So I like to bike. I like it a lot. According to my parents, I do it waaaay too much, but to be honest I don't do it enough! I'm going to recount a few things about my journey in this post. I expect it to be long, just like some of my rides, so brace yourself :)
So it all started in 2017 when I was contributing to Prometheus. For context, I was in college and a complete bum who rarely got away from a screen. Ben shared one of his insane 100Miles (I think) ride Strava link in the #prometheus IRC and I was blown away. Who the hell can ride 160KM, is he a man or a machine? Later that year, I visited Berlin for a couple of week as part of my summer internship at CoreOS. Fabian, my mentor told me to go on a bike tour instead of a typical walking tour with the idea that I'll see more and travel less. So I went on a bike tour; I was super hesitant, I hadn't ridden a bike in maybe 4 years and even then I maybe rode like 5KM and here I was supposed to be riding for an hour in traffic! But I got one of the bikes, my first ever geared bike, and I felt instantly comfortable.
I loved the tour, not just the sights themselves (they were great though!), but more the experience of riding. So much so that I got back and went back on the next tour (different tour), just so I could keep riding. I was hooked. Next day I rented a bike and went all the way from Berlin to Potsdam, about 35K. I lost my way and maybe even did 40K that day. I was completely unprepared and got caught in a rain. I got shivers by the time I got to Potsdam and then had to take the next day off cuz I was down with a fever xD
After that, I went back to India and being a bum. About a year later, I joined Grafana Labs while still at college and got glued to the screen even more! I got used to working at all hours and people started to wonder which timezone I work. Tom, my manager, took notice and asked me to get a hobby that didn't involve a screen and I promptly went and bought a bike. This was June 5th. I woke up super early on June 6th to go biking, like at 5AM, I was super excited.
And then 5mins out the door. Literally 5mins out the door which basically starts with me going down a small hill, I crashed. I did the dumbest shit ever, I was super curious how gears work, and I looked back at the gears while speeding at 30kph. I went off the road and ended up with a hairline fracture of my elbow!
I couldn't ride for a while, but I got on the bike after I recovered. Did 5K, then 10K, and kept adding 10K every weekend. Soon I was doing a steady 30-35K every morning and then a 100K on the weekend. I absolutely looked forward to my rides and they were a great way to start the day.
After my long ride on the weekend, I used to laze around and watch a lot of GCN and other biking videos. I chanced upon Lael Wilcox's Hope 1000 bikepacking video and I knew I wanted to do that! Bikepacking seemed magical and exciting and I decided to do a trip in the Summer of 2019. I maybe took this decision November or December 2018. I told my parents this and they just brushed it away thinking I was joking :) I started biking harder and watching even more videos, another favourite of mine is Wild Horses, The Silk Road Mountain Race. I've even done a 100Mile ride in preparation right before I left for Europe.
I landed in Berlin after a few conferences, and spent a couple of weeks here looking for a bike and the equipment. I have some of the best people in Berlin I can call friends! Ben asked me if I've bikepacked before and how I would manage food for a few days if there is no town for a few days. Honestly, I had no idea, I just knew I wanted to bikepack, I had no route in mind and nothing at hand. I was even surprised that I might be habitationless for days together and got scared. I initially wanted to do the Munich to Venice route and people told me to start small first as the alps was a lot of climbing and that I was underestimating the challenge. I decided to listen to them and picked the Berlin to Copenhagen route, which is super friendly to beginners and then decide where to go from there.
And then the best thing ever happened, Ben took a few days off work and decided to travel with me till Copenhagen to show me the ropes! Thanks a ton Ben, because tbh, I didn't even know how to fix a puncture or how to pitch a tent! That's how unprepared I was! Anyways, he also helped me pick a bike, and I knew I wanted a bikepacking focused bike that can go off-road if required. After a lot of help from Ben and the great folks at The Gentle Jaunt, I finally settled on the Bombtrack Audax:
It's an excellent machine and I still can't get enough of it! Anyways, I bought the bike, borrowed the tent and pannier bags from Ben and we set off!
It was a glorious, glorious trip all the way till Copenhagen, and you can see some of the pictures of the trip here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/zutYVAVwUBUV8rrA7 After that, Ben returned in Copenhagen and I still had a couple of weeks in my vacation. I was clueless. I asked on Instagram and a friend doing his masters in Stockholm invited me over and I was like, sure why not. My company also had a HQ and it seemed like a nice opportunity to meet my remote first co-workers.
So I decided to continue north to Stockholm. Oh boy, it took me 6 days to cover 600KM including a rest day and it was glorious. It was a lot of solitude with some beautiful roads and some nice small climbs. But by the end of it, I had spent more than enough time with myself and I wanted it to be over xD
But looking back, I want to bike the same route again! It was an amazing route and I absolutely loved the experience. I finally made it to Stockholm, spent a few days there off the bike and then flew to Prague and biked back to Dresden. I took a bus and ended up back in Berlin. That concluded my bikepacking adventure. Overall, I biked about 1300KM in about 14 days including rest days.
My work visa came through a few months after that and I moved to Berlin, the city I love so much. But before I could find my feet here, the pandemic happened but even during the lockdowns, biking was encouraged and I got out when I could. tbh, I was only sane in the quarantine because I could be out on my bike. I biked a bunch with Ben in the summer, not as much as I'd like, and we even did a bikepacking trip, about 400K in 3 days.
And that brings me to the present. It's now cold outside but I went ahead and bought a bunch of winter gear. I had a goal of 5000KM this year and I am grossly behind the goal. But hey, I can atleast try to narrow the difference!