After cycling through 7 countries in 6 months, a total of 8300 kilometres, 550 hours at an average of 15 km per hour (my dad did the math).
And now the day has arrived that the dream I’ve been living is coming to an end. After a half year of pure freedom, amazing moments, meeting wonderful people, searching for the best food Europe has to offer and just doing whatever came on my path. Now I am traveling back to my roots in beautiful Amsterdam!
It may sound a bit depressing that this journey is ending, but for me it’s quite the opposite. One of the things this adventure has shown me, is that one of the good things about being away, is coming home. To spend time with my family and friends, to go to my favourite coffee place, run in the park and for to take a look in your closet instead of wearing for same outfit for 6 (at times smelly) months.
Luckily, I never get homesick. I don’t miss home when I am away. In fact, home is far from my mind when I’m exploring a new place and people. But it is always there, in the back of mind, deep in my heart, knowing that I have a place to go back to, people that look forward to seeing me when I return, and a life that I can step back into.
So what did all this bring me?! As this will be my last post, it’s a good opportunity to take you along on my dream and adventure from the start to now. The starting idea, the big takeaways and the ‘’now what?” question.
The Why? Dream big
Last year, I turned 28 years old, I was living my life, friends, family, work, sport. All pretty balanced. My work was challenging, I set up several companies in hospitality, the big start up project Adam tower, creating 3 restaurants, nightclub, loft and hotel into a empty building , working under pressure suits me well. After a year of hard work and great achievements, I knew I needed some refreshment in my life. Like most twenty-something’s with a degree living in the city, I had a jam-packed routine of work, socializing and going a hundred miles an hour. I found myself wondering more and more if I was moving in the right direction, was I going to achieve my goals, and what are those goals? I started dreaming of sneaking out for a while to find some new inspiration. But I kept this idea to myself for a while. I worried that ‘other people’ might think I was running away from reality…
But once I have something is in my head, I usually find a way to make it happen. And Life Cycle Stories really started to take shape while I was staring out of the window. So, I was working in the ADAM tower, a 100 meter high new hotspot in Amsterdam. I was supposed to be working, ticking off things on my to-do list. But one of my oldest friends suprised me at work, Mickey. We were looking out over the city, probably the best view of Amsterdam. ‘’An, you have the coolest job ever right?’’ I answered “I love it… but there is something inside me saying I need to go out and explore a bit more.” I told him about my idea of a long trip, maybe by bicycle. He liked the idea. We kept on staring out the window. It can seem almost like the definition of wasting time. It seems to produce nothing, to serve no purpose. But I think it’s the opposite.
After a while, Mickey told me he knew someone, Daan, who cycled to India to start an orphanage, maybe you should have a chat with him?
And this was the start. That evening I contacted Daan Steller via facebook. I asked him to lunch to talk about his cycling project. Two days later we were chatting over soup in the Jan Pieter Heijestraat In Amsterdam. I was flabbergasted, he REALLY CYCLED TO INDIA!! This is what I wanted to do. Travelling, seeing, hearing, opening doors. Daan inspired me to make this happen. My hero.
I called my mum straight away. ‘’Mum, I have a plan. I want to cycle the world’. Her response; “Go for it!” And when my mum supports a plan, it’s really time to go.
The How? See a Life Coach
So from there the roller coaster took off. My future had always been something for later but maybe it was time to take it a bit more seriously. Because hey, I’m not 18 anymore and my future was now. My dad suggested I speak to a life coach to help met to set some goals and help to shape your ideas into realities.
I’ll be honest – I was sceptical at first. But my dad offered me the first session, so why not? As soon we got started, there was a connection. We talked a lot about my skills and what I wanted to be and do. What have I learned and what can I achieve in the future. He encouraged me to set the goal of this cycling journey. Every week I sent him an update about the project, how it was taking shape and what I wanted to learn. I wanted this to be my ‘grand slam’, my own School of Life.
After completing a hectic and exhausting project, I left my job, said adieu to my apartment and I bought a bike. I moved into my parents house to save a little more money and work on the project. Contacting magazines, production companies, talking, talking and more talking.
The What? Just do it
On the first day of June, I was ready to set off. My dad flew with me to Oslo to help me settle into biking life. Because, actually, I had no clue what I was doing cyclewise. I should know at least how to change a flat tire, adjust the handlebars, seat, and brakes.. Ideally, I should be able to take my bike completely apart and then put it all back together again. I was prepared to find and meet people along the way, discover stories and recipes, cook and write and film. But this whole “bicycle touring” thing was an entirely new concept to me. How on earth was I was going to travel over 8000km on my bike? But I also knew I would figure out a way to make it happen!
And it did happen;
I let go of the ordered way of living my life and it felt so good! I opened my mind, allowed myself to experience new places, people and food and challenged my beliefs. Being open to the world, with a different view and a smile, allowed me to see so many positive stories. All the people I met along the way were so inspiring. Nothing was planned, and lots of things happened spontaneously and unexpectedly.
When I gave the people along the road a smile, I always got one back. I learned how to brighten up my days, to turn my own mood around. When I felt like finding a new story or setting, I always found one.
It’s a big, big world out there, filled with crazy stuff, and people who are honest, inspiring and helpful. Everything I needed I carried with me on my bike and back. And that is really the beauty of traveling and going outside of your comfort zone, not being scared, and freeing yourself from routine. And for sure have faith in yourself and people.
Life Cycle Stories was first meant to be a way for me to share inspirational stories about local and fair food in Europe. But for me it turned out to be much more than that. The people I met along the way and seeing their way of living and eating helped me to;
- Make me dream even bigger
- Bring excitement into my life
- Let me believe in myself
- Show me a new way of living
- Find energy for the day ahead
- See there is always a pot of gold on top of the mountain
I can honestly say, every time I left a new home, farm or hut, and I was alone on my bicycle again, my grin spread from ear to ear. Sometimes I wanted to scream in pure joy… People are just awesome!
If I have ever been scared?
Yes.. the wild dogs in Sicily!
And now WHAT?
Food, people, traveling, health, fun, cooking are my keywords. The world is a playground.
Enjoy your life, you only get one!
Life Cycle Stories – Anne Pekelharing