Day 252 (China): km marker 82 on G310 - the Yellow Sea (no idea what to put here)
daily distance: 61km
total distance: 15,404km
riding time: 3-4h, but really: who cares?
The Yellow Sea. And me.
I arrived. At the Yellow Sea. Today. Just under 10 months ago I started pedaling in the Black Forest and have now reached the other end of the Eurasian continent. The idea wasn’t to head to Beijing by bike. I somehow wanted to get to the Yellow Sea. There it was before me now. As I was nearing it, tears started rolling down my cheeks - a whirlwind of memories flashing before my eyes as I drew closer and closer and could start smelling the salty air. And then it lay before me.
The end of a trip in some ways, but not in others. I began with no real vision of what it would be like 10 months ago and had no real idea what things would turn out to be this morning. I just let it happen. And the feelings were overwhelming as I arrived at the coast and plunked myself down to take in what was ahead. What it would feel like. Here is a - rather vain - attempt at describing the mixed bag of emotions, all swirling in my head at the same time:
- joy: I did it!, from the Black Forest to the Yellow Sea
- disbelief: did I really do this?, from the Black Forest to the Yellow Sea? Pinch me!
- gratitude: for having made it safely; I know that some of you were worried about me many a day and I am grateful for your concern and glad that I wasn’t hit by a vehicle (despite a good number of close calls), never seriously injured and never really was in personal danger by other people
- early onset of nostalgia: while I’m glad that I did arrive, this also marks the end of an era for me; the free-wheeling days of being almost completely free to do what you like are drawing to a close and they will be missed
- lonesomeness: I was there by myself, no one to meet or greet me; in some sense this was welcome as I could just linger in my own thoughts and strange as it may seem, it was one of the first moments when I did feel alone in the last months
- fatigue: the last weeks have been grueling and have taken a toll on me, both physically and emotionally; as I was sitting there, I could feel how drained I was in every respect
- and an overwhelming and vast emptiness that started to open up … leaving this won’t be easy, but the memories that have literally amassed during this trip will stay with me for a lifetime
Did any of the many sacrifices that were involved in getting here make sense? I don’t know and I don’t want to think about it right now. Let me just say this: my hunch is yes. Over the past few days I have been receiving a good number of emails that have informed me that people enjoy the messages that they are receiving, that they feel that they are part of the journey and that I take them along for the ride. That is the best that I could hope for. For me personally, I got so much out of this experience, I would not want to miss a minute and I hope I could convey as much for the past months.
And I want to thank YOU! Yes, you. Without the feedback that I received through messages, emails, comments and other means I could not have done it. Thank you very, very much.
For those wanting some raw facts:
total distance on the bike: 15,404km
distance in vehicles: about 1,300km
climbing: well over 100km
days on the road: 252
flat tires: 0
helpful people: too many to count
The day started out with me not feeling badly, but not feeling great either. I was there and knew that this would be the end of the biking part of the trip. I took this as a good sign.
And so I rolled along. The km markers didn’t fly by, it was slow going. All the while I knew I would get there. My stomach was still not in great shape, but I motored along. Took a break here:
And then moved on. I had decided to head north and evade a larger city. And then I started to feel the pull of the Yellow Sea. I couldn’t smell the ocean, that would be difficult given the wind conditions. But I knew I was close and so eventually I turned off the main road and just headed east. I had to thread my way a few times, but kept the general direction until I hit a bridge and a good road on a dam running next to a river. I followed and just wanted to arrive. And didn’t want to arrive. But really I did. And then I saw two buildings ahead of me - spaced about a km apart, signaling the river gates and I knew I was there. Past a construction site and then I got the first glimpse of the Yellow Sea. I could smell the salty air of the ocean now. After taking in where I was, I sat down …
I don’t know how long I was sitting there, but turned away eventually and went to the city of Ganyu where the waves of exhaustion were washing over me in a way that I hadn’t experienced them before. I just passed the time hanging around after taking a long, hot shower in my hotel.
There will be a few more postings here in the next few days as I am heading to Beijing and then on to Germany. So do stay tuned.