fact that the WT-end is drawing near, that I’m very close to the end of the tunnel of my dream. That the idea-turned-reality project that has been my rhyme and reason, my raison d’être for the last 4 years, and that has totally encapsulated me – flesh and blood – in every move or thought I made, will all too soon be over.

    I begin to realize how much it’s meant (and still mean) to me to be able to share experiences, good and bad times, to unload all sorts of trivialities that would’ve otherwise clogged my mind. Having thousands of people from around the world standing on my mental sideline of the WT pitch – cheering faithfully when I needed it most – has made this journey so much more endurable, engaging, and yes, even fun. It’s helped me realize the proportions of the expedition, helped me realize how endlessly fortunate I’ve been (still am) being able to live my dream for so long.

    Though I know that at the end of the day the WT Juggernaut would’ve been without a driver without me, that I’m the one I need to thank, I really can’t imagine what WT would’ve been like without you, my dearest reader, for you’ve supplied me with a psychological safety net that prevented me to go mad when I was surrounded by nothing but asphalt and loneliness, that caught me when the valves of joy and happiness were pumping and life felt too good, that received all my gibberish unconditionally when I was lost in a muse and didn’t have anyone around to be a burden on.

    Cold lunch stop in Souillac, France.

    The roads that lead you, my unsung heroes, to WT might be as diverse as the ones I’ve been riding around the world for more than 60.000 km now, and you probably have no connection to other readers, but to me you are all part of the social fabric that’s kept me warm on what would’ve otherwise been an extremely long – and, at times, cold, I guess – solo ride. The scope of my gratitude for your moral, psychological, financial and otherwise support knows neither limits nor articulateness. Thanks for being with me all the way…

    Being this close to Denmark, I can now start visualizing what it’ll (maybe) be like getting back home after some 1.400 days on the road non-stop, without my friends and family around – something I didn’t dare until now afraid of getting homesick, afraid of losing momentum & wanderlust, afraid of losing touch with my dream, afraid of missing too much.

    What I do visualize is something far more colorful and exciting than the days of gray and cold that undoubtedly (and statistically) await me in Denmark; namely being back together with my mum, my dad, my sister, my friends – the people I love more than anything and who ultimately is the reason for my return.

    The thought of being back in tiny Denmark, among the precious few on this planet with whom I have a common tongue, a shared culture and history, is both exceedingly exciting and disturbingly frightening. Will I be the fish in the water, or the bull in a china shop? Only time will tell, and please wish me good luck, all right?

    No matter how it all goes, it’s a reassuring thought that thanks to all the beautiful people I’ve met over the last years, I feel quite at home anywhere in the world. I’ve traveled among Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist people, through some of the poorest and wealthiest countries on Earth, I’ve stayed with boys/girls, men/women, young/old, small/tall, white/black/brown/yellow people from all walks of life, and though, naturally, all these encounters and experiences have been (blissfully) diverse and different, to me they’re all collectively connected by the main thread called humanity.

    Thanks to that humanity I feel more connected to the world and its people than ever, it makes the world feel like my playground, and it’s an invaluable feeling that makes me feel rich and alive. Humanity is everywhere. It’s the glue that keeps the social machinery called mankind together. Take it from me, and don’t let anyone or anything convince you
    otherwise. I consider it a promise.

    Outside the daylight is starting to get a grip, and soon it’s Paris Montparnasse, where I’ll jump on a bus headed for Brussels where I’m going to meet up with lovely Belgian friends. Also arriving in Brussels today is Pablo who’s coming to spend New Year’s Eve with me. I’m absolutely stoked about this, and I’m very fond of the idea that the circle, that was sadly broken with Pablo’s WT exit back in July 2006, will (kind of) be complete again even though there won’t be any cycling this time around. Rumor has it that the reunited duo is going to shake the foundations of the Belgian capital on NYE.

    Beginning of January it’s back to Limoges, France where I’ve left my bike and gear, and then ride the final stint north through Belgium, Holland, and Germany. Tentatively, I expect to cross the Danish border around end of January 2010. So unreal.

    Thus perceived and with love,

    Nicolai

    Untitled...

    Share

    Day 1.356 – A Walk (UK)

    Friday, December 25th, 2009

    Willy at the local boulangerie...

    For you, my dearest WT-reader…

    Happy 2010 from St. Trojan Beach, France's Atlantic coast...

    Hotel de Ville, Bourcefranc Le Chapus, France

    Joyeux Noël 2009

    Lunch, 25.12.2009.

    Marina in Boyardville...

    Historically, the absolute highlight of the day was the sighting of the legendary Fort Boyard from the coast in Boyardville where Will and I go for a late arvo walk in the setting sunlight. Beautiful.

    Boyardville Beach

    The legendary Fort Boyard that was home to the hugely popular TV-series in the 1990s...

    Will and I on Boyardville Beach...

    Lyrics of the Day: Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery,
    none but ourselves can free our minds.
    Redemption Song – Bob Marley (for Will)

    Shadows on Boyardville Beach...

    Boyardville Beach

    The neighbor’s cross-eyed little beauty was a fine-fine furry Xmas present for me this year…There’s still (almost) nothing like a little cat fix…

    The Crosseyed Cutie...

    Share

    Day 1.355 – Huîtres, Boudin & Escargots at the Xmas Table (UK)

    Thursday, December 24th, 2009

    Late afternoon, when Will’s back from work, we drive to his parent’s place in the small village of Bourcefranc Le Chapus (south of La Rochelle) on the Atlantic coast.

    Arlette, Roger, Silvie, Philippe, me, and Will in Bourcefranc Le Chapus, France.

    Awaiting us is mother-Arlette, father-Roger (aka “The King of Oysters” due to his life-long occupational flirt with the oyster business), sister-Silvie and her boyfriend-Philippe – and an unforgettable smorgasbord of French Xmas delicatessen that really expands my gastronomic horizon.

    Oysters time in France!

    This is my forth consecutive Xmas away from home. The first, in 2006 was spent with my family in southern Vietnam. The second, in
    2007 was spent with my good old friend Rhod and his family in Sorrento, VIC, Australia. The third, in 2008 I was joined by my good friend Ragnar, and this year almost feels like home thanks to Will’s wonderful family.

    Xmas dinner 2009.

    Snail time in France!

    Tune of the Day: Too Young – Phoenix

    Boudin blanc (white pudding)...Delicious.

    This year's Xmas tree in Bourcefranc Le Chapus...

    XO time!

    Share

    Day 1.354 – The Signature Pizza (UK)

    Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

    Creation of Alex...Yum!

    Despite the rain over Limoges all day, Alex and I go Xmas shopping. As matters stand, it’s quickly done for me. Scented Body Shop stuff for Will, wine for his parents who’ve invited me to come and spend Xmas eve etc. with them in Bourcefranc Le Chapus on the Atlantic south of La Rochelle, a 3-hour drive to the west.

    One of my signature dinners. Limoges 2009.

    Making dinner for 4 Frenchmen – notorious for their delicate palate and cuisine – puts a bit of anxiety pressure on the shoulders of the worldtraveller used to eating sandwiches and canned camping food, but apparently he got out of it all right. I guess…

    Dinner with Alex, Willy, Marc, and Monelle...

    Tune of the Day: Comment ça va – The Shorts

    The Kings of Cocktails...

    Share

    Milestones Updated

    Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

    Milestones 53.000 km through 60.000 km is now updated here – the latter being the last “big” birthday in WT history.

    Nicolai (Limoges, France)

    Share

    Day 1.353 – Restaurant Le Roc Du Boeuf (UK)

    Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

    The timing here in Limoges has turned out to be perfect. On the occasion of Alex’ birthday yesterday, her parents have invited us all out for dinner in Restaurant Le Roc Du Boeuf – a fab restaurant some 50 km west of Limoges. I can’t remember when I last had such a beautiful and delicious dinner.

    The Crew (1):

    (from left: Willy, Norbert, Alex, Josette, Monelle, Marc, and I)

    Wonderful birthday dinner (Alex) at the Restaurant Le Roc Du Boeuf in Rochechouart, France.

    Mise en bouche:

    Wonderful birthday dinner (Alex) at the Restaurant Le Roc Du Boeuf in Rochechouart, France.

    First course:

    Wonderful birthday dinner (Alex) at the Restaurant Le Roc Du Boeuf in Rochechouart, France.

    Main course:

    Wonderful birthday dinner (Alex) at the Restaurant Le Roc Du Boeuf in Rochechouart, France.

    Desert:

    Wonderful birthday dinner (Alex) at the Restaurant Le Roc Du Boeuf in Rochechouart, France.

    The Crew (2):

    Wonderful birthday dinner (Alex) at the Restaurant Le Roc Du Boeuf in Rochechouart, France.

    The Return:

    Night vision...

    Thank you so much, Norbert & Josette, for a wonderful evening.

    Share

    Day 1.352 – Celebrations (UK)

    Monday, December 21st, 2009

    0 km etc.

    More indoor cosiness in Limoges...

    Apart from a swift run down to the local supermarché to get some breakfast stuff – it’s Alex’ birthday today (I’ve promised not to talk about women’s age ;-) ) – I don’t leave the apartment all day. WT takes up hours of “work” (nothing new under the sun here), but the rest of this day, December 21st (that also welcomed my grandma Ella (1919-2006 and may she still rest in peace) and my old travel mate T. Frank to this world, and congrats to both of you) is pure back-kicking and boy have I needed this R&R. Beautiful timing.

    Yum!

    Flambé!

    Wine is French, beer’s Belgian, food’s huge shrimps, atmosphere’s international. Limoges 2009.

    French wine, Belgian beer, international atmosphere. Limoges 2009.

    Share

    Day 1.351 – Decision-making (UK)

    Sunday, December 20th, 2009

    0 km etc.

    Slippery When Icy...

    The decision to let the bike rest for a little while in Will’s basement, to enjoy the company of good friends instead of rushing through as I’ve pretty much been doing lately, isn’t really a hard one, once William tells me, encouragingly, that I can stay as long as I want here. Suddenly, it doesn’t make any sense to just keep rushing north to get to Belgium to meet Pablo, Guillemine, and Toon on Boxing Day. The roads are still snowcovered here in central France and the cycling evidently wouldn’t be very charming.

    Limoges Cathedral.

    So I’ll leave the bike here in Limoges, head to Brussels on Boxing Day, celebrate New Year’s Eve in the Belgian capital (BTW, if anyone knows of a party going on in Brussels on NYE 2009/2010 that needs a few (2) upbeat Vikings (Pablo and I) to get the party started, please let me know. Legend as well as rumour has it, it won’t be boring! :-) ), and then get back to my gear beginning of Januar and continue north, towards my beloved ones.

    Inside Limoges Cathedral.

    Old rickety building in Limoges...

    Bridge from the 13th century across River Vienne...

    Cute.

    Crepes a'la Will et Alex. Limoges, December 2009.

    …and a last one for today. From Limoges Cathedral, to all my loyal WT-readers. Merry Xmas!

    Merry Xmas!

    Share

    Day 1.350 – WT (A Place of Contrasts) (UK)

    Saturday, December 19th, 2009

    0 km etc.

    Chilling in Limoges with William...

    The contrasts between a) the snowfilled, sub-zero challenges of yesterday’s roads and b) the comfy indoor life with my beautiful friends Alex and William (the keen WT-reader will remember Will from Chiang Mai, 2007), is hard to comprehend, yet that’s one of the big charms of this, my nomadic life.

    Old part of town, Limoges. December 2009.

    My days in Limoges with Alex and Will are spent eating and drinking (all of which belongs to an entirely different level of quality than I’m used to being just me), walks in the white streets of Limoges, hanging out, listening to music, watching movies, sharing perspectives on life etc, reliving good old memories from Chiang Mai, April 2007. Wonderful stuff that I’ve been missing lately.

    Cute St. Aurelien Church in Limoges.

    Marché de Noël, Limoges.

    When in Rome…

    Time for my first foie gras!

    The Cheese Mama.

    Can you imagine the smell in here? (very cheesy)

    I’d almost forgotten how it is waking up not having to move, to pedal 100+ km every day. I’ve slipped into a wonderful cruise speed mode despite the last-minute Xmas shopping frenzy in the downtown streets outside.

    Old part of town, Limoges. December 2009.

    Arvo draught with William and Alex in Limoges.

    Here in Limoges, I’ve been thrown out of my camping rhythm (wake up at sunup, sleep just after sundown) on the road, in favor of the nocturnal life rhythm of an owl.

    Delicatessen in Limoges.

    Share

    Day 1.349 – White-out in Central France (DK)

    Friday, December 18th, 2009

    Brive-la-Gaillarde -> Limoges
    Distance (km) : 42
    Time on bike : 3h 25m
    Brutto time: 09.10 – 15.30
    Avg : 12.3 km/h
    Max.speed: 39.0
    Total (km) : 60.351
    Altitude: 100 m
    Difficulty: 3

    Nicolai in the white.

    Udfordringerne fortsætter. Der er faldet 10-15 cm sne i nat her i Brive, og det er ren white-out, da jeg i morges står ud af sengen på vandrehjemmet og kigger ud. Damn!

    Den direkte vej mellem Brive og Limoges er forbeholdt motorvejstrafik, så jeg er (desværre, i dette føre) tvunget til at tage små, rurale veje, der dels er meget kuperede, dels ikke er sne-ryddede. Det bliver min første rigtige debut udi kørsel på sne og is (og var det ikke også på tide, Zülle?).

    Det er barsk cykling og kræver fuld koncentration. Der er lidt flere kuperinger end jeg kunne have ønsket mig i dag.

    Challenging winter cycling north of Brive...

    Winter in Donzenac, France.

    Kogaen samler store klumper sne og sjap under skærmene og vej bremserne. Temmelig ubehageligt for os begge, og føles som om jeg sidder på en fitness-cykel med bremsen slået i.

    Flere biler er strandede på de temmeligt stejle småveje, dækkede af sne og is. Mine Schwalbe Dureme-dæk klarer skærene relativt fint, og med fuld koncentration lykkes det mig ikke at ryge af cyklen, selvom ulykken aldrig var langt væk på vej ned af stigningerne, hvor det var svært at holde den hollandske hoppe under kontrol – særligt fordi min tykke vinterluffer besværliggør nedbremsningen.

    Koga, no like!

    Der er masser af opmuntrende tilråb fra forbipasserende. Bon courage! Den franske varme varmer.

    Det med at holde varmen, antager pludselig en perifer plads på mit mentale kort over dagens udfordring. Efter et par timers langsom kamp må jeg dog lave et kaffe-pitstop i en hyggelig landsbyrestaurant (og hotel) syd for Uzerche, for at få varme i de frosne tæer igen.

    Koga, no like!

    Winter in France.

    Tilbage i sadlen er solen kommet frem og afslører et knejsende friskt landskab af blåt (se op) og hvidt (se ned). Det er smukt og en del af mig (ikke tæerne) er taknemmelig for at få disse oplevelser med i WT-kartoteket.

    Etablissementet er fint, jeg er en hund i et spil kegler og græmmer mig lidt over, at brede mine våde, sure sokker ud over den varme radiator og er taknemmelig over at tjenerinden holder sig på afstand fra lugtfælden (mig!). Men med en velkommen, fransk dannethed forbigås min odør i tavshed og merci for det.

    Colors of Winter.

    Coffee break on my way to Limoges...

    I tilbageblikket lys har det været nogle hårde, udfordrende 8-9 dage siden jeg forlod Barcelona. Jeg trænger til at blive gennemvarmet, komme indendøre.

    Den ene udfordring kastet i hovedet på mig efter den anden. Min stejle indlæringskurve i vintercyklingens klasseværelse har været som en nyfødts møde med verden. Så snart jeg har lært at kravle (holde varmen), kræver verden at jeg kan gå (holde mig tør), så snart jeg kan gå, kræver verden, at jeg kan løbe (cykle på is og sne etc). Det er en stor mundfuld, men de siger, man vokser af det, og at drager kun stiger i modvind.

    Uzerche, France.

    Beautiful winter landscape south of Limoges, France.

    Hotel de Ville, Limoges.

    Min gode ven fra Chiang Mai 2007, William er overrasket over at se, at jeg trods sne og isglat føre når frem til Limoges som planlagt i dag.

    White arrival in Limoges at Will's apartment...

    Det er ren halleluja at se min gode ven igen og snart er de iskolde fødder, frostpanden og vintermufferne lykkeligt bag mig, for nu…

    Great times with Alex and William in Limoges, France.

    Great times with Alex and William in Limoges, France.

    WT Hall of Fame :-)

    Share

    Day 1.348 – A Challenge (DK)

    Thursday, December 17th, 2009

    Cahors -> Brive-la-Gaillarde
    Distance (km) : 101
    Time on bike : 5h 48m
    Brutto time: 08.30 – 17.00
    Avg : 17.4 km/h
    Max.speed: 46.7
    Total (km) : 60.310
    Altitude: 150 m
    Difficulty: 4

    Det er minus 7 grader, da jeg forlader mit lune kammer i Cahors til morgen. Kold Zülle.

    Don't really feel like leaving today...

    Early morning north of Cahors, France.

    Endnu en udfordrende dag. Masser af stigninger, kuperet terræn. Det er en fortsat kamp at holde kroppen tør og varm. Efter et par timers cykling, hvor jeg nogenlunde formår at holde varmen og holde stemningen inde under regnhætten/elefanthuen/halsrøret varm, bliver mine underarme pludseligt sindssygt kolde og fødderne følger snart med. Underlig fisk. Det er nødvendigt at holde et nødstop, så da jeg ser et restaurant-skilt drejer jeg fra.

    Sunrise over Cahors, southern France.

    Early morning in Cahors, France.

    I restaurantens vindue sidder en seddel, der fortæller, at stedet holder lukket i dag. Merde! Jeg nærmer mig det paniske stadium og krænger regnjakken af. Jeg overraskes af is, der drysser ud fra ærmerne – frossen kondens – og nakken laver samme trick, da jeg flår hue/halsrør/elefanthue-sættet af. Der er også is lige nord for røven og jeg er én elendighed.

    Nicolai, changing wet clothes in Payrac, France.

    Til mit held er her et lille toilet med varmt vand i hanen og en el-radiator, som jeg sender på max med det samme. Det føles som min redning. Solen er også fremme og hjælper mig til med at blive et menneske igen. Tager et akrobatisk fodbad i håndvasken og varmer balderne på den (snart) skoldhede radiator. Når nøden er størst…

    Mit humør flyver op og ned, i nogenlunde symmetri med min kropstemperatur. Det ene øjeblik sprudler jeg af lykke, knyttede næver i luften og yes! I can do this-peptalks, det næste øjeblik kommer tvivlen luskende sammen med de kolde fødder/istapfingrene/frostpanden etc. Det slider på sjælen.

    Når kroppen er underafkølet og der ingen udsigt er til at få varmen, går man over i et survival mode og fokuserer alle mentale og fysiske kræfter på at ændre, at forbedre situationen.

    On ice. Bike shoe cover (didn't really do the trick)...

    Scary icicles.

    Efter 3 timers cykling når jeg landsbyen Payrac. Jeg er hundesulten og humøret daler igen, da jeg opdager, at alt (ALT!) er lukket. Heartbreaking. Selv tankstationen er lukket pga. ombygning.

    Scary icicles.

    Jeg er så sulten, at jeg ville samle hvad som helst spiseligt op fra vejkanten (men sig det ikke til mine fremtidige børn, monkey see, monkey do). Vandet i cykelflaskerne er dybfrossent, så der er ligesom lukket for ethvert energiindtag. Argh, bummer. Der er ca. 15 km til nærmeste landsby, Souillac, alternativerne er få. Barsk kørsel. Selvtillidsudsvingene er fortsat markante og følger kropstemperaturen. Med is i handskerne og i røven er det ufatteligt svært at holde motivationen oppe.

    Der er ikke en krumme tilbage i maven på mig, da jeg når Souillac…

    Cold lunch stop in Souillac, France.

    …men det findes der heldigvis råd for i byens (åbne!) supermarked…

    Cold lunch stop in Souillac, France.

    Icicles

    Det er deprimerende, demotiverende at kunne se motorvejen, der plant skærer sig gennem landskabet, hvorimod jeg på de mindre veje må op og ned og udenom alle de små knolde og krumspring, som Skaberen har plantet i landskabet her i området.

    Der er nok af udfordringer for Fjumse-drengen.

    Cahors region, France.

    Når al min jammer er blevet luftet, så er det en meget flot dag i Cahors-området. Det lugter meget af Frankrig og landskabet fryder.

    Leaving Souillac. Aqueduct in the valley.

    France, nutshell.

    Love France.

    Crystal clear.

    Shadow + frozen water...

    Frosty!

    Jeg når i dagens sene skumring Brive-la-Gaillarde og kan ikke begribe mit held, da jeg ved det lokale vandrehjem hører, at dette er den sidste dag, de har åbent før juleferien sætter ind. Mit lille vandrehjemshæfte fortalte ellers, at der skulle være lukket fra den 15. december (2 dage siden), men en gut på gaden mente, at der stadig var åbent, så jeg checkede det ud, og bingo! Eget lille (lumre) 3-sengs kammer, varmt bad, mit første varme måltid i ugevis, tilberedt i fælleskøkkenet. Pludselig er dagens strabadser glemt. Livet er godt. Livet er varmt.

    Sunset just south of Brive, France.

    Efterskrift:
    Snefaldet, som jeg i morgen kommer til at mærke meget mere til, er så småt begyndt i aften…

    Comfy and warm in Brive...

    Share

    Day 1.347 – Frozen Dinosaur (DK)

    Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

    Toulouse -> Cahors
    Distance (km) : 113
    Time on bike : 5h 57m
    Brutto time: 08.40 – 16.40
    Avg : 18.9 km/h
    Max.speed: 42.2
    Total (km) : 60.209
    Altitude: 100 m
    Difficulty: 4

    English translation might come. Or else, try the Google Translation link on WT frontpage… WT Hall of Fame :-)

    På toilettet skifter jeg over i noget tørt cykeltøj og misbruger håndføntørreren i uendeligheder, med fødderne/numsen/næbet/hænder/ben/nakke pegende op mod fønstrømmen, til flere nyankomne toiletgæsters forbløffelse.

    Det er lidt ondt at skulle ud i kulden igen, lige som jeg er ved at få varmen igen, men jeg
    er professionelt opsat på at nå Cahors (endnu over 60 km) og en varm seng i dag.

    Dagens Tone: Águas de Marco – Tom Jobim

    Temperaturen kommer aldrig over frysepunktet i dag. Minus 2 – minus 3 siger cykelcomputeren. Svag vind, mod mig, naturligvis. Har efterhånden glemt følelsen af en befriende vind i ryggen. Terrænnet bliver kuperet og snørklet. Overskyet, gråt, dansk. Jeg ænser det ikke rigtigt, men kigger bare ned på den hvide stribe foran mig.

    Den sidste 1½ times cykling mod Cahors føles det som om der er gået frost i den højre side af min pande. Højre øje ser dobbelt – ganske forstyrrende, når man drøner ned ad Quercy-regionens småbjerge mod Cahors. Sved er løbet ned i mine luffer og fingrene begynder at tage form og temperatur af frosne fiskepinde. Ubehageligt, men jeg har kun 10-15 km til Cahors og det varmer, trods frostpanden. Tuden på min eneste fyldte vandflaske er frosset til, så væsken må vente, og også min ene håndbremse leget frostleg med mig. Temperaturen er minus 3 grader C. Av.

    I Cahors er situationen med mine frosne fingre ved at være alvorlig. Følelsen er stærkt nedsat, det stikker og jager, og jeg kan kun tænke på at komme indendørs. Vandrehjemmet, jeg søger, er forduftet fra den gade, det skulle ligge, men en fyr er venlig at vise mig vej til den nye lokation i nærheden. Der er ingen i receptionen, jeg sætter mig og venter og ser skrækscenariet for mig, at der ingen ledige senge er.

    Receptionistpigen dukker op et kvarter senere, undskyldende, og jeg forsøger at være så høflig som min velopdragne barndom foreskriver, i det naive håb, at det øger mine chancer for en ledig seng. Min krop ryster af kulde og jeg er ved at være helt pigehysterisk ved tanken om en afvisning nu. Men pigen har både smil og en ledig seng – endda i et helt tomt 6-sengs værelse! Vidunderligt. De 13 euro virker på stedet som den bedste røverhandel nogensinde. Nogle gange er afstanden fra Helvede til Himmerige kortere end man tror.

    Føler mig i badet som en frossen dinosaur (de findes vel også i en størrelse 73 kg?), der langsomt får skyllet en hel dags frost af sig under den masochistisk varme stråle. Er ganske stolt over dagens 113 frost-km, selvom det var lige til øllet med frostfingrene ved ankomsten i Cahors.

    Share

    Day 1.346 – A Hellish Night (DK)

    Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

    Castelnaudary -> Toulouse
    Distance (km) : 63
    Time on bike : 4h 02m
    Brutto time: 08.20 – 16.00
    Avg : 15.7 km/h
    Max.speed: 42.2
    Total (km) : 60.096
    Altitude: 120 m
    Difficulty: 2

    Translation might come, or try the Google Translation link on WT front page… WT Hall of Fame :-)

    Share

    Day 1.345 – A Make-Over of Superman Proportions (UK)

    Monday, December 14th, 2009

    Capendu -> Castelnaudary
    Distance (km) : 62
    Time on bike : 3h 55m
    Brutto time: 09.00 – 17.40
    Avg : 15.7 km/h
    Max.speed: 32.9
    Total (km) : 60.033
    Altitude: 100 m
    Difficulty: 2

    Wild camp near Capendu, southern France.

    Putting my tent down in the pannier, all wet from condensation and morning snow, doesn’t do any good to my mental hygiene. But there’s no way of drying my tent in this weather. It’s another cold morning and I don’t feel like cycling today.

    Snowy morning!

    WT Hall of Fame :-)

    Early morning self-portrait from my camp...

    Since I entered France a few days ago, I’ve realized that I’m not really properly equipped for this winter cycling/camping, being outside in below-zero temperatures 24/7, trying to keep both warm and dry. So in Carcassonne I find the local Decathlon (French outdoor gear super-size me supermarket) and find myself in a rare shopping frenzy. I end up with the follwing in my basket:


    Full-body bike bib pants
    Fleece balaclava
    Mittens (ohh, these will soon become my best friends)
    Winter socks
    Neoprene bike shoe covers

    It’s a 100 euros but I force myself not to care too much. This is about physically being able to do my business (pedaling) in relative comfort in this cold weather.

    I disappear into the toilet for disabled to get changed and reappear some 15 minutes later. It’s a complete make-over that even Superman would’ve admired. Nice and comfy and toasty. For now.

    Shopping time in Decathlon!

    I pass 60.000 km west of Carcassonne – it’s the last “big” milestone birthday in WT history, but I’m in no celebration mood/mode and just take the usual self-portraits and continue the annoying fight against the icy headwind.

    Share

    Day 1.344 – In Heaven There’s No Headwind (UK)

    Sunday, December 13th, 2009

    Fitou -> Capendu
    Distance (km) : 75
    Time on bike : 5h 15m
    Brutto time: 08.30 – 17.30
    Avg : 14.1 (!) km/h
    Max.speed: 38.8
    Total (km) : 59.971
    Altitude: 100 m
    Difficulty: 4

    Today is a bit of a nightmare to me. I’m pestered by a bad and surprisingly cold headwind up along the flattish valley of the Canal du Midi towards Toulouse. The wind is an icy nastiness and it frustrates me all day long. The average speed of the day should indicate how much of an enemy it was.

    You can't tell the cold, can you?

    I see nothing but the white stripe ahead of me, trying to hide my face (or any naked flesh) from the exposure of the wind. December is usually the time of warm comfort with your loved ones. This one is different, and I wonder why I’m fighting the cold and wind when December could be so…different…so much warmer. The hardest part of today is to keep motivation from slipping away.

    ...or the headwinds?

    Fingers and toes are ice blocks most of the day. I scream and yell into the wind several times. Frustrated. Joyless. At dusk I turn off Hwy D6113 near Capendu village, and find a near-level spot on a private piece of land tucked away between pine trees and put up my camp.

    But it was cold!

    Lézignan-Corbieres, France.

    My body is hibernating like a winter bear these days, and at 7.30PM The Sandman comes and takes me away on a 12-hour long journey to the land of dreams. In Heaven there’s no headwind and it’s a blissful sleep.

    Vineyards near Capendu, southern France.

    WT Hall of Fame :-)

    Share

    Day 1.343 – Bienvenue en France! (UK)

    Saturday, December 12th, 2009

    N of Gerona (SP) -> Fitou (FR)
    Distance (km) : 109
    Time on bike : 6h 19m
    Brutto time: 08.30 – 17.30
    Avg : 17.1 km/h
    Max.speed: 42.8
    Total (km) : 59.897
    Altitude: 5 m
    Difficulty: 4½

    Waking up this morning is exciting – not only because it’s my last day waking up in Spain, but also because my nylon bubble is covered in frost this morning.

    Frosty morning north of Gerona, Spain...

    Frosty morning north of Gerona, Spain...

    France is getting closer. WT country # 49.

    No officers, no passport stamps (and hallelujah for that ‘cos I’ve got no space at all left in my passport – the same as I left Denmark with, 48 countries ago), no real satisfaction of crossing this border at Le Perthus.

    The border between Spain and France. No passport control since 1995 here.

    But excitement comes as soon as the snowcapped Pyrenees appear in the distant West. The 430 km long mountain range (highest point, Pico d’Aneto at 3.404 m.a.s.) separates the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of continental Europe.

    To me it seems like Mother-France and Father-Spain was separated by the (geographically speaking) natural border that is The Pyrenees, with Andorra – the child of broken parents that couldn’t decide which side it belonged to and thus settled comfortably right between mum and dad.

    Snowcapped Pyrennees in the background...

    Lovely, innit?

    Temperatures have dropped dramatically since I left Barcelona just a few days ago. It’s going to be a long and cold December.

    First lunch break in France...

    First lunch break in France...

    Tune of the Day:
    I Make Hamburgers - The Whitlams

    (I’ve enjoyed the lyrics to this song from Australian The Whitlams several times over the last decade or so. Maybe I should start making hamburgers for two instead of eating meatballs for one)…

    Late afternoon self-portrait...

    WT Hall of Fame :-)

    Near Fitou, France and my spot for the night...

    The WhitlamsI Make Hamburgers

    My first customer was Megan
    She came in for a hamburger with the lot – no meat
    “Hey that’s a salad roll” I said and we started going out

    My second customer was Susan
    she came in for Diet Pepsi morning tea
    Each day and I said “You don’t need to be on a diet.
    Do you wanna come out tonight?”

    I said “I’ll bring Gringo he’s got a lot of money
    And he’ll take us to the bars where they’ve got a view.
    He’ll buy us all those beers they give it to you in bottles
    They put lemon in the top it don’t taste too bad I’m telling you”

    My third customer was Maria she came in for hot chips and sauce
    “More sauce” she said. I said “now you’re talking”
    and she took me home to meet her mother

    My fourth customer was Sandy she came in for nothing I could see except me
    So it was I too, was eating a hamburger of sorts within an hour

    I make hamburgers I get all the girls
    and I take ‘em out to dinner and I give ‘em all a whirl
    and If they work I keep ‘em If they don’t I keep ‘em too
    But I teach ‘em all how to be dirty girls like you

    Share

    Day 1.342 – Mind/Body Constellation (UK)

    Friday, December 11th, 2009

    Barcelona -> 10 km N of Gerona
    Distance (km) : 140
    Time on bike : 7h 08m
    Brutto time: 09.00 – 17.45
    Avg : 19.5 km/h
    Max.speed: 55.2
    Total (km) : 59.788
    Altitude: 200 m
    Difficulty: 3½

    It doesn’t take long to realize that Barcelona is a grand, magnificent city with enough to offer for a life time. To me, it’s the sort of place you want to live in, to get to know every nook and cranny. My long walk around the city yesterday – in part with my former colleague Dennis who studies here this semester – mainly in the Ciutat Vella, the old part of town, revealed just a fraction of the marvels that Barcelona has, and it’s all very impressive and photogenic, yet I’m not really here. The roads are calling my name, and Zülle it is. Loud and clear.

    The Barcelona Dildo.

    My body is tired after 17 cycling days in a go, and my mind needs (I think) a complete black-out day without any input at all, but that doesn’t seem to materialize.

    I’m absolutely stoked that my good old friend Martin, aka Pablo, will come to Brussels on Boxing Day/December 26th to celebrate New Year’s Eve etc. with me (and Belgian friends, and how wonderful it’s going to be!), and I seriously can’t wait having my best friend next to me.

    Mediterranean coast north of Barcelona.

    Mediterranean coast north of Barcelona.

    But because of this post-Xmas plan, my mind/body (however that constellation works) doesn’t really let me relax for long these days. Progress is the name of the day/game.

    When I was in southern Spain end of November, Pablo and I excitedly decided to meet in the Belgian capital, some 2.200 km away, and the distance somehow seemed reasonable at the time, and it wasn’t until I did some more serious Google Maps research that I realized I’d have to cycle nearly 100 km every single day until I reached Belgium nearly a month later in order to meet up with Pablo (that I haven’t seen since our last goodbye (DK) in eastern Turkey, July 2006).

    A bit crazy in the light of the fact that this is not a Guiness World Record Around-the-World Attempt.

    Lunch break on the Costa Brava, Spain.

    In the wood.

    Sunset from my wild camp north of Gerona.

    Share

    Day 1.341 – A Visual Take On Barcelona

    Thursday, December 10th, 2009

    0 km etc.

    La Rambla, Barcelona.

    Old Quarter, Barcelona.

    There’s no room for words today. Apologies.

    Old Quarter, Barcelona.

    Old Quarter, Barcelona.

    Floor in Barcelona's massive cathedral..

    Cathedral, Barcelona.

    Cathedral, Barcelona.

    Cathedral, Barcelona.

    Confession time!

    Cathedral, Barcelona.

    Lighting a candle for the dude above...

    Cathedral, Barcelona.

    Barcelona Cathedral, getting facelift.

    Barcelona street scene.

    Mirage

    Barcelona facade...

    Arc de Triomf, Barcelona.

    Arc de Triomf, Barcelona.

    Jardines de la Ciudadela, Barcelona.

    Jardines de la Ciudadela, Barcelona.

    Mig og Dennis i Barcelona.

    Paella, chicken way.

    December in Barcelona.

    Share

    Day 1.340 – Barcelona (UK)

    Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

    E of Cadrils -> Barcelona
    Distance (km) : 116
    Time on bike : 6h 25m
    Brutto time: 07.40 – 18.00
    Avg : 18.0 km/h
    Max.speed: 48.3
    Total (km) : 59.648
    Altitude: 50 m
    Difficulty: 3½

    Sunrise over Tarragona, Spain.

    Calafell, Spain.

    I’ve been on the bike for 17 days (1.622 km) in a row now. Since I left Casablanca, Morocco, pedal strokes have been part of my daily routine. Think I’ll take a day off tomorrow, checking out Barcelona, getting organized etcetera.

    Cool coastline south of Barcelona...

    As always, entering a multimillion inhabitants city makes for interesting cycling – and Barcelona is no exception! From the outskirts of the metropole it takes most of 1½ hour to reach the city center where – finally, long after sunset – I check into Sound Hostel, close to the infamous La Rambla.

    Near Coma-Ruga, south of Barcelona.

    Share

    Day 1.339 – Smacked Up (UK)

    Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

    Benicássim -> E of Cambrils
    Distance (km) : 167
    Time on bike : 7h 21m
    Brutto time: 08.20 – 17.50
    Avg : 22.6 km/h
    Max.speed: 46.8
    Total (km) : 59.532
    Altitude: 20 m
    Difficulty: 4

    Early morning, only the moon is watching me.

    Wild camping with a glowing view...

    The inscrutable ways of the clouds...

    I feel happy on the bike today. Very much so. Not only your local GP would be sure I was smacked up on drugs if he saw me flying through the Spanish Med-coast – pushed by a fierce TAILwind – fists pumping in the air, screaming to the wicked playlist in my iPod, absolutely manic.

    Getting warm and dry in McD's great toilets!

    Amposta, Spain.

    Tune of the Day: Black Steel - Tricky

    Roman structure south of Cambrils...

    It’s 5.50PM, sun’s down, my bike computer says 7h21m of cycling today, 167 km, and I’m at the point where the prospect of getting off the bike, getting my crotch washed, setting up camp, having a not-so-cold canned beer cannot be overestimated…

    Wild camp just east of Cambrils, Spain...

    Share

    Day 1.338 – Valencia -> Benicássim (photos)

    Monday, December 7th, 2009

    Valencia -> Benicássim
    Distance (km) : 87
    Time on bike : 4h 24m
    Brutto time: 11.50 – 17.40
    Avg : 19.8 km/h
    Max.speed: 44.5
    Total (km) : 59.366
    Altitude: 20 m
    Difficulty: 2½

    A few hours of free wifi in Valencia before hitting the road...

    See the fountain?

    Wild camping with a glowing view...

    Tune of the Day: To Defy the Laws of Tradition – Primus

    What if Christmas didn’t come this year
    and no one paid for Christmas cheer?
    Who would cry the biggest tear,
    the child or the store?
    Why do brides wear virgin white?
    Most do not deserve that right.
    But to choose a color of their delight
    would surely bring on the frowns.
    To defy the laws of tradition
    is a crusade only of the brave.
    Suppose the taxman, he comes to town,
    and you don’t lay your money down.
    Yet Mr. Jones he killed Mr. Brown the other day.
    Well I wonder, who’s gonna go to hell.

    Share

    Day 1.337 – Oh, Valencia! (UK)

    Sunday, December 6th, 2009

    Gata de Gorgos -> Valencia
    Distance (km) : 103
    Time on bike : 5h 07m
    Brutto time: 08.10 – 15.00
    Avg : 20.1 km/h
    Max.speed: 38.0
    Total (km) : 59.279
    Altitude: 10 m
    Difficulty: 3

    Wake up, Sunday, wake up…

    Wake up, Sunday, wake up...

    It’s freezing cold this morning. 0 degrees Celsius. Ice flakes on my tent. Now that’s way too early, this is central eastern Spain, and I’m heading north into the northern European mid-winter. My extremities already started failing on my. Fingers very cold (in gloves).

    Too early for those icy flakes...

    Morning camp outside Gata de Gorgos.

    Breakfast of champions!

    Winter-sleepy Cullera village...

    Cullera Beach.

    Don’t let the palm trees above fool you. I had ice crystals on my agates this morning and the temperature at noon was a modest 15 degrees C.

    Looking back on Cullera...

    Just north of Cullera.

    Valencia's City of Arts and Science. Stunning!

    Valencia's City of Arts and Science. Stunning!

    Valencia's City of Arts and Science. Stunning!

    Valencia's Placa de Toros (bullring)...

    In Valencia I check into the fine Hôme Backpackers right in the thick of it. 13 euros for the dorm bed is 13 euros more than I normally pay for my wild camp accommodation, but it still feels like good value.

    Valencia by night...

    With my legs kicking like mad over the last weeks, I somehow know they won’t keep me here in Valencia for long, so in order to get the most out of my (supposedly scarce) time in the city, I head out at night, Canon-laden and excited, despite today’s cycling. Such a wonderful atmosphere, lots of people, apparently in no hurry, in Xmas-mode, Xmas decorations here and there, tapas bars, drinking dens, restaurants, a place where you could (I probably could too if I had ‘em) spend a lot of merry money.

    Here we go:

    Valencia by night...

    Statue on Valencia's Plaza de la Virgen...

    Valencia's beautiful Plaza de la Virgen...

    Valencia's beautiful Plaza de la Virgen...

    Sunday mass in Valencia...

    The Basilica, reflected.

    Big door!

    December street in Valencia.

    Tune of the Day: O Valencia – The Decemberists

    Town Hall, Valencia.

    Town Hall, Valencia.

    Back at the hostel reception (11PM) I see a lot of fine, young girls from the hostel, all dressed up and ready to go out, and I don’t really get it until I notice a sign on the wall next to the elevator saying “Pub Crawl Every Night at 23.00″. I’d be damned!
    I’m extremely tired, can hardly keep my eyes open at this point, and though the clientele is very young (but not criminally so, the beast on my shoulder whispers), I feel very tempted to join the crowd. Hungry dogs eat cat food too.

    Fine Gothic building...

    What a day. Very long. Very beautiful. Very tired.


    (Can I copyright that last one, please?)

    Share

    Day 1.336 – Candlelight dinner for one (UK)

    Saturday, December 5th, 2009

    Alicante -> Gata de Gorgos
    Distance (km) : 88
    Time on bike : 4h 36m
    Brutto time: 11.55 – 17.55
    Avg : 19.1 km/h
    Max.speed: 46.7
    Total (km) : 59.176
    Altitude: 100 m
    Difficulty: 2½

    I took only one shot while in Alicante. No justice for such a fine place. My apologies.

    I went out last night – in my rain gear since all my off-bike clothes were at the hotel’s laundry – or, as my Facebook status stated:

    NB went out drinking solo in Alicante on Friday, in nothing but his full-body rain gear (it was laundry time), and soon fell into a heavy drinking bout with a bunch of mid-20s students. (Whether the Silver Monk had any luck on the dance floor in this unusual outfit, is left untold). Valencia it is now…

    Guess that was a first (and likely last) of for me. Goretex and all.

    Anyway, this is my one and only Alicante shot:

    Alicante - my only shot from that city.

    But worry not, ‘cos there are so many beautiful corners in Spain, and today was to disclose more of them…

    This, my dearest, is a mandarine tree. There are millions of them (along with orange trees) in this region of Spain. All full of fresh fruit. It’s called Temptation. Take it from me, the permanently hungry cyclist.

    A Place Called Temptation!

    Near Villajoyosa...

    …and the same mountain, a bit closer (‘cos that’s how you like it)

    Closer

    The easy way to cross a mountain ridge...

    Rumour has it that the European mass charter tourism all started in Benidorm way back. Whether it’s true or not, I don’t know. I just read it somewhere. But I do know that this is how it looks today…

    Benidorm skyline...

    It was a fine place for my second dose of wonderful müesli with kiwi fruits and milk.

    Benidorm's Playa Poniente.

    Sitting there, on the white stony bench, I received the compliment of the day, when an elderly, British lady (grey-haired segment) suddenly said to me:

    Lady: I’m looking at your legs…You’ve got great legs!
    NB: (a little baffled) Uh, thank you…I pedaled 60.000 km around the world to get them…
    Lady: Oh, really! (and walks away with her husband (also grey))

    End of story.

    Sans Le Koga:

    Benidorm's Playa Poniente.

    OJOJOJOJs

    Told you. Citrus everywhere.

    Just north of Benidorm

    Cove north of Altea

    Great cycling between Altea and Calp...

    Hacienda-style architecture...

    Looking down on Calp village...

    Another magnificent Spanish sunset...

    My evening camp is nothing but perfect. I turn off the main road, walk up a stony path, find a grassy plateau, no wind, no bugs, no one knowing I’m here, no disturbances, perfect. I feel romantic tonight, so from my panniers I dig out the candle light that I bought in central Mali (and that melted badly in West Africa, but nonetheless still works), prepare my canned meatballs, with olives, tomatoes, fresh baguette, and a beer, thinking life is so much better than its reputation.

    Candle light dinner for one...

    If you’d been in my life, you would’ve been sitting right there too, listening to the night, and since I was being romantic, I would’ve probably shared a few of my meatballs too…

    Share

    Day 1.335 – When Life Doesn’t Get Any Better (UK)

    Friday, December 4th, 2009

    Los Alcázeres -> Alicante
    Distance (km) : 92
    Time on bike : 5h 0m
    Brutto time: 08.45 – 16.15
    Avg : 18.4 km/h
    Max.speed: 44.9
    Total (km) : 59.088
    Altitude: 5 m
    Difficulty: 3½

    (Photos below)

    I got 11 straight hours of sleep on my defect air mattress. I spend way too much time each evening putting jeans, raingear, clothes, etc. under the mattress to make the night as comfortable as possible with the available resources. Really must get a new mattress.

    Great sunrise again. 10 degrees this morning. Undisturbed night’s sleep.

    In Torreviejo, I’ve ended up right in the center of the silver-haired segment. Northern European pensioners all over.

    I like the random, slightly non-chalant way, that many Spaniards reach for the seatbelt, often long after they have started the car. At home in Denmark which in many ways is more generally correct we drink it in with our mother’s milk that fastening your seat belt is the first thing you do when you enter the car.

    Here in Spain it seems like something secundary, something you do because – well – it’s there all the same, not because they really care much about it. From a non-traffic safety angle, I like this Spanish calmness, fearlessness, if you will.

    During the last 25 km I’m struck by an insane crosswind, which blows my mere 73 kg completely off the road several times. There is not much help in the bike, which is quite light these days after I sent a large 4.3-kg package home with surplus goods in Fuengirola.

    It is terrible and I just look forward to Alicante. I’m tired, hungry and my crotch really needs a big wash.

    Later…

    All I really needed in the supermarket was a little juice, but I left the shop with 2 liters of Pepsi Max, 1 kg of pears and 2 kg of tomatoes. I’m so easily tempted on a hungry stomach – and how easily manipulable are the human beings. But what was I supposed to do: 2 kg of the finest tomatoes for only 1 euro and 1 kg of pears, same deal! Madness prices. And all I needed was a bit of OJ…

    There are many dogs out walking with their owners in the urban park where I sit on a bench in the middle of Alicante with my lunch. Immediately I become the dogs’ best friend because of the chorizo next to me (it IS good), and several dogs pull and drag the leash to come over and have a closer look (with begging eyes) at the Spanish sausage. It’s great being the dog’s best friend (as long as you have goodies in your bags – dogs are so easily manipulable too).

    I cruise around in Alicante trying to find a cheap bed for the night. The city’s only albergue juvenil(youth hostel) a few miles west of downtown is full, my next try, a pension has rooms for 25 euros, which I can not justify (although the bed was soft), and for a moment I take it as a sign that I should just drop Alicante and move on.

    A new hotel sign, which seems low-key and without stars attracts my attention, I park the Koga, and rush up and at 15 euros for a simple room, with TV, shared bath we have a deal. Ahhh, a bed for the night!

    Life simply doesn’t get any better as when, in the early evening, I sit on my bed at Pension Ayuntamiento with my canned meatballs, fresh baguette, olives, tomatoes and a liter of red wine (boxed) from the kiosk down at the street corner.

    The Davis Cup tennis final between Spain and the Czech Republic is on the small 14″ TV, I’ve just handed my grotesque dirty laundry to the hotel staff, Pearl Jam’s new and wonderfully beautiful “The End” is on my laptop, all my electronic aggregates and chargers suck energy from the same outlet (much like all the poppies sharing just one nipple) – and the other channel shows the World Cup draw live from South Africa.

    As the distance to the bottom of my wine gets shorter and shorter, I become more and more in love with the hostess on the screen, beautiful Charlize Theron. It doesn’t take a lot in the monk world (…and may it soon end, whispered the Silver Monk decidedly to me at this moment).

    It was such a wicked morning, thus all the visuals from my morning camp. A morning to remember.

    Morning camp in Los Alcázares, north of Cartagena.

    Morning camp in Los Alcázares, north of Cartagena.

    Morning camp in Los Alcázares, north of Cartagena.

    Morning camp in Los Alcázares, north of Cartagena.

    Morning camp in Los Alcázares, north of Cartagena.

    Morning camp in Los Alcázares, north of Cartagena.

    Torrevieja, Spain.

    Coastline just north of Torrevieja...

    59.000 km. Los Alcázares, Spain.

    Share

    Day 1.334 – Spain In Technicolor (photos)

    Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

    Águilas -> Los Alcázeres
    Distance (km) : 98
    Time on bike : 5h 36m
    Brutto time: 08.15 – 17.30
    Avg : 17.5 km/h
    Max.speed: 59.8
    Total (km) : 58.995
    Altitude: 1 m
    Difficulty: 3½

    Early morning from my camp just outside Águilas...

    Early morning from my camp just outside Águilas...

    Into the mountains north of Águilas...

    Beautiful cycling!

    Spain in sepia...

    Empty, curvy roads and then this scenery!

    Castle on top of a ridge...

    Lunch break!

    B&W. Near Puerto de Mazarrón.

    Túnel de la Sierra de las Moreras.

    Puerto de Mazarrón.

    That's where I'm headed. See the zig-zag road up ahead?

    Crossing of the Sierra de la Muela, south of Alicante.

    Crossing of the Sierra de la Muela, south of Alicante.

    Hopenhagen...

    Evening atmo at my camp in Los Alcázares, north of Cartagena.

    Evening atmo at my camp in Los Alcázares, north of Cartagena.

    Share

    Day 1.333 – My Baby From Behind (photos)

    Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

    Benahadux -> Águilas
    Distance (km) : 123
    Time on bike : 6h 10m
    Brutto time: 09.30 – 18.00
    Avg : 19.8 km/h
    Max.speed: 48.3
    Total (km) : 58.897
    Altitude: 20 m
    Difficulty: 3

    Tune of the Day: Right Place, Wrong Time – Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

    Benahadux morning camp.

    Getting colder...

    The photo action saw no end today...

    I (thought I) had no other option than the highway...

    The Koga Miyata Worldtraveller - pride and glory!

    Desierto de Tabernas...Great, great, great cycling!

    …and again…

    My baby from behind...

    …and again…The Koga self-promotion never stops. I’m sorry, she’s such a show-off, my lady!

    Desierto de Tabernas...Great, great, great cycling!

    Sorbas village.

    In the mountains...

    Sierra de Almagrera. North of Mojácar. Spain. Beautiful.

    Just south of Águilas.

    A fine goodbye view for the day...

    Share

    Day 1.332 – Coastal Nuggets (photos)

    Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

    Castell de Ferro -> Benahadux
    Distance (km) : 99
    Time on bike : 5h 34m
    Brutto time: 09.00 – 18.00
    Avg : 17.7 km/h
    Max.speed: 45.7
    Total (km) : 58.774
    Altitude: 30 m
    Difficulty: 3½

    The inside of the changing room I crashed in Castell de Ferro

    The outside of the changing room I crashed in Castell de Ferro

    Another sweet sunup in eastern Spain...

    Castell de Ferro, from above.

    Curve and great coastal cycling in the Granada Province...

    Typical scenery west of Almería, southeastern Spain.

    Aguadulce, Murcia Province.

    Near Aguadulce, Murcia Province.

    Near Aguadulce, Murcia Province.

    Moonrise over the desert landscape north of Almería.

    Crazily beautiful cloud formations. North of Almería.

    Share