Leaving Venice from a 3 month long 3,000 mile bicycle tour the only extra things I had acquired were a t-shirt and a chain tool. I guess I am not your average vacationeer. I didn’t want to bring home a handful of knick-knacks for momentos. In part, that may be due to me riding a bicycle with limited space and a weight ratio I wanted as low as possible. However, that is the smaller part. The bigger part is the weight of the intangibles gathered is enough to fill my thought pool until my next journey.
Traveling is a way to open myself to new places, peoples, and cultures. Diving headfirst into worlds unknown is my plate of good fun. Every time I mix up the concoction of travel I do my best to eat it up knowing it’s not everyday I’ll have these fruits of life in front of me. Now, I am finished, and I have the lingering flavors of adventure making me drool happily on my mothers front porch in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
Every drop of my sweat from the past 3 months could fill a bathtub and it attempted to cool me down for a couple of reasons. Bicycling can be an easy, or if you’re a dummy like me, it can have its hard parts. I chose mountains over flats and the natural beauty of nature to be my biggest companion. Perusing the peaks and forests of Portugal, Spain, France, and Italy were breathtaking. I had many moments with the wind under my wide spread arms flying down mountains where I felt weightless and full of life. To reach that feeling involved struggles and pain. Climbing up relentless roads underneath a baking sun would wear me down and make my hip and knee hurt something fierce. However, once I would reach the top, all pain and struggle would be out the window. Hard work and determination can and have gotten me to any mountain summit I attempted to pass. This is a lesson in my life that I have lived by and will continue to hold to. I can’t just sit idly by waiting for life to happen and happiness to come. I must persue the life I desire with hard word and determination like I did every mountain in Europe. Around every future corner will be surprises unknown and challenges galore. With a bit of hard work and determination, I know I can rise above any kink or broken road to complete the path I am building for myself.
Stories are what make the world go round. I may have stayed more in the woods rather than in the homes of hosts, but that didn’t stop me from hearing the lore of many great people. Stories of sailing around the world, of being told something but defying all odds, of travels far and wide by bicycle, of growing up in a different time, and of the good and the bad times. All of these complex strings of people have threaded into my story. They’ve woven their lives into mine and, as far as I can tell, are making one hell of a beautiful pattern. These threads give purchase to ideas and ends unmet. They breed opportunity in ideas and have left me with countless directions to choose from. I wouldn’t possibly have gained as much as I did from this adventure if it weren’t for every kind host and person willing to talk with the dirty cycling guy. I thank all of you for sharing a bit of your lives with mine and hope to see any and all of you again.
I think I have a bit of a thing for knocking on tourism… Probably because I find my time most enjoyed in nature with people that I love. On the other hand, Europe does have a HUGE tourism industry. I mean, Europe is ages old and full of ruins, rubble, and history enough to fill libraries around the world. I kept finding myself wanting to escape the texts humanity and travel through the music of nature. I am pretty sure this says something about me. I am not knocking against people who love history, if so, my brother would beat me up. A song comes in mind from Built to Spill, the lyrics being, “do everything you want to do, see everything you want to see.” I am a firm believer in that! Probably the most important thing in life is to be yourself. I guess what I am saying is that Europe just insures me more of myself being a outdoorsy, smelly, dirty guy that loves a waterfall, forest, or mountain with a good book in my hand rather than a wavering sea of people all trying to see the sights. Good thing Europe had aplenty magnificent natural beauty for me to discover.
I can’t go on without saying how much I enjoyed the tourism places. Though I did my best to try and steer myself from the connected minds of the tour buses and see the sights through my own, explorative eyes.
Have I come back a changed person from my travels? Back to the idea of peoples stories being threads woven into my own life, I would say I haven’t changed as much as I’ve gotten heavier and thicker with substance. My contents are more wild and aromatic. The woven tales of foreign souls give the pattern of my life a different texture. Travel has made my story blanket with a few more colored patches. It has left some areas a bit worse for weather, but that is nothing a little bit of science can’t help. I can keep myself warmer at night knowing that I am living my dreams and persuing my passions. That the life I am living is just becoming more me. Every day I grow and I dream to have covered the world with my storied blanket. This journey I see as a patch in the middle leaving me with whatever direction I choose. Where will I go next?
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