The sun was a combination of turquoise, magenta, and golden yellow. My hair was blowing in the breeze; my curls dancing along with the wind, twisting this way and that. I felt like I was flying, there was no stopping me. The wheels on my bike were spinning as fast as they ever had as the gentle hill guided it towards my destination.
My friend Lauren was a tiny dot way up ahead in the distance. My other friend, Michaela, was even further behind me, barely visible.
The air was crisp and burned my lungs as I inhaled. I was loving every second. As I dipped below the hill, the street leveled off. I started pedaling again towards the hostel, trying to take in the moment that would soon be gone.
My friends and I had spent the day biking 35 miles through southern Denmark. We had started at a train station and made our way along a two-lane road past farms, trees, bridges, and water. We had just seen the beautiful, natural chalk cliffs called Møns Klint, the sole purpose of our intense bike ride. We were tired and exhausted and looking forward to relaxing in our hostel for the night.
I turned left and found Lauren circling the street that led to our hostel.
“That was incredible,” she said.
“I know. Amazing.”
We biked around on the road, waiting for Michaela. This wasn’t anything new, we were pretty intense bikers compared to her, and appreciated the relaxation we got while we waited for her to catch up.
Five minutes passed. Then ten minutes.
“Where could she be?” I said to Lauren.
“She’s probably taking pictures of the sunset or something, you know her.” I laughed and nodded my head.
A few minutes later, we began to worry.
“She wasn’t that far behind us,” I said.
“I know… Maybe something happened to her bike?” I shrugged. Where could she be?
“Let’s go inside so I can grab my Danish phone and call her,” I said.
In less than a minute, we were in our room, checking my phone. It was flashing “low battery” with two missed calls.
“Crap, we don’t have much time before my phone dies.”
I called Michaela and she answered.
“I don’t remember the turn being this far! Did you pass a gas station?” Oh jeez.
“Michaela, no, there was no gas station! That was like three miles past our hostel!”
“What?! Oh my God what!?! Where am I?!”
“Turn around, and come back the way you came! It was only a straight road. You only went straight, right?”
“I don’t know, I don’t remember!” Crap.
“Just turn around and Lauren and I will bike in your direction.”
I hung up and turned to Lauren.
“She’s lost, isn’t she,” she said.
“Yup” I said. We left the hostel, jumped on our bikes, and headed down the road.
It started to get dark out. The sun was minutes from setting, and we were in the middle of southern Denmark, surrounded by farm land. There were no light posts illuminating the road, and no stores for miles.
We biked down the road, looking straight ahead to see if we could see her bike light. We could see for about a quarter of a mile before the road disappeared behind a hill.
As I was squinting, I got a call from Michaela.
“Where am I?! I turned around but I don’t know where I am!”
“Michaela, just go straight the other way! We’re in the road waiting for you.”
At that moment, a truck passed me and Lauren, heading in Michaela’s direction.
“Tell Michaela to look for the truck!” Lauren said.
“Michaela, look for the truck, it just passed us. If it passes you, then you’re going in the right direction,” I reiterated.
“How did she go this far?” Lauren said. It had been at least twenty minutes by this point. I turned my attention back to Michaela who was still on the phone.
“Okay,” Michaela said, “but what if-” Then, my phone died.
“Holy crap,” I said. “Phone’s dead.”
“Shit.” Lauren said.
Darkness crept around us, slowly obscuring our vision. We had no way to get in contact with Michaela. All we could do was wait.
“What do we do?” I said.
“I guess we’ll have to wait for her,” Lauren said.
The both of us sat on our bikes, silently, looking ahead for any sign of Michaela’s bike light.
Suddenly, in the distance, a dim light appeared.
“Is that her?” I said, hoping it was.
As the dim light approached, all hope was lost. It was a car. It drove past us along the road and into the distance. I laughed at how Lauren and I must have looked to that car: completely random. We were two people sitting on our bikes on the side of the road, not moving. We weren’t even next to each other.
A half hour had passed.
“Where IS she?!” I said, worrying.
Silence and apprehension wrapped around us like a blanket, making our muscles tense with growing fear.
A few moments later, another dim light appeared in the distance.
“That HAS to be her!” I said. I started biking towards the approaching light, only to be disappointed, yet again, when it was a car.
I stopped my bike on the side of the road and waited for it to pass me.
The car stopped a few meters in front of me, shining its headlights, illuminating the entire road.
My heart started racing. I started to slowly back away, readying myself to jump on my bike and pedal through the fields if someone jumped out and started chasing me.
As my fears started to grow with intensity, Michaela jumped out of the front seat.
“What the hell?” I said.
“Hi,” she said. An older woman got out of the driver’s seat and opened the trunk, taking out Michaela’s bike.
My head was in a fog.
“Thank you!” Michaela said to the woman as she walked towards us, guiding her bike.
“Um, what happened…” Lauren said.
“Oh my God I HATE you guys, I was so scared, holy, wow, I was so lost,” Michaela said, mumbling as many nonsensical phrases as she could manage to get out.
We let her cool down for a minute and waited for a story.
“After your phone died, I started freaking out more, and had no idea what to do. Then that Danish woman saw me and asked if I needed help. I told her I was lost and alone and had to get back to Danhostel, where she offered to drive me.”
“Oh Michaela.” I let out a pent up laugh.
“Yeah, and as I waited for her to get her keys, her cat and whole family were watching me through the window, probably wondering who I was and what I was doing.”
Another burst of laughter escaped my stomach as I pictured that.
“I thanked the woman as she drove me. Then she asked why I was shaking, and I said, ‘well, I’m lost and scared.’ She laughed at me and said, ‘why are you scared? It’s Denmark, there’s nothing scary down here in the south.’ I laughed because I didn’t know what to say.”
“Well, at least you’re with us now,” I said.
“Yeah, whatever, you guys suck,” she said, smiling.
We spent the rest of the night in the room. It took Michaela a little bit of coaxing to laugh about the whole thing. We were all just relieved to have her back.