August 4, 2008
We have finished our 5th week of this crazy adventure, and things are going well for the most part. I just had the privilege of spending the weekend in a hotel as my parents and friends from Winnipeg came to visit me. It was wonderful and luxurious, and almost too good, because when the time came to get back in the saddle, it was hard to say goodbye to “the good life”. But it was a delight to see them, and they came with treats for everyone. Sunday morning breakfast was a big hit due to the Bake Oven’s finest double raison raison bread and dutch gouda cheese. Bringing enough to feed a camp of 160 odd people meant they couldn’t pack a lunch in their regular cooler for the trip down. There were 4 adults, 2 GPS’s and a handful of maps, and they couldn’t figure out the route we were going to take for Monday ~ to their credit they were trying to do so backwards. Anyways the weekend was a hoot, and everyone enjoyed the treats (boeterkoek included) very well. Thanks a million.
I am sitting in Sargeant Bluff, Iowa. The humidity is too high to dry my clothing overnight, and I fear that I won’t have dry clothes again until I return home to Winnipeg. But the air is coolish; a mere 18° Celsius. This morning, leaving at 6:45 a.m. we were already at 27c with a disgusting amount of humidity. It was quite a day, but about halfway through there was a bit of rain, and that made everything far more bearable.
I had quite a bit of fun playing with the wind today; we had a headwind for at least half the day. But, after finally waking up and dealing with the heat and humidity (a process that usually takes about 30 km) some of the fast boys caught up with me and the scenery changed to these rolling hills that were absolutely picturesque, and I was keeping up without too much trouble. That improved my mood considerably. A little later on I continued on my own, and, dealing with the headwind after entering Iowa from Nebraska, I went into my drops and was just cooking down the road for over and hour. My speed varied from 21-25 km/hr. Now, I realize that probably doesn’t sound very fast, but dealing with a headwind when I was training in Winnipeg I might be able to reach 18-20 km/hr, and that was with help. So I continued to be delighted with my ride, although however much I have improved over the summer, some of my success is definitely due to the fact that I have thinner tires on my bike, hurrah. The only trouble is that I’m feeling it now, quite significantly, but anyways.
I’ve been doing some thinking today, for a number of reasons, and I find it both interesting, and sometimes difficult how much of my life and thoughts this tour has become. It is an excellent way to spend a summer, and I have already pushed boundaries I didn’t even know existed in my head. For instance, changing a tire on the side of the road is no big deal – it’s happened 9 times, and I’ve personally fixed 5 of them. I can cycle up a mountain pass of 4000 feet and cycle back down, in a day. I am capable of making 6 days of 150km each, in 35-38° heat, saddle sores and all. People, generally speaking, are super sweet – as in cool more than as in nice, although both adjectives apply, and stereotypes that I immediately make in my head, are constantly being broken. But on a bicycle tour, most of what we eat live and breath is, appropriately, cycling. We watch “Le Tour de France” when we stop in a café for a drink. We count our flats and our falls and we talk about cleaning our bikes, and changing our tires, and fixing pedals, chains, derailers, cassettes; the list could go on for a long time. It is great but I forget about the outside world.
The tour tries to deal with this as well by talking about the cause we are riding for, poverty, and providing opportunities to do service projects in the various communities into which we rode. All of which are good things. Furthermore – I do not take the time to read the newspaper or check the internet for updates of what is happening in the wider world – I hardly do that in my regular daily life. So this insulation from the world is self-imposed, particularly when I’m having a good time. And it isn’t really too bad, but sometimes I am startled again by the wider world and other people and it surprises me.
There was an excellent scene in a delightful little animated movie where a critic is going to determine the fate of a restaurant that used to be popular, fell in the public standings, and had revived quite a bit of hype because it was going in a new direction. When the waiter asked for the critic’s choice of meal Anton Ego (the critic) said he would like a dish of perspective along with some very fine wine. He sliced through all the fervour of the public and the press, and demanded a meal of the quality the excitement suggested.
It is just a silly little scene, in a silly little movie, but today I was reminded that life is sometimes seen from too small a scope, and that the wider picture, needs to be taken into account.
Adieu, until next time.