smile we’re on vacay

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If you read my last blog post, you know I’m back from a month of European adventure. In short, I joined a cycling tour in London and rode a bike to Copenhagen. That’s the short of it. The long of it will come in pieces… 

When I travel I like to write and document what I see, do, think and feel. I am usually pretty good at it, too. This time was different. I am still new to cycling, especially long distances, and the days were long and many were difficult for me. I ended the day physically exhausted, but also mentally exhausted in a way. Not every day was a riding day, but still, I felt like I was running at a very basic but efficient level.

I took a lot of photos and videos. When we were riding, I stopped a lot to document. Looking through those photos will remind me of a lot of what I was thinking and feeling at the time. I also took audio recordings of a lot of different things, too. I wrote where we were and where we went every day, but only short bullet points for reference.

I’ll share all of this with more words in time. I’m still processing and thinking about it all, and today was the first time I had talked about it with people who weren’t on the trip. (and my mom)

For now, a few thoughts, bulleted because that’s still about the extent of what I can muster right now, jetlagged after my first day back at work. My body thinks it’s 4am, not 7pm.

  • Riding a bike through Belgium and Holland was the best. These countries have created the space for this form of travel and I saw so much good that has come as a result of that. I think every city planner should be required to ride a bike through NYC and then a bike through Amsterdam.
  • Sitting on a bike saddle for six hours straight will never be comfortable, but cycling is an incredible way to see the world and is worth any discomfort involved. It gets easier and I felt stronger (almost) every day, but I did feel like I could do with 20k less than what I had to do on any given day.
  • It felt a little like our recent road trip in that a one night stop in any city will leave you wanting more. There are a few large cities I would have traded off days for smaller towns that one could get to know better in a day.
  • Watching the World Cup in Europe was a lot of fun. Everyone is so into it and the games are in the evening there so it’s just a different experience altogether. That said, I didn’t really watch and mainly talked shit and read Twitter while they were playing.
  • There were some really great people who were in our tour group and it was a joy to meet such interesting and delightful personalities. I really liked everyone but there was this one fucking guy who drove me crazy so I guess there’s one person who I didn’t really want to sit with at breakfast. I hope to keep in touch with many of them.
  • I saw A LOT of great art in so many cool places. I am still reeling over all of the amazing things I saw!!!
  • I fell and hurt my hands. My fingers were usually numb. I get really worried about my hands and not being able to write or draw or make art.
  • The selection of Haribo gummies in Europe is unmatched.
  • Fries with mayo. Forever.

I am so lucky to have had this experience, and the Abbott family (especially Rick and Jean) is so inspiring. Of all the things I did and saw and experienced, being able to do it with such smart, interesting and adventurous people. The time spent with them was what got me through the challenge of riding, and the time spent with the whole family was familiar and fun and made me feel at home a world away.

 

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