CYCLING A ROCK FROM THE CZECH BORDER TO AMSTERDAM
"I don't know this place and I have never been here before.
Yet there is an immanent connection between where I am right now and the place where you are standing."
The second night I spent in an abandoned industrial ruin near Coburg. It was autumn. In October the temperature easily drops below zero degrees. Once I slept behind a barn, hidden between low bushes, my sleeping bag covered under a huge pile of leaves to protect me from the cold. Another time I found a wood shelter to shield me from the wind. Only two other nights I slept in a comfortable bed at random people's houses, who offered me a place to sleep. I always left early in the morning. My journey from the Czech border to Amsterdam lasted seven days.
When you cycle, there is nothing to achieve, except distance. There are no obligations, no deadlines, no hustle. After a few days on my bicycle I started to feel a lightness that was not there before. On the back of my bike I carried a heavy rock, a beautiful green Serpentine that I had found close to the Czech border next to the village where I grew up. On the way the rock became much lighter. Pieces broke off and fell to the ground. If I kept cycling it would have disappeared in the end.
Almost every person I met on the way was puzzled at first, then intrigued by the rock on the back of my bike. The rock quite naturally started open-ended discussions about carrying weight and about moving on, literally on the one hand, on the other hand revolving around issues of labour and migration, but sometimes also around personal loss. Almost everybody had a story to tell, for example about the difficulties of opening a Kebab place in a small conservative town on the German countryside, or about someone's personal struggle against cancer.
There is no documentation of this journey, just memories. On arrival in Amsterdam I took a single picture of my bike, the rock still strapped to its carrier. I made a list with the name of each place I passed through on my way to Amsterdam. In the end I made a postcard. I've sent it to people I had met on the way: illustrating an idea, an anecdote about a state of transition, about carrying weight and moving on.
Amsterdam, November 2012