Helmond (NL) to Berlin (D)

It was very important for me to finish this big trip slowly and in a way adaption into society would be easier. Therefore we decided to cycle in Europe over the summer months. As I already mentioned in my previous post Peter worked a big part of June and July. I didn’t want to wait and stay in one place for such a long time. Cycling with the children and Luna all by myself was an idea that formed already earlier in our trip. I have been touring a lot in the last 10 years but I hardly ever toured alone. Peter and I always shared the responsibility for the children and discussed every decision that had to be made. Now, at the end of our big tour, I had the feeling that I knew everything about touring and wild camping.  I felt confident that I would manage on my own. It was a welcome new challenge. I wanted to know how much I learned in the past two years and how strong I am now.

It was easier than expected. My trip, my decision, my rules. I had to be strikt with Ben and Esmé every now and then. They had to help me more than when Peter is with us and I had to give them more responsibility than usual. For example: Whenever we had to do groceries one adult plus one child would stay outside with the bikes and take care nothing would be stolen. The other adult plus child would do groceries. Now it was only me with two children and a dog. I told Ben that I can’t leave Esmé outside the store with the bikes. She simply is too young for that. But Ben and Luna would be a good care taker team. I explained why it had to be this way. He and Luna stayed in front of the supermarket with the bikes every day. Esmé always choose something she knew Ben would like (e.g. salami, cheese, grapes). This was his reward for taking care of our stuff. Coming from the US, where you would never ever be allowed to leave your six year old child in front of the supermarket alone, this situation stressed me every time. In Europe it is more common to give your children more freedom and responsibility but I was still more used to the American culture.

Another big thing was Ben having to cycle every single kilometer by himself. We always had the opportunity to attach him to an adult bike on our way through North America. Now Luna was too big to carry in a box in the front of my bike. Luna and Esmé shared a two seat child trailer which was not the best but the only solution I could think of. “No Luna, this is my half of the trailer and this is yours.” is a sentence I heard several times a day. Luna and Esmé were fighting a lot. I longed for Peter and his bike, pulling Esmé and her bike, which would result in less fighting and growling. Ben on the other hand did great on his own bike. We averaged 40km a day in the first week which slowly increased to 50km a day average with a maximum of 68km in one day. Ben needed a rest day or two every four days. I am very proud of his achievement. He did a great job.

Finally we made it to Berlin without taking a train or a bus. We wild camped almost every day (except on rest days). I also planned almost the whole route by myself. (Only in the beginning I followed the R1 cycle route.) I feel proud of myself and the children and now know that I am capable of doing tougher things than I thought. While possessing a strong personality and will I do underestimate myself a lot of times. I learned that about myself on our way from Helmond (NL) to Berlin (D).

In my next post: The last kilometers back home – from Berlin to Austria

(Sorry for the long gaps between the posts …) 

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The end of our adventures

We flew from Mexico City to Denver, Colorado and exploerd the area around Aspen for a couple of days. After that we drove to Moab, Utah and stayed there with friends. We left our bikes and camping gear in Mexico City. We gave everything away to people who, we thought, would really use our gear. We travelled light, four panniers was all we owned for about 3 weeks. Our bikes were old and worn out, same with most of our camping gear.

We flew from the US to Amsterdam at the beginning of June. It was not easy to bring our dear and most valuable souvenier Luna to Europe but we made it and she is now a happy european dog.

We bought new bikes and camping gear in the Netherlands and I am currently with Ben, Esmé and Luna on my way to Berlin. Peter got a job offer as guide for Austin Adventures and guided tours in the past three weeks. He will join us in Berlin in a couple of days and then we will start the last part of our big family adventure: we will cycle back home to Austria and finish our trip after 21 months on the road.

To be continued …

Ben and mum on tour

Ben and Petra enjoyed a 6 day cycle touring trip in Holland: testing our new tent, singing a lot if children’s songs, getting lost, wild camping, head wind, some rain, a lot of sun, enjoying life

Ben is talking continuously while sitting in the front. Imagine hours of cycling and listening to this baby language all the time. Horrible! Poor Peter, he has got two people in his family who talk all the time.

A big achievement in the past few weeks is that Ben is nappy free during the day. We are very happy and a little bit proud too because he is only 1 year and 10 months old. On this trip he peed in his pants only once (!!!) Great for us because then we don’t have to worry about nappies.