03 Nov 2014

Cycle Me Mine by laurenabe


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I don't know if I will be able to convey the expanse and depth of emotion that we experienced this past week. Most of the stories deserve an in-person rundown, complete with action and inflection. But I'll be real here, last week was a rough one.

Upon leaving the luxurious "Via Rhona" cycle route, we were thrust into a landscape unfit for the traveling cyclist. Busy highways with trucks so loud we could barley communicate even though we were just feet from each other and an uninspiring landscape- not the "South of France" we had anticipated. We thought if we could just make it to the Mediterranean coast, things would be different. We gritted our teeth, gripped our handlebars and made an incredible 30 miles in 2 hours. Arriving on the coast we were hard pressed to find a campsite open in the off season and industrial areas stretched for miles in either direction. The only place we found that was open warned us profusely of bike theft. Not the warm coastal welcome we were hoping for.

The next few days were a tiring mix of unclear bike routes, and the dizzying feelings of go go go. We longed for the luxurious cycle paths we had experienced days before and the comforts of knowing where we would sleep next. We stayed in hotels two nights in a row.

One of the hardest things that added to our discouragement, was not being able to connect with people who lived in the area. We realized that simple interactions and home stays are so important to understand an area of the world and feel welcome. Even a dual-language, miming, charades conversation with a bike-shop owner can turn our attitudes around in an instant.

And turn around they did. The last three days we have had some incredibly beautiful coastal cycling, a warmshowers host and some rest days in Barcelona that we are eagerly awaiting. And more than a few "oh shit" moments to share upon our return :)