Monday, January 25, 2010
Former bike shop manager and veteran cyclo-tourist, Bill Heinmann is journeying through South America on his Soma Saga. He doesn't have a blog, but writes back often. They aren't really letters, but journal entries. Here is what he wrote last week from Salto, Uruguay.
What is a day on the road like? What do I do with myself all day beside push the pedals? One, I read coffee cups. The one I am using now shows a couple in an embrace. Below it states "Bonafied Sensations." Their spelling.
I am staying in a hotel in a great little town for a couple of days. I really like Salto. It is a pretty city with friendly people. Also, the cost is low, about $12.00US a day including breakfast with very good coffee. This is another thing I do each day, get distracted from the main subject or destination.
Normally, I wonder how I can use that word traveling as I do. See, I told you I get distracted. I will try to do better. With it being as hot and humid as it is and the stores shutting down as early as they do I must be on the road as early as possible. If camping I pack my sleeping bag in its compression sack, roll up my Therma Rest pad, pack it and move all the other items in my tent to near the door before I crawl out at day light. I then attend to cleaning out the other items and put my tent on the clothes line to dry. Attending to my personal hygiene and other needs, I make my French press coffee. I sit to enjoy whatever breakfast I have purchased the night before. This is the time I normally write. Picture me sitting at a light grey concrete picnic table in a forest grove talking to you with the morning mist swirling around.
My tent dry, I finish packing, fill my water bottles and pedal off. The cool morning welcomes me to begin my travel day. In the first years of cycle touring I would set high distance goals and hit the road hard; destination traveling. No more. Now I have vague destinations with no penalty for failing to achieve the distance.
As I ride along the sun warms the day and me. I take in where I am and watch many things. Road kill tells me what animals are most plentiful and often which are nocturnal. Daytime animal activity allows me to see them in action. Lately there have been large flocks of bright green parrots working in the fields of mowed wheat. The road rolls down to each water flow. Every stream, creek or river is greeted by the pavement. Then the pavement must go up to the next ridge.
Sometimes I am in attack mode. At each climb I stand-shift at the no passing sign (a red circle with 2 cars side by side with a diagonal line through the circle) pushing hard at a high spin(rate of pedaling). I go as fast as I can over the top. Not stopping the push at the top, but rather just over. Other times sitting is the method. Shifting down as the hill steepens to maintain the same spin (around 100 rpms), looking just far enough ahead to be safe, but not at the top, doing my best to top at the same speed as at the bottom. Or it can be a look around climb. Shifting into the lowest gear needed to spin I just watch the country side go by. All methods work and are enjoyable. I never know which I will choose until I begin to go up.
Many thoughts appear in my mind as I move. Some of Ashland, some of Annette, some of you and some of what I am seeing. At times they are of past journeys when a sight, sound or smell remimd me of somewhere in the past. My daily rides are of , like the coffee cup states, sensations. I do not listen to any music or other sounds. The road provides enough entertainment.
Many people want to talk when I stop. The fully loaded bike pedaled by the old man are a big attraction. A major part of any day is the people I meet.
I learn so much sharing with them. Often this is how I become distracted. Suggestions about what to see or do send me off in search of the local sights.
The road day rolls to a close and I must find lodging and food. A place to camp or a cheap hotel. After finding a nights protection, I set up. My tent if, camping, is put in place; if a hotel, then the room selected, then and clothesline hung. Hanging the clothes line outdoors is easy, in a room sometimes a different story. Often door hinges work well as do TV wall hangers. A shower and a wash of the clothes worn that day.
Shower done, clothes clean and hung to dry, time for food, both for the night and breakfast. Cook if necessary, but often a snack. I try to eat my large meal at noon. This gives me the opportunity to sample the local cuisine at a lower cost than supper and a little less in quantity.
I always take a long walk in the evening to learn where I am. Walking for 2 to 3 hours along store fronts or in a forest glen both bring surprises and joy. Besides I need the exercise. Yes, that is true. Walking using the muscles in a different way than cycling and provides stretching.
Now it is time for reading and sleep so that I can begin a new day in the morning. Each morning is a new journey, not a continuation of the previous, but a beginning.