Pulk is a German word and translates to a gathering or a crowd of people. Pulk is the united power of individuals we met along our way during the last two years. We channeled the love into 224 pages that feel more like an encyclopedia than an independent magazine. A 12000km trip over two months around the Baltic sea forms the heart of the first issue and is framed by smaller stories. The purpose of each aspect of the magazine is that we celebrate the stories that are left in the shadows of the tales. People who rarely get into the spotlight but share the same passion and shine brightly without publicity. People who really do it for the love. Just as we do.
Then there was a lot of motion in the ocean
The main common sense apart of individuality is the sea. Which is also what brought us to Heimplanet. The first contact we had was because we needed support for our cold water surf movie Headache. They believed in us from the very first moment and for us it was love at first sight. Ever since, we have been taking their products around the globe. We strongly believe in their willpower as this is also what drives us and what we need the most when battling the harsh and cold conditions up north.
Another (successful?) Iceland Story
How do you tell of an adventure that ended not like you intended it to?
Do you recognize your mistake? Or do you leave everything to the external conditions?
It ́s not easy to talk about a failure. But can you call it a failure when you having fun with things you love at a place you enjoy with friends? Even when you didn ́t got where you wanted.
Making big plans is always fun. The moment when you stop being realistic and start being a dreamer is the moment where big adventures are born (a quote of one of these famous adventurers you never can remember the name of).
But there is one more step to a big adventure, and it ́s probably the hardest und most important: the implementation.
So, my plan was to kayak around iceland. yep, kayak. That ́s something I ́m not the first person who is thinking of and of course I ́m kayaking for many years. There already is a small amount of people who done this journey. And I wanted to be one of them. It took one year of planing and researching to get to iceland with everything I needed. Just 2 months before I left a good kayak friend of mine decided to follow me for 2 weeks.
I had planned one week in Reykjavik for some more stuff to plan on site, like a meeting with the Icelandic Search and Rescue team. I was absolutely motivated. It took me so long and so much effort to get here. After the first week my friend Jan came to Reykjavik and two days later we started our kayak trip. We left the car in Reykjavik and just went on in our fully packed kayaks.
The first days where absolutely insane. The landscape, the ocean, everything was so peaceful extraordinary.
We found some awesome places to put up our tent and just enjoy where we are.
But really fast we realized that the weather is not really with us. Normally you would be happy about „the hottest summer since weather recording“. But on the water rain and cold are not the main enemies. It ́s wind. And hot weather at a place where it ́s normally not, means high pressure, what means a lot of wind. But we kept on and enjoyed the loneliness. One day we had to paddle 50 km around a big peninsula and waited for good conditions. We knew it ́s going to be hard. But facing 4-5 meter waves on a almost calm day makes you think about your plans. Although we had a lot of fun in the waves, I decided I will not continue as
planned after Jan is leaving. So we had 2 absolutely awesome weeks and Jan left back home.
I decided to go more north and kept on paddling for some days in the Fjords of Iceland.
After 2 more weeks the wind became so strong that I was thinking about breaking up totaly. And also I realized some pain in my left foot after some hours in the kayak every day.
Just 2 weeks before I started my trip in Iceland I had a outer ligament. And I noticed that it didn ́t healed as fast as I wanted it to.
My girlfriend decided to come by for a week after I decided not to go on with kayaking and we went south to see the glaciers, waterfalls and the ice lagoons. Of course I went back into my kayak a couple of times….
So…. Have I been successful?
Well, I paddled over 500km on the atlantic ocean at the icelandic cost.
I spent more than 4 weeks at lonely beaches in my tent, two of them with one of my best friends.
There was a giant wale sleeping about 3 meters next to my kayak.
Huge, blue and turquoise icebergs passed me siting in my kayak.
We found a broken tractor on an island wich is not recorded in any maps.
And Hot pools waited for me and my tent after a 13 hours paddling day.
…..for some people a strategy of making tremendous plans to achieve big goals might be not the worst.
*** DISCLAIMER: Our tents are not supposed to be set up in the ocean or any other water hazards. ***
The Plastic Project
One Photographer’s Mission to Use Surf and Adventure to inspire generations to change.
Tim Nunn is a photographer, writer, editor and filmmaker from Suffolk in the UK. He’s one of the most travelled surf photographers in Europe and spent an inordinate amount of time in the last fifteen years exploring the colder waters of Northern Europe.
On this journey into what has been labelled as ‘cold water surfing’ the Geography/Environmental Science graduate, made some startling discoveries whilst making his acclaimed book Numb.
“I was going to all of these really remote places, miles from civilisation, and every year I’d go more and more remote and the amount of rubbish on beaches would grow.”
After touring with his book Numb he found that by combining surf and adventure with an environmental message he was able to engage and present the realities of how bad marine litter was getting beyond the normal areas we see.
“I’ve been really privileged that my job has taken me to some of the wildest places in the Northern Hemisphere. When I started, twenty odd years ago, these places had some rubbish, but really not much; fishing debris here and there at most.
But in twenty years some beaches have become rubbish dumps, we’re talking incredibly remote beaches, beaches that no one else will see. My reaction has been to set out to show people how beautiful our planet is, how we can all go on adventures and get to know this place we call home. I go to places and find rubbish, plastic that has travelled miles to be there, dead seabirds wrapped in beer can holders, whole dune systems anchored by fishing nets, the vast amount of waste from the oil industry, the list goes on.
The reason why I’m doing this now is to help to inspire people to make a daily change in their lifestyle. We can all do this, for it’s this unseen effect of rubbish in the sea which I want to point out to people of all ages across the world in order to help affect something of a shift before we choke our planet.”
Using a library of over twenty years of photography Tim is able to give people an insight into the impact we are having on remote and otherwise pristine coastlines. Through talks, slideshow and film evenings more and more people are becoming aware of this issue. Events in educational establishments as well as film festivals and associations is having the effect of the whole project snowballing and reaching further into both the surfing and the non surfing world.
The ocean makes for an incredible subject to shoot, but its beauty belies the problems that are found beneath.
What attracts a photographer to the Arctic to surf and shoot are incredible light and mind blowing scenery. Here surfer Micah Lester provides the subject, but beneath the surface even this remote stretch of Norway is covered in rubbish.
We take the ocean for granted, yet we all have a connection to it; spiritually, culturally, for leisure, for work and for food.
“On a personal note, I want my son to be able to go on an adventure to Iceland or Norway in twenty years time like I did when I was younger and find it untouched by human rubbish, because right now it would be a struggle.”
The Plastic Project is part of a growing movement, one that has been pioneered by pressure groups like Surfers Against Sewage right down to local beach cleaning collectives, all involved are vital in promoting a change at government, corporate and personal levels.
You can follow and support the plastic project through www.theplastic-project.com as Tim heads off to more and more remote coastlines.
Heart and home.
Water and waves play an essential role in Morgan Maassen’s life. In 2015 he spent more than 300 days traveling across the globe – and despite his young age, the 26-year-old has already experienced a lot. “I’ve flown over glaciers in Greenland, smoked cigars in Cuba, chased penguins in South Africa and sailed between the British Virgin Islands. But no matter how exotic the location I find myself in, nothing inspires me more than my home: California”, explains Maassen. His heart remains on the rough shores of his home town Santa Barbara. This is where he grew up and where he will always come back to. “The rugged coastlines, massive mountains, and a wild sea – I love it all. California is my lifelong passion, the place of my dreams, a catalyst for all my creativity – here I am truly one with myself.”
Respect for Life.
As a person, Morgan feels strongly connected to nature. He can’t stand to be in a city for too long. “My respect for life comes from being in the great outdoors”, explains Maassen. His passions of photography and filmmaking depend on some of the most advanced technology, but his lifestyle and pursuits are always in the opposite direction. “I’m extremely curious, and nature holds all of the answers I seek.”
In harmony with nature.
Morgan Maassen and his friend Nole Cossart have known each other since forever. Both are cut from the same cloth, and they have bonded over this since the moment they’ve met. Cossart grew up on the Hollister Ranch, which is one of the most beautiful nature reserves in California. “When you live there you become either a cowboy or a surfer, or in Nole’s case, both”, says Maassen. Both require to respect and embrace nature. Even though he is a really good surfer, Cossart decided against a career as a professional surfer when his daughter was born. “Nole’s style in the water is flawlessly smooth; every moment has got a rhythm. On land, it is that of a delicate confidence and respect”, explains Maassen.
Cut off from civilization.
For their film, Maassen and Cossart went on a road trip to explore their home state California. They drove from south to north, followed the Pacific Coast Highway and zig-zagged in and out of the coast frequently. “We drove to the mountains of Santa Ynez, went hiking through the Los Padres Forest and traversed the dunes of Point Reyes. Our route continued to Big Sur, one of the most beautiful coastlines of the world, and we visited the majestic Redwoods in Muir Woods. Amongst these giants you are cut off from civilization.” They were traveling through a crisp winter week, with the Californian sun shining even more golden than it does otherwise. Maassen and Cossart were always looking for waves during their trip. “During these days, a long year of traveling to foreign locations was forgotten as I marveled at my state’s dynamic beauty”, says Maassen.
If you travel a lot, it also brings some hardship with it, but Maassen appreciates every single one of his journeys. Some of them lead to a unique experience, while others test his personal limits. “I’ve been swimming with whales, I slept outside under a sky full of stars and I’ve been riding perfect waves. But I’ve also nearly drowned once in Australia, dodged Stone fish in Reunion island, and been circled by sharks in the Bahamas. I live for these experiences, for I grow and mature with every moment of joy and struggle thrown at me”, explains Maassen. These experiences encourage him to follow his path and keep testing his limits. Maassen: “This lights the fire inside of me to keep going, to keep pursuing not the act of taking a perfect photograph, but the euphoria that comes with earning it.”
The 4WD tent – Rob’s T3 Syncro
„ It must have been around 1991 when I first sat in a VW T3. After my mom died I grew up in an orphanage and there we had two of those white VW T3 transporter vans we used to get around. Back then the orphanage was led by christian nuns so they were driving these things – not really well so it has always been an adventure. I remember really funny stories when we drove down to Italy during the summer holidays for our annual two week beach vacations. It was the highlight of the year. It was all about camping out, eating outside and living under the pine trees at the beach. We never had any issues with the Vans – they brought us back safely, sunburned and happy.
The years went by and when I was 19 my summer vacation took me to the atlantic coast in France to learn how to surf. Again – Camping out under pine trees with many other surf people and their customized adventure mobiles. The camp ground was packed and no more space was available. There I spotted this perfection of a VW van – a much higher T3 with larger tires and the 4×4 Syncro decals on it. And it parked on top of a small sanddune where no other car without all wheel drive could get up.
In 2007 I made the investment and bought a T3 Syncro –the Van or at least a good base to build the Van of my dreams. It used to be an old, empty military transporter van with plastic seats but with little rust and low milage. I paid 5400 Euro – which was a lot for such an old van 8 years ago, but nothing compared to the prices that are asked for very basic Syncro vans today. It seemed like a solid base to start a long conversion process. First I stripped the interior down to the metal and cleaned everything. I applied sound deadening matts everywhere and insulated the full body. The rear got a foldable bed and some storage underneath for the second battery, electronics, sound and the Webasto diesel heater. I made new wooden sides and roof panels and covered them with real alcantara fabric. On Ebay I found some used pilot seats and a good Alpine radio. Later I invested into some larger offroad wheels.
I drove the van like that for 6 years. But the salty winter use and the bad military matte paint job destroyed the body very fast. Massive rust popped up everywhere and as soon as you look deeper whats under the “bubbles” the more you get frustrated when the screwdriver bores itself through the porous metal. The old engine made more and more problems as well so, two years ago, in fall 2013 I had to make a decission wheter to give up on it or invest again to get the Van back on track.
I DIDN’T PLAN TO INVEST A HUGE AMOUNT OF MONEY OR TIME.
But due to my resarch for a good carbody paintshop I ran into Marco Romaldini and his company Romaldini & Biccario in Munich. He is only a couple years older than me, a Mountainbike enthusiast and runs one of the best paintshops in Germany.
His carpark was full with Ferrari, Mc Laren and Aston Martin Supercars when I rolled in with my old rusty Van. I was like – fuck it, that’s the wrong place, turn around and look for something less exclusive. But luckily I didn’t. After a couple minutes with Marco I knew he is the right person I can trust. That was in fall 2013 and the start of a full restoration process. The Van needed some new metal body parts, some professional welding and rust removal.
TO BE HONEST – I HAD NO CLUE WHAT I BEGAN.
If I have known back then how much work it would be, I probably would have never started.I took the half car appart. Removed the windows, the doors, the complete dashboard and so on to have a good axess to all small corners and edges. Marco gave me the opportunity to do all the pre-paint work by myself in a corner of his shop. I thought I would be done with the van in like two weeks. It took more than two months. When I stood in front of the van – everything stripped, the hanging lights which looked like popped out eyeballs I lost faith in the project!
“THROW IT AWAY. STOP HERE AND LET IT BE… IT’S A MASSIVE WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY!”
I often said to myself. There were days I came home from the workshop deeply frustrated because I couldn’t see an end. But Marco and his team kept me somehow motivated even they thought was completely crazy to put that much work into such a rusty fucked up car. I kept going and did what had to be done. There was no way back anyhow…
At the point when I began to sand the body I figured that when I make such an effort I could also give the car a complete new and different paint. I was over the military nato-olive-green and thought the Van would look great in a more modern grey suit. Marco showed me the 200+ grey options I had to choose from… unbelievable. I listened to his expertise and we made a decision to use a metallic dark grey paint with a matte clear coat on top.
When the Van rolled out of the cabin with the fresh paint, applied by the master, all doubts and worries were blown away.The perfection of the new paint – the new fresh look made me feel uncomfortable when I thought that I would run the car with the old engine and live in the old interior. So I had to step up the game completely and made the decision to re-do everything for the second time of the vans life.
The engine has been replaced by a modern 120hp Tdi with many custom parts. All taken to perfection by Alexander Schank – a real master and specialist in for custom built engines and transmissions. It took him a couple months to build a solid engine that changed the character of the Van enormously. A huge benefit is not just the extra power but also the modern and more eco-friendly technology that has been built in.
The car meets all modern standarts – for real – not like in the latest modified VW cheating manner.I’ve spent the spring of 2015 with rebuilding the complete interior and made all door, roof and side panels new. Changed many old cables, and installed LED lights and new instruments to have control over my engine at any time when driving.I invested in some new Recaro seating because there is nothing more important than proper seats when traveling for thousands of miles on and off the road. To be completely self-sufficient when setting up camp far away from camp sites I installed two new batteries, new chargers and a mobile 100watts solar panel to have enough power at any time.
Due to the fact that my little family was growing as well I needed think how to fit us all in the van. We are now 4 when we travel as a family. So far we had space on the large bed in the back but with another kid its getting way too tight.I’ve spent many nights thinking about how I could fit hem all when we camp out without cutting the roof and install a classic Westfalia pop up roof. Well, its not bad at all to have it, but I need for my job a heavy duty roof rack to more than I need a pop up roof all year long. I found a solution and made a HEIMPLANET tent fit onto my roofrack. Its set up within 5 minutes, works excellent and solves my space problem in an aesthetically cool way too.
The last huge remaining work that had to be done was the complete underbody. Mechanically as well as fighting rust and protect the metal good enough for the next decade or two. Again with the help of Romaldini I had a workshop for my use. I took everything apart – which sounds easier then it was. It took me a week to open the 25 year old bolts. Most of them didn’t move at all so it hat to cut and drill them open. I replaced the old shocks with new GMB-Mount height adjustable ones. These are a lot stronger and more firm for a good drive with a heavy loaded van on and off the road. I also replaced all the bushings, joints and bolts. Everything new. I also kicked out the old drum brakes and installed new discs for better braking performance as well. Last but not least the underbody got a 2-way bitumen metallic wax coating to protect the metal for many more years of heavy winter and off-road use to come.
FINALLY I HAVE BUILT THE VAN OF MY DREAMS AND LEARNED EVERYTHING ABOUT THE CAR DURING THIS PROCESS AS WELL. IT’S THE MOST VERSATILE CAR I CAN THINK OF. AM I FINISHED?
I DON’T THINK SO . . . I GUESS YOURE NEVER FINISHED WITH A CAR LIKE THAT.
About Adventure and Risk
We’re living in a world where every day more and more people are seeking for adventures. Why? As human beings, we were nomads for tens of thousands years. We were fighting for food, for not being killed by predators and natural disasters. We were walking for days to reach some clean water. Now we are living in cities, traveling by cars; if we need some food we just have to open the fridge. In a few centuries our society evolved so fast and now the only way to experience emotions similar to the ones we were used to is to practice some kind of adventure activities.
I find that this is great. Just the fact to spend some time in the outdoors, looking at the wonderful of nature, could alone make everyone’s life better. We’re always in rush sometimes without even think about what we are doing, and we often forget to take a break and just look at how beautiful is this world. So I’m really happy that more and more people are doing outdoor activities. But please, don’t call them adventures.
Today, millions of climbers are training on indoor walls and maybe climbing at crags on the week end; some are traveling to South Africa or Australia to go bouldering, kids and adults are going to adventure parks where they climb rope ladders, cross tibetan bridges, jump from a dam attached to a long elastic. They what to test their courage, to experience the thrill, reach the limit. But without any real risk and with any insurance possible. Today is possible to climb Mount Everest without even be able to climb. Of course you need to be fit, but you have fixed ropes, beaten paths, camps ready for you. That’s not adventure, that’s tourism. It’s far more adventurous to go exploring a 2000mt peak without trails and external help.
I’m trying to live my life in the most adventurous way I can. And adventure for me goes hand in hand with the concept of exposure. If you’re climbing on a crag near home your exposure is really low, but if you put that same pitch in the middle of a wall where you’re alone, you’re way more exposed. Exposure means that any accident’s consequence is greater. If you broke your leg on a ski slope you’ll have fast rescue, but if you’re skiing a remote couloir in the middle of the Alps that’s a bigger problem.
This doesn’t mean that I’m taking unnecessary risks, but once I accept one, I am fully responsible of my actions and I accept their consequences. I think this is the highest freedom we can experience.
Cabeibusha – The Curly Gem
Sarah-Quita Offringa is 23 years-old and already 9-times Windsurfing World Champion.
“Cabeibusha – the Curly Gem” is a documentary/video portrait about Sarah-Quita Offringa produced by the German filmmaker Julian Robinet. Together they travelled halfway around the globe. They set out in search of the highest waves in Australia, visited Aruba, the home of Sarah-Quita, explored unknown territories in Iceland and travelled to Europe to document Sarah-Quita’s fight for the world championship title.
The movie shows a warmhearted and strong woman and affords an insight into the life of Sarah-Quita Offringa. She quickly becomes everybody’s darling because of her Caribbean serenity and her sunny nature. However, the movie also shows the windsurfer in quiet moments lost in own thoughts, where being alone can mean pleasure or burden. Moments in which life between competitions, training, travelling, stress and loneliness challenges, but for Sarah-Quita it is the only right way.
“Many people underestimate me, but Julian is one of the few, who probably overestimated me. All the time, especially in Iceland, I got pushed to new limits. I grew up in the Caribbean, with 25°C warm water. I really dislike the cold and it was one of the biggest challenges to get into my wetsuit and jump into the ice cold Icelandic waters! And in
Australia: I travelled for several weeks through Australia with only men, in a country,
which is almost 50.000 times the size of my home Aruba.” (Sarah-Quita Offringa)
Julian Robinet and Sarah-Quita Offringa met 4 years ago during a windsurfing World Cup in Turkey. Back then they decided to work together on a project. Female windsurfers receive much less attention than the men – the last movie with female protagonists was released on VHS. Sarah-Quita is an outstanding, one of a kind windsurfer, but so far nobody accompanied her life with a video camera. Last year, Julian and Sarah-Quita met again during the World Cup on Sylt in Germany and decided to produce a video portrait, instead of a short clip.
The film succeeds in terms of trying to be more than one of the usual fun sport clips:
Spectacular landscape shots complement intimate conversations with Sarah-Quita Offringa, her family and interviews with other world-class athletes like Taty Frans or Kiri Thode. The purpose of this project is to maintain independence and at the same time to cross boundaries and cliches. The film is especially made for viewers, who are not familiar with the classic windsurfing scene.
RAD RACE x AURORA
Tour D'Iceland 2015
RAD TRAVELS is us making our dreams come true: Travel the world. On our bikes.
Because in our strange way of life the ideal of happiness includes a bike and some friends. That’s basically all we need.
We feel very blessed to be able to ride THE most amazing bike adventures. The main idea is to ride something similar to a pro tour: with a fixed track route and daily stops and a crew bus that has everything you need: a mechanic, some new tubes and tires and some food and drinks. Of course we’re staying in Heimplanet tents. Because they give us the maximum flexibilaty while traveling with our bikes and at the same time having the luxury of comfort while being outside and free.
So at least once a year you can feel like a pro rider. For 2015 our plan is to take 2 epic cycling trips as farewell rides for our beloved friend Sebastian who died in an accident in spring. He was not only the head behind a great cycling label called Aurora Collective, but we have also planned Iceland together so this is the first of two rides that we’re having for you man!
Our idea for the 2015: we will cycle iceland from july 23rd to 31st. On 8 Bombtrack crossers. 11 friends. 8 riders. 3 guys behind the cameras. 8 days. At least 500km. Against the wind. With the weather and the nature. We‘ll ride it whatever comes our way. We‘re sleeping in tents wherever it‘s green. With some great partners. To show the world how great exploring Iceland on bikes can be.
Stage 1 – Geysir-Hveraellir
70,3K – 1.088m altitude
So alright, this is this Iceland that everybody is talking about. We’re sitting here in front of our tents as I am writing this and it’s an unreal feeling. Everybody is totally destroyed from yesterday’s ride and it’s fair to say that this was THE most exhausting bike ride we ever did on our lives. We have another 120k on this road and seriously I have no idea if we will manage to finish stage 2… But let’s start at the beginning.
It started so nice. Everybody met in Hamburg at Ali’s place and we packed the Bombtrack bikes and all stuff into our Evoc cases. The ride tot he airport worked well and then it became pretty clear that we all had much more gear than we were allowed to have. 50K instead of 23k and only due to this guy from Air Berlin (we promised him to appear in the end credits of our documentary…) we saved around 500€ for over-luggage.
The flight was great and everybody was just so happy to see everyone. Although we flew through the night it wasn’t getting darker but it was getting brighter. An unreal experience landing at 1am in the morning it it’s just not pitch black. Unfortunately our van and hanger was from medieval times and way to small. So it became pretty clear that we’re fucked unless we’re not getting a bigger car. Well, to cut a long story short: we did but only the next day so we drove 50k from the airport to our campsite with an open hanger. The Evoc cases we’re almost blown away since they were just lying on the open hanger.
Heimplanet tents were blown up quick, we got some rest and slept for a couple of hours. Unfortunately there wasn’t a breakfast for us since we still had to go shopping, pick up our Primus camping equipment and needed to buy some other stuff. After seeing a Geysir fort he first time in our lives and preparing the bikes for seven riders it took us until 6pm (!) until we were finally ready to start the ride. Way to late and it was starting the get cold already.
From the moment we were sitting on our bikes the whole stress was blown away and we were just so happy to start this. Patric was riding with us for the very first time and he didn’t expect us to be highly over-motivated. We rode the first 10k or so with an average speed of around 35k and boy this for sure felt like a race. So great. The „problem“ was that from the moment we touched „road 35“ at KM29 when we entered the highlands we hit a nasty gravel road. Not a regular gravel road but a road full potholes and sand and dirt and full of small hills. After a few k we called it the „washboard“ because it looks and feels like riding over a fucking washboard with millions of tiny hills and ups and downs. This road killed us. And now our average speed was more 12k, it really wasn’t possible to ride any faster than this. You had to be super careful not to crash and if your gear was too small your rear wheel didn’t give you any grip at all.
Now it was already around 10pm in the evening and it was starting to get so cold and it was only a few degrees over zero. Darkness is not a real problem because it’s staying light until 1 or 2 am and only then it’s getting a little dark. But there was still 30k to go. We were all really exhausted – no breakfast, no sleep and no other food except for some Clif Bars – so we decided to split the group and take our team van and the camera crew to the camp site. Ali was supposed to drop these guys off, empty the car and take all remaining riders to the camp.
It was starting to get pretty dangerous since we were all freezing and didn’t have any power left. Ingo was having real problems to ride any further and he almost collapsed. But we couln’t stop. Stopping means freezing and freezing was pretty serious with only 1 degree above zero. So we rode further and further and fruther towards the camp. And we cannot tell you how much we were all cheering and screaming when we saw the lights of the van on the horizon. You literally can see so many miles since there is just nothing. Except for the beautiful landscape and glaciers and the just unbelievable nature. In the end it took the van almost 1.5hrs until Ali got us all in. Then it was still around 20-25k until we hit the camp. We were lucky but disappointed to the same time not to be able to finish the stage. When we hit the camp it was 1am in the morning, still not dark and then the best thing happened. No electricity, no warm water BUT a hot spring with natural warm water around 40 degress. We sat there for almost an hour and warmed us up. Lucky to be here, blessed to have the best friends in the whole world, happy to made it until here.
Iceland said to us: „Welcome guys! This is me showing you suckers who the boss is.“ Thanks for teaching us this lesson. We all felt pretty small on stage 1.
Stage 2 is 120k, almost 100k on the „washboard“. To be honest we are pretty sure we cannot ride the whole stage. But let’s see, let’s try. The sun is shining.
Stage 2 – Hveraellir-Varmahlid
110K – 1.088m altitude
We were soooo scared of this stage. Day 2 on the „35“. This fucking road killed us on day one. The rental car company strictly forbid us to ride on this street and of course we didn’t do it. We promise we would have never done it. Really. Promise. We wouldn’t be that stupid. Stage 1 was a dry day and if it would have rained, any car that is not a 4WD would have been fucked… We were lucky though and had a hell of a bus driver…
So the night was short and cold but great. A fantastic MyMüsli breakfast and some bad coffee later we looked at day 2. 100k of a crazy gravel road that we called the washboard, plus 20K on the ring street ahead of us. To be honest we didn’t think we would make it today. We just knew it would at least take us 6-7 hours on the 35 plus some more on the ring street.
We started the ride with only six riders, some were suffering of some altitude sickness, crazy headaches and nausea. The combination of not enough water, the altitude, no breakfast and heavy cycling just did its magic on some of us. BUT: the sun was shining, the light was beautiful and everybody was psyched to start another day on this beautiful island.
Hitting the 35 was like meeting an old girlfriend. You just don’t wanna see her again. But we got rid of her faster than we expected. After 12K or so the 35 turned into a regular gravel road. Still shitty but it felt like being on another planet. It was just so great to finally ride 25 or more. And from this moment on the road got better and better. Every single meter we rode was better than the last. What we found astonishing that the landscape turned so fast too. We left the highlands and Iceland was suddenly green. As green as you can fucking imagine. We don’t wanna bore you with landscapes. But seeing wild iceland horses and being in this green felt like being in an episode of Game Of Thrones.
We rode faster and faster, had quick breaks to drink and a lotta Clif Bars and some Vitaminwaters and really made or way quickly further north. A quick not to 2 of our sponsors. We celebrated 30 years of Gore Bike Wear and we cannot say how much we appreciate to get some of their amazing apparel. The rain jackets and windbreakers are not only in iceland colours but we have all never worn so awesome bike shit. They sincerely keep you warm when they have to and cool you down when you’re cycling uphill.
Even more the Black Panther Xtreme tyres from Vredestein (that is no joke, they are really called Black Panther) give us so much comfort and protection on the gravel roads. PLUS although the streets are so bad we didn’t have one single flat tyre so far. Unbelievable. Thanks so much!!
After 100k or so we hit the highlight of the day. The emphasis lies on „HIGH“. We had a look on the altitude profile the whole day and it just looked like a fucking wall. So we just thought oh my god how are we ever go up that thing with already 200k in our legs. Especially Max is riding a Bombtrack Arise, a single speed that we turned into a shifter with four gears. In reality he’s just using 2. One for riding up and one for going down. It really takes some legs to manage the climbs here on Iceland. To cut a long story short. We all made it. The wall was just awesome and even better: the downhill ride was so much fun.
We entered our campsite alive and well. Everybody enjoyed Lars amazing pasta and at 1am we all hit our Heimplanet tents.
Today we’re expecting 100k on the ring street. The weather looks cloudy but dry. Thanks for being with us.
Stage 3 – Varmahlid-Akureyri
102,7K – 857m altitude
You just lose your feeling for time. When it’s getting late you don’t know if it’s 5pm or 11pm. It’s just not getting dark. As a stupid german you are used to getting tired when the sun goes down. Here this is all different…
Day 3 and there’s around 100k and around 800m of altitude ahead of us. On a concrete road. First time no gravels.
When we look back after stage 3 of 6 you can already tell that Iceland was teaching us a lot of lessons. On day 1 Iceland said „fuck you boys – what the hell are you idiots doin’ here?“ Day 2 Iceland kinda said „Congrats for holding on. Let me give you the best I have.“ On day 3 Iceland was like „Oh hey, I forgot that I have something for you. Here’s some wind suckers.“
And this is what it was all like on stage 3 of this epic trip. Again we saw stunning landscapes, mountains covered with ice, wild horses, lonely streets and so much green. We still were so lucky: no rain and so much sun. BUT: the wind was kicking in and it took us a lot of teamwork to manage this stage…
When we started this stage it all felt easy. We found a gas station to reload our cameras and had the first real coffee of this trip. The wind in our backs made us feel like flying down the road. We hardly encountered cars and whenever they saw us they were all friendly and cool. The first climb of the day was a pretty long one but not too crazy and steep. And when we checked our Garmins we knew we already had around 50K behind us, the team bus was already waiting and Ali seriously brewed some coffee. Unreal to enjoy a coffee with your best friends in the setting of „The Lord of the Rings“. After an extensive lunch break we thought that the rest of the stage would be easy since there weren’t any climbs waiting for us…
This was exactly the moment when Iceland reminded us who the Babo is. Iceland blew some pretty heavy winds in our faces. We formed a team line that we maintained until the stage was over and we hit Akureyri. Still the tension was rising just a bit on this day. The crew is still one piece and all but this stage showed us that we gotta stick together. Watch out for the rider behind you. Watch out when someone is left behind. Just work together. Share your strength and hide your weakness behind someone who’s stronger than you. Big shoutouts to Urban and Max who are pretty much riding this tour with one single gear.
First time we stopped riding before 10pm and we just enjoyed being together. Still no rain and no crashes or any of that shit. Iceland, you’re very good to us and we cannot tell you how much we appreciate this.
Stage 4 – Akurey-Myvatn
103,2K, 1.301m of altitude
Everything about today was just pure fun. 7 riders started and we left our campsite on top of a little mountain only to stop for a quick coffee in the tiny but beautiful “city” of Akurey after we only rode 10k or so. Perfect start!!
When we left Akurey we almost immediately hit a hill that was 300m of altitude. Some loved it, some hated it. Especially for our bus driver, cook and good soul Ali who is more or less a beginner on the saddle it was a tough rollercoaster uphill ride. But he made it and was superhappy and proud. We were too. Well done mate! And very special thanks from the whole group for taking such good care of us when we’re rollin’ and need a drink or some Clif Bars.
The downhill ride was pure magic and you really had to be so careful not to fall down a clif since the scenery is just too beautiful. Compared to our roadbikes the Bombtrack crossers are not so fast but way more comfy and perfect for the gravel roads on Iceland. If we ever make it back to Iceland we’ll ask Bombtrack for the exact same bikes again…
The lunchbreak was right next to some unbelievable waterfalls with some amazing single trails to check out our bikes even more and take some pics and footage for our upcoming documentary about this trip. We all felt like sleeping rather than taking the second bigger climb of the day. On top of that Iceland was showing us one element that we haven’t seen before: rain. Not too bad though so we didn’t have any bigger problem to finish the 100k and 1.350 meters of altitude.
The campsite in Myvatn was lying next to a huge lake and while we’re typing this it’s still not getting dark. It’s 1am in the middle of the night and Iceland still shines. We heard so much about this island and it really is better on all levels. The landscapes are changing so fast and behind every single corner you experience something you haven’t seen before.
After Oslo and Mallorca chapter 3 of RAD TRAVELS lead us to Iceland and we cannot be happier to be here. Whenever you can grab a bike, your best friends and travel the world on your bike. It gives you the best possible speed to explore new places. It’s painful sometimes and there’s no referee to stop the game but seriously. It’s what we love and the only thing that fucks us up is that there are only 2 stages left.
Stage 5 – Myvatn – Moorudal
89k – 500m altitude
While I am typin’ this we are all lying in our Heimplanet tents. It’s 1am in the morning and of course it’s still not getting dark. Well it’s not bright daylight. It’s something in between. Something unreal. We must be in a Game Of Thrones or Lord Of the Rings episode. You cannot imagine how beautiful it is here. We’re camping in the greenest grass and are listening to a small river that is right next to our 4 tents. We look at an orange moon and the sun is hiding on the other side behind a mountain. There’s vulcano craters and a huge mountain covered with ice on the horizon. Oh well, and then we went cycling today…
Leaving our campsite in xxx this morning wasn’t too tough after a great Mymüsli breakfast since we were looking at a huge vulcano crater which we wanted to cycle so bad. So we went 10k in the opposite direction to our original track route and ended up riding on the edge of this thing. It took us a while to get up and down and we lost a lot of power but whatever, you don’t get that chance quite often. The biggest problem though was that our short cut from there to our track wasn’t such a good idea. We ended up on a sand piste that took us forerever to cross.
Right after we burned so many more power on that crazy track there was a pretty decent climb waiting for us. But again Iceland was too good to us because then we really saw something we all haven’t seen before. A huge field where Schwefel was just blowing out of countless holes straight from the middle of the earth. Some people might read this and think we’re just stupid white trash kids from the city. Well, we are. We don’t see epic shit like that in Hamburg or Frankfurt.
We took the chance and took a lot of photos and film snippets for our tour documentary (we hope to have this ready in a couple of weeks after we’re back home) and then finally hit the road since there was still 80k to ride on this stage.
Some of us are lucky enough to have seen places in Australia, New Zealand or Hawaii and we can only tell you: you really don’t have to travel that far and fly all around the globe. Just jump in the plane – take your bike – and 3 hours later you gonna experience some stunning nature. It’s just unbelievable how fast the scenery changes from red to green to black to whatever colour you can imagine. The best thing about today’s stage though was one more time: the weather. The sun was shining the whole day and although the wind was blowing in our faces pretty bad we rode with some awesome team work to finish this stage.
For some of us today surely was one of the best rides we ever took on our bikes. The last 20k surely add to this feeling. We switched to race mode – the camera guys Lars, Benny and Eti – were shooting from out of the open van while we were riding between 45 and 60km/h. We formed smaller and bigger groups, we were screaming and just riding the hell out of Iceland and it’s abandoned streets.
For the last few kilometeres we had THE perfect wind in our backs and we all arrived in our unreal campsite while the sun was still shining.
Now back to the start of this report… Remember? There’s ice on our Bombtrack bikes and on our Evoc bags. It’s slightly above zero and we can see a lot of ice around us. After a few days you kinda forgot that it is actually summertime. Why the hell are we freezing again in the end of July? Oh yeah, we’re riding Iceland and we cannot be more grateful for how awesome this island is.
Stage 6 – Moorudal-Egilstadir
95,2k – 886m altitude
Our last stage started with a freezing night with some ice on our tents. Benny and Eti were suffering seriously within the last few nights since it got colder and colder and for some reason they only brought a summer sleeping bag. Well, if we can recommend one thing than that: bring some warm stuff. They had to learn that the very hard way. Rarely before we got to know another place that was named exactly how it feels like to be there: like ice. Even in the deepest summertime we were freezing on our bikes. In the nights and in the cold evenings.
The moment we stepped out of our Heimplanet tents the sun was shining out of the bluest sky and it warmed us and although we were all tyred after almost 500k in our legs we were all thrilled to ride the last stage.
So one last time we sat in the greenest grass, had a great coffee and some icelandish donouts from the campsite owner and prepared for the last 95k. Unfortunately again the track lead us immediately into a pretty heavy climb and even better: into a crazy gravel road that made it even harder to ride up that hill. When we came to Iceland we expected a lot of meters of altitude but to be honest it was harder than we thought it would be. The climbs are most of the time not steeper than 10% but they are so long and the wind does the rest to kill you while fighting your way up.
Later on the track lead us again to some stunning icelandish sight seeing with neverending waterfalls and abandoned streets and so much cool stuff to see. It was all great and only the wind was our toughest enemy on this stage. It was blowing so bad in our faces for the first 70k or so that two of us decided to quit and went into the crew bus. So it was only five of us finishing the last stage what was kind of sad since especially the last 15k of this track had all the downhill rides and the wind in our backs returned to kiss us good bye.
Ali – the good soul in our crew – who made us pasta almost every single night – ain’t the hardcore rider but some teamwork and a lotta heart from himself brought him through the 95k. He was super proud to have made it and we’re too. Well done mate!
The end of the Tour D’Iceland was not too spectacular, the track ended in the small city of Egilstadir in a parking lot in front of a campsite. I think we were all still in the mode of just riding again the next day. But unfortunately we won’t. I think I can speak for the majority of the group when I say: we’d love to cycle further and completely all around Iceland on its famous route 1.
But that was it. We made it and we’re so happy to have experienced Iceland.
564k in total in 6 stages with 5.825m of altitude. 8 riders, 3 friends behind some lenses.
Thank you to Heimplanet for being our home for 8 days.
Today there’s only our way back to Reykjavik to make and then we’ll fly back to wherever we came from. Thanks so much for following our tour diary. We’ll be back in October for the Tour D’Espana. Just in case you’re interested in riding with us hit us up and write us an Email. We’re collecting all Emails and will get back to you in 2016 with some more RAD TRAVELS…
This was the first of 2 farewell rides for Sebastian Gondek. We miss you man.
The kids all ride.
You will remember – Iceland
Death is the reminding wake of cold. Ice and bitter ocean grinding and flowing. Many associated darkness with morbid thoughts and depressing lives. The harsh rain and terrain display a sort of despairing drama. Wool socks, torrential downpour jackets, lined pants and sheepskin hats soften the blows but this country’s nature is violent. History is violent, only what we strive for is less so. Forgotten and to a lesser extent forgiven.
Black magnetic sand grips my clothing, abrasing my face, tearing my hope and excitement. The island’s sharp wind serrates my eyelids, burning with every blink, concealing its beauty. Beauty so ferocious and raw, desirable by the old and the young. Backdrops that drop jaws, and leave people mute. A surrounding that silences souls and serenades with sweet songs from Scandinavian goddesses.
The visuals are mind-blowing, awe-inspiring and death-defying. Jagged cliffs, ancient glaciers and sub-zero salt water all colliding together. Blues, white, black, and graphite. The only grey comes from the storms that thrash this jurassic wonderland. Spirits rise and fall alongside the tides and the moon in the everlasting darkness. Shadow cast over the craters and snow capped mountains. Feather footsteps in the fine sand and are blown untraceable. Eyes struggle to adjust to a glow. Emerald streaks amongst 300 billion lights. Slowly swaying and soothing the mind into an irrepressible excitement. Hearts increase and only the present matters. Desperation is retracted and pleasure is furled. Things will change but memories will remain.
From the people to the landscape, infinite enlightenment surrounds this other worldly place.
As much as this island tries to deter and demote its beauty, the obvious becomes too apparent and strengthens your ability to negate all deterrents.
Such warmth can be found in this land. You will see, you will remember.
SUP Worldtour – SUP around the World
The nicest thing about travelling with a Stand Up Paddle board is that because of the very fact that you actually move around with such a simple mean of transportation, you suddenly become able to truly connect with the locals everywhere in the world. Arriving somewhere by water, on a simple board, immediately makes all the cultural barriers fall down. Everybody is more willing to cheer at you, their kids want to try, the fishermen get interested and start asking details about the board, suddenly it’s as you’re part of the community’s life. This is a recurrent pattern I’ve seen around the world and it’s actually what keeps me hooked on seeing the world through SUP.
This is a short story about what it meant to me to see the world in little more than three weeks and travel with my inflatable tent and my inflatable SUP board through some of the most incredible stand up paddle locations on Earth. In fact, it is all about going to the corners of the world to meet people connected by water, as we as stand up paddlers inherently are. In all we took 19 flights and visit 5 continents until I returned home full of memories and life experiences.
Grass skirts, Stone money, and western influences
After one night in Japan, I am on my way to Yap, a tiny little island in the North Pacific belonging to Micronesia.
Yap has a lush green interior full with palm and betel nut trees. The coast is mostly covered with mangroves and around the whole island is a protecting reef where you can find manta rays up to 20 feet wide. One big oasis, with only 10,000 inhabitants and no industries at all.
So here I am looking outside my tent by the shore, waiting for the tide to come in and allow us to go exploring the island with our SUP boards.
Most of the islanders live right on the beach like us and fish and gather from the forest directly behind their houses. It is a really relaxed lifestyle that it is not difficult to embrace.
But nowadays the traditional wooden outriggers lay between the palm trees as leftovers of what was once a truly water culture. Back in the days, the only way to get off the island was by outrigger. During these trips they had to rely on the stars to follow the course. You need exceptional navigation skills to ensure you don’t miss the next tiny island!
Although mainly lost, this tradition of seafaring still lives throughout the island constituting an historic reference and an example of braveness for us who paddle and navigate for recreational purposes and not for survival. In a way we feel immediately connected with these people, bound by the sea and by the nature. And we understood the reason why we came here to get in touch with them. It is a journey to get back to the roots of what we love, to the culture that built a whole maritime empire based on their sailing techniques, navigation skills, and lots of paddling!
By now we are already occupied fantasizing about our next destination, Nepal. From sea to summit to understand how the dynamics of the biggest river basin in the world affects the life of the people who live by those rivers.
Himalaya, earthquakes and white water
Whenever I travel, what still amazes me every time are the contrasts. Like this time, going from Micronesia to Nepal: the contrasts couldn’t have been sharper. As soon as I arrive in Kathmandu, I feel catapulted in a buzzing world of honking cars and motorbikes chaotically driving through the dusty and dirty streets. It is shocking but I enjoy it. And also, I feel right at home. This is expedition country. The land of white water rivers, world’s highest peaks and long trails.
With all the snow melting from the Himalayas, there are quite a few rivers to explore on a SUP board. However, only a few of the rivers are calm enough to paddle down with our gear (I even have my cameras and my laptop with me!). Anyhow, after a little research we find a valley which seems to be interesting to explore and a river that it is supposed to be doable on SUP.
This is when disaster strikes. The ground suddenly begins to shake. People start screaming and when we look up we see the buildings moving violently, just about to collapse. We run to the other side of the street, away from anything that might fall down on us. Again a big shake, a second wave, this time I am sure that the hotel I am looking at will collapse, but miraculously none of the buildings fall down. Suddenly it’s quiet again. We just withstood one of the strongest earthquakes in Nepal’s recent history, luckily nobody got injured around us.But from that moment our trip to Nepal took a different twist.
In the following night we are greeted with many after shocks. Every 20 minutes we have a small shake. Fortunately, we are camping in the wild, where it is safer than sleeping inside a building. Where we are, far away from the rest of the world, everybody is sleeping in tents outside their houses. The fear of another earthquake brings the village closer and for us makes contact easier. One family after the other invites us for tea, for food and for many stories. They are as interested in us as we are in them. Immediately we are labeled as those ones staying in the tent in the middle of nowhere; suddenly we are all equal.
In our descent down the river, we pass by beautiful villages and small farms. The river is an important source of water and life. It is the highway connecting all these towns throughout the valley. From the water we have such a privileged point of view over one of the most unspoiled valleys in Nepal.
When we return to Kathmandu however we see the devastation of the earthquake at its peak: collapsed buildings crumbled to the ground and many homeless camping on the streets. A sad scene for sure, but also here is where we realize difficulty brings people together, helping each other. Even in this situation, Nepalese prove to be such a resilient people.
We leave a country in a difficult situation but the positive attitude of the majority of citizens is remarkable. Although this has gotten them down on their knees they’re already getting up and rebuilding what they have just lost. In our minds we will keep the vivid image of a beautiful country with beautiful people and the nights we spent sharing stories about life in a tent while waiting for the next aftershock.
Roof of the Pacific: The Eastern Sierras
I’ve always found driving to be a cathartic experience. As a filmmaker, I often find myself living in my own head, trying to tidy up a story arc as I eat breakfast, discovering character motivations while I’m in the shower, or dreaming up scenarios in the deep of night. But I’ve found that it’s long drives that help me most; the ones where the physical journey matches in scope and size to the people and places in my mind.
Heading up Highway 395 from Los Angeles towards the Eastern Sierras on a Friday afternoon is such a drive. Sometimes I imagine what the LA basin looks like from a plane as I drive through it…a giant, meandering techno-tumor made up of right-angled buildings, the cars stuck in traffic akin to individual blood cells clotted around the central thoroughfares. Benign or malignant, I’ll let you be the judge of that… But for now, I’m escaping to ‘greener pastures’.
Slowly grinding my way out of the densely populated landscape of the LA Basin, Jane and I are rewarded by rolling hills of golden grass. Our car radio can only latch onto a station or two of static-laden country music now. No more frenzied pledge drives flanking the occasional news segment, or pop music that never seems to match my mood. We’re awakened to a driving experience far more rare… silence. No more noise; only a sense of profound freedom.
The cool air of the Pacific is quickly forgotten; a memory ushered away by gusts of warm wind pushed in from the sun-baked Central California Valley. Lone yucca trees dotting the Mojave whizz by. The child in me wonders how lonely it is to exist, as they do…standing in wordless vigil on the side of the freeway, watching sunset after sunset to no end. Ghost towns, shacks, abandoned gas stations and railroad tracks–all physical markers of dreams and hopes, communities, and families gained and lost, become gatekeepers to a West that is, at the moment of experience, still wild.
Then, at once, out of the golden plains rises an ominous range of jagged, towering blue peaks, shrouded in cloud and mist: The Eastern Sierras. It’s raining in the valley, and the peaks are under heavy cloud cover, which can only mean one thing; if we climb high enough, we just might be awarded with a rare snowfall. In this drought-stricken state, that means something. As we drive up to the trailhead, night falls. The stars shine bright, like city lights…or is it the other way around? Our friends Corey and Hong are already at the campsite, I hope, awaiting us with a warm fire and hot food. God knows we’ll need it; the next few days, there will only the mountain in front of, behind, and around us.
We were right. Several hours on the trail the next morning, we were greeted with our first snowfall. Coming from the single-season climate of LA, it’s always a welcome change to be caught in snowfall–that is until that snow turns into oversized beads of ice hailing down on you.
The Sierras are notorious for frequent and extreme weather changes.
As we set up camp, we watched as dark stormclouds formed over Cirque Peak. Forced to hunker down early for the evening, we awoke to the sun shining down on a layer of fresh powder.
The pathway to the pass. A group of hikers who had just descended from the other side informed us it was hailing pretty fiercely at the top. See if you can spot the hikers…they’re the tiny black dots at the base of the snow-covered spine of Mount Langley.
Hong, Corey’s climbing buddy, battled hypoglycemia and altitude sickness the entire time. Altitude sickness can take many forms…for Hong, it was nausea-inducing vertigo.
But we all pushed on. The solution: plenty of water, Clif Bars and the promise of a pizza in Lone Pine.
It was late in the afternoon–we were running out of daylight fast, and the fog was closing in as we searched for the snow-covered trail. With the rock cairns enveloped by fog, we could only keep going the only sure direction…up.
Having finally found our way to the top, we looked down towards the basin and were rewarded with a panoramic view. For a little perspective, look for the two hikers and the red tent to the right of the lake in the lower right of the image.
From the top, we could see that the snow had completely encrusted the switchbacks leading down the 1500 foot cliffside. The only way down: Get on your rear, slide, and enjoy the ride.
After a grueling day, there’s no better feeling than putting down your home for the night. No monthly payments, no deciding between countertops, no upkeep; just your intuition, and the place you spend your most vulnerable hours. We chose the edge of Long Lake, and were greeted in the morning to a reflection of the granite walls we scrambled down the night before.
Packed up and ready to go on another adventure. But first things first… Pizza.
I was waiting for this call for weeks, almost months, and then finally my phone rings. Oliver, one of my best friends, with whom I’ve spent a lot of time within the past few years, told me that we finally can make our plans to explore the Western USA a reality.
Arian, a friend of ours, who was living with Oliver for the last 6 months in Germany, invited us for a road trip.
So after we flew to San Francisco, we picked up our rental car, loaded it with all our gear, tent and a whole lot of food and beer, then we headed towards Yosemite National Park. We drove in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the historic Highway 49, a scenic ride through the old mining towns of the California Gold Rush. When we arrived, the weather wasn’t ideal, but the amazing landscape helped us enjoy this first stop in spite of the strong winds and rain. We found a small campsite near Yosemite Falls at Camp 4, long known as the base camp for the top rock climbers in the world as the challenge themselves on the giant granite rock faces of the Yosemite Valley.
I can’t really remember the last time I was camping, so I was a bit scared of sleeping in a tent on the ground. I mean…I’m getting older and I really prefer some “luxuries”, but after our first night, I was surprised how cozy camping can be.
Stop relaxing, get active! Next stop – Moab, the off-road mecca on the Colorado River. Dirt bikes, jeeps, all kinds of deranged off-road vehicles and hundreds of mountain bikes covered in the red dust of the rocks dotted the town and its surroundings. Two of Arian’s friends joined us in Moab and we had two really active days on our bikes mixed with some scrambling off-road his friend’s off-road truck. After every trail uphill, we were rewarded with amazing views, and best-of-all, thrilling rides back down, all making it worth every drop of sweat to get up. The beautiful landscape of our thrilling adventures around Moab made it all seem almost unreal.
Baltic Long Road
Long way home
It all started with my old GDR “Schwalbe” moped from 1984 made in eastern Germany, which I own for over 10 years and decided to restore the motor and basically everything underneath the hood.
A perfectly smooth running moped and after being stored in the garage for almost 2 years, I decided to make a bigger tour with my old friend. So I started planning and came up with the idea to go around the Baltic Sea, a new territory for my bike and me.
I finally got the opportunity to take some time off and get everything ready. 5000km with 3.6 horsepower around the Baltic Sea. Alone.
I started in Magdeburg, Germany, my hometown and headed straight north. The first couple of kilometers were horrible. I listened to the engine and thought that every minute something is breaking and I’m only making a few kilometers. But everything went fine. 250km and 8 hours later I arrived at my first stop in Kakeldütt (which is a hilarious name in German). Pitched the tent within 2 minutes, sat down by the lake, opened a beer and enjoyed the night.
The next big step: Taking the ferry from Rostock to Trelleborg, Sweden. There I have made friends with some Harley Riders, who accepted me instantly after seeing my vintage moped. Sweden was the second of seven countries on my route. Especially for Scandinavia I brought a foldable fishing rod and on the second evening, when I caught a nice pike, it already paid off.
I kept driving on my little moped and passed through a lot of interesting places. Mostly because I wasn’t allowed to use the highway, so I had to zigzag my way north. Usually I stayed on campgrounds to meet people and enjoy the summer nights outdoors. The people I met during my trip are amazing. They took me fishing, invited me to their homes and shared delicious food with me.
Sweden impressed me thoroughly, not only the landscape but also the people. Actually, I arrived in Stockholm after the first 1000km and I couldn’t believe it. My old moped and me in Stockholm! Fantastic!
After almost a week of riding I slept the first night under a real roof again. I stayed at a friends house. He and his girlfriend showed me around and took good care of me.
When I left Stockholm, Sweden really showed its length. I rode for days through forests and on dirt roads, not seeing a person for hours and just waiting for something to happen.
When the sun began to shine the whole day, bad weather came in temperatures dropped and I was freezing on my moped. After checking the forecast for the north of Sweden I decided to take a shortcut of 5 days and take the ferry from Umeå to Vaasa, Finland.
I arrived there about 30 minutes to midnight. The sun was still shining and created a beautiful 4 hour sunset-atmosphere. It was just incredible and I stayed up watching the water and taking it all in. It was one of these moments that made a really deep impression on me.
The next day it started to rain and strong winds made my slow moped even slower. Going just 35 km/h I thought I have time to understand these complicated city names but there was no way I could even pronounce a name like „Kristiinankaupunki“.
In hope of warm weather I headed straight to Helsinki. In between I stayed at a nice empty campground until a big gang of bikers showed up. I was not sure what was going to happen but after seeing the tent, my moped and me, they started laughing and couldn’t believe that I came all the way from Germany. At the evening I ended up with 50 Finish bikers drinking overpriced beer and singing karaoke poorly.
From Helsinki I took the ferry to Tallinn, Estland. I did not have a visa for Russia, which meant several detours. The warm summer was back and the ride through Estland was very smooth. I enjoyed the nice eastern European charm and stayed on a campground, where nobody except the owner was.
The next day I already headed to Riga in Latvia. It started to rain really really hard and I rode for hours next to the baltic sea suffering … After being soaking wet I need some regeneration and therefore I got a room in Riga. It was weird to stay inside at night. I really liked being outdoors and having open space around me.
On my way to Poland I drove through Lithuania and stopped at the “Hill of Crosses”. As the name says, it was literally a small hill full of wooden crosses and sepulchers. That day rain showers made a dramatic skyline and because of that I made a lot of stops.
After Estonia I basically rode exactly on the border between Lithuania and the enclave Kaliningrad, Russia. I was very nervous not to cross into Russia because they are not joking about their borders. I passed a couple of military trucks and at one point I thought I made the wrong turn – luckily I didn’t.
In Poland I took a 2-day break in Masuria. My butt really hurt and I just couldn’t sit down anymore. I fished a little bit and enjoyed the stay. I couldn’t believe that my old moped didn’t had any trouble, even riding all these dirt roads wasn’t a problem. And those were exceptionally bad the last couple of days. That probably explains my hurting back.
One of the last days in Poland was a national holiday and the moment I arrived at the campground I was offered strong alcohol. It was a fun night with a big bonfire. The next morning I left early to avoid partying all day and staying another night there. Fun but intense people.
When I crossed the border into Germany I just could not believe it. My expectations of this trip were way different from what I experienced and in the end, reality was everything I could have wished for.”
Don’t follow this Bike
New Zealand – 1 Spanish Man – 1 Bike – 16.000 kms – 10 months
Don’t follow this Bike.
Chapter 1: Start
One video and a blogspost every single week, plus one picture per day on his instagram account. That is how Atila is publishing his trip around New Zealand.
Reaching the starting point in Dunedin was crazy. One night at the airport in London, several delayed flights, 32 hours of flight, a lost passport and all of the equipment delayed. But don’t worry, I was immersed in the adventure. First destination: The National Park „The Catlins“. In this area of the island climat and landscape are quite extreme. There are many mountains and the weather changes a lot, so with the bike and some extra kilogramms it isn’t easy.
In search of good waves, I was pedaling for several days and finally got to Curio Bay. The place was amazing. The bay is ideal for dolphins, so I went surfing with them and with Julian, a charming German. Then I met a guy with a crazy face, who asked me if I wanted to go surfing at a „secret spot“ that almost nobody knows. The guy drew a map and I followed his directions and looked for a farm with sheeps and the number 119. The secret spot was mindblowing, below the cliff broke an amazing wave.
Chapter 2: Invercargill > Te Anau
The nature has changed a lot. Fiordland is beautiful, with peaks up to 2.000m, but the weather is horrible. It rains almost every day, great for cycling…
I met Marc and Jo. Accounting to Marc to go finding the perfect wave is almost equal or even more exciting than surfing itself. And it’s actually true. When I go on my bike looking for waves, I feel incredible thrilled to think that I will find a special place and that is the adventure.
Chapter 3: Nowhere > Queensland
From Te Anau to Wanaka was the most beautiful route I’ve done so far. Now there are high mountains on all sides and endless slopes. The lakes are on the way. Mavora lake was a real surprise in the middle of a lengthy stage, I slept there and started touring the next day across the valley to Walter Peak. To cross the lake by steamboat and reach Queenstown has been an amazing experience. If it only were always so wild, but unfortunately in New Zealand it is banned to wild camp in the most places. Thankfully, rules are to be broken.
Chapter 4: Wanaka > Hokitika
Wanaka, a place surrounded by an incredible unknown nature.
I knew that the „wild“ west coast was going to be tough but I didn’t expect such torture. Crossing the mountain rage and reaching the sea I had the feeling of being in the last inhabited place on earth. Behind me: glaciers, giant waterfalls and very dark clouds. Before me: straight endless beaches, boulders, logs and giant trees. A dark stormy sea, the contrary to what you have in mind when you are going to catch some waves.
Chapter 5: Greymouth
I just integrated myself into a village life and people call me by my name when I step on my bike. Tessa, Tony and I met through Jo. They welcomed me like I knew them for a lifetime and they treated me like a son. I think that is part of the culture here. I don’t know why, maybe because they are Maori, but in any case people in NZ are very hospitable.
When you are in the water on the other side of the world, catching big waves and people around you are dying to share a wave with you instead of stealing it (because they are locals) made me realize that the pace of life here, is what we desperately lack in Europe. Everything is simple. You can leave your keys and open windows, while you are surfing. The houses have open doors and you can go barefoot to the supermarket.
Chapter 6: Punakaiki > Karamea
The route from Greymouth to Karamea was full of perfect waves. The only thing you needed is a pair of guts to get in the water. Long beaches, strange rock formations, rivers and especially a very few people.
Jude, a contact a friend gave me a while ago, invited me to stay at her house. This home would be the dream of many people in Europe. I felt very fortunate to spend a few days with her and her daughter. Go biking, spending time by looking at the waves and enjoying this hideaway.
Chapter 7: Westport > Takaka
The idea was to reach the norhern tip of the south island; the „Farewell Split“, which is pretty close from Westport and Karamea. But there is a national park that must be crossed and it isn’t allowed to cross it by bike, so I needed to take an internal route (300kms more). The roadmap seemed impossible, it was an endless succession of curves.
The days with Marco and his mother were very funny, we ate, traveled together, saw amazing beaches and surfed alone in very cold and clear warer.
I really don’t know how my trip would go without surfing. Sure, if you surf it is hard to imagine a trip without surfing. But I mean, I don’t know if all these things would have happen, if I were not accompanied by my surfboard.
Chapter 8: Motueka & Marahau
I wasn’t able to cross the Abel Tasman by bike, because it isn’t allowed to. So I needed to take an internal route again, which means climbing the steepest mountain in New Zealand, Takaka Hill. The 800m high mountain separates the Golden Bay from the Tasman Bay, it took me 2 hours to enter the hill. I know snail style, but with all the weight I needed to go slowly and imagine all the tourists in their vans seeing a guy climbing the steepest mountain in NZ with a surfboard and a face red like tomato.
Marahau, a place with the most beautiful nature I’ve seen so far. I couldn’t believe it, behind me: The sea in the distance and the beginning of the park, some cows in the middle, black horses and birds of all kinds. Beside me: a loud sound of pure water and a few ducks. In the morning I visited the beaches of Abel Tasman. I was there, just me, radiant sunshine, clear water, an infinite horizon and behind the forest the brutal sea. I couldn’t share it with anyone.
Chapter 9: Marahau > Wellington
I did some illusion reaching Picton in extreme conditions: ain, thunder and wind gusts of 45km/h. I heard the sound of a big ship. It already arrived. The 1pm ferry. I really don’t know how, but magically I arrived on time.
There was I, a newcomer to the North Island, the capital city in front of me. Perhaps I’m signed by my childhood memories and the cover tape „Ibiza Mix 95“, but it seemed to me that the act of taking a ferry to get from one island to another one means changing to a different world.
Chapter 10: Wellington
I’m in Wellington, the „coolest smallest capital city in the world“ like the locals say here.
Ashleigh and her housemates welcomed me warmly and took me all the cool places. I went to bath and jumped from Patacha, I skated at the skate park, I went to Mount Victoria, I surfed in Lyall Bay and Houghton Bay, I left a party, went to the circus, cooked with Chileans, saw and interviewed a regatta, I sang and played guitar with people on the street.
I really low how the kiwis are the most kind and friendly guys in the world.
Chapter 11: Wellington > Whanganui
According to the map the west/ southwest coast of Wellington seemed beautiful. I missed being in a quieter place, sleeping in my tent, being near the water. The route was beautiful, for the first time I felt the autumn light. The weather had changed. It was a sunny with a very cold wind. Passing small crystal clear rivers, green meadows, where cows, ducks and goats spend their days. There as no one, anywhere.
I got to Makara Beach, a beautiful beach surrounded by rocks and high mountains. Autumn light, clear water, calm sea and I still haven’t seen anyone.
Chapter 12: Whanganui > Opunake
I was watching the sea like an angry child, because there were no waves. Beside me a man was sitting in his car, also looking at the sea. When the day is cloudy and you find someone looking at the sea, he is probably a surfer, a fisherman, a diver or someone who gets often to the water.
In Hawera I lived like a king, that’s why I wanted to stay as long as possible. Dean, his family and me spent the days together and they made the time really special. The icing on the cake was when Phil asked me if I would like flying. We flew about all famous waves in the reagion of Opunake. He even let me fly the plane. You can imagine how eager I wanted to do flips or any maneuver, but Phil told me „to keep it smooth“.
Opunake, the paradise of the waves. Winter has arrived. They go in short sleeves, but I’m wearing long pants with tight, a cotton shirt and a jacket.
Chapter 13: Opunake > Oakura
I can do what I wanted and deserved the most: surfing! It is very different from what I’m used to. In Europe, there are different spots where many people are in the water. Here you have to ask the farmer for permission to enter, then greet the cows, jump the fence and walk for half an hour to get into the water.
I didn’t imagine that the spots were so isolated, but that is what makes them even more special and exotic. Perfect waves and they are still untouched.
Chapter 14: Oakura > New Plymouth
Where I come from it doesn’t rain, so I’m not used to rain and I don’t like rain. Especially not, if it rains for a whole week without stopping for a second. I remembered that someone told me to go to a beautiful place where the people will welcome me greatly. A huge wooden house beside a river, surrounded by a forest. The owner built this house in search of good waves and they rent some room for a living. It was a fun house. There was a sauna, a river with a road full of surprises, boards everywhere (skate, surf, SUP), music instruments, kayaks, dogs and a dead rat on the roof.
At night I arrived in New Plymouth, well around 6pm, but it was already dark and cold. Toby, a german doctor I met earlier on my trip, took me to his friend’s house and a couple days later the people were already saying that I’m the spanish version of Toby. He is the kind of a guy you would like to be; always kind and nice to everyone, always willing to listen, a friend to everybody and a really good guy.
Chapter 15: New Plymouth > Raglan
I really want some new legs, because mine are already overstretched. I got the bright idea of going through the countryside instead of taking the main road. Well, I think it was the worst idea I had on the whole trip. The truth is the routes have been incredible beautiful. I went through very authentic villages far from all, people welcomed me with kindness from another world. But it was pretty hard to carry the surfboard by the dirt roads and those slopes were the hell. It was super cold, but the cold didn’t bother me, it is the rain that is worse than ever.
I don’t know why, but I started thinking about seeing me from the outside: sweating like a pig, a head red like a tomato, a bike with a surfboard and a spanish man on the other side of the world fucked on a very steep slope. I started laughing so hard that I needed to stop driving.
Soul searching in Cabo Verde
Silvering, almost transparent wafts of mist float up the valley.
Like massive waves which get hammered onto steep rocks. They get pushed by thermic winds up and down. Behind this silver curtain you would find an endless green.
My view wanders over the juicy grass, cane, and Banana plants. Mango and Papaya trees up to huge palms. From the eastern part of the village Paul conifer forest reaches over hilltops and crests while broadleaf forest covers the westerly hills.
From the deep valley some dog barking, mooing from a cow and some voice from playing kids sound up to me. Silence.
Wafts of mist hit against the steep rocks.
Below me there winds a single trail build from countless little rocks and stones into countless serpentines down into the valley.
The hillsides and steep faces are dominated by little handmade stonewalls built over the past hundred years to route every single possible square meter of the valley.
Hands covered with calluses impel cows up these tracks and carry heavy potato pouches down into the valley. On a tiny edge a woman spreads seeds into her freshly prepared arable.
I’m standing like glued to a spot on this massive edge in front of our Tent. Feel the energy of the fresh morning air. I recall the past couple of hours.
The steep ascent in the cooking mid day sun, the rare food and the freezing night with neither a camping mat nor a sleeping bag.
The first sunbeams spread over the crest and the cold gets pushed away for the warmth of the day.
I breathe calm and consistent.
I left everything behind. The long bright and dark nights I partied through in summer, losses and victories of the past competitions the love to my last girlfriend, self-doubts and flights of fancy.
I think of the past sessions with Tilo, Seppi and Gucci, my buddies at home on the Baltic sea and my lonely progression in the bay of Sao Pedro.
At the Horizon the sky merges with the sea.
Not only the moment in time as well every single detail of my past, the flow of time. Supposedly decisions merge with presumed coincidences.
The flow appears slowly and takes me into the present.
My breathing is calm. Nothing matters. The good and the Bad merge as well as black and white do. Everything merges to a level away from human dimensions.
There is so much ahead of me but nothing else than the moment in time matters.
I want to rest but the hunger drives me to go on.
Slowly I pack up the tent. Every handle leads to more warmth in my maltreated body.
I shoulder my heavy backpack and pick up the bulky suitcase. Slowly I descent into the valley again.
Every single step reminds me of the painful ascent. Yesterday I enjoyed every single step up there for the view. I absorbed every little detail. Today only the next step down counts.
The little river at the bottom of the valley flows below me. I snake up a bit on the little stone wall of the old bridge, The Sun is slowly but surely getting warmer. Just had some selfmade bread and cheese, fresh fruit and vegetables which filled my stomach nicely. Fresh spring water quenches my thirst.
My eyes shut and I patrol around together with Legolas and Aragorn through Lothlorien. The Valley, the elves an green oasis free of all the anger and fear from Mordor, out of the reach for the Nazguls.
The noise of the water falls and creeks merges with the noise of the little river below me.
I’m in an Oasis so far from all the worries of the real world. So far away from consumption capitalism, terror and war. Far away from the anger and fear which is around us to torture us.
I’m at a place where everybody has what he needs but nobody has more than that. Just perfect.
With a honk there announces a Minibus its appearance. „ Porto Novo?“ the smiling driver calls me over and out of the paradise back to reality. After a few kilometers the dream is over and the lava Island is again what it is.
Barren, rocky – nothing what would remind you of the paradise behind the hilltops.
The ferry takes me back to the capital of the neighbor Island Sao Vicente, Mindelo. It’s the second biggest city of Cape Verde. 1850 the natural harbor was one of the most important hubs for the trade in the transatlantic maritime traffic. But that didn’t last long as about 60 years later Mindelo was replaced for this purpose by Las Palmas and Dakar.
On the flat screen of the fast ferry I watch music videos from local artist on Sao Vicente.
The Island is well known for its Music culture.
Slowly we run into the port.
It feels a little like coming home. I’m glad to stay another two months here in Sao Vicente.
We have about an hour sunlight left. Chantalle, Davy and Remko are still ripping.
They weren’ t willing to spend their time on spiritual self-discovery trips in remote valleys when there are non stop great surfing conditions in Sao Pedro. Understandable when you have to leave the next day.
I grab my gear and want nothing more than head out.
Like I missed it! Two days not on the water and I don’t want anything more than just merge. It’s not the same merge I had this morning in the valley. But the feeling on each great session is the same. I merge with my boom, my straps, my sail and my board. Gravity, water, waves, gusts become one with my toys. Everything becomes light and easy. I feel nothing else than control and want to begin to play.
Again everything else doesn’t matter. For two hours I’m in my world!
A litte spray on my buddy Remko and a big smile. – The Pinguin is back in its element.
We had memorable weeks. Didn’t miss even one sunrise, not a session, surfed a point break with wind from starboard tack in Salamansa and a portack Wavespot called Tupin.
Saying goodbye hurts. My friends Kim, Did, Hui from the village took the boys and girls from Germany and the Netherlands into their hearts. Multiple joint evenings playing soccer in Sao Pedro, Hikes on top of the highest mountains, barbecues on abandoned ruins and countless sessions memorable meetings with locals will stick in our memory.
Baja – Off the Beaten Path
Baja off the beaten path is not a place for everyone. Cracked lips, dusty hair, no showers for weeks, wind, dirt, sand. Dirt blowing on your face, in your ears, in your eyes. Did I say wind? Wind, and I am talking relentless wind that will blow you and everything you own into space. Days and days of it. Did I say dirt? Dirt and dust that will cover you, your butt crack and every piece of gear and equipment you own.
In Baja off the beaten path you ration everything you have. Gas, water, food, your friends. Friends better be good ones because you can’t ditch them. Nothing is replaceable and you have to have everything plus a little extra. A candy bar or a piece of chocolate becomes a serious commodity. Local fishermen will trade you lobster and their wives for a piece of chocolate. If something breaks or you get stuck, you are on your own. Dirt roads from hell with mud flats that might as well be quicksand. Washboard on dirt roads are not the washboard you might know from dirt roads back at home. The Baja washboards are the Everest of washboards and will destroy every piece of equipment you own. Starting with your rig to everything inside of it.
Dirt roads from hell. 250 kilometers of it. Koichi was very stressed during the driving. He kept telling me “In Japan we don’t have roads like this!” as we painfully bounced around.
This year we made a 200 km long stretch in Baja off the beaten path that took us three weeks to drive. We averaged 3 miles an hour with some serious beating. Got high sided and stuck more times that I wanted and had plenty of adventures. Including running into an air drug drop, in the middle of nowhere, where I expected to be mowed down by machine gun by the Mexican drug cartel. But this is a future story.
Our team included: Chuck the American Lithuanian, me the Italian American and Kochi the Japanese Japanese. Our dogs: Tobi the American mutt, Argo the French unstoppable superstar and Finn the German sensitive lady. Our rides and homes, a US made Chevy truck with a US made Hallmark Camper a US made Dodge truck and a German made Heimplanet tent. A one of a kind tent that you will blow up to standing with a pump. “What the hell is that thing? I have never seen anything like it before” People would say… This tent was cool to say the least and withheld the winds like no other tent I have ever seen.
You may wonder why two trucks and three people. Two reasons. First reason three people and three dogs. Crazy how much space three dogs will take. 2nd and probably most important reason was that with two trucks you can help each other out if something breaks or you get stuck even thought that didn’t work as planned.
In my whole life I have never eaten so well on a camping trip. All of us foodies and from three nationalities, we all tried to outdo the other with our culinary skills. Koichi with intricate Japanese recipes (I think he won the prize), me with simple italian food and Chuck the master of grilled meats.
We always ate like kings.
The boys looking at the waves, they never stopped looking at them. That’s what we saw every day.
We met Drew, Owen, Tom and Zach. Tom and Drew from New Zealand, Owen from Australia and Zach from San Clemente. The four dug holes in the dirt for a home and lived on rice and beans on the good days. Not sure what they ate on the bad days. If they were not in the water surfing, they were standing on the cliff watching the waves. I never saw them anywhere else, was easy to find them. One evening we invited them over to our camp. We had a little extra meat to share a few tiny scraps. I have never seen anyone eat a piece of meat like these guys did. “Oh…. Ohhhhhhh!!!!!, meat….” They looked like refugees from a concentration camp who were fed for the first time. We sat by the fire. Drew stretched over the ground on his side with his matted, long hair draped over the dirt. I couldn’t help but wondering what was crawling into his hair. But he was comfortable that way. We talked about exotic locations, surf spots and wind.
You always talk about the wind in Baja. “When will it stop?” You ask one another. For many days it was just us, the waves and the wind. We lucked out and scored some good waves but that’s not always the norm. Baja is finicky and you need plenty of time and patience to get lucky. I like to say that the waves I can score in 2 weeks in Nicaragua is the same amount of waves I will score in Baja in 3 months. I sometimes wonder why I do it and take the beating instead of enjoying the comforts of civilization and easy access to better waves. Baja off the beaten bath is not a place to find world class waves but is a place to find solitude. And that’s really why I do it. Since I was a little kid I always wanted to be alone in nature. If you find good waves then it could be just you and your buddies surfing. That’s when you have invested 3 good months for that one good day alone with your friends.
They are More than Just Parks
Joshua Tree National Park
To some, Joshua Tree National Park is a sanctuary, to others it’s a playground of ancient boulders and endless desert, and to still others it’s simply a place of wonder and natural beauty. But in fact, it’s all of these things and still so much more.
At More Than Just Parks we made our trek to Joshua Tree in January of 2015. It was, in reality, a return trip for my brother Will and I, as we had spent a short day there a year prior to this excursion. This, however, was to be a very different trip.
It is said that the park’s eponymous trees were named by Mormon settlers who were reminded of a Biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky in prayer. This story rings particularly true in the evening, when one can see the arms of a Joshua Tree stretched outward awaiting the arrival of the setting sun. That scene, played over and over again every evening in the park, continues to inspire people to travel from the corners of the earth to see this fascinating place.
As I said, we made our trip in January of 2015. When we first reached the main park road and pulled off at a turnout, there was still snow on the ground from a large winter storm that had blanketed the southwest in the days preceding our arrival. This was the same unannounced winter storm that we drove through in a cross-country, 37-hour marathon trip to reach Joshua Tree.
Over the ensuing nights and days, the last snowy remnants of our harrowing trip there melted away leaving behind the desert-landscaped park we had been expecting. On our third night we were treated to the yips and howls of coyotes that surrounded the campground, a few of whose stealthy approaches into our campsite were revealed only by the reflection of the campfire in their eyes.
After a few days of becoming familiar with the park and it’s filming quirks, we came to realize that clouds, precious clouds, whose graceful movements we welcome, were not going to be in the cards on this More Than Just Parks outing. In the business of time-lapsing, clouds can add an extra element of movement and liveliness to perhaps otherwise less lively shots. However on this adventure, it seemed our old ally in the sky was not going to be available. In it’s absence, we ramped up our night photography and scoured the park for interesting wildlife. This added an extra element of exploration and adventure to our excursion.
Through days fraught with jackrabbit-chasing and boulder scrambling, and cold nights filled with coyote howls and never-ending time lapses, we began to gather evidence of a desert teeming with life. Search for wildlife in this park on a 3-hour visit and you’ll hard pressed to find more than a few scattered cactus wrens and the occasional raven. But stay for a week or more and you’ll realize that the wildlife is abundant and ever-present, keenly aware of your presence – true masters of camouflage.
For me, the boulders in Joshua Tree, perhaps even more so than the Dr. Suess-esque trees, are the most striking aspect of the park. These colossal masses of rock are seemingly everywhere, scattered about in immense clusters and piles like a giant’s extra lincoln logs. Finely whittled by the sands of time, they form odd shapes and figures. We got a chance to become fairly well acquainted with these boulders as we realized they were central to capturing all that Joshua Tree had to offer.
In one bouldering expedition, we scrambled, climbed, grabbed, and jumped from boulder to boulder chasing a shot of a lone bighorn sheep atop a high pile of the huge rocks. I assure you this was no easy feat having no real climbing experience and over 30 pounds of filming equipment in your hands and on your back. It was quite a thrill though (many times in a more daunting sort of way). And, after 3 such expeditions on different days, we finally did come away with bighorn footage. Was it worth it? I say yes, but that’s because I’m alive with all my appendages still securely attached.
Joshua Tree is an incredible place, one that requires more than mere hours along a park road to experience. I highly recommend visiting the park and experiencing some of the very best the desert has to offer. Luckily for me, I’m a filmmaker and don’t need to rely on my words to sway you. Watch our short film and get a glimpse of what you can find on a trip to Joshua Tree.
What Travel Really Means
I love to travel.
But what does “travel” really mean? For me there is no right or wrong answer. Every trip is made of discoveries, meetings, desire to immerse themselves in cultures, manners and people totally different from us. Travel allows you to get to know others and through others yourself.
To me it represents a break from routines and roles that we must play in our everyday life. The point is that every time I come back home I feel better: I learned new things and saw places that I could just imagine. As Bruce Chatwin said: “Travels not only open your mind: they shape it.“
This summer I have been in Norway, I didn’t have many days so I opted to cross the region from Oslo to Berghen. My aim was to live in full contact with the nature by hiking in various fjords of this magnificent country. For me the biggest obstacle to overcome was to walk several kilometers with a backpack of 20kg. In fact to get used to I spent most of August walking through my mountains in Northern Italy. In my first plan the only companion was my tent, nevertheless one evening, just a few days before leaving, I met Paul. He is a photographer, which was my classmate during high school, and like life goes we lost track for many years. After talking to him about my project he said just one sentence: I will come with you!
We planned our route in Oslo but we left the city as soon as possible to lead to our first goal: The famous Language of Trolls. A hike of 22 km to sit on a protruding rock that stands horizontally above the lake Ringedalsvatnet with a sheer drop of 700 meters; what a powerful view! Along the way to Odda, last city served by public transportation before Tyssedal, (starting point of the road to Trolltunga) we passed through Voss and the great plateau of Handangervidda. This is the habitat of the largest population of wild reindeer, unfortunately we have only seen some gruesome remains left by hunters.
We moved only by public transportation, on our legs and sometimes by hitchhike. And thanks to hitchhiking we met Michael, Max, Stefan and Daniel. Three guys from Germany, who gave us a ride from Odda to Tyssedal on their Volkswagen T3. They also wanted to sit back and enjoy the unique view of Trolltunga. Once in Tyssedal, a huge parking welcomes people from all over the world, this is the last check point before tackling the hike of 22km. Some people with tents others in campers, but everyone ready and equipped to spend a night in this remote place, where not even cellphones works and the only thing here is a toilet.
That we met the German guys, probably saved the rest of my trip, because the several kilometers long walk with backpacking caused an acute inflammation of the tendon of my left heel. So Stefan, student in physiotherapy, has been able to cure my heel by rubbing my foot to relieve the pain, while sitting in front of the fire.
After Trolltunga we were very Tired, but not for this we were demotivier. The following days we decided to embark on the journey that would take us to the famous Preikestolen. We spent a full day in Stavanger to rest and the day after we catched the ferry that took us to the start of the hike to the Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen).
The hike itself wasn’t difficult, but the backpack of 22kg made it pretty tough. Then the unhealthy idea of sleeping with our tent on one of the symbols of Norway crossed our minds and so it was. The night was very cold but I know a little trick to keep my feet warm: Boil water, put it in a bottle and then put the bottle at the inner bottom of your sleeping bag.
Headache Film – A Binsurfen Coldwater Project
Do you know the feeling when on a really hot day, due to the burning sun, you start craving for a refreshening drink or icecream, then finally getting one and taking a huge sip or bite but in the same moment recognizing it was way to much? Everything around you seems to freeze for a moment and your head feels like turning inside out but you can’t do much about it. That is basically the feeling we get every single time, when we duckdive a wave in the frigid cold water, that we use to surf almost all year long. From October til May the water temperature is below 10°C. In wintertime it can reach 0.5°C. Outside the water it gets even much colder. The right equipment like a real thick wetsuit, proper booties, gloves and a warm hood are essential and make it bearable. Not only bearable. It adds a certain pleasure to surfing.
That is basically the feeling we get every single time, when we duckdive a wave in the frigid cold water, that we use to surf almost all year long. From October til May the water temperature is below 10°C. In wintertime it can reach 0.5°C. Outside the water it gets even much colder. The right equipment like a real thick wetsuit, proper booties, gloves and a warm hood are essential and make it bearable. Not only bearable. It adds a certain pleasure to surfing. The whole getup with all its neoprene makes you feel like a little seal. You are out all alone, sharing the waves only with a hand full of good friends and making the most of the conditions. The worst part actually is getting in and out of the wetsuit in the stinging cold. Your body is wet, air temperature already around 0°C plus the cold wind cooling out your naked body. But we love it! That’s why we are producing the first german coldwater surf movie called “Headache” referring to the headache you get from eating icecream.
We already travelled Iceland and Scottland with a bunch of german cold water surfers so far. Upcoming destinations are Denmark, Sweden and our own playgrounds around the north and baltic sea in germany. The core team consists of Jonas Bronnert, Finn Springborn, Alex Tesch, Christian Spicker, Lucas Günther, Dan Petermann, Felix Gänsicke and Julian Braun. But there will be a much wider range of german surfers featured. Filming with a german surfcrew is for sure not as easy as it is with a group of pro surfers. We have to film several days and several spots to get at least a little amount of really good action shots. But you see progression in every surfers performance from session to session. Everybody is pushing eachother. We are always having a lot of fun! If you want further details of our trips visit: http://headache.roughseas.de The movie is going to kick off early 2015.
The Westfjords in Iceland
We landed early and drifted through the airport to the waiting car. The most inappropriate car, for boards, tents, cameras and Icelandic roads. We bailed on the extra sand and volcanic ash protection and with dire warnings not to take it off-road ringing in our ears we got the hell out, heading north.
Iceland apart from the Reykjanes peninsula is still pretty unknown and uncharted but with some helpful tips from local photographer Elli, Ingo at Arctic Surfers and a few friends back home we headed to the part they call the Westfjords.
It’s a remote peninsula in the far north, villages are regularly cut off during snowstorms and huge bays are inaccessible by road. A boat or a pair of stout boots are the only way in.
That first night we pitched under headlights and awoke at first light to an astounding view. A quick coffee to let the beauty sink in before we hit the road running, 4 hours of gravel awaited us. Every twist and turn of the road heard fresh gasps of awe, the wind was howling, mini gravel bars lined up along fjords and our thoughts drifted, we stopped by a huge empty hotel to fill up and sunk into the thermally heated outdoor pool. We tossed a coin as to which fjord would be best (one seemed more open – bigger, windier, the other more sheltered smaller, cleaner), and set off over the mountains and around fjords. Reaching the summit and looking down over the bay was a phenomenal moment, a track twisted down weaving its way beside a river that crashed and foamed as it emptied into the sea forming a perfect sand bar.
We saw the offshore spray and the poor little car was seaward bound, bouncing down the track.
The end of the road, as we’ll call it, was deceptively small but as the tide and swell pushed in it grew and before long Noah paddled out through the crazy offshores to overhead barrels grinding down the bank. We surfed again the next morning and watched as the swell dropped, we sunk back as the northern lights danced and we made a plan to move on.
Down south we scored a right point, met friends, and watched as a small low developed… we picked a river mouth with huge potential and pitched in for the night. Camp Disappointment we called it – the waves never materialized but it was anything but a disappointment. As the camp fire was lit the north lights danced and dazzled as we ran around time lapsing and shooting until the early hours when the whisky and batteries ran out.
Iceland is a special spot, it’s constantly evolving as volcanoes spew their guts. Its lava reefs are not as developed as the Canaries but in a few thousand years as the ocean works its magic a visit might find a new El Quemao and more points that run. But right now the hunt for genuinely unsurfed waves is very much part of the fun in Iceland. Unless you’re a hire car that is.
“Life is Short.” and: “Focus Power!”
There was one thing we all learned on that trip: „Life is short.“ And: „Focus power!“
It was the first time, we were going on a surf trip with another goal but surfing. We were in France / Belgium / Denmark to shoot our short film „Cyan“ that is a documentary about Artists and Designers that are working in and around surfing.
There was a development in the past ten years in the surfing scene based in Europe, that shows a change in the european identity. It has grown apart from traditional surf cultures like the Californian, Hawaiian or the Australian surf culture and developed its own Style and aesthetic values.
We went to the south of France every summer, autumn, winter, spring and even in between for the past 10 years but we never actually got to know the place really well.
When you focus on surfing, sometimes the culture and the people are in second spot. But this time it was a real pleasure, because we were actually there for working(sounds strange when you write that sentence!). So we kind of didn’t have a choice but meeting the people who live there, where we always go just because there are waves.
We had two weeks and appointments for interviews and filming with three Artists in the BAB-Area (Bayonne-Anglet-Biarritz). The first quote „life is short“ we learned from Cesare Ancelle-Hansen who is a photographer and a doctor in the emergency room as well. For him the aspect of time is an obsession, because he sees people who die every day. Its his job. So on the other hand he needs his photography, so he can stop the time, at least picture wise. „Life is short“ is a sentence, that has been said so often, that it nearly doesn’t have a meaning anymore. But when you hear Cesar speaking about that aspect you really start thinking.
The other quote „Focus Power.“ is from Mr. Miagi, who teaches Daniel-san a lesson for life. We watched the movie Karate Kid on our trip and we became disciples of the wise old Japanese man as well. Because when you have to do: a photoshoot at sunrise(because of the good light) and a quick surf afterwords (before the trade winds start) an interview at lunch, a sponsor-appointment in the afternoon and a surf at sunset… – then you really have to focus power!
Curves and Turns
“We´ve got to stop once in a while and let our spirit catch up.”
Everything´s getting faster and faster nowadays. This project was an experiment to slow down living, or rather try to find a way of going slowly and to experience travelling to the fullest. By bike from the southern part of Austria to the Mediterranean Sea like Liguria and Sardegna was the first part of this adventure. Another very important goal was to catch up with local people, to immerse deeper into the local culture and to find waves in a country which isn´t that famous for surfing.
The Idea: At first sight it isn’t obvious that Austrians practice a sport like surfing. To reach the nearest reasonable and consistent surf spot takes at least 700 kilometers by car. Despite this circumstance there is quite a large number of surfers in Austria. Most of them got into surfing via other sports like snowboarding or skateboarding. Once hooked you spend a good deal of your spare time to follow your new passion. The trips become longer and more exotic. You travel thousands of kilometers by plane and car to get to your desired destinations. However on a closer and a more down-to-earth look it is clear that the costs and the ecological foot print is way too big. So you try to justify your long distance travels with arguments like getting to know other cultures in order to understand and respect them. In truth you find yourself on paths and places, which are shaped by tourism and do not represent the local culture at all. Real contact to the local culture is mostly limited to a few random situations. How can a journey look like to leave these ready-made paths where not only the start and the destination is known, but also everything in between? Is it really necessary to travel the whole world just to satisfy the highly individualistic need for clean waves in easy conditions which suit surfers coming from a land-locked country like Austria?
On the quest for answers to these questions we depart on an adventure by bicycle from Austria to Sardinia. Certainly the trip is going to be much more long-winded and exhausting than it would be by car, but it is also very exciting when a trip to Sardinia turns into a real voyage all of a sudden. Somehow we forgot what a voyage is. Nowadays we are just changing places. We enter a plane and a few hours later we leave it in another world with another culture, but we don’t experience the change on the way. A wisdom of the native Americans says that from time to time you have to stop and reflect if you travel with high velocity in order your soul can catch up with you. Maybe a grain of truth can be found in this. Anyway, a voyage by bicycle opens up new ways and possibilities far away from crowded highways. We will find ourselves on lonely roads and paths where fewer but maybe much more interesting people travel and where nature can surprise us every moment. Without car and plane, by foot or by bike, you get a new point of view for many things and explore the world differently. We embark on our journey to meet many fascinating people, experience adventures and of course the hope for many unforgettable surf sessions.
A Dream Comes True
THE RAD RACE X AURORA COLLECTIVE TOUR DE SKANDINAVIA with many many many thanks to HEIMPLANET for being our home for 9 days.
Hamburg – Büsum
We’ve been dreaming of a tour like this as long as we’re on our bikes. A tour with our best friends, a tour with a small crew-bus to carry our stuff, a tour in the nature. So when we walked over the alps last year we decided that we needed to do one big trip every year from now on and it was pretty clear that bikes would be involved. So we just said „Let’s ride from Hamburg to Oslo“. Fuck it. Let’s just roll.
Since we founded the RAD RACE we met so many great people and one of the truly greatest was Sebastian from AURORA. He not only helped us to design our cycling collection he was also a great inspiration to us in many other ways. So to cut a long story short: he also dreamed of a tour like this and in the end he was the last piece of the puzzle that was missing to plan a tour like this. It took quite some time to get it all planned and work out the track route and all the 5000 other things you can think of to get 16 bike addicts on the 1.300km to beautiful Oslo.
Sebastian also introduced us tot he great folks of HEIMPLANET. We knew we needed a place to stay on our trip and we were so sure that we wanted to stay in tents and not in shitty hotel rooms. We wanted to breathe fresh air in the morning when we wake up, when we’re on our bikes and while we’re sleeping. We didn’t really know how amazing the Heimplanet stuff actually was, we didn’t even know building up a tent is supereasy in 2014 now… We didn’t even know Heimplanet existed. All the guys at Heimplanet were super cool though and they loved the „Tour de Skandinavia“ idea, too so they hooked us up with 8 tents so we could use them for our trip.
RAD RACE was founded from 10 friends to organize wild bike races and to design and produce great cycling apparel. Our first year started great but it was a hell lot of work.
The past few weeks right before the tour haven’t been easy for us. We had our RAD RACEs in Hamburg, Karlsruhe and Frankfurt just within 3 weeks and we just got back from the RAD RACE Bergfest in Frankfurt the night before we wanted to start our cycling trip. We were soooo tired and wouldn’t really believe that we’ll make it on this trip.
But we made it! We went on tour right in the morning of September 1st and after around 130K we made it to Büsum. We’re so fucking happy and we’re just soooo stoked that we finally made it on our bikes. 90% of the first stage was just pure rain, wind and we were all wet just after we left Hamburg. The 2 on fixed – Gunja and Flo – perfectly made it through the whole day and it’s just sooo great to have them with us.
The best thing of the whole day though were the last 20-30K though. It stopped raining, we hit the beach and we just witnessed a beautiful sunset. We were so damn cold but a hot shower in the middle of fucking nowhere saved our asses. And then we thought: FUCK we need to build up our camp. We didn’t really know how to build up a Heimplanet tent since we never did this before. We were just tired and didn’t want to spend a minute thinking how to handle this. But I swear that was easier then opening a bottle of beer. Seriously all of us had their tents blown up in under 3 minutes. We didn’t need any nails of tools or anything. We just blew them up and so our camp was ready in 5 minutes.
So while I was typing this I was lying in my Heimplanet tent and I hear 15 people snorring, farting, loughing, I hear bottles of beer and I heard some prayers for the sun to really come out tomorrow.
Büsum – Skaeberg
And here came the sun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What a day!!!! We started the day early. Not because we wanted to but nobody could really sleep. Everyone was so pumped up to ride to Denmark… So when the sun was rising Gerri was already filming it because it was just too nice to stay in our tents and the rest woke up wayyyy too early. A super quick breaki with some very bad coffee later everyone was already getting their bikes ready because we wanted to hit the road so bad. So we did and it was Ingo’s time to get behind the steering wheel of our tour van.
Day 2 we decided our mechanic Luke should also get the chance to get on the bike but unfortunately a wasp hit him in the face so the ride was already over for him after 15K… He took some pain killers and it really took the whole day for his lip to get back to normal size. Looking back at it this was pretty funny (so sorry Luke!)
The rest of stage 2 was just so beautiful. Well except for 4 (!) flat tires. But well, fuck it. The sun was shining and we shot a lotta camera shit. Eti and Gerri are sharing the day so everyone can ride half of it. And to be honest. They kick ass so bad. Etienne is not really a cycler but still he managed to ride 50K yesterday and 70K today. Gerri was never on a road bike and also hit the road for 80K. Gunja called it quits after 70K or so and everyone else was super tired but happy to make it to Denmark. And the average speed for the trip was still not too bad and around 29. The thing is we don’t really want to race the tour, we wanna enjoy the nature, spend time with the best of friends and just kill it with everyone in the group. And we made it.
We left Germany in the afternoon and for some reason a few meters behind the border after we hit Denmark everything looked even prettier. At least it seemed that way. The trees and the birds and the fields just looked different.
Well maybe the grass is just always greener on the other side.
Skaeberg – Ringköbing
How can any other day be better than the one before? It sounds cheesy I know and there have been some first problems in the group, when we woke up it was just foogy and freezing and some parts of the day haven’t been easy but in the end this was one of the best rides I ever took. Why? Because simply everything was included why we went on this trip in the first place.
So where should I begin? Maybe with our bike rack we build?
With the first ever group pic we took on the tour on the crazy camping site in Skaerberg?
Fuck it. We went on the road quick and soon hit the beach. Unfortunately we lost the van right away since it wasn’t able to follow us on the waterfront. But we knew the boys in there would make it. And they did. It just took a while mainly since the track just took us a while. The concrete was so bad that it brought us three flat tires. Who cares though as long as you can still ride.
After we hit a real road again one of the many highlights of this sunny day was just ahead of us. We raced a few K down towards the beach. A quick and perfect race just between us. Rewarded with a coffee on the beach discussing scene politics… After the break our mechanic Luke got on the bike, Etienne took the steering wheel and Gerri was still revovering on the back bench (and OK, he took some awesome pics and videos again).
And it got better and better. A roller coaster ride through the danish woods, an off road session right after we passed Henne (Henne loved it), a beer on the bike after we hit the 150K for the last group…
We took 2 backpackers in the tour van that are still with us and that we snuck on our camping site. They just wanted to travel north as far as they would get and they were for sure super happy to catch a ride. I am pretty sure though they didn’t know the van would follow 14 bikes and stop every few min or so for a flat tire or just to film or take a pic…
Some other thing that would for sure happen, happened today. We had the first struggle in the group. Nothing too bad and most of us know each other forever but still it was just shitty. We lost Urban on the way since he just took a small detour since he spotted some kite surfers on a beach and when we looked back a few kilometers later, we weren’t just 14 anymore but one was missing. Before we stopped Ingo didn’t really gave a sign so we almost crashed and we had a discussion later that we should just chill out more, enjoy the trip and just wait when someone is left behind. Bla Bla, a few of us went back, got Urban back in the group and he was for sure super happy not to ride the last 80K on its own. The thing about Urban is this: he loves football and kite surfing. The only reason why he bought a bike was this trip. He only rode 200-300K before this trip and until today just within the last 3 ride he collected almost 500.
One of best parts of this day for me personally was when we lost the first two groups (we split up so some of the stronger riders can bring some weaker ones home) and totally lost our way (none of us had navigation or a map or any clue where we were). I don’t have any picture or anything and it’s really nothing special and maybe it’s just because I was so exhausted after 160K. We just stopped in the middle of fucking nowhere at an old farmhouse, an old man came towards us with his white dog and he waved at us to get closer so Danny went across his field and met him in the middle of it. We all just stood on the road holding on to our bikes, hoping this farmer would now where the camping site was (we didn’t even now the name of that place, we just knew the city that it was in). He shook Danny’s hand and told us where to go. It really felt home for some reason. It all felt right. He didn’t really gave us exact directions. And we didn’t care. Fuck it. No matter what, as long as it takes. We’re still on our bikes and we’re still together.
Ringköbing – Nibe
Sometimes a day on a bike is like a Hardcore song. It has its up and downs, there is an easy intro, there is a mosh part and some slow downs, there are some crazy dives and when you’re lucky there is a good friend in the pit to pick you up. There are some sing alongs and there’s some crazy screaming… Well this was a little bit how it was today.
We started with some slow riding, some filming stuff on a quite busy street. Etienne, Benny and Gerri are really risking it all to get the shots they want. But I tell you: it’s all worth it. The plan ist o shoot a documentary about this trip. Show our non-bike friends and maybe some other who care how great cycling is, show what you experience when you’re on your bike. What you see of this beautiful place when you’re not in a fucking office or just anywhere where you just don’t wanna be. When we’re on our bikes it just feels home.
The first 50k or so went by so fast and the next thing I know is we’re all sitting on a harbour somewhere eating pasta leftovers from one big bowl with some very bad coffee. Everybody was still smiling and laughing and we’re all having a good time. Still…
But what happened then wasn’t really the best part of the trip. We had to take a smaller danish highway for the next 60K. Just imagine 14 riders in one row and cars and trucks and all kinds of vehicles passing by with way more than 100 thirty centimeters next to you and you’re riding 32 on your bike (the wind was pretty good though). There wasn’t really any place for us AND the cars and we lost our van a while ago so there wasn’t really any other option than to take this route. We didn’t really speak for 2 hours or so. It was just crazy and dangerous fast riding and everybody wanted to get it over with as soon as we could.
In the end Etienne, Gerri and Benny were waiting at this one bridge with the camera drone and I think what they filmed was worth the risk to take this fucking road…
After this, Urban and Henne called it quits and told the street to go and fuck itself and sat down in the van. They told us they don’t wanna risk their lives no more and since there wasn’t room for anyone else in the bus still 10 of us needed to continue on that hellride.
The good thing is: it ended after 2 more minutes. The street cleared up. The cars disappeared for some strange reason (maybe danish people don’t get in their cars after 5pm or so) and 30min later we really had the best rides of this whole trip.
We drove in the woods, wild horses running right next to us, some great lakes and the best landscapes you can ever imagine. AND the roads were just sooo fucking perfect and fast and the concrete was so smooth and we raced it all down as fast as we could. We didn’t really felt the first 140k but we were just flying down to Nibe.
When we arrived we couldn’t believe what we saw: our Heimplanet tents and the whole camp was already and completely build up and the even better thing: we are staying right at the water front so the very next thing we did was jump in the icy cold water.
So in the end it all worked out. Like it always does.
Tomorrow we are riding to Göteborg so we gotta get up in a few hours already so we are getting the ferry at 2pm already…
Nibe – Göteborg
There really are only a couple of occasions when getting up 6am in the morning kicks ass. One of these rare days was today. We only had a 125 k to go BUT we neeeeeeded to be on the ferry to Gothenburg at 1.30pm sharp! If we missed this boat we needed to wait forever and pay another fortune to get from Denmark to Sweden. So the plan was to ride quick, not to take many brakes and just make it to the ferry in time.
So far so good. A quick breakfast. Packing our shit together really is a great teamwork on day 5, so we got on the road pretty much in time. After a few days bringing the HEIMPLANET tents to travel size just takes seconds and I cannot emphasize enough how much of a fucking help these great tents are. Even if it rains like crazy you stay dry. Inside the tents there is so much room fort wo people and even with 3 it’s til cozy and comfy.
Today it was just 12 of us since the two brave fixie riders Gunja and Flo needed to take a break from us roadies. The only thing is: the road really wasn’t anyting special. To be honest the road sucked hard. Like yesterday it was just a damn huge street and it was 12 kids against some trucks on a 40cm pavement.
And this damn street never ended. Pretty much the whole way to Fredrikshaven was just like that. And it totally broke our group into pieces. Urban was so fucked up he wanted to ride alone against the wind and the trucks. Danny’s pedal broke. We didn’t take enough tubes (we stupid idiots) and so we lost Benny and Dirk and the van needed to pick them up.
So in the end it was only 7 riders that made it into Fredrikshaven on their bikes. The rest was just fed up or too destroyed to cycle. The other 7 split up into a faster and slower group what really also was kinda shitty.
But when we met at the ferry everybody was smiling and I saw a lotta high fives and Gerri, Eti and Benny were already filming some great footage again for our documentary. So we took our bikes and cycled into the stomach of this huge ship (I didn’t really expect the boat was bigger than any other ship I’ve been onto).
Beeing on the ship with the crew was just so perfect. Imagine 16 people sleeping on the floor, browsing around this huge ship, enyoing the perfect view with the best possible weather. We were the only ones with bikes on the ship so we could depart from the ship right before the giant trucks rolled out. From the moment we touched swedish ground Göteborg was only nice to us. Some first coffee, some riding in the city, some bike stuff to repair the bikes.
For the first time on this trip we’re staying in a real bed. We’re kinda bummed to miss a day in the Heimplanet tents but some bus- and outfit cleaning definitely was the thing to do!
We’re super stoked and so excited to ride our first day in Sweden tomorrow. For tonight we’re just happy to made it to Göteborg alive after 2 crazy days on a danish highway…
Göteborg – Kungshamn
The race against the darkness…
From the moment we woke up in Göteborg to the moment right now here at this beautiful camping site in Kungshamn this day was just so fucking perfect. I am so sorry to tell you that all over again but we cannot help but just wonder how awesome Sweden is.
Day 1 in Sweden was already better than all our danish stages combined. The nature, the weather, the tracks, the riding. It was all so great. You gotta come here quick and ride your bike or just do whatever. Sweden just rocks so bad!
We left our hostel around 10:30am and that was definitely the one mistake that made everything complicated later on. But more of that later… Pretty soon we lost the van for the first time while trespassing some private ground. We weren’t shot and the people inside the property were actually pretty cool and didn’t really care that we were riding their trails.
When we found the van a little bit later we all fuled up and ate something and believe me: we needed that. Although we thought everybody would be totally destroyed a few still wanted to race the perfect streets. So Schubu and Ingo formed a team and were hunted by Chris and Henne and it was just so fast and raw and we didn’t really care about what was coming behind the next corner. But in Sweden there always seems to be something around the next corner. This is what we saw when we were just coming down the street:
Unfortunately in all the racing mode we lost Urban (once again!) so he took a small detour of like 18k or so. We waited forever and Ingo went after him to get him. But when we found him he wasn’t pissed at all.
Soon after Ingo found Urban the van found us too so Urban, Ingo, Jan and Chris raced right behind the tour bus so we could get the others. Imagine riding with 50-75 km/per hour 60 centimeters behind the rolling van. Danny had 75km/h and later Paul and Ingo were racing behind it and Eti took some shots from inside the van for our documentary. We knew it was dangerous and for some reason we forgot to fix the door at the side of the van. So when Ingo and Paul were riding around 80km/h the door suddenly snapped and almost chopped Eti’s face and feet off. That really was a lesson and we know that was super stupid so believe me: we won’t do that again. Still it was fun though…
After we got everybody back together we had THE perfect coffee break and we had some soul food fort he remaining 100 (!) kilometers. We knew we had a long way to go but the sun was shining, Etienne jumped in the fjord and was trying to catch some fish and we were all just enjoying our time together. The thing was just: we were sitting there for way too long. And after the bike crew left the tour bus had a stupid accident and crashed in a parked Volvo (of course it had to be a Volvo!) what caused some major problems since there wasn’t any support from the van since it took them 3 hours or so to take care of the accident formalities. Everybody on their bikes waited at the ferries (yes, we took 3 ferries today and were cycling on a swedish island and it was just so great!) and Ingo had to go back and then back again and bla bla bla we were just too late.
So after all the trouble we had only 75minutes or so left in the daylight and we knew we HAD to make it since we didn’t really end up on a field in the middle of nowhere, waiting for the bus to come in our sweaty bike outfits… So the race against the darkness began. And I tell you, THAT was the best ride on a bike I ever took. The crew had to work together, the stronger ones pulled the weaker cyclers, we really worked as a team to make it.
And it got darker and darker and darker. The thing about Sweden is: there is no light on the streets what means: when the sun came down you cannot see shit anymore and it really gets so cold. We didn’t want that. We wanted to make it. And in the end we did. We arrived when it was just getting dark. First some of us were really fucked up since it really was a hell of a ride. But after we had some pasta and a few beers everybody was just smiling and we knew we had just completed one of the best, if not THE BEST cycling day of our lives.
Kungshamn – Sarpsborg
WE MADE IT TO NORWAY! It’s pretty ugly so far and the weather changed completely right after we touched Norwegian ground, we had some minor crashes and we are all pretty messed up after 1000km but we are sooo happy to finish the 7th stage…
The day startet a little earlier than yesterday since we didn’t want to make the same mistake twice to start the day too late and risk to ride into the darkness. The camping site was super awesome and we enjoyed a breakfast with the whole group in the sun in front of our Heimplanet tents, sitting on the gras and eating our daily-routine-food (MyMuesli, some bread with jam and bad coffee).
Everybody was riding except our mechanic Luke and our film-mastermind Gerri. Flo was also back on track after his cold but he tried out the Bombtrack Hook today for the first time. The track in Sweden was again wonderful and fast and sunny and just pitch perfect. You really have to see it to get what I mean. A director would not shoot a film here because it really looks too crazy beautiful with all these red and white and yellow houses, the cows and sheep on the greenest grass, the blue sky, all the little and bigger lakes and people doing nothing but painting their houses.
We split the group in 2 parts: a faster crew and a slower crew that just wanted to enjoy the landscape more. That worked perfect since and the slower group arrived only a couple minutes later than the others since there have been some flat tires and bike shit on the way. We had some pizza and salad and then the clouds got darker and darker so we knew another race would be up:
The race against the rain. We win if everybody strays dry.
To cut a long story short: we lost.
The best part of the day and one of the best of the whole trip was when we crossed the boarder from Sweden to Norway. You really cannot believe how awesome the scenery is.
For some not so cool reason right after we crossed the boarder, the landscape changed into an industrial area with a lotta factories and strange looking people. That was all good since we were blessed with an awesome track so far but the thing was that it started to rain heavier and the roads got real slippery. We had two minor crashes with some blood but nothing too bad. So don’t worry, we’re all fine and hope to continue tomorrow. And then we lost the way and had to go back and it took us forever to find the camping site.
But now we’re here and have only two more stages to go to Oslo. We have already seen a lotta signs until Oslo and cannot wait to make it alive and all well. We don’t wanna stop, we wanna continue and ride and ride and ride. We are already planning a new „Tour de …“ with the same crew for 2015…
For now we’re dead.
Sarpsborg – Hokksund
The break up
It had to happen. The group split.
It’s not as bad as it sounds though. There was just a group of riders that wanted to take the day slow. One group that wanted to go further and faster. And one group that stayed in the bus to film and chill. The saddest thing though was when Danny left since he had to work back home. Fuck that, we miss you already!
So I can tell you the story oft he 139k crew.
And this was a nice one and to be honest there is not much to say really. It was one of the best, if not THE best bike rides I ever took. It was all in there: highspeed cycling, uphill riding, beautiful nature in all colours, some amazing friends, a boat ride…
We started at around ten, left the camping site in shitty weather but I swear the moment we started rolling the sun was shining. Just a few hundred meters after we left our place there was this awesome street that lead us through the woods. Trees to our lefts and rights and a perfect concrete to roll in maximum speed. It was like in a computer game. Unreal. Really. So fucking perfect.
And from then on it was just a perfect ride. The sun never left our side and the water was just next to us 90% of the time. We did some awesome shots for our documentary and had a perfect 45min break when we went on the ferry.
I tell you we were all so happy and when I dreamed about this trip this day was exactly how I pictured it. The only shitty thing was that we weren’t with the full group. But the others told me that had a great time, too (at least until they saw our pics on our cameras)…
The camping site in Hokksund is plain awesome and we’re gonna celebrate Paul’s birthday in a real restaurantm. Fuck homemade pasta for once. My present for Paul: I took that pic of him and if you really tell me roadbike cycling is for nerds, just look at the picture again.
Tomorrow is our last day and each and every one of us is already pretty fucked up that the trip is over then. It seems like everyone is gonna make it to Oslo in one piece. And even Urban likes cycling now (at least I think he does. He would never admit he loves it. How can you not.)
I haven’t asked everyone but at least I can tell you I would rather roll a thousand miles more than flying back to Hamburg.
Danny, we miss you.
Hokksund – Oslo
We made it.
I cannot tell you how how tough the last day was. It rained cats and dogs the whole night. We heard the rain outside and we just prayed to the bike god that it would stop. But it didn’t. It just got worse and worse. After breakfast we had to make a decision and we chose safety. We constructed a shorter route to Oslo that has only 80k and 1000meter altitude. The other option would have been to ride 122k in full rain and that just would have been too risky. We were already pretty much destroyed after 1.255.000 meters in our legs.
So we packed ourselves in the thickest outfits we had (thank you so much to IrieDaily for your rain jackets!!!) with us and started the stage with 10 riders. It rained and rained and rained and it only stopped after 20k or so. But it stopped and the sun was with us for the rest of the day, just how it almost was for the whole trip. Thank you sun! We owe you big time!
The track itself was not too special but it had some highlights. The longer route would have definitely been the more spectacular option… But fuck it. We wanted to make it to Oslo in one piece.
The best and for some the shittiest part of the whole track was the altitude on the last part of the stage. Almost 600meters up within 10k or so…
And when we didn’t expect it the Oslo city sign appeared. It was right there when we just thought it would be great to finally arrive since our legs hurt, everything was cold and wet and the moral of the crew wasn’t at its best. Oslo was right there when we needed it the most.
I can only speak for myself here but when we climbed the opera (if you ever make it to Oslo, grab a bike and cycle up that big white thing) it was truly magic. 1.335km earlier we started in Hamburg and 9 days later we arrived in Oslo. We made it with our own feet and our own bodies and all we needed was a bike. It is something completely different to travel with a bike and I think Jan said ist best: „I don’t really care that I am in Oslo or wherever. It was all about getting there.“
Thank you HEIMPLANET for being our home for 9 days. It was a pleasure sleeping in you. I really never never thought I would like camping so much and we are so happy and thankful for the Heimplanet guys to bring us closer to the nature a little bit more.
Thx guys for being on this amazing trip with me. It was a truly epic experience and I don’t wanna make it a one in a lifetime thing. So gear up for 2015. I hope we will be back for another „Tour de…“ next year.
The Rad Pack!
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My First Memories of ‘Travelling’
My first memories of ‘travelling’ were the early morning starts in Terminal 2 waiting to board our flight to visit family in England. My parent’s memory of travelling was a jet lagged 3 year old playing 22 hours worth of video games and then hearing about it for the next week. Since then, now aged 22 my idea of travelling has been expanded to sourcing the best landscapes, being introduced to the locals lifestyle with jetlag lying somewhere in between.
Unlike my first independent trip to Europe in 2012 (which was fuelled by late nights with close friends), my recent trip was spent roaming around the outskirts of Europe, unlike the central circuit I travelled 2 years prior. The trips foundations were built on big landscapes, far away from the traps in Central Europe. The UK was filled of history, Norway was full with waterfalls and Iceland was a near representation of Mars. It wasn’t just the landscapes the completed the trip, it was the random acts of kindness shared with the locals along the way.
We knew Mark and I spending two months living in a tent would be mentally straining on each other and there was no way around it, until we began to link up with other creative’s along the way who would take us into their homes, sharing both hidden spots and giving us a local insight into the country. There was Christian in Ireland who not only believed in drinking a Guinness before hiking a nearby mountain but went out of his way to sort us out some locals equipment to ride waves in the Irish sea. In Norway we had Digernes who insisted to give us the proper ‘Norski Treatment’. Our time spent with him led us to all sorts of hidden gems, including waterfalls, mountains and caves to name a few. There were so many people who I can’t thank enough who gave us an insider’s knowledge, and I can’t wait to return the opportunity.
– Thank you!
The Best Holidays Ever 2014
Horace and the Rough Stuff Fellowship
What makes us itch? Itch to go out and search for the unknown? What sparks the idea to leave everything behind to cross a desert of black sand all alone? Why sleep under the stars rather than in the comfort of your home?
Those were the questions i was asking myself when we finally left for Iceland, Europe’s Outpost in the Nort Atlantic, the last rock to settle on before the infinite ice. Hidden in an old newspaper we found the story of astronomer and stargazer Horace Dall who set out one day, packed a couple of his belongings and his best suit to make the first wheeled crossing of Europe’s greatest desert. Sprengisandur is a landscape so rough, raw and remote that it was used by NASA to train their astronauts for the moon landing a couple of decades later.
What crossed his mind, what motivated him to go out to endure a journey through the unknown? A piece of paper, not much bigger than his hand, showed the entire island of Iceland and was his only map. So many spots were still blank on the map of the earth in 1933, so many first ascents to be done, so many deserts to be crossed… 80 years later, Sprengisandur has changed into a dusty racetrack for tourist buses, all 8k mountains have been climbed and i’m wondering whether there are still adventures for us to discover?
I don’t think Horace even saw his endeavour as an adventure, he just left his home, closed the door behind him to go out on a trip. The journey was his destination. There was nothing to prove to others, no internet to show how epic his trip was.
The smallest detail can make the biggest memories. A snap with your camera can never replace the pictures in your head. It doesn’t matter how big of an adventure you’re going to have, what matters is that you leave home and go on a journey.
I always liked the simplicity of hiking lines. No heli noise, first hand impressions of the snow conditions on slope and – above all – the satisfaction to have earned your turns is just priceless. So when the idea came up amongst my snowboarding friends to plan on a mission deep into the alaskan backcountry with nothing but tents to sleep in and nothing but the own feet to get us up the mountain, it was a no-brainer for me to join. The area of choice were the Tordrillos, a mountain range northwest of Anchorage that became famous for being the stage of parts of Brainfarm‘s legendary snowboard movie‘The Art of Flight’ with Travis Rice and John Jackson showing big mountain riding never seen before. The challenge to access some of these spots ‘barefoot’ was just tantalizing.
After quite some planning and finding the right guides to pull of a mission like this we were finally meeting at a seaplane airfield in Anchorage. Five riders, two filmers, two guides and myself for shooting stills. Three plane loads with a Beaver aircraft, equipped with skis to land on snow. More than a ton of tents, stoves, sleeping bags, snowboards, safety gear and food to be brought to the back of beyond.
The spot the guides had picked for the base camp was perfect: A big flat area in the middle of a huge glacier, free of crevasses and still close enough to get to most of the runs withing two hours. Rumors had reached us during the final preparations, that the temperatures would bottom out at -30°C during the first nights, so first priority was to set up basecamp with proper snow walls around all sleeping tents to minimize the wind chill. Get as much as possible of the ‘infrastructure’ done, before the temperatures drop from ‘bearable’ to ’really f***ing cold’. Fire the camping stoves and get the water boiling for some hot tea and our first dinner out in the wild.
After a really cold night, it‘s always nice to get the body moving. Good thing, most of our dedicated lines required around two hours of splitboarding, followed by another hour or more of bootpacking up the steep sections to get to the top of the run. A thorough look at the topographic maps revealed plenty of possibilities to ride and shoot around the camp with the best light at different times of the day, so planning was crucial to be at the right spot at the right time. The downside was of course, that the spots with early morning light required a sharp 5 a.m. wakeup call. Most spots had nice late afternoon light though, especially the technical more difficult ones.
Camp life was increasingly comfortable, as the temperatures slowly rose and everybody adjusted to the unfamiliar living. Snow caves were dug, lunch boxes used as poker-table as soon as the sun brought the temperatures above freezing level. Maybe it also helped, that the pilot of one supply-flight brought in two boxes of beer. A rare luxury that nobody had even dared to hope for! So the spirits couldn‘t have been higher, no matter if it was bluebird with lots of riding and shooting or down days to rest the bones and get some lessons in knots- and ropework-science.
Although everybody was craving for a shower and some other cultural amenties, nobody really wanted to leave after 12 days out on the glacier. We were happy that our big dream had come true and everything had worked out so well. We got further and deeper into the alaskan backcountry than any of us had been before. A perfect match of living a simple camp life in a breathtaking scenery and getting steep AK runs every day, achieved only with the power of our own feet. The whole trip was for sure a game changer for all of us and Alaska will be on our annual schedule from now on. The only question is, what‘s the next level… It‘s gotta be deeper and further for sure!
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To me there are two different types of being away from home, traveling around the globe. First ones are job or project related journeys like my three week trip to Mauritius in March this year. We headed there for a swimsuit shooting and did not leave the hotel resort once. That is because we just didn’t have the time to explore the small island in the Indian Ocean – this tiny piece of water surrounded land with its marvelous landscapes, coasts and small towns.
Port Louis is said to be a gorgeous city, but we did not see anything of it but its airport. No doubt, journeys like these are pretty nice to experience; it is great to get paid for being around in places others are dreaming of. Plus: I feel privileged to be offered those possibilities.
However, they can’t give me the satisfaction of genuine traveling: the moment you start thinking about a specific place, planning the trip, packing up the car or just stuffing as much as you can into your backpack and then starting the journey until you finally arrive.
The chance to be free and spontaneous in my decisions is what I love most about traveling, the lack of stress, no appointments, just me and my friends, a new place to discover. It is not just about being away from home, being away from duties, it is something beyond, something deeper. I figure the real benefit of traveling is that while you travel you move on – not just in a geographical way but also in the sense of building your personality, discovering what life is all about.
Every mile I cover, every city, every campsite I visit, every photo I take does something with me.
Today, I’m convinced this wouldn’t be the case if I went from one cozy hotel to another. If you really want the adventure, the entire, genuine feeling of traveling, you need to stay in between.
I love to just jump into the car, stop at any place I want, pop up my tent, take out the camera and inhale that very moment at that very place. That’s what it’s all about and to be able to head on when and wherever I want.
In case you still have no clue what the fuzz is all about, let me give you an example. Last year I had to find a project for my bachelor thesis. So I went to the internet and came across something both special and weird. In the Spanish desert there is a western village, a former set for movies like „The Good, the Bad and the Ugly“, „Once upon a Time in the West“ or „Lawrence of Arabia“. This town is a conglomeration of washed-up actors, left-overs from movie sets and in general a reminder of caducity. But nevertheless a very interesting photo spot. So, I rented a car, drove 1500 miles right into the Spanish desert, spent there 3 weeks of sleeping in the car or in my tent, hiking around in the middle of nowhere, talking to people from all over the world. Then I went back – with photos on my hard drive – sufficient for a book, exhibitions and great stories.
Now, you see, that’s traveling to me.
The word travel can often be perceived as meaning long periods away from home, but I think travel is instilled in our bones from a very young age and that we quickly establish what we are and what we want to do. I remember as a child, the adventures of camping in North Wales on the little farms with no hot water and then our last family holiday in Bulgaria, before it became the mainstream animal it is today. Both were a step into the unknown, a walk on the outside of your comfort zone and an inquisitive bug that refused to lie dormant.
Being a surfer affords you that special nod, the one that takes you places many people would never see, we seek out far away waves, often risking all kinds of wrong doings to get to paradise, it’s just what we do, it’s the way we live, however recently my wife opened my eyes to new adventures, overcrowded and overpopulated communities in Asia, the poverty in Cambodia of which I don’t think I will ever stop studying and a very astute awareness of what else is around us if we don’t take our surfboards.
I travelled alone last year for work, to Australia and Barcelona, two very different places but the stoke was there from the minute flights were booked, there’s something very defining about travelling alone and the older you get the rarer it can be, but one seemingly slips back into a youthful soul, wide eyed and ready for the adventures. I generally meet a lot of like minded people, also travelling alone and share stories for hours, often in the strangest of places and circumstances. Last year I was shooting for Noosa Longboards in Australia, from the UK I had arranged to meet a guy called Mike Jahn (The Byron Bay Festival director) in Byron Bay, so I made my way up there and stayed at his home with his lovely family, we ate wonderful food and talked for hours, before surfing the next day. The interesting thing is, we had never met previously and the Jahn family will always be my good friends now. This is what travel means to me, It broadens your mind and wakens your inner being allowing you to meet and make new friends from far reaching places, but most of all it shows us how lucky we are to be on this planet of ours.
I grew up with an atlas on the wall. A globe on the shelf. Friends that travelled, stories from safari’snin Zimbabwe, friends that passed through the Berlin wall, Māori hunting weapons hung in hallways. Geography was my favourite lesson, an atlas always held much mystic to me I spent hours pouring over pages held within.
Yet as kids we never left the British isles. I was 18 when I first got on a plane, gripping my armrest tightly all the way to Fuerteventura, I felt like Shackleton on his way to Antarctica.
Sixteen years later and I’ve lost count of the places I’ve been, I dread to think of my own CO2 footprint. Fergal Smith who I stayed with in Ireland has just stopped all air travel for those reasons, a tough decision for a pro-surfer who’s livelihood depends on sponsors who pay you to chase swells across the globe. He’s looking at buying a new boat, whilst I’m there, and talking about a train trip across Europe and Russia. I get the feeling for Fergal his shutting of the aeroplane door is the opening of many even more exciting ones.
In Lanzarote I visited Chiara and Fico owners of boutique hotel – La Jallo, growing their own vegetables to feed guests in the unyielding lava landscape. Chiara tells me how great it feels to reap the benefits, her joy is apparent when she collects some eggs from the hen coop. It’s the simple things that make the difference. The surf pumped on Lanzarote and Jose Maria Cabrera my host shared some amazing spots with me, I saw a side to Lanazote I never expected. Far removed from the package holiday hell you hear about, or the gnarly locals the surf media warn of. I guess a smile goes a long way and although reluctant to give waves for free, I was told where to paddle out, shouted into waves and guided in when I spilt my head open on a big day.
In the Faroes we felt the full force of the ocean, it’s a pyrotechnically unstable climate and I can’t begin to the describe the raw-ness of the elements felt daily by the islands, it’s an incredible place and we all felt lucky that tucked away on deserted beaches beside plunging cliffs we found fun indigo coloured barrels groomed by arctic gales. The Faroes isn’t for the faint hearted, the start gate to this adventure and off we set cantering at breakneck pace.
Island communities might seem full of strange customs and even backwards at times, but surrounded by monotonous, insurmountable walls of an ever present sea it could seem like a prison, islanders need to be savvy and frugal just to survive. It’s apparent sustainability and forward thinking is key. Fergal shares a film called the Coconut Revolution with me an incredible story about the inhabitants of Bougainville Island, who cut off from the world by Papa New Guinea and Australia when they refused to accept a mining companies advances and ruination of the landscape. Subjected to a marine blockade they have survived against all odds since 1990 on pretty much just coconuts – powering cars, curing illnesses and even producing electricity all from the humble fruit.
This project for me is about visiting corners of the Atlantic that intrigue me, corners that I’ve wanted to visit, islands spotted on those atlases as a teenager, I purposely picked corners I’ve not been to. We will see how it pans out, so far so good. I’ve met incredible people, been told incredible tales and scored amazing waves.
Chiara overlooking her vegetable garden looking towards the sea sums it up ‘Islanders are aways looking towards the ocean, to an a islander the ocean means freedom, we have a different perspective’.
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