Our first week on the road has passed. Seven days ago we said goodbye to my family and friends in Wattenwil, Switzerland. We said goodbye because we want to ride our bikes to Matt’s hometown in Australia over the next 18 months. The days before the farewell party were filled with organising, packing and those last minute double and triple checks. The day of the farewell party Matt and I were wearing nice clothing. By “nice” I mean non functional, non ultra light, non quick drying bike gear. It would be the last time for a while that we are wearing a decent shirt and a pretty dress. During the party it did not really feel like it was the day on which we’re going to say goodbye to everyone for 1.5 years and cycle halfway around the world. Not at all.
As we went into my bedroom to put on our spandex, it suddenly hit us. We are really leaving now. Are we ready? “Matt did you pack the pegs?”. “Jasi did you put my passport copies on the USB stick?”. All of a sudden it felt as if those twelve months of preparation weren’t nearly enough. But there was no going back as all my friends and family were standing outside, waiting to kiss us goodbye. I was doing fine with the first 50 farewell hugs but then I had to say goodbye to Mum, Dad, my brother and my best friend Anja.
Wiping the tears and the snot off my face I put on my helmet. Matt looked at me and said: “Let’s do it”. So we rolled off, almost crashed into each other after a few meters, saved it and made it look like a high five. On the first turn I was in such an elated state of mind that for a couple of seconds I forgot which way we had to go. For the first 10 km we didn’t talk much. Still sad from the goodbye and glad to be finally rolling and leaving those to-do-lists at home.
Now after 7 days of cycle touring we are slowly getting into the routine of it. Wake up, deflate the mattress, deflate the pillow, pack away the silk liner, roll the sleeping back into a dry bag, take the dry clothing from the line, make coffee, cook porridge, eat, wash up the dishes, dry the dishes, somehow pack the unbelievable amount of gear into our ten panniers, pack up the tent, fill up the water bottles, put on sunscreen and roll out. Easy as that. We are both surprised how simple it all is. All you need for a bike tour are a bike, a tent and a set of legs.
Still there are a few things we have to get better at. For example we still haven’t worked out how to interact with our cycle computers. It takes us forever to pack and if we need a specific piece of gear during the day there is a 80% change we open up a wrong pannier first. Also, we do not cook enough. Whenever we have eaten we are hungry again one hour later. We are not used to the amounts we eat when being on a bike the whole day. We will get better at those things eventually.
Cycle touring in Switzerland is easy, expensive and mountainous. All over Switzerland you find marked bike paths. Absolutely idiot-proof. Going over Susten – a 2240 meter mountain – on our third day was maybe not the best idea regarding our fitness and also considering it was my birthday. Great present. Nevertheless we made it to the top. We were not really able to walk straight anymore on our legs but happy that we passed the first big test of our bike journey.
Before we left for our big bike touring adventure we imagined ourselves wild camping on beautiful quiet fields or asking people to camp in their gardens. So far we only stayed in camping grounds. All the places we have been were either full of houses, very hilly, or too visible from the street. Also my decision to buy a beautiful red Hilleberg tent might have been not very smart due to its distinct visibility. Not ideal for wild camping, but still very pretty. We both hope that we will become braver and finally wild camp over the next few weeks. We’ll let you know how we get on.
All in all the past seven days have been a pleasure. We really enjoy the freedom and all the time we have together after the last two years of being in a long distance relationship. In the evenings we are tired and sore but happy. Yesterday we crossed the border to Italy (about five times because we got a bit confused with our route). We are looking forward to pizza, gelato, cappuccinos and pasta.
Talk to you soon
Matt and Jasi (surprisingly, still without sore bums)