The big 10 defined by André: Frequently asked questions


Today I listened to the last episode of Sanft & Sorgfältig for this year, a german podcast with the musician Oli Schulz and the TV star Jan Böhmermann. Inspired by them and due to the first exchanges of words with interested people along my way I will tell you about 10 frequently asked questions and will respond them.
Sometimes I get a little bit tired of answering these questions over and over again, but I started to collect them to see what is of interest for the people, meeting a cyclist like me traveling on its bike. I also observed that the questions do differ depending on the country and the level of living. While in poorer countries the local people are rather interested in the money, tourists from Europe may rather beinterested about my performance. Other cyclists rather look for the equipment.

1.Where do you come from? Where are you going? When do you start your travel?
Of course the origin and the direction of traveling are always the first things people want to know. Sometimes you switch from Spanish to another language afterwards. I always have to emphasize that I’m from Germany, but that I started my travel in Costa Rica. If I’m not doing this, I sometimes got the question if I started my cycling in Germany. After they know that I’m started in Costa Rica, their eyes get big and there face express an astonishment before they want to know how long I already have traveled.

2.How many kilometers do you cycle per day?
After the origin, the starting point, direction and time, this one might be the most frequently asked question. In the meantime I have developed a routine in responding to that one: It’s totally different because it depends on so many things, like the road conditions, the temperature and humidity, the altitude, the wind conditions, my personal feeling and motivation and of course the amount of meters which I have to go up or down.

3. Where do you sleep?
My answer to this question differs sometimes, because some people don’t know what couchsurfing or warmshower is, nor Casa de Ciclistas. In my map I always note where I stayed for the night and what kind of place it was. I have not evaluated it so far but I suppose that I spent most of my nights in my tent (wild or payed camping), followed by payed accomondations (most of the time hostels, rarely cheap hotels). From time to time I stay with local people (Couchsurfing, warmshowers, Casa de Ciclistas or invitations). The decision depends on the outer occurrences, on my mood and if I want to take a shower or if I need Internet or electricity.

4. Do you cycle/travel alone?
This question I’m always asked when I cycle alone and there is obviously no other cyclist. So I confirm but always admit that I’ve already cycled with others for some time and that there will be more cyclists I will meet to travel together for a while.
Sometimes I enjoyed the companion, but I also like the bigger liberty when I travel on my own. Traveling alone feels to be much more intensive, cause I got to know more people and speak more spanish. An important point of traveling with other cyclists is, that you can share your experiences with somebody else. And if all the other aspects do fit very good, I definitely prefer to cycle with another person.

5. Are you not afraid when you travel in this manner?
„No, I’m not afraid“ was my answer and depending on the person I went deeper in to that topic. I dealt with the topic of fear during my travel several times and developed another point of view at this topic. As a result my fears diminished during my travel.
I still take care and I’m looking for camping place, which can’t be seen from the road for example. Or I drive concentrated when I enter big cities with a lot of traffic. But I feel comfortable in this situations and fear doesn’t affect my feelings.

5. Did you have any bad experiences with raids or thefts?
Until some days ago I could always answer, that I had never had any problems. But in the bus terminal of Tucuman people tried to steel stuff from me, but they didn’t succeed.
I’m a person who believe in the power of positive thinking and so I think that I can keep away these things by control my thinking and not giving space to bad experience imaginations.

6. How much weight do you carry with you?
I don’t exactly know how much weight I carry with me and the first time I got to know how much kilos my bicycle is, was when we had to pay per kilo, while we transported our bikes in the train from Oruro to Uyuni. So now I know that the weight of my bike is close to 20 kilograms. A stable frame out of steel, solid rims and the Rohloff shifting system might cause the weight. The amounts of kilos I carry in my bags do differ from time to time, depending on the provisions I carry with me. Over the months I reduced my weight more and more, so that I think that I’m below 25 kilos now, but to be honest I don’t know.

7. Do you have trained in advance for your travel?
Not really and I also tell the people that in my opinion everybody can travel with the bicycle. It is a matter of habituation and you train yourself during the travel. Like with a lot of things you can start with small distances and increase the daily kilometers step by step. I also meet people, who just cycled 30-40 kilometers per day.
Me myself was always doing sports and I also cycled quite a few kilometers the year before, but I haven’t done it to be fit for my travel.

8. How much money does your bike costs?
Here I’m careful with my answer and most of the time I didn’t state the right amount. Sometimes I downplay and name a price which is much lower than the real value. I guess that in some cases by bike is more expensive then several cars here in the streets and I also don’t like to talk about money that much.

9. Did you have problems with your bike?
Well, yes, but no damages, which could be solved. Flat tyres and worn brakes belong to a long journey. While I had a lot of flat tyres in the beginning, it now became very rare. From the first day in Peru until today I just had one flat tyre.
The most serious problem was, when the screw of my rear bicycle rack broke so awkward, that I was not able to get the rest of the screw out of the thread.
A one-sided crack of a chain link and lost screws of my Ortlieb panniers issued a challenge to me.
Besides these topics, everything went well with my bike.

10. When do you go back to Germany?
I don’t know by my own and it does feel good to not have a date which does limit my journey. I will decide it spontaneously depending on cheap flights back to Germany or Europe. Currently my return seems to be in the middle of April.

The first Colombian Days

After 6 days on the boat, one more than expected, due to some technical issues on the boat, we arrived in cartagena, Colombia. Most of the activities during the last few days were done together, so I was happy to have some time on my own again and it felt like a deliverance as I finally could move around again without a time to meet up again.


We arrived in the evening when the immigration office was already closed, so that the captain handled everything during the next day, while we could spent some time in Cartagena as illegal immigrants. I took the chance to see the castle San Felipe, a big fort which served the Spanish against the attack of the Britons in 1740.

After two hours in the castle I went on to the old town of Cartagena, which I loved a lot. So far Cartagena can be called the most beautiful town on my path, but I have to admit that I just saw some part of the town. Later on I got to know, that some parts of the city are inhabited by very poor people and that this parts cover most of the city.
On my way to find a Hostal, a Brazilian guy recognized me and my bike and asked where I come from. It turned out that he is travelling on his bike as well, for 5 years through the whole south American continent. So I spontaneously checked in in the same hostel. He told my about the critical mass in Cartagena which was taking place the same evening. So I joined him and around 300 other cyclists for a tour along the coast and back. Although it was a great experience I missed the cohesion of the group. Some of the cyclists seem to mix up the excursion with a race. At the turning point there were 10 minutes between the first and the last cyclists. Anyway, I liked the the idea of the tombola, where different bike articles were given away to the participants.


The next few days in Cartagena were somehow determined by the „reparation“ or destruction of my tablet, as well as some other things in a chain of bad luck. I visited the lovely old part of Cartagena, the library and the gold museum, met again the crew from the sailing boat to have some beers on a roof party and celebrate the birthday of the Brazilian Cyclist. I had a few interesting conversations with a guy from Norway, who was staying in the hostal as well.



Equiped with a new tablet, it was time to leave the town. The accommodation for the next two days was already settled, a warmshower girl in Puerto Colombia and a Couchsurfing Couple in Rodadero, near Santa Marta. In the middle of the first stage I visited a „volcano“, full of mud. Due to the hot weather I already felt as a pig and so I enjoined a bath in the pothole on the top of the volcano. With 120 kilometers, the high temperature and headwind this day was really hard as well as the next one. Around noon I used to make a break to avoid cycling in the hotest time of the day. On my way to Rodadero there were no houses along the street, nearly people and even more no village for a couple of kilometers. In addition hardly places to hide from the sun for a nap. I finally found one and directly fall asleep. As I woke up suddenly two men with their bikes were standing right in front of me, fishermen who catched shrimps the whole night long. They were hard to understand in comparison to the people from Cartagena. After they passed I decided to go on but I parked my bike on some plants with prickles, which resulted in a flat tyre. I fixed it in the usual matter, while another fisherman arrived and helped me. Ready to go, the tyre was flat again – another hole in my inner tube, a new task. The fourth fisherman arrived and after some minutes a guy from Argentinia, who stopped his car to see if he can help. He invited me to come to his apartment and so I did one day later, cause I already demanded a couch for that night.


As civilisation approached again it was a very sad picture. Not comparable to the trash I had seen in Panama or Costa Rica. The amount of waste exceeded all my imagination, a poor village drowning in plastics and other kind of rubbish.
In Santa Marta I took the day to relax. Besides two hard days of cycling an infection started to drain power from my body. In the evening I followed the invitation of the Argentinian guy, who stayed together with his girlfriend and a friend in an apartment of a hotel. A holiday resort with a pool on top of the roof where I enjoyed the fresh water, before we cooked some Spätzle together and spent an pleasant evening.
The next days the infection robbed more power and so I’m forced to recover some more time. Hopefully I will regain my power again to go in south to Medellin, where I will meat Tobias!

From Garden Eden to the big town Panama City

Some days ago I uploaded some pictures of the Garten Eden without telling you about this place, whee we met Patrick, who lived in Leipzig and owned an organic shop before he left Germany. Finally he settled down in Uvita, a little village at the Pacific. After managing a hostel, he began to build the Garden Eden. Two German girls and one american guy stayed at this place as well and because of having a nice atmosphere at this place and inspiring conversations, we stayed there for three nights. All the guests helped him during the morning to build up a roof in the front of its house, clean up the house, water the garden and do some other tasks. Therefore we could it ate and sleep at his place. During our stay we only ate raw food, so vegan and nothing cooked. But we always conjure tasty stuff like Guacamole, hummus, smoothies and different kinds of salads. The house itself was an open house, so most of the „rooms“ had no walls around. I slept in a hammock for the first time and felt quite comfortable. On our last afternoon the visit of the nearby waterfall was beautiful as well and refreshing compared to the temperature of the warm ocean.

The trip had to go on and we went on to pedal down south. The next two nights we slept in the backyard of locals, whose hospitality is amazing. They offered us juice as well as fruits and water. Using their bathroom seemed to be the most common thing on earth. Well, this is how it should be, right?
In between we had to cross the first border and so we were curious if all things will work. After we had to pay the exit tax, we had to get the exit stamp on the side of Costa Rica. With this we went to the border, where they wanted us to show them a proof, that we will leave the country. Neither we had a flight ticket, nor any other proof. So they wanted us to show them our credit card or 500 $. We were prepared and so we could pass to Panama without any bigger problems.

One of the highlights in Panama, were the stay in Gualaca and the visit of the surrounding area. We stayed at a german woman, who one lived in Remscheid. She took us on a tour to her favourite places. A little canyon, a waterfall and two suspension bridges as well as a resort with rented houses and a tree house, operated by an old American guy with his young well-trained partner from Panama.



The next day we slept in a police station right next to the Panamericana, and as a present we got a pineapple right according to the motto of the police „protect & serve“.

One day before reaching Panama City we asked again at a police station near Coronado and again the served us. A policeman drove through the town to ask for an accommodation for us, returned and escorted us to the place. What a service.
Today we reached Panama City and it was really amazing to cross el Puente de las Américas, very impressive and one of the highlights so far.

The next days we will spent in the city before we will go up the channel to Portobello, where we want to catch a boat to Cartagena.

Well, how is it goin with my tyres, I got asked. One day after I wrote my entry about all the breakdowns, it became better,BUT it was not the end of this episode. A thunderstorm was going to show up and so it was the perfect time to have another flat tyre. Unfortunately Paula also didn’t realized that my misfortune pounced on me again. This time nails of a stapler wanted to have a look into my outer tyre to greet the tube. I found three of them stucked in the outer tyre. And although the procedure of getting out the tube, close the leak and reset my tyre became a ritual during these days, the rain came faster then I could get back on my bike. But I was lucky, cause I found a shelter before an intense rain in combination with thunderbolt began to rage. So, I needed a new repair kit and from that day on the fortne find its way back to me. 🙂


I updated the map with the marks of our night stops, which you can find here.

More pictures can be found on my Flickr Account.

Between storm, sun and people

Driving through hail thunderstorms andDSC02677 heavy winds, on sandy tracks and flooded cycle ways, carrying my bike over fallen trees or camping in the snow. This tour had a lot and it was a good test to get rid of useless stuff, to find out what is missing, what is possible to pedal during a day while having different weather and road conditions, to explore what my body was doing  in the meantime and to get a feeling of the remainng time for the places, which are passed along the way. Alive with the highly circulating blood, the feeling in the evening is great and driven by all the DSC02618pictures in my mind the day seems to be like a book, a story with me inside of it. But not enough, after all the impressions during the day, the evenings were full of encounters with friends, which I haven’t seen for a while and strangers, who were refreshing to get to know to. At the end of the day, the morning seemed to be far away.

At this point thank you, Daniel, Jenny, Johannes, Flow, Julia, David, Christian, Doro, Marisa, Karo, Jaqueline, Basti, Moritz and Peter for the hospitality and the exciting evenings.

sandy roads to Lüneburg

What else: The unbeatable Schwalbe tires got beaten for the first time by one of the thousands sticks along the way. 8 kilometers before reaching the destination for the second last day and while the sun went down, I had to play the mechanic and removed this sharp little devil, which found its way to the inner tube.

This day became the hardest for me on that tour due to the distance and the temporarily sandy road, which was nearly not possible to ride anymore. But a bunch of spaghetti at Lüneburg breathed new energy into myself. And when it comes to part to have a meal after first flat tiresuch a day, it feels so much better than in the evening of a day in the office. I feel much more grateful and whatever it is, which enters my stomach, it is greeted with pleasure.

I was delighted by all the companions, which pedaled with me along the way up north and with whom I could share impressions, meals and the position in the wind.


The GPS-tracker of my companion Tobias recorded most of my way from Stuttgart to Hamburg, which can be seen in this graphical depiction:


Streckenübersicht GPS

In less than two weeks I will beat my starting point in Costa Rica, so I will enjoy my last few days here with my friends and family and look forward to what will come. Tall mountains and 30 degrees in high humidity may be a bit different to the chilly springtime in Germany.

Fahren durch Hagelstürme, geplagt von starken Winden, unterwegs auf Sandpisten und überfluteten Fahrradwegen, Tragepassage über umgefallene Bäume oder Zelten im Schnee. Diese Tour hatte einiges zu bieten und war ein guter Test um sich über fehlendes oder überflüssiges Equipment klar zu werden. Zudem habe ich nun ein Gefühl davon wie viel Kilometer pro Tag mit einem voll bepacktem Reiserad angenehm zu fahren sind und was für eine Rolle Wind, Kälte, Regen, Fahrbelag, Schlaf und Höhenmeter dabei spielen. Nach 1000 Kilometern auf dem Rad, weiß ich nun was mein Körper davon hält und wie verwirrt er ist, wenn er dann mal ein paar Meter rennen muss oder sein Gefährt auf einmal nackt ohne Gepäck mit einer ungewohnte Leichtigkeit daherkommt. An jedem Abend hat man sich durch das gut zirkulierende Blut im Körper sehr lebendig gefühlt und durch die vielen Eindrücke entlang des Weges war es gegen Ende jeder Tagesetappe als ob der Abfahrtsort am Morgen schon vor ein paar Tagen verlassen wurde. Doch angekommen, begann dann der Austausch mit Freunden und Verwandten, die man länger nicht gesehen hat oder aber das Kennenlernen von Fremden, bei denen man Unterschlupf gefunden hatte. Vielen Dank an dieser Stelle nochmal an Daniel, Jenny, Johannes, Flow, Julia, David, Christian, Doro, Marisa, Karo, Jaqueline, Basti, Moritz und Peter für die Gastfreundlichkeit und die tolle Zeit an den verschiedenen Orten!

Die Tour über Stock und Stein, Asphalt und Sand hat die unplattbaren Schwalbe Mäntel auch das erste Mal besiegt. Acht Kilometer vor Lüneburg hat sich ein kleiner holziger Bösewicht durch den Mantelgummi zum Schlauch durchgearbeitet und diesen empfindlich die Luft entlockt, so dass ich durch den dann schwimmenden Hinterreifen die erste Reparatur vornehmen musste.

Dieser Tag war auch vom Gefühl her auch der härteste. Zum einen durch die Kilometer aber auch durch den zeitweise sandigen Untergrund durch den Lüneburger Wald, der kaum noch zu befahren möglich war. Aber nach einer ordentlichen Portion Spaghetti, die unser Gastgeber für uns bereit hielt, hat neue Energie in mir Einzug gehalten. An solch einem Tag Abends zu essen fühlt sich soviel besser an als nach einem Tag im Büro. Das Essen ist dann wie eine Wohltat, die man vielmehr schätzt und es sogar zweitrangig wird welches Mahl den Weg in den Magen findet.

Und nicht nur das tägliche Essen, auch die zahlreichen Begleiter haben die 9 Tage auf dem Rad zu einem tollen Erlebnis gemacht – der abwechslungsreiche Austausch, das Teilen der Eindrücke und der Position im Wind, das Durchqueren von Regen und Hagel. Danke fürs Begleiten, Tobias, Elaine, Oli, Papa, Stephanie, Rudi, Michael!

Das GPS-gerät von Tobi hat den Weg aufgenommen, den wir größtenteils zusammengefahren sind. Wen es interessiert, kann sich diesen hier gerne anschauen:

Streckenübersicht GPS

In weniger als zwei Wochen geht es dann nun los mit dem Start in Costa Rica. Die Nacht habe ich mir mal den Weg und das Höhenprofil der ersten Etappe angeschaut. Hohe Berge, dazu 30 Grad und hohe Luftfeuchtigkeit werden dann vermutlich nochmal ein wenig anders werden wie der dafür kühle Frühling in Deutschland. Bis es dann losgeht, werde ich nun noch die letzten Tage mit Freunden und Familie verbringen und das geniale Wetter genießen.

A new bike is born

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

It took me longer then I expected due to several reasons, but finally a new bike is born and it feels really good. It is the first one I’ve ever built on my own and the work was really worth to have done. I gained a lot of experience and I can highly recommend to build it on your own, when you are going to a longer travel on a bike. Here I will tell you three things you should take care of:

– I had problems to tighten the screws of my brake levers due to no space to put my screwdriver into an upright position. So I removed the lever from grip, which means loosen the spring. I really bad idea, because it takes age to get it fixed again. So NEVER do that!

– To connect my hub dynamo with the front light, the task was to get the cable through the bike fork. My first attempts to push it through weren’t that successful. Then I read about the idea to take a fine thread and vacuum cleaner. Sounds a bit weird but it was very effective. After vacuum the thread through the fork, I fastened the cable to it and pulled it back through the fork. With a little hook the cable was ready to connect.

– My Rohloff Speedhub was delivered without the oil inside of the gear. Unsuspecting I cycled my first tour without the oil which has to be filled in. Fortunately not a big thing, according to Rohloff there are no defects after one year riding.

After all the experiences while building my bike, it felt great to listen to the first sighing of the wind, to cross the bridge leading to the snowy forest of Sindelfingen and watch the daily traffic slowly creep along the highway. Will there ever be traffic jams caused by to many bicycles?


Durch mehrere Gründe hat es länger gedauert als erwartet, aber letztlich wurde ein neues Fahrrad geboren, welches bei seiner ersten Tour direkt einen Sonnenaufgang erleben und sich mit den Schwierigkeiten von Schnee und Eis vertraut machen durfte. Es fühlt sich gut an, endlich im Sattel zu sitzen und  sich an ein neues Fahrgefühl zu gewöhnen. Es ist das erste Fahrrad überhaupt, welches ich aus Einzelteilen aufgebaut habe und die Erfahrung war es auf jeden Fall wert. Ich kann auch nur jedem/-r Reiseradler/-in empfehlen, sein Rad selbst zusammenzubasteln. ich habe hier mal drei Punkte herausgepickt, auf die man achten sollte:

– Ich hatte Probleme meine Schalthebel am Lenker zu fixieren, da die Schrauben mit dem Schraubenzieher und auch flexiblen Gerät schwer zu erreichen waren. Und so kam ich auf die Idee den Hebel vom Griff zu entfernen, wodurch ich auch die Rückschlagfeder lösen musste. Eine ganz schlechte Idee, denn die Reparatur hat mich mit Hilfe von Klebeband ca. 2 Stunden gekostet. Tipp: Nicht nachmachen!

–  Um meinen Nabendynamo mit dem Licht zu verbinden sollte das Kabel durch die Radgabel verlegt werden. Meine ersten Versuche das Kabel einfach durchzuschieben schlugen fehl. Nach kurzer Recherche war der Tipp einen Staubsauger und einen Faden zur Hilfe zu nehmen. Klingt zunächst etwas seltsam, aber letzten Endes war es sehr effektiv. Faden durch die Gabel saugen, Kabel dranbinden um dann den Faden wieder zurückziehen durch die Kabel. Dann noch mit einem kleinen Haken das Kabel aus dem Loch hebeln und an den Nabendynamo anschließen.

– Rohloff Schaltungen im Laufrad werden in der Regel ohne Öl im Getrieben ausgeliefert. Unwissend bin ich meine erste Tour ohne das noch einzufüllende Öl gefahren. Beruhigt war ich dann durch die Aussage von Rohloff, dass ohne Öl im Getriebe auch nach einem Jahr keine Defekte aufgetreten sind.

Nach den ganzen Erfahrungen während des Zusammenbasteln, fühlte es sich gut an dem ersten Rauschen des Fahrtwindes zu lauschen, die Brücke in den winterlichen Sindelfinger Wald zu überqueren unter der der tägliche Verkehr langsam hindurch kroch. Ob es jemals Staus durch zu viele Räder geben wird?

2015-02-02 08.35.52 HDR-2

Do it yourself


Nearly all parts arrived or were found below the Christmas tree, so it is time to start to built up my two-wheeled vehicle, which will carry me over asphalt, sticks and stones, grass, mud, salt or sand. Details on the eqipment will follow.

Fast alle Komponenten sind inzwischen angekommen oder lagen unter dem Weihnachtsbaum und so ist es nun an der Zeit mein Zweirad zusammenzuschrauben, welches mich nächstes Jahr über Asphalt, Stöcke und Steine, Gras, Matsch, Salz oder Sand tragen wird. Details zur Ausstattung folgen, jetzt wird erstmal geschraubt.