Why actually "Going Home" when we start at home in Hamburg?

Quite simply, like so many people in the world, we have drastically reduced our social contacts over the last 1.5 years. Video calls with friends became the new normal. But face-to-face contact with our families suffered the most as a result. After all, they weren't skilled at using technology and all the modern communication options.

But since our families live 100-300km away from us, and neither of us drives cars, there was only the possibility to go to them by train. But as long as our families and we were not fully vaccinated, we did not want to take any risk and possibly introduce the virus to them.

Over time, Björn also developed a particular fear of becoming infected himself. This fear wasn't easy to deal with. During this time, however, one thing has repeatedly helped us clear our heads and enjoy some normality: getting out into nature by bike.

When we were finally all vaccinated, it was pretty clear right away that we wanted to visit our families by bicycle. We have family members living spread out over distances that are a good day's ride between them. So this was going to be our first bikepacking trip. A trip on which we would also rediscover places of our respective past together.

The fact that the decelerated journey by bike was at the same time to become a kind of slow return among people was something we hadn't quite realized beforehand. Still, it became apparent with the relaxation that spread among us after the first few kilometers. The stress of everyday life had disappeared from our minds; we were not thinking about the pandemic. We were just looking forward to the adventure together.

// DAY 1

HAMBURG - BREMEN

It is day 1 of our GOING HOME adventure. We have planned to ride 140 km from Hamburg to Bremen, where my father lives.

// DAY 2

BREMEN - OSNABRÜCK

Plan for today: 136km from Bremen to Osnabrück. Half of our route and the home of Jana's twin sister.

Day 2 of our Going Home Tour was long. Longer than the first day and had a few more meters of altitude. These were waiting just before our destination for the day and unnecessarily delayed our time in the saddle. But let's start at the beginning.

After about 90 km, we were able to take the long-awaited fries stop at Lake Dümmer. The snack bar welcomed "bikers" (with and without an engine).

A portion of french fries and a cold sugary drink were just what we needed now. To strengthen and motivate us.

We rode a short distance along the lake, which was a bit overwhelming after 1.5 days with almost no people. On a sunny Sunday at lunchtime, many people were spending time at the lake. A few too many for us.

Slowly we realized that our butts were sore and sitting in the saddle was becoming very uncomfortable.

// DAY 3

OSNABRÜCK - WERNE

The last 120km of our journey was ahead of us, on to Björn's mother.

"Beep, beep, beep." 4:43 a.m. and the alarm clock rang. Hello, day three.

Today we had fresh coffee from the French Press, my sister had gotten up with us, so we had breakfast together and all sat at the table with a cup of coffee. We now had to make a decision.

Would Björn's knee make the planned 120 kilometers? What alternatives did we have? We wanted to do a bit of cycling around Werne over the next few days, which of course, isn't possible if the knee is entirely shot. So what was our best option?

After a round of yoga and some decision-making, we carried our bikes down the stairs fully loaded. Outside it was already bright since we had taken more time. And it was colder than the last days.

We took a train to Münster so that we could shortcut about 80 km and ride the remaining kilometers to Werne by bike. We hoped that Björn's knee would be less stressed this way, and we still wouldn't have to give up cycling altogether.

Of course, we could not adequately secure our bikes on the train, so I had to get up at every stop and hold my bike. How happy we were when we arrived in Münster and could get back on our bikes.

When we arrived at Björn's mother's house, we were greeted effusively by her dog. We didn't expect anything else, but for me, it's always a bit too much. I like our quiet cat better, after all.

In the afternoon it was time for shopping in the city center. We had thought about doing something good for our bodies during the trip and decided to visit the local natural brine bath. However, we didn't have any bathing clothes, so we had to get them spontaneously.

After three days on the bike and a total of 320 kilometers, our bodies were a little sore, but we were thrilled to have completed this adventure almost as planned.

We were so happy and excited that we were already making plans in our heads for the next major bikepacking trip.

We will definitely take away as a lesson to consider shorter stages, maybe around 80 kilometers, to have more time to enjoy different places and not just sit in the saddle all day. Combined with photography, this is already very time-consuming.

But the most crucial question is: When will we go on the next bikepacking adventure?