Burkhardt said, 'She is no longer the same as she was. But I'm still in love with her. Every time I go back home, I think it's a sad moment.'
Editor's note: This article was originally published on January 20, 2023. It has since been updated.
Nothing can stop 90-year-old Peter Burkhardt from cycling all the way to meet the love of his life. Peter's wife is 17 kilometers away in a hospice in Apeldoorn. "Cold doesn’t bother me and with rain, you can put on a rain jacket. If it's really bad I’ll take a cab and else one of my sons will bring me. So I’ll always get to my wife," said Burkhardt in an interview posted by @u/kleutscher. When asked why is he doing this, he said, "Because I want to see my wife and be with her. We are married for 63 years so then you want to be together."
It takes him an hour to cycle to the hospice from Diepenveen where he stays and an hour to cycle back. Burkhardt gets ready in his outfit which is a blue (ski) suit with a body warmer on top. He looks left and right and cycles the roundabout at Zwolseeweg in Deventer. He then crosses a railway bridge, goes up a steep slope and finally takes a straight road toward his final destination, as reported by De Stentor. Burkhardt has been going to Apeldoorn for the past seven years. He said, “I have to take the situation as it is. I just want to be with her every day. I just can't miss her. I did it by car for a while. But even then I alternated it with the bike."
Every morning, he packs his tricycle in the shed in his house as he hasn't had a car for some time. Moreover, his driver's license was not approved. He had his cycle in the shed so he took it out for the travel. Burkhardt has covered more than 40,000 kilometers in more than three years, which he finished in December 2022. He sometimes does take more than an hour to reach Apeldoorn. He said, “It takes me about an hour. But in the heavy wind for a little more than an hour."
"Without support, I really wouldn't make it anymore." He doesn't find the ride dangerous at any time of the day or night. However, he thinks the cycle path on the railway bridge at Deventer is too narrow. He wants them to do something about it. He said, “It really is a disaster. You can barely get past each other there with the two of you." Burkhardt knows that he is getting older and he agreed that there were many things that he could do 5-6 years ago but now he can't. He said, “I hope I can keep doing it. I walk a lot less now, but cycling is still going well.'' He was asked if his wife knows what he does for her every day. He said, "No, not that. It is completely outside her realm of experience. But when I'm back, I notice that she gives me a very nice hug every now and then."
His only motivation to do this is in Apeldoorn. Burkhardt said, “I want to see her, hear her voice. When I enter the nursing home I immediately know where she is. She is no longer the same as she was. But I'm still in love with her. Every time I go back home, I think it's a sad moment."
His children are proud of what their father does every day and they encourage him to do it. His son Wouter Burkhardt said, "I think they keep each other alive with this. I hope my father inspires other people with this."