On my tour, I will get to see one of the oldest and largest living organisms on the planet

On my tour, I will cycle through the Fishlake National Park in Utah. By coincidence I found out that an organism named Pando is living there. It is supposedly one of the oldest and largest living organisms on the planet. Can’t wait to see it.

Despite its huge resilience, it seems to be suffering because of human interference.

Bildergebnis für pando aspen picture"

Pando (Latin for “I spread out”), also known as the trembling giant,[1][2] is a clonal colony of an individual male quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) determined to be a single living organism by identical genetic markers[3] and assumed to have one massive underground root system. The plant is located in the Fremont River Ranger District of the Fishlake National Forest at the western edge of the Colorado Plateau in south-central Utah, United States, around 1 mile (1.6 km) southwest of Fish Lake.[4] Pando occupies 43 hectares (106 acres) and is estimated to weigh collectively 6,000,000 kilograms (6,600 short tons),[5] making it the heaviest known organism.[6][7] The root system of Pando, at an estimated 80,000 years old, is among the oldest known living organisms.[8][9]


Preparation has started

Corporate sponsors wanted! If you believe that fostering the young generation is important then this might be interesting to you… Just about 4 more months to go until I set off to the 3rd part of “Around the World by Bike – powered by Leadership Choices”. Beginning of June 2020, I will cycle about 2,500 km from San Francisco to Denver to raise money for www.zis-reisen.de.

zis is a non-profit organization that has been awarding scholarships for study trips to young people between the ages of 16 and 20 for more than 60 years now. This time the route will take me through many national parks and the entire Rocky Mountains. My goal is to raise money for at least 30 scholarships, i.e. 27,000 €.

Please send me a message if you want to become a corporate sponsor: karsten.drath@leadership-choices.com

Epilogue: Montpellier to Avignon (101km)

Today was the first day after the official tour and I cycled to Avignon to meet my wife and confidant Carolin.

She always wanted to see Avignon because she somehow has a special connection to this place and it’s history. And I could not wait to see her again after 20 days. So meeting in Avignon was the perfect idea since it is “around the corner” from Montpellier.

The route was beautiful with little villages and great landscapes but a bit rough in terms of gravel. Maybe it was because of this that Rosinante had her first puncture after 2.600km.

However, this was quickly fixed and by 4pm I was in Avignon. What a pittoresque place this is with it’s overarching Palais des Papes and it’s rich history.

Carolin arrived a little later and we celebrated our reunion with an Aperol Spritz in front of the Palais.

Insight of the day: Experiencing adventures makes you enjoy your day-to-day life even more.

Day 19: Montpellier (10km)

Today was a special day – the 18th birthday of my daughter Hannah (left). How quickly time has passed. I am a very proud and happy dad.

After a late breakfast, I cycled into town to meet Nadine Gruner, the directrice of the Maison de Heidelberg in Montpellier, an institution of the University of Heidelberg founded in 1966.

During my last trip to Montpellier, a meeting had not worked out. For one because I simply had not known about this institution and hence had not prepared well. The other simple reason was, that in 2018 I had arrived on a Saturday. Bad timing.

Talking to Nadine Gruner, I learned a lot about the changing nature of the partnership between the two cities. Very interesting.

Afterwards, I did something that I was looking forward to for three weeks now: I went to a barber and got a proper haircut including a head massage. That felt so good!

Then I returned to the Maison de Heidelberg and met Dr. Rolf Friedrich Krause, the German Consul General in Marseille (last row middle) and other members of the partnership between Heidelberg and Montpellier. We talked about zis and the French counterpart Zellidja and it turned out that in fact Prof. Maurice Godé, member of the board (2nd from left) had a Zellidja scholarship when he was young. Small world. To the right: Dr. Wolfgang Meyer, Vice President, and Mrs. Rohre, employee of the German Consulate General in Marseille. To the left: Nadine Gruner, Directrice Maison de Heidelberg.

From there I went to the Hôtel de Ville and met the City Council Mustapha Majdoul for a handshake appointment. He is in charge for the energy change in Montpellier.

After all these official appointments, I had arranged for a sauna and massage in my hotel. Life is tough, you know. It was soooo good!

Insight of the day: Life is good!

Day 18: Salses-le-Château to Montpellier (166km)

Je suis arrivé! The day started on nasty roads that I had to share with a lot of trucks. It took me quite a while to finally find the Eurovelo 8.

Around noon, I reached a landscape that was very comparable to the Camargue. A lot of water, swamps, little rivers and small roads without much traffic. Really beautiful.

It reminded me of the first day of this trip, when I cycled through a beautiful and totally empty national park which begins South of Lisbon.

Because of the many detours the route was a little longer than expected. However, I was pretty determined to make it to Montpellier today.

Despite of the weather forecast, it did not rain and I had a also a little bit of tailwind.

Since I am now 1,000km more North than Gibraltar, the sunset is about an hour later. Isn’t that amazing? I arrived by 8pm with daylight feeling a little tired but very content.

There were times on this trip when I doubted that I would make it. My left ankle caused problems at one point and I was surprised how quickly it healed. The level of donations was below my expectations which was and is a little frustrating for me. Around midway of this tour, my mental and physical energy felt pretty much depleted. It was not always fun.

There were times, when I even secretly hoped that someone could have stolen my bike forcing me to rest and fly home comfortably.

But another part in me was always determined to just hang in there and carry on. Little steps, hour after hour, one day after the other. It is amazing that if you carry on for enough days in a row you can actually cover huge distances.

Insight of the day: We are capable of so much more than we believe!

Day 17: Palamós to Salses-le-Château (145 km)

I got up later than wanted. My hotel had very thin walls and my neighbors were very active working their way to the Kamasutra. So I had a little less sleep than needed.

I had about 80km to go until the French border. The route was nice and uneventful and without major towns.

I passed through a couple of Catalonian villages which had the yellow independence ribbon on the roads and buildings. Signs of the huge tensions in this province with rest of the country.

The last couple of kilometers before the border I saw half-naked young women posing at the side of the road. A very bizarre sight in the middle of nowhere. It took me a while to figure out what they were up to. Sometimes I am very naive. However, I had not seen this kind of public “offering” in the rest of Spain.

It was a great feeling to finally cross the border. A couple of days ago I had seriously doubted to ever make it.

After the border a couple of things changed. All of a sudden the long-distance cycling-route Eurovelo 8 was there and in exchange the respect of car drivers for cyclists on roads had pretty much vanished.

Also there were mosquitoes in France. I was bitten directly after the border. The first time two weeks. Maybe Spain uses substances to keep this plague in check.

It felt good to speak French again. My level is quite basic but still much better than my non-existing Spanish.

When I arrived at my hostel the restaurant was closed. However, the host Jeremy simply handed me the keys for his car instead. That was a first for me. How cool! So I drove into the next village and had a great pizza for dinner.

Insight of the day: Always be ready for miracles.

Day 16: Barcelona to Palamós (116km)

After a day like yesterday and it’s frustrations (and potentially because of two beers), I had slept in. 10 hours of sleep felt very good though.

Leaving Barcelona was almost as bad as coming in but with much less traffic – and much more cyclists.

I had lunch in the famous little tourist hotspot Lloret de Mar – and was not very impressed. However, the little bay is nice.

Since long, my weather app had predicted rain for today. Cycling in the rain at this temperature is no fun. I still have a trauma from my cycling trip through Scotland 30 years ago – my first zis travel – where it had rained almost every single day.

However, miraculously it did not rain. Actually, the weather turned out to be quite nice.

Also, in the afternoon I cycled a very beautiful coastal road with a lot of climbs but with amazing views. And the best: there were practically no cars.

My hotel as a heating – so I could wash my clothes – and can be sure that they will be try tomorrow. Pure luxury.

After all, a bad day turned out to be a good one at the end. 270km still to go until Montpellier.

Insight of the day: Don’t complain about the rain before the drops are falling.

For donations: http://www.betterplace.org/p67064