I have been patting myself on the back for the past two months, congratulating my body on being able to carry on through the most physical exercise it has endured in an extended period of time. In the past I have been known to get sick constantly without warning, so biking through 5 countries while I was eating whatever was placed in front of me, retiring and rising at unreasonable hours, and never forgetting my after-ride-beer, I was impressed I stayed together.
Crossing into Belgium, my heart was heavy to leave behind the country I love so much. Belgium surprised me. From the flat seemingly endless canal roads to the countless people on bikes simply enjoying the day, it was this different land from everywhere else we had ridden. Bruges and Ghent became two of my favorite stops on the ride. Beer, great friends, warm hospitality, good music, and I couldn't wipe this damn grin off my face.
I was feeling great. We rode through a casual hurricane passing overhead, and through the clouds and griping wind, I kept my bike straight and didn't fall into a canal which is what I call a good day. Our next stop was Amsterdam then to the Hook of Holland to catch a ferry "across the pond" to England.
Navigating a train and some solid miles, we arrived the famed city, rolling our bikes onto the streets only to see hundreds of bikers in every which direction. Sticking out a little like usual, we plowed through the crowd until we unloaded our bags, we were told to lock our bikes outside. Whenever this is told to us, we stare back the fiend with the same eyes and expression a child has when he/she is denied a new toy. Unfortunately my big blue eyes didn't have any effect and our bike were chained along a floating sea of hundreds of other lonely friends.
Having a day ahead of us we perused the city getting some culture in us at the Rijks Museum. That night, we met up with some new friends, explored the city which has a beauty and image unlike any other place I have traveled to. The was successful, beer was good, and a warm bed was better, so nothing had gone wrong and I was happy for the moment.
The next morning I woke up in my own lovely personal hell. Drenched in sweat, a heavy fever, the feeling of a tortilla chip lodged in my throat, unable to swallow a thing, the day was looking up. So basically I was grumpy and only left my cot to hunt down a pharmacy. The comfort didn't last long, and the next day I pieced myself together in madness and made it to our ferry leaving the next night front the Hook of Holland.
I kept my spirits up staring our the station window watching the orange tinge fade over the ferry. Trying to shut my eyes for a second, I see another guy, my age, similar bike, loaded with paniers, give me a big smile and comes inside to great his fellow tourers. This was Cameron. A young Australian, just as energetic as Keagan and I, who had been biking for a year-and-a-half. He had us beat, but still we had some epic stories to pass around as we boarded the ferry for the 6 hour night crossing to Harwich, England.
Stuck in a small cabin, a few beers were smashed as I slowly fell into a coma only to be woken up at 5:30 the next morning by "Don't Worry be Happy" blaring through the loud speakers. I coughed up a lung, swallowed some pills, donned some spandex and met Keagan and Cameron to bike into the the early English light.
Coincidentally, Cameron was biking to London as well, so we had the privilege to ride with him for 80 miles until we had to depart. Without his wisdom, I don't know how far we would've ridden.
The terrain hadn't changed much form the other countries, just farms, brick buildings, sheep and cows. Within the first ten minutes I was honked at and in a very comprehensible form of English, then was called a "tosser." This just made me just laugh uncontrollably because even though I am in a country where I can understand the language, it is still extremely difficult.
Cameron introduced us to a full English breakfast in a small grungy American-esque diner in some quaint English town. After riding for hours through small towns we stopped to make some coffee with our little-used stove. While we almost set ablaze a statue of the Virgin Mary, Cameron indulged us with the do's and don'ts of English cycling before we had to say our goodbyes.
Only being 5 p.m. the sun had retreated and we rode into the London city skyline. Blue and chilly I found myself lost on the London Bridge amidst the buses and thousands of people. It is cool to be here knowing where I started. We got lost a few more times before making it to a friends flat for the next few nights. The comfort of a friendly face, and some good food soon got my spirits up and my temperature down.