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Day 14 - The final stage and grand reception
Posted on July 25, 2013
It was hard to sleep the night before the final ride of my 14 day journey. I had experienced so much in
the last thirteen days, things I would otherwise never have seen, touched, smelled or heard. And now it
was almost over.
My body was happy that there was only one day to go, as it running on reserve already the last couple
of days. My legs were tired and sore, and I dont know how many more days they would have continued
to carry me.
My mind had mixed emotions. I was happy because I knew I would achieve my goal and cross the
finish line the next day. I had been training on my bike for over a year, going to the gym six days week,
watching my diet, slimming down. And tomorrow would mark the success of all this preparation. On the
other hand I was feeling sad that it would all be over tomorrow. This had truly been an adventure, and
reality was waiting for me just around the corner.
The distance was 95 km so I started out just before 07:00 in the morning, as I had planned to arrive at
11:00 in Düsseldorf. That gave me four hours, which meant I could take a wrong turn here and there, or
patch up a flat tyre if needed. Luckily the bike stayed brave tough and held together throughout the ride.
There were quite some hills, but nothing compared with the ones in the previous week. My GPS sent
me the wrong way only once - it tried to take me through some farmland, but an alternative route was
just a couple of hundred meters away.
My wife was following very close behind me all the way on this day. This was not the usual way, but I
didnt want to take any chances. As we got closer and closer to Düsseldorf the excitement started
growing stronger and stronger. At the entrance to the city I stopped and my wife took a few photos of
me at the “Düsseldorf” city sign. After that it was a slow last few kilometers, riddled with red traffic lights,
patchy bike paths and a handful of inconsiderate drivers. I was glad I had chosen to come to
Düsseldorf on a Sunday morning.
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I cycled around the final corner and was no more than one hundred meters from the finish line - the
Cabanova office courtyard. As I got closer I heard someone shouting “There he is!”, followed by a
cheer. Then came another cheer from a different voice, and then all of a sudden a symphony erupted,
and I saw my friends, family and others standing on the street. My heart jumped, and I felt a rush of
emotion flush through my body. It was such a great feeling to see that so many people had come to
celebrate my arrival.
The next fifteen minutes were a blur, as I was overcome with emotion. My colleagues had strung a red
ribbon along the finish line, so I cycled through it and the 2000 km was officially declared to be
completed. Wow! Then as I entered the courtyard I saw huge posters and signs had been placed and
there were tables and chairs and food and music and beer and champagne.
I was subsequently presented with a huge shiny trophy, my wife and I received beautiful medals that
had thoughtfully prepared by friends, and bunches of fresh flowers were handed over. That was all so
much more than I was expecting. It was all quite overwhelming.
Then it was time to relax, soak in and enjoy the whole atmosphere. Speeches and thank yous were
exchanged, and then the highlight of the event. Thanks to the hard work and unrelenting efforts of my
colleagues in Düsseldorf to collect donations for the SOS childrens village in Romania, we were able to
announce that we had reached our target of collecting just over EUR 7000 to buy 50 bikes for the kids.
That means there will be a lot of very happy kids very soon in Romania. What a great feeling, and all
thanks to the generosity of hundreds of caring people.
What day, what a way to end two weeks on the bike. It was so much more than I had dreamed of.