Thousands of miles through Europe, from the Netherlands to Greece and back
For the uninitiated, let me just tell you what this is about.
In 1996, when I was 10 years old, my best friend from the neighborhood (aged 11) committed suicide. When something like that happens at that young an age, you’re sad for a few months, and afterwards you go on happily with your life. Just like everything else happening to you as a kid you reckon that something like that is normal to happen, and don’t give it any further thought.
Until you become an adult, that is. Thirteen years later, in 2009, I had to do some college research into mourning high school students. I had picked the subject myself as I figured that with my own experience, it would be a doddle to do.
However, as I spoke to school counsellors about the subject, I came to realize that a death of someone close at a young age is not something normal. I suddenly understood I had been wrong for the past thirteen years, and that what happened in 1996 wasn’t done with me yet. Subsequently, a bomb went off inside my head, and eventually it threw me into a deep depression. This period seemed so endless, I more than once thought of putting an end to it myself.
Thankfully, both my close friends and family gave me all the love, support and attention I needed... it took lots of hard work and perseverance, but in May 2010, six months later and just weeks before my older brother got married, the storm finally settled. I had been lucky enough to go through hell, and come out the other end unscathed and stronger than ever... all thanks to those dearest to me.
Because of this, the number thirteen (the amount of years I lived in ignorance about probably the most important moment in my life) has become a symbol of endurance to me. To never surrender, to celebrate family and friendship, and commemorate those who haven’t been able to live their lives as they wished to. After all, it’s when the going gets tough that we really need someone close to us... and there’s alot of people out there who aren’t as lucky as I have been.
Now, ever since I was a kid I’ve been inexplicably obsessed about everything Greek, and subsequently it’s been a dream of mine to see the country itself one day. So coming out of that darkest of times, I thought it was about time I went and did something about it. I was going to get my motorcycle license, and ride to Greece. This became The Dekatria Project - “Dekatria” being Greek for 13.
The project took off in October 2010 when I passed my Theory Exam. Almost exactly one year later I passed my final Driving Test, in July 2012 I did a 3500km (~2200 miles) training trip through Great Britain
and now, it’s time for the big one. It’s time to bring all this preparation into practice, and turn the dream I almost took away from myself into actual reality.
will take me from my home in Rotterdam (the Netherlands) through Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy to the southernmost point of continental Greece: Cape Tenaron, the mythical gate to the Ancient Greek Underworld where people would go if they wanted to visit the deceased.
After that I turn around, to go back home through Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland and Germany. Altogether the journey will be around 7000km (or 4400 miles) in length, but I’ll probably go over it. I’m departing the 19th of July, hopefully entering Brindisi in Italy around the 27th. I then board the ferry to Greece, and from there on in I’ll probably take as much time as I want to, probably spending the first week of August in Greece before crossing the border into Albania.
I also wanted to let the project always be part of something bigger than just my own dreams. I did the Tour of Britain
in honour of my grandfather whose last wish it was to see Scotland, and for this trip, I contacted ‘To Write Love On Her Arms’
. They’re a non-profit foundation from the US, dedicated to providing help to those struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. On the trip, I’ll ask the people I meet to write the person they love most in their lives on my helmet. Upon returning home, the helmet will then hopefully have become a written map of the journey, and it will subsequently be auctioned off during an auction night on Friday the 13th of September. The proceeds will then go to To Write Love On Her Arms.
Now, I’m aware that getting to this auction is a pain in the backside for any people overseas (which most of you probably are), so the week prior to auction night, I will also auction off three different project shirts on Ebay. Likewise, all proceeds will go to TWLOHA. (Further info will be posted on the site and in this thread in due time).
So, now that you know about the whole shebang, I hope you’ll enjoy reading the lead-up to (and report of) what has thus far proven to be the largest and most definitive undertaking of my life. As I’ve said to my own friends and family on numerous occasions: Thanks for being here, I really appreciate it.
Visit the website
for The Road So Far, the Route, pictures and videos... or just hump this thread for fresh updates! Updates on the road will probably be also posted on the Facebook page
Oh, and if you live somewhere on the route and would like to tag along (or you have a couch to lend), feel free to send a PM
All the best,
Ride reports in this topic:
Northern Netherlands 2012 > under this post, in fact
Great Britain 2012 > a post under that post
Greece 2013 > page 3
The project website
The project on Facebook
The project planning thread here on ADVrider
The Ride Report of the 2012 Tour of Great Britain
To Write Love On Her Arms