Our rest day arrived and boy did we enjoy it, basically doing … very little! We slept late and after almost nine hours, we felt good. The day was spent doing maintenance on the bikes, on the blog, on ourselves.
I like to write a blog of the trip for several reasons and not in order of importance:
- It keeps a record for us. Otherwise the memories and places would all jumble together into one big mess. It’s nice for us to refer to afterwards. (We kept a blog of our cycle trip five years ago and still refer back to it ourselves.)
- I’ve been interested in the work of Ian Robertson, Professor of Psychology at TCD. He wrote: Novelty is very nourishing to the brain because it stimulates a neurotransmitter called norepinephrine which, in moderate doses, acts like a sort of ‘brain fertilizer’. Curiosity exposes you to novelty, and curious people live longer and healthier lives, research shows. I find that writing a blog encourages me to be curious, to seek out interesting things, it keeps my attention sharp (and aids my memory afterwards.) Having to explain means I first have to understand myself.
- The blog allows us to share the journey with family and friends. The messages back both on the blog and by email and text have added to the fun. It gives a sense of company along the journey and we enjoy your company!
- Many people fear that one loses privacy in blogging, I find that there’s nothing particularly private here that I’m not happy to share. We get as much back through sharing.
When we get to base in the evening, it’s shower, wash out clothes and then stretch out on the bed, rest and write up the day (for me) while not resting and out running (for Denis). The only frustrating part is as I’ve mentioned before when wifi is slow as photographs are hard to upload and they are so much part of the day. Denis generally reads the day’s account before I put it up and adds or subtracts, mostly adds. I love to get the day posted before we leave the following morning, I don’t like when it gets backed up as sometimes happens.
Our days are taken up with cycling, eating lots, drinking lots of water, sight seeing, sleeping, running, writing a blog. We keep up with email though probably badly.
There’s a meditative quality to our cycling. We can be on the bike for around seven hours in a day, (it feels like our day job). Other than talking to each other, we are in and of the countryside. It’s like we’re embracing the landscape with our two open arms. The countryside is providing the entertainment. It’s like having a constantly changing picture in front of you. (Though if the hills are steep, I hardly even see the beautiful, changing picture, I’m concentrating on changing down gears and getting up that hill. Sometimes I count up a hill, I find counting useful to distract myself.)
Denis related from Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman, that after years of close contact, Some of the atoms of bike mixed with the atoms of postman such that the postman become part bike and the bike part postman!
We are beginning to feel a bit like that.
I find that hills are like metaphors for life, they look worse in the distance but if you’ve enough momentum built up, you can be up and over before you know it. In life, we may have enough momentum built up within ourselves to handle whatever is thrown at us …
Cycling along I can hear the silence. Over the distances we cover the only sounds that really break it are bees buzzing, other insects making their insecty noises, birds singing, the cuckoo, doves cooing, church bells ringing, the wind in the trees, a cock crowing, a tractor … After all, the Véloroute is designed to be in very quiet, peaceful, rural places.
I’m a great radio person and lately I’ve become hooked on the Audible App, (listening to up to three books per week as I walk). Audible is now very worried about my welfare as I have fallen off the Audible earth – I haven’t listened to a single book since we started this journey. I see (and ignore) lots of emails from them coming into my Inbox. I doubt they have included the sound of silence as one of the tick boxes as to why customers stop buying books.
You can smell the landscape, the smell of the earth, honeysuckle, the smell of fertiliser being spread, wild roses …
I can’t but notice how many different colour butterflies fluttering about singly or in groups.
On hot days you can feel the difference in air temperature, cycling through warm air followed by cooler air, followed by warmer air. Like the thermals they talk about in flying.
If you ask me what I do for seven hours on the bike, I haven’t a clue but in my mind it never feels like that. In my legs, well that’s a different matter.
The Véloroute is like a giant treasure hunt – we’re following signs all day and the treasure at the end of the day is a shower/bath and a clean bed. You come in all sweaty and hot and get into a hot shower – bliss. The simple things in life become real pleasures. Each evening I feel a lovely, physical tiredness. It peels back life to a more simple form.
Today we have 2,063 kilometres done over 23 cycle days (an average of 90 km per day). We reckon we will be in Budapest within two weeks. I asked Denis today would he like to be finished and he said not at all. Nor would I. We are loving this cycle bubble. I feel we are blessed to have the time to do it, the health and fitness to do it, and that we can afford it, (though it’s not an overly expensive holiday – accommodation mostly in rural areas and food – the travel and entertainment are free). I feel we are blessed to have the interest to do it – I love the fact we are both on the same page when it comes to challenges like this.
Last year I attended the funeral of a farming friend of my now deceased father along with my sister ad brother. My brother recounted to us a story from when he was a very young boy. One hot sunny summer’s evening he was walking along behind this man and my father chatting. They were passing a big field of ripened wheat, The man stopped walking, stood and said to my father – You know Brock, if heaven is half as good as this, it won’t be half bad!
Though not religious, I feel something similar about this cycling holiday.
Enough reflecting – back to the day job!