Seven years is a long time to spend on a bicycle. However, for American Johnny Deeb, it’s the only way he knows how to live.
At 19, Deeb met a man, Paul, with a theory that changed his perspective on life. Paul told him, “If you work three months, two jobs, and save as much money as you can then after those 90 days, you could use that money to go travelling.”
After settling in different parts of Europe – making candy, nannying, organic farming, meeting new people – Deeb decided to continue his journey. Six weeks ago, he got back on his bicycle.
His plan was to do a whole trip around the Baltic Sea, starting in Amsterdam and ending in the Baltic countries. However, chance derailed his progress and brought him to Roskilde. One of Deeb’s Dutch friends, Tim, saw on Facebook that he was in Denmark, and told him to turn around and head to the festival.
Deeb’s friends connected him to the tent set-up crew, but when he arrived he was disappointed to discover that the position did not include a ticket to the festival. However, his story and work ethic were quickly passed down through the crew to the person in charge of the division, who found Deeb a wristband and a job building more tents.
“I can tell you stories after story after story of these random laws of attraction that pull me in different directions and to different people… it’s beautiful. Freedom.” Deeb has volunteered at quite a few festivals in the past, including Lowlands in Amsterdam.
However, for Deeb, the way Roskilde Festival treats its volunteers makes it stand apart from the rest. “Roskilde seems really organized; everything seems dialed in. The thing I especially like here is how the festival organizers really takes care of the volunteers. At other festivals I’ve been to as a volunteer, you have to cook your own food, do your own thing. But it feels like without volunteers, there’s nothing going on here.”
Deeb felt a sense of community as soon as he arrived at Roskilde Festival. “It feels like Minnesota to me. It feels like home… The friendliness and the openness. We work hard and we help each other.”
Deeb’s volunteer job is building tents in a test area. Companies are testing five different kinds of luxury tents for festival goers to pay to stay in. As a bonus, Deeb gets to stay in one of the tents with his friend Tim. “When you are a volunteer, you feel more with it, the beating heart of it. You meet so many creative characters, it’s just lovely.”
Deeb prefers volunteering to paying for the festival ticket. “Work hard, play harder. When you work hard and you earn something, the beer tastes better.” he cannot remember anyone he has met at the festival, both volunteers and campers, that has not volunteered at least once for the festival.
His volunteer group at Roskilde has been working together for the last 20 years. “They come together every year to do their part. It was great to be able to work with such a close-knit group.”
After the festival wraps up, Deeb plans to continue on with his ride around the Baltic Sea. “Everyone should try life on a bike to see what happens and see all the beautiful things you meet and the people. Things like this happen to me all the time, because I’m free. The more open you are, the more happens.”
Deeb has spent the last 17 years living according to Paul’s theory. Based on his math, Deeb figures he has spent six of those years working and 11 of those years traveling. During the first three months he worked to save for his first test-run of the theory; Johnny made his apartment in Minnesota available on CouchSurfing.
One of his guests was Sergio, a Portuguese man cycling from New York to Vancouver to Chile. He had no more than 500€ to his name, and relied on CouchSurfing to accommodate him each night of the six month trek.
Johnny was inspired by Sergio’s bike, gear and overall lifestyle. “When I told him how much money I had saved, he told me I could cycle for 20 years with the same amount. So seven years ago I had left my hometown in Minnesota to bike all around the world and here I am now sitting with you guys.”