Archive for the ‘Road Wrecks’ Category

saflower field

Monet Landscapes

Oh those enviable days of bicycle touring.  There are the days that we wake up to beautiful blue sky and brew a pot of coffee overlooking a lake or gazing at the Alps or some other such marvel.  Church bells chime in the background and roosters crow and we pack up all of our worldly possessions into our bike panniers and hit the road for another day of wonder biking.  We ride Monet landscapes, past rolling fields of bright red poppies, yellow safflower and waving wheat.  Our bodies are tan and we are the pictures of carefree health, ageless and prime, divisible by no equation, no roots, no ties.

I know that on days like these people pass us on their way to their daily jobs and are forced to summon all of their will power to prevent themselves from quitting work, turning their cars around, going home, packing up their belongings and hitting the road themselves.  Young children smush their faces against car windows as they pass by, eyes wide in fascination, minds reeling as they imagine themselves freewheeling on their own bikes through the country side.  Farmers give hearty waves as we blow past their chugging tractors, semi drivers give us the thumbs up and motorist shout encouragement as we labor up long climbs or weave through stalled traffic in congested streets.say what

And then there are those other days, days of which we always seem to have an abundance of in Europe.  Sometime in the night it starts to rain so we pull all of our belongings into the tent and make little islands keeping the most valuable items on top in case the tent starts to sink.  If we are lucky, it stops raining long enough in the morning that we can pack up a few things dry and make some coffee.  If we’re not lucky we pack up everything wet which adds about 5 kilos (12lbs.) to our load. We stuff a handful of nuts in our mouths and start riding.  These are unenviable days.

Waiting for the sun...

Waiting for the sun…

Our shoes fill with water.  Raingear helps to keep us warm but nothing keeps us dry as the rain continues.  We splash through puddles and the spray from cars makes it hard to see.  The temperature drops low enough that we can see our breath, our hands go numb and I have trouble shifting.  We’re actually pleased when our feet finally go numb, and yet beneath our layers of rain gear our legs and torsos sweat.  Anyone driving past us on days like these whispers a prayer of thanks to their favorite deity and cranks up the heat in their car.  When we enter grocery stores to get a few supplies for lunch our feet squeak and slosh on the waxed floors and the grocery has to call for a cleanup in aisle five because we stood still too long looking at cookies and left a puddle.  Small children grasp their mother’s hand tightly as we pass by and we get a checkout lane to ourselves because we smell like wet dogs.  On days like these, no one wants to be us; no one even wants to be near us.  If we’re lucky, we can find an awning to eat lunch under and if we’re not… we stuff a handful of nuts in our mouth and keep riding.

In Europe this can go on for days.  If the sun comes out we immediately stop pedaling and lay out all of our gear garage sale fashion in hopes that some of it will dry while the feeling comes back in our toes and hands and we stuff handfuls of nuts in our mouths.  When the sun doesn’t come out, after 3 or 4 days, suicide becomes an option.  We start leaving our bike unlocked in front of train stations in hopes that someone will steal it.  Exhausted, cold and out of nuts, we finally give in and try to rent a room for the night only to be turned away because we are too pathetic looking and no one wants that much wet baggage in their room.

On days like these we get back on the bike and ride and we just know that tomorrow will be better.  When it is, and everything is back to being dry and we’ve finally had a good meal, it’s amazing how quickly the memories of those rainy days fade.  On days like these, we can’t imagine why we ever even considered stopping the trip, or why life shouldn’t just go on like this forever…on days like these.

Somewhere in Myanmar

Somewhere in Myanmar