vrijdag 26 april 2013

Disaster strikes....almost

Last saturday I was writing down Challenge phonenumbers at the dinertable. As I stood up I realised I couldn't get my back straight up. Moving was difficult and painfull. I've had this lower backache in the past and more severe also but never at such an inconvenient moment.
In this state I wouldn't even be able to walk one kilometre, let alone from westcoast to eastcoast through Scotland.
Normally it would go away with time but time is the one thing I didn't have. Only 17 days before taking the ferry to Newcastle !
Yesterday I went to the physiotherapist and much to my relief things are going a bit better. Some more massages and I'll be up and running, ahum, walking again.   

vrijdag 19 april 2013

Pre-Challenge practice

I was able to get 2 days of work so I could do some proper training for the Challenge. Of course when I say 'proper training' I mean walking a reasonable distance on the flat instead of going up and down. There simply isn't much up and down in The Netherlands.

Last monday my wife drove me and the dogs to the nearest forest and kicked all of us out of the car. I left my wife, confusing the dogs whom to follow but after a couple of minutes of running back and forth they stayed with She Who Has To Be Obeyed. Traitors !

Two weeks ago the minimum night temperature was as low as     -10 C. but on sunday the max day temperature reached an incredible +23 C. At 8.45 am on monday it was already warm and feeling very humid. My rucsac contained most of the things I will be taking with me on this years Challenge.
A nice variation of wood and heath made for good progress in the morning.

Ancient neolithic burial hill - 4000 years old
At 11 am it started to rain but nothing serious. It was dry again at noon.
A nice and dry looking tree trunk looked like a suitable spot to have lunch. Ten minutes later a woman passed and asked if I hadn't been troubled by hornets. The treetrunk hosted a hornets' nest the previous year. Luckily for me there were none left.
great spot for lunch - a (former) hornets' nest
After going through more wood and some estate farmland I reached the former airforce base Soesterberg. This base has lost its function and buildings and runways are now being demolished to return the area to nature.
It also marked the end of walking in peace and solitude. The machines made a lot of noise and a busy A-road and motorway had to be circumnavigated.

German storage bunker from a 37mm Flak site
At 4 pm I reached my intended camping spot although it took me another half hour to locate the spot precisely. Wildcamping is illegal in Holland but there are some places where 'wildcamping' is permitted. This way of wildcamping is called 'paalkamperen', pole- or post camping. The only utility is a pump for pumping up groundwater by hand. The distance covered was 32 km.
'Paalkamperen' near austerlitz
At night the air was still and my Akto had considerable condensation on the flysheet.
I must admit it has been a long time since I slept in a small tent and I'm not as 'bendy' as I used to be.
The NeoAir Xlite airmattress was comfortable and didn't make much noise when turning from side to side. I also used an inflattable pillow, one with a hollow in the middle. It deflated a little during the night and that caused some necktrouble the next morning. A solution is needed before the start of the Challenge.
The forest had been full of singing birds the previous evening and the singing started again at the first sign of dawn. An early breakfast led to an early start at 7.30am. The route back home was slightly more to the west and 1km shorter making a total of 63 km in 2 days.
My feet felt good although the last 5km on tarmac wasn't too pleasant.

A beechlane, almost a mile long.

I had to go to work again on wednesday but felt wonderfully good and strenghtened.
Let's hope the infamous third Challenge day will be equally good.