Have you heard about the story of how we met the HARDBRAKERS this summer in Budapest? If so then you could have guessed that it was going to continue! When we said goodbye to them in Szeged as they continued their journey to Istanbul, we agreed upon doing something together, before the winter season starts. Unfortunately even their German precision went up in smoke (literally), so the finally long awaited gig became an actual winter-welcoming trip. More suffering - but definitely more fun. Different fun. Copenhagen-Hamburg-Amsterdam baby. We were sure that we want to do something in- and around Hamburg, so this idea sounded pretty obvious: let’s visit Europe’s two most bike friendly cities and of course, stop by in Hamburg for some never-before-seen madness on the way. You have to know that these guys are not just some enthusiastic fixie-lovers. They are motherfucking German beasts, who happen to be the loveliest guys you would meet on a regular riding/drinking event. I mean, just think about it, they are riding bikes and that’s their message. Riding and unity. Family, let’s say. “Gangsters of love”, that’s their slogan. It tells a lot about them. They rule the city and they unite it. They have reputation and most of all, respect. Sankt Pauli represents. So when they organize a party, the city keeps talking about it until the next one. We heard about the previous one and we expected a lot from the one was ahead of us - specifically organized FOR us. But let’s not go so far and start at the beginning: Copenhagen.
Right, so Milan and I arrived to Copenhagen a week before, accompanied by our beautiful girlfriends. Levente supposed to come a couple days later but in the end he managed to get there only one day before departure. No comment on that. Our very own Adam (Levente’s cycling partner from the first trip) hosted us in his great apartment on the north side of the city. Since we’ve never been to a nordic country before, we were quite amazed by what we saw there. Copenhagen radiates a kind of calmness and comfortable satisfaction that we adored. Especially after the London pace it was really nice to walk and ride around in a calm and almost provincial environment. We spent most of our time exploring the city and mentally preparing for the trip. If you’ve ever met Adam or have seen the film, it can be no surprise that he was a GREAT host and we can’t emphasise it enough. Firstly, his place was just prefect. Really close to the centre of the city and super comfy. His habit of making wicked cocktails and cooking jaw-droppingly good danish food was just an addition. Secondly, he organized a great screening at a super cool place, and showed us many more. And last but not least, he kept us company, and talked and talked and talked. Which is cool, because he is VERY funny. And entertaining on a serious level. Everybody should have an Adam in his pocket to pull out at any given time, I mean it. So our first week of our little trip consisted of drinking, eating and sightseeing. Totally different experience than the week after that where we felt more like traveling hobos chasing a bunch of crazy german Roadrunners. It was tough guys, really tough. I wouldn’t recommend doing 170-180 kms a day with huge bags on your back while not really knowing where you are or what’s really going on due the extensive number of joints on the road. If you must, then be prepared that it’s a massive trip (in every sense of the expression), a dreamlike experience with a lot of joy and even more. But Milan and Levente will tell you all about that. I’m still not sure what happened there…
Despite a night of drinking and smoking we decided to shoot off at 9am from Copenhagen. It was quite surprising that the place the Hardbrakers guys stayed was only a street away from our apartment. The morning was the first time as well when I realized what I will carry on my back through the whole journey. At first it seemed OK but after 30 km those small pressure points started to ache all over my back. I can only wonder what Mate felt carrying the camera equipment as well… We left CPH in glorious sunshine which was surrounded by chilly temperature. It was an awesome start and we stopped for a quick smoke when we reached a nice sandy beach. Everybody was happy and smiley. After this break came the hardest part of the trip for me. I really don’t know what happened but the following 2 hours I just had absolutely no idea where I was. I was following the crew and the terrain wasn’t even hard. But I felt like I was going to fall off my bike and just fall asleep. On the last 10 km before our lunch break I was going up and down small hills and my muscles just didn’t want to work. I could barely move my legs and Levi came back to talk to me and to help me get through it. When I finally reached the check point I just dropped my bike and collapsed in the parking lot. Mate and Levi helped me up and I felt that my eyes were just blank and stare into the emptiness. I finally got some water which I drank like 2 litres of and had a big lunch too that revived me once and for all. The rest of the day was just easy cycling, mostly chasing the Germans who never seemed to stop. When it got dark we stopped at a shop where we decided to take the remaining distance easy and to let the faster ones go ahead and wait for us in the camp. So from that point it was Jubie, Levi, Mate and me. We haven’t got proper night lights which made things difficult for us between towns. It was a lot of fun though to cycle in complete darkness. Kind of like being in an absurd world in a dream, where time doesn’t exist and you are just going into the emptiness only seeing the next 5-10 metres. Reaching the ferry was a bless. We parked the bikes in and took a seat in a warm dining hall. We only got 20 minutes however to relax and when we got off ,we received the bad news that the safe house is not 7 but 17 km away from us ( Which wasn’t true but stupid Google maps took us on the longer way). We reached our house around 10.30. All my clothes were wet and I could barely walk. We went to bed as fast as we could because the next day we started around 9 again.
Jubie woke us up in the morning by bringing a couple of sandwiches from the motel breakfast that we missed. Everyone was ready to leave by the time we left our apartment and we quickly went to a nearby shop to have breakfast and to load up with munchies. The Island was just phenomenal. We went through a big ass bridge before we entered the motherland and the landscape we eye catching all the way through. It was hard of course but I kept in mind the whole way that by the night we will be in Hamburg and it gave me enough strength to survive. Germany is equally as beautiful as Denmark. Windmills everywhere and the road conditions are excellent too. Towards the end of the night we run into some local cops 30-40 km off Hamburg who were breaking our balls for not having night lights. Jubie was trying to fill them up with all sort of crap just let us off the hook but they didn’t seem to buy any of it. It came as a miracle when all of a sudden they received and emergency call from the station and had to run off quickly. They gave our documents back and told us to walk with our bikes home on the rest of our journey (yeah, right!). It was just as surprising as one of the German beasts, Karl coming out of nowhere from behind us. He was supposed to be in the front group which we thought were in Hamburg by that time. It turned out that he lost his back light and came back looking for it when he was stopped by the same pigs as well. Anyways, we rolled in to Hamburg casually just to see the crowd waiting for us in the suburbs. We stopped for a quick smoke and for some booze and after Levi reassured us that it will only be a slow joy ride into the centre from that point. The ’joy ride’ of course meant that everybody was rushing like hell, going through red lights while occupying a whole car lane. It was an incredible feeling. Cars were honking here and there but nobody could do shit about us. We were with the locos and people had to deal with it.
Hell knows what time we woke up. Jubie got us an amazing breakfast of several German hams, breads and cheeses which reminded me why I hate British food so much. Nis came around as well and we went into the old town to take a look around. The city is incredible. One just gotta love it. A massive dock yard combined with a modern business area not to mention the old town makes Hamburg something very special. We spent the afternoon with some sightseeing then we went home to prepare for the night. We got to the club around 9 which was just 3 minutes off Jubie’s. They let our bikes in the venue in a place that seemed like a hall of fame for bikes. The club was really nice. The movie screening and the gold sprint was in a back room which was packed. Mario, the oldest member of the crew, fully covered with tattoos was letting people in and welcomed us like his brothers. This brotherhood feeling followed us through the whole night. It was the best party I had in years. It is quite hard to remember what happened apart from the big green haze with insane gangster music. Once again big shout out to the guys who organized it! We left the place around 7, completely smashed and elevated. The pictures tell it all.
After the epic night we decided to take Sunday off and leave town on Monday. We ordered some pizzas and a guy who we met last night came around as he wanted to join us for the rest of our journey.
We left Hamburg around noon, Nis came around to take us on the first 40 km.
The day went slow, and we barely moved all day. We only got until Bremen which was about 100km from Hamburg. We were fortunate enough to find Kinga and Reka, two Hungarians living in town and crush at their place for the night. They welcomed us with awesome dinner and we were finally able to sleep in a warm place after a week. They had some opera singer friends over and some wine as well…Probably this was the reason why we slept until late that following day.
Despite the late and very light start (a big breakfast, coffee, cigarettes and super short sightseeing ride) we rushed through the last German kilometres. We were finally able to have rest at night after some crazy pasta masterpiece made by Joep in Emmen which is a small town in the lovely canal and bike lane-filled playground called the Netherlands.
As we crossed the border, the memories seem to fade a little bit, but there is a very strong and remarkable feeling about what happened there, and mainly in Amsterdam: a strange mixture of relief, the one that always comes after you reach whatever goal you had and at the same time: that heart whelming feeling that you are just where you should be at the moment. Even if you are sleeping on the street. The same thing happened when we were there last year with Flo, we didn’t want to pay for a hostel and we ended up surviving the night on a bench. In a moment like this, you don’t mind at all, it’s part of the plan. This time with Máté and 0 degree around us. We built a little corner for ourselves at the end of a hidden street made of carton boxes and we had one sleeping bag, so we managed to cover ourselves properly for those few hours while the coffeeshops have not reopened yet. At 7 in the morning we were already drinking hot chocolate, so it wasn’t such a big deal. But still… this makes the difference. This makes you feel you are really OUT THERE. This is the difference between your Sunday training ride of 120 km and our daily 100 km trip. The end: you know you go home and continue your regular life. All we know is that there is something ahead of us, that we have never seen before… except if the same thing happens again - but it can only happen, if you let it. And if you do so, it means you do it because you love it! That’s why we keep on doing what we do – wherever we sleep.
more pics on facebook.