Time to Take a Breath

I’m stopped at the stunning Sanddorn-Garten farm shop and cafe near the shores of Lake Schwielow and on the southwestern outskirts of Potsdam. For all of you sick of me complaining about the rain, wind and cold, you may be happy to hear that I finally have sunshine and warm weather. It was my first morning taking off wearing only my shorts and short-sleeve bike jersey. Damn, it feels good. And now I can actually enjoy my rhubarb cake and hot coffee on an outdoor terrace. It’s sunny, I’m dry, and the birds are once again happy. I’m seated next to a large, expansive wildflower garden, so the insects are buzzing around me and the views are beautiful.

I’ve had an awesome cycling day so far, leaving Berlin but while still in the city taking a route that took me through lots of parks and various green spaces. In Potsdam I’ve been riding through multiple parks and past several gorgeous lakes. The ride so far has been a bit too urban for my liking, but it’s been bike paths and dedicated bike lanes all the way, so I’ve definitely had a joy-filled day thus far. I REFUSE to ever take the sun for granted. Ever again! A few more hours and I’ll be near the town of Bad Belzig, staying in a camper van on the property of another Warm Showers host. They’re charging me 20 Euros for the night, but I don’t mind. That’s a fraction of what I’d have to pay for a hotel.

After a week on the bike I figure it’s time to reflect a little. My ride essentially consists of about four weeks of riding days, and then another week of rest days sprinkled in, so you could say I’m roughly a quarter of the way finished with my ride. It was really difficult to know what to expect as I was planning this thing. Some things have gone about as I had expected, other things I’ve scrapped or modified. Because I was in Mexico – not working – for about three months prior to my ride, I had all this time to dream about the adventure and let my mind run wild a bit. My mind is known to do that. So, I had come up with all these ideas like a Google form for people to pledge support for me during my ride, another Google form which would have allowed people to make predictions in the Euro 2024 tournament. I had planned to do yoga each day, and thought it would be fun for others to join me in a 30-day yoga challenge while I was riding. I wanted to visit a bunch of schools to talk about my writing and my ride. Good ideas, all of them. But I see now that I got a little carried away. It’s no big deal, and honestly, I don’t really care. I figured I’d plan for this ride but that much of what I would plan would shift or change or get shit-canned altogether. And that has happened.

I also knew, and continued to tell myself this while I was preparing for my ride this spring, that only three things really mattered to me when it came to this ride. I wanted to enjoy and challenge myself, I wanted to raise money and awareness for mental health issues, and I wanted to soak in the atmosphere of the Euro 2024 football tournament. Those were the core goals heading into the ride. If everything else fell away, including this blog and the videos I’ve been posting, I’d continue to focus on those three things that mattered most to me. The three reasons I was really doing this ride. So far, so very damn good. I’m doing it, and the three foundational goals are pushing me forward.

One other idea I’d had was to make up a Biking the Euros playlist on Spotify, and to choose a “Song of the Day” to inspire me on my ride. I have done this, and you can link to it here. I’m posting my song choice each day on Instagram and Facebook. Essentially it’s a quirky list of soccer-themed songs, biking-themed songs, some motivational tunes, some Oktoberfest-like German sing-along party songs, and some songs that have helped me through tough times with messages that have special meaning for me. The German version of “Country Roads,” the unofficial German soccer anthem “Major Tom,” “Time to Move On,” by Tom Petty, and my anthem for my ride, “Jump” by Mark Malefyt. Maybe you’ll join me in listening to these tunes. I’d like that!

In terms of my mental health so far, it’s been mostly good. I’m always challenged when it comes to change or feeling like a fish out of water, so at times I’ve craved familiarity and have felt strong mood dips and feelings of homesickness. The rain and cold definitely haven’t fucking helped. I’m also prone to loneliness – yet I chose a 35-day solo bike ride? What the hell? The Warm Showers host stays and spending time with people like Dawn and Dallas in Berlin has definitely helped. It’s great to have some human contact and fun people to engage with. I’m also trying to remain open to meeting other new people, chatting with strangers when the moment is right, and also embracing and enjoying the solitary moments – like the one I’m having right now. All in all, I’m pretty damn happy. Really. Not always, but more often than not. I feel lucky to be doing what I’m doing and proud of myself for dreaming this thing and then actually doing it. Every day’s a blessing. Even the rainy ones. And it’s so wild to know that dozens of unknown encounters and magical moments (and probably some mishaps) await me.

Carry on my wayward son!

12 thoughts on “Time to Take a Breath

  1. Karla Harriman

    Love love love it all Chris .., I’m excited as heck for you and a little envious as well … I love to hear about your random encounters with the folks you are meeting along the way and the places you are staying ..,
    The music selections sound fun .., so I’ll check them out … glad you are enjoying sunshine …
    And overall having a ton of fun … it’s interesting to hear all your ideas you had before the trip and what is falling out as important to you along the way … keep peddling and posting 😍. You are doing GREAT!!!

  2. Karen Mandt

    Sounds so amazing Chris ! I admire
    Your courage to go and complete your dream. So many have dreams and never even attempt them ! What making memories you are making….
    Willie Nelson’s “on the road again might be a good song for ya ! Lololol

  3. Raquel Stephenson

    Way to go Chris! You’re inspiring as hell- from dreaming up this ride, planning and training for it, and now actually DOING it!! As always, I’m moved by your honest and vulnerable accounts, and resonate with so much of it- the human condition surely is not all warmth and sunshine! But I DO hope that’s the weather you’ll have for the remainder of your roll!

    1. Christopher Kreie Post author

      Hi Raquel! I know, it’s a little hard to believe I’m actually doing this. The dreaming part has always been easy for me. It’s the “doing” that can be the challenge! It’s great to hear from you, and I appreciate all your kind words and support!

  4. Lynne Perry

    Chris!! Thank you for your honesty and perseverance! Letting go of some ideas like yoga every day is good-you are embracing the journey and readjusting as needed. Love the idea of the Spotify list and will link to that for sure. Love that your in my old stomping grounds if Leipzig right now! There is a little museum on the top floor on the Main Street from Augustusplatz. Random and cool exhibitions. Keep the rhythm going!!!

  5. Laura Guadalupe Carreon Jimenez

    Toma tiempo lograr finalmente escuchar la voz interior, y son los momentos que pareciera uno estar en solitario los que mas nos enseñan sobre nosotros mismo. Que oportunidad la tuya, conocer nuevas personas, pero sobre todo, escuchar tu voz interior, lejos del ruido constante, con esos paisajes tan hermosos como únicos testigos. Este viaje de transformación, va más allá de lo planeado, creo.

    1. Christopher Kreie Post author

      I love this Laura! Thank you. I agree so much. I’m experiencing a state of mind on this trip that’s difficult to achieve during normal, daily life. Thanks for all your motivation and encouragement!


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