FIRST STAGE – THE LEAVING CHALLENGE
As planned Vita and Jane arrived at my place by 0700 am. After a gracious breakfast (containing of two scrambled eggs, red caviar on freshly toasted white ciabatta bread, salmon-cherry tomato salad and strawberry-birch juice) that my girl made for us, we left at around 0800 am to go downtown where my co-bikers would rent their bicycles.
At the arrival at the first rental station we found out that only one bike with a baggage porter was there so that we decided to check out another station about 5km further. After finding the station which was as hard to reach as Fort Boyard, we finally got the bikes.
Since the second station was further in the north of Berlin and our destination lies southwards of Berlin we lost all in all about 3 hours getting the bikes and leaving the city. So at 1100 am we finally were on the way.
After almost 30 km we had the first break.
SECOND STAGE – THE DINNER AT A CHURCH
Cycling our way through the forests fully packed we realised that physically we wont be able to reach Cottbus just within one day. Also because we lost 0300 hours in the beginning, we knew we had to find a place to crash before continuing our way.
By 0600 pm and after another 44 km we reached a small town not far away from Lübben. Although it was not late yet the streets were emptied. It is common for German small towns that people on weekends stay in or go out into the woods so that you dont get to meet many of them on the streets. Not feeling observed we spread out our blanket and the cooking utensil right on the lawn of the market place close to a church. Jane suggested to ask the priest of that church if we could stay in there for the night. Obviously she hoped for asylum like Esmeralda :). Unfortunately the doors of that sacred building kept closed.
Our dinner was not as good as the breakfast. Chicken soup and rice. Our motivation did not decline (I wish it did and maybe we wouldnt have continued the ride on that day…), we looked up the way until Lübben.
THIRD STAGE – THE WAY THROUGH THE DESERT
According to the navigation system 21 km were to go to our next destination. It was 0640 pm. We had exactly 0230 hours to reach Lübben before the sunset at 0910 pm.
At first the route was straight and nice. Bituminized roads, the temperature was about 21 degrees C, less cars and other bikers than during the day. What we didnt know was the detour we had to take due to road constructions. That detour lead us through a downright desert. It was so not made for bikes that most of the road we got stuck in sand and had to carry our bikes.
My watch showed 0820 pm. Less than one hour until sunset and we hardly made the half of the route to Lübben. Without a tent or any other sleeping outside equipment the night in the forest would not be a pleasant experience. By 0850 pm we reached a hunting pulpit. We knew that in about 20 minutes it would rapidly get dark.
We had two options: First option was staying in that hunting pulpit which would mean a huge pain in various parts of our bodies the next day because those constructions are meant for not more than two people in sitting positions. We were three and we wanted to sleep. Second option was trying to find a way out of the forest within 20 minutes.
We had 10 glowing sticks on us. In order not to loose the spot with the hunting pulpit we left one stick after each 100 m. We knew we could only go as far as 1 km. After that distance we wouldnt be able to mark our way back to the hunting pulpit.
So we continued our careful way leaving one stick after each 100 m. When we only had one stick left and no exit in sight I told Vita and Jane to stay where they were and to wave with the glowing stick. I would go further as far as I could without loosing the light of the stick behind me. I made my way through the dark forest. My bike was with the others so that it was easier for me to go further.
When the light of the waving stick was hardly seeable I saw yet another light. Not behind me where Vita and Jane were but in front of me. It was a weak yellow light coming from a small source of light. At first I was not sure what it was and if it was light at all or maybe just some glimmer. Then it occurred to me. The light came from a candle in someones house. Going further meant risking not seeing the waving stick anymore. Going back meant the risk of the candle being blown out by its owner and then a cold and very uncomfortable night in the wild.
I turned on the flashlight function of my iPhone and laid it face down so that the flashlight became sort of a lighthouse for me. Just a few further steps and I lost Vita’s waving signal. The only two lights I saw was the candle and my lighthouse. I knew it wouldnt be there for too long. My phone’s battery was below 10 %…
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Cheers and derush