Lately I’ve been preparing for my trip to Ireland. This includes purchasing the necessary gear and training with full gear on. Enjoying life as it is now 🙂
Decathlon is probably one of my favorite stores to shop at although I spent ages figuring out what gear I wanted to buy and testing products. Their stuff is really affordable and has good quality products, largely because they produce everything under their own brands, gaining larger control over their products and skipping out their need to share the pie with others in the supply chain. I do notice that most of their items are oil based products, but a synthetic sweater or jacket will last me quite some time. In the end I bought items preparing me for rainy weather in Ireland (hiking boots, rain jacket, rain pants and a new fleece). I got a chance to test it all out with my skate from Amsterdam to Rotterdam.
I skated with Joshwa, who was also the main contact for our destination address in Rotterdam. We rolled out of a rainy Amsterdam with our gear, me having a bit more than Joshwa since I needed to test my endurance with what I planned to take to Ireland, and in conditions similiar to it (on the assumption that it’ll be wet). It was quite contrasting since he was skating in a hoody, jeans and skate shoes carrying a small backpack and I was in full rain mode, with rain pants, rain jacket, waterproof hiking boots, skate gloves and helmet, carrying my backpack with tent and all. Not sure what the weight was, but I’m guessing about 15KG including food and water. That was quite a ride.
It took us almost 7 hours to get there. We stopped quite a lot to have a snack, also stopping once to have lunch and charge my iPhone since the battery just died when it got below 60% (it died again later, but we navigated with Joshwa’s phone and our intuition after that). You see quite a lot on the road, and coming into the city feels like something out of a fantasy novel, with high risers poking out behind forest lines. I love the skating because of the scenes and because sometimes the road is shit and sometimes its good, making you appreciate the difference. I love the skating because I feel like I can go anywhere, being totally free off of fossil fuel transportation, though making the most out of the foundations in infrastructure created by them.
The next day (after we had a bit of a party in Rotterdam), I continued my journey to The Hague alone. With not enough sleep and being fatigued from the day before, this took longer than expected and was a hard journey for me to skate. The plan was to skate there early, get back to Rotterdam where I had a place to stay, then skate again to the Hague in the morning where I had a meeting the next day but this didn’t work out as planned.
Arriving in The Hague after a hard journey, I plopped myself on the couch at Sickboards (a longboard store). I chilled there for a while just appreciating all the decks hanging there, reading magazines and watching videos. One of the staff (Kevin from France) offered to clean my bearings, it being a quiet time for business, and he enjoying the work. I ended up not buying anything at the store since I was quite happy with my gear as it was, and left since I was feeling fatigued and wanted to find a place to crash soon.
I figured I wasn’t going to make it back to Rotterdam because it would be pointless killing myself over another distance skate the next morning, so kept my eyes open for places where I could pitch my tent. I sort of found a place but thought it was too out in the open, and decided to ring the doorbell of a local house to see if the locals had a better idea. A little girl answered the door, who was seemingly not wearing any pants, and who just stared at me when I asked her a question. Her father (presumably) then came out and he walked me to a potential site where I could pitch my tent, although advising me to get a bit out of sight due to the official illegality of what I was doing. People living outside of the city always seem more relaxed and friendly.
That night the thunder and rain came down. I slept in my rainjacket and rain pants, as my sleeping bag was way too light, and curled up to try and keep myself warm. There was water being swept inside the tent making puddles everywhere and I tried to make the most out of my sleep, hoping it would be morning soon.
I took my time waking up and packing my gear. I did in a very step by step manner, reversing the order of which I set it up and not stressing myself on the actions of the activity. I started skating in a similiar fashion: no rush, just roll. That gave me better morale as well. I ended up getting a coffee at the McDonald’s because it was an early sunday morning and I wasn’t sure what else would be open.
After using some internet there, I made my way to the Seedsaver meeting where I had some pancakes and tea before moving on to a café where I had more coffee and we discussed seeds. The meeting seemed productive, and I left with Patrick to go back to Amsterdam.
Here I am now, and I’m enjoying the luxuries of a house which is another reason why these trips are important: appreciate the difference from the good times and the bad. Put yourself out of your comfort zone so you can fully appreciate being in a place of comfort, but also so you learn how to deal with times when they’re shit beyond your influence. Learn to relax in times of stress, and gain more control over yourself in the process. I still need to learn… But that’s an excuse for plenty more trips 😉