This week we’ve all been lucky enough to hitch a ride with Cate as she bikes through Latvia and Estonia. If you’ve missed any of her posts about her magical (and windy, and tiring, and heart-filling) trip, you can find them here and here and here and here and here.
Like Sam, I’ve been reading Cate’s posts avidly. These travel tales send me into a semi-dream state, strolling in my mind across those sunny brisk coastal towns, pedaling along quiet tree-lined lanes, munching on a purloined cheese sandwich during a break. Being in a place at a moment in time, far away from the distractions of everyday life, riding a bike from here to there each day, enjoying one’s own company– that sounds like the perfect vacation.
Of course it’s not all mindfulness and cheese sandwiches. Cate is honest about the boredom, the fatigue, the lack of good directions out of town, and the urge to 1) take the train; 2) set up shop in one of these small towns for the foreseeable future; 3) focus on life miles down the road rather than what’s here and now. But she keeps pedaling.
The first multi-day bike trip I ever took was 12 years ago, in Florida during spring break. I had just gotten back to cycling, and I rented a Lemond road bike for 5 days. We (the Lemond and me) took to the rail trails in central and western Florida, including the Pinellas trail near St. Petersburg and the Withlacoochie trail near Inverness. All in all, I rode almost 200 miles in 4 days, and then did 22 more miles the last day to make my goal of 200 and then some. Although less scenic and exotic than the Baltics, I felt that same here-I-am-this-is-what-I’m-doing satisfaction. It was me and the bike, all day each day, with whatever side trips and meals that came up in the course of our ramblings.
During those ramblings I dealt with heat, saddle soreness, boredom, snakes (saw nine dead ones, one mostly dead one, and one live one on my routes), some loneliness, and the knowledge that very soon it would all be over and I’d have to go back to work. Such is the way of these experiences.
These days, my cycling has been suffused less with dreaminess and more with reality.
I’ve been working to get back in cycling shape and in the cycling state of mind after having far too long a hiatus. It’s been tough, fun, scary, sweaty, and worth it. Sunday July 30 I’m doing the PWA Friends for Life Bike Rally charity ride. My sincere and fervent hope is that I’ll be able to make it all the way through the 110-km route. We shall see. I will do my best, and I will have friends with me.
Regardless of current my state of cycling reality, I am filled with hope:
- I hope to ride strongly and safely and well on July 30.
- I hope to have fun on the ride, making new friends with my riding group and others.
- I hope to finish the 110km course.
I also have hopes for my cycling future.
- I hope to ride (partly or all the way) around Lake Champlain with friends.
- I hope to ride from my house in Boston to my mom’s house in South Carolina (985 miles).
- During my next sabbatical (2022– never too early to plan!), I hope to do a long-distance ride with my friend Pata (destination and duration TBA), with other friends maybe joining in for part of the trip.
- I hope to ride in southern Ontario again with Canadian friends (Sam and others– we will talk).
- I hope to get into the habit of traveling with a bike when I fly places for work (now that I have my Brompton and its own special suitcase).
- I hope I’m lucky enough to be able to ride for the rest of my life.
Readers, what are some of your midsummer hopes and dreams– for now, for the future? I’d love to hear from you.