This is it, guys! I’m really sorry, I know so many people have been rooting for me, but I can’t take it anymore. Riding through physical discomfort in the first few days – fine. Having to climb the Grimsel pass and Furka pass through wind and rain – fine. Hiking up multiple Dolomites passes due to tiredness – fine. Three days of constantly arguing and discussing with myself, while I realize more and more that I’ve stopped loving the journey – that’s too much.
I’ve been twisting and turning all night in my overheated top bunk, I would have loved to let you all wake up this morning with the good news that I’m cracking on. But honestly, then I would be doing it as a favor to you and not for me, and that unfortunately won’t work for me. The official scratch email has been sent, my dot will be removed from the map and I’m going to book a ticket home.
It would be unfair to blame it all on Croatia, though it certainly hasn’t served as an inspiration. The real problem was a bad attitude. For days I tried to talk myself in a better mood, tried to fool myself, tried to convince myself that it was in my head and I just needed to turn my attitude around (which is 100% correct, but clearly I failed to do so). It’s mentally draining to a) be in a dark place, and b) work so hard to force yourself to enjoy it. I lasted for three days before I thought there’s no more glory to be gained now.
I know I can push myself very very far, but not passed the point where I don’t enjoy myself anymore. Personal boundaries have been pushed much further than I ever imagined possible, but I can’t do that for another 1500km with an attitude problem. I’ve been receiving so many messages to push on, because I owe it to myself, that I will regret it, that I should see it through till CP4 or the next border, etc. But believe me. None of you said something I haven’t come up with myself. Every reason I try to come up with to continue seems artificial and forced. My pride? F that, I have broken every single personal record I’ve had. Regret? Sure, maybe, for a while. But I gave it a try, and that’s a regret I’ll never have. Unfinished business? Only in the sense of not seeing certain countries I wanted to see. But they’ll still be there next year, and I don’t have to be in a race to see them. Do I really want this? Yes. But on my own condition and that’s a real simple one: that I will enjoy it.
In a way I wish I had to opt out due to a physical restraint, it’s so much easier to explain, but that’s just not the case. I will just have to come to terms with the idea I couldn’t mentally cope. I counted on one bad day. I even counted on multiple bad days. But when it’s three consecutive days, it’s become structural. Maybe two weeks is all I can really enjoy on a bike. Maybe I should go on an do some more touring to be mentally prepared for this, maybe maybe maybe. I really don’t know, but for now, this is where my first stint in bike packing ends.
This time I’ll have to settle for this:
- 15 days of riding
- 2495 kilometers
- 32.130 vertical meters
- 95.129 calories burned (says Garmin Connect)
Only thing left to say right now is a massive THANK YOU for the outpour of sweet messages and support! WordPress kept sending me messages to say traffic went out of control, apparently the daily views went up from about 30 to 300. I loved writing the little daily pieces, even if it was eating in my sleep time. Luckily I didn’t race this in a way where 30 minutes of sleep made a lot of difference. 😉 It really has been very humbling to feel so immensely supported, and I almost feel more guilty for scratching towards you than towards myself, which in itself says it all really. I will be writing up a more elaborate reflection in the next days. If you have any specific questions you’d like answered, go ahead and send them my way and I will put that in the reflection as well. Can be anything, from frame size to questions like ‘do you feel like a loser’ (the answer to that is no).
I may have failed, but at least I tried.