There’s nothing quite like sitting back and soaking up stories from the road. Embracing inspirational tales of travels to far away places, bittersweet adventure and the life changing perspectives gained. We tracked down Martijn Doolaard, bike-packing adventurer, author and filmmaker to talk about the road less travelled, and one year on a bike.
From the North Sea to the Black Sea. I've reached the end of Europe. It feels like a great accomplishment. The last days through Bulgaria were uneventful and I pushed a little extra so I could take it bit slower going southwards along the coast. There is something magical in spending the night on an empty beach.
When the sun sets, the colours in the sky fade through purple, pink, orange, and green to blue. There is nothing other than the sound of the waves and sand between your toes. Total tranquility.
"The slower I go, the more I see and the more I experience."
“At sunrise I get up, take a swim, and go through my camping ritual with all the care and patience in the world. I put the stove together, make some coffee, write down the distances in my booklet, and read a bit on my Kindle. I have the entire beach to myself and linger till noon, when I get back in the saddle. This is almost too perfect to be true.”
We loved the part of your book about when you reached the Black Sea, what did that milestone mean to you?
I think The Black Sea was one of the first big goals because it's the border of Europe. Not only exploring beyond my home country, but continent too. Especially since I came from the sea on the other of end of Europe, the North Sea. While there is really no day to day destination on such a trip you look for destinations and goals in between, just to keep yourself focused and going.
What part did the ocean play on your journey?
The oceans have a big impact on me. It's where land stops and there is no perspective of new land. That flat line on the horizon somehow gives peace, it's very calming. The noise of the waves take over any sound coming from the land. I love to spend the night on the beach. Every sea made me remind the other seas I camped at. The Sea of Marmara in Turkey, The Caspian Sea in Iran, The Andaman Sea in Thailand. Great moments to reflect on the journey.
If you could relive one moment from that journey, what would it be?
So many moments that I would relive in a flash, many have blurred into one but right now I’m thinking about that first night on the edge of Europe. I arrived there late at night in the dark and pitched up. Waking up there was truly magical, the beach was wider, more beautiful and remote then I ever could have imagined. It was something I’ll savour for a long time.
What music takes you straight back?
Easy, High Violet from The National. Days before I reached the sea I had met a girl in Bucharest, she hasn't left my mind since then. I recall listening to that album and drinking wine in her apartment. Moments like these stay with me.
All Photos by Martijn Doolaard, One Year on a Bike, gestalten 2017