To my butt’s great displeasure, I got back in the bike saddle in San Sebastian. This time I was solo, as my friends had departed (they have real lives they had to get back to). I cycled along the Spanish side of the Pyrenees (a mountain range separating Spain and France), popped into the tiny country of Andorra, and finally arrived in Barcelona. Mark me down for another 700km.
Unlike my previous cycling in France, this trip was not flat. To my legs’ great displeasure, I had to climb over several mountain passes. But, there was an upside: beautiful views made up mountains, valleys, forests, canyons, and lakes (I had no idea Spain had such gorgeous lake country). And, of course, what goes up, must come down. It was fun (and moderately dangerous) ripping down steep roads and around harpin turns on my not-so-nimble bike.
You might recall from my last blog post that I am travelling without a tent. Just when you thought my “hobo-ness” could not increase any further, I have taken things to the next level: I don’t even bother getting campsites anymore; I just slept in the bush. I would cycle until I got tired, then pull over and pass out in my sleeping bag. To be honest, I loved it.
Another difference from the France trip was that this time I had no access to a bike computer or speedometer of any kind. So, I had no idea how fast I was going, how far I had gone, or how far to my next destination… or, often, even what my next destination was. I was cycling with no care for time or distance, in a way that few people get to do.
The people of Spain are great to cyclists. I kept getting honked at all the time. At first, I thought I was doing something wrong and they wanted me off the road. But then I saw a guy giving me the “thumbs up” out the window as he honked. Once, as I climbed a hill, an old woman in the passenger seat of a car literally applauded me. Yet another time a guy gave me a fist pump that said, “Keep going, you can do it!” I realized: these people were cheering me on! I loved it! I can’t explain to you how helpful it is when, after you have been climbing for hours, to have a driver go by slowly and honk in encouragement and wave you on, almost like his arm movements could will you up the hill. To the drivers of Spain: I appreciated your help.
(Aside: I forgot to mention in my last blog post that the French are just as nice towards cyclists. The drivers are very courteous and patient, and would often yell, “Bonne courage!”)
Sadly, this is the end of my cycling days. I think 1700km is enough for this hockey goalie. I have sold my bike. After all these kilometres, I have really come to appreciate cycling. It is a very honest way to travel; every km is earned. You get yourself from one place to another the old fashion way: with sweat and muscle pain :) I will miss the cycling lifestyle and the Spaniards cheering me on.
Although I have a few issues with soccer that frustrate me to no end, I admit that I am really getting wrapped up in the World Cup. I have been watching lots of games and getting into it. Soccer is definitely the world’s game, and I want to watch what the world is watching, ya know? If you are reading this from North America, it is possible that you have no idea that right now the world’s most important soccer tournament is going on. (Actually, I suspect it could be the most popular sporting event on the planet.) Obviously, here in Europe, it is huge. In Spain, whenever the Spanish side scores a goal, people let off fireworks in the streets! It is a blast. Now, I even call it “football,” as most of the world does, instead of “soccer.”
In the past World Cups, I never had any affiliation with any of the teams. But now I have been to most of the countries in the tournament. I have emotions and memories tied to the countries. When see Uruguay play, I think of eating grilled meat at a parilla. When Chile or Argentina take to the field, I am reminded of trekking in the Patagonias. France: delicious food and cycling through green fields. Also, these days I have lots of good friends from England. Not to mention, I am in Spain right now. You get the picture. So, I am now emotionally involved in the tournament. These days, I am a World Cup soccer — excuse me, football — fan.
Anyway, back to this little travelling thing I am doing. I have been doing some (well-deserved, if I do say so myself) vacation time here on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. The weather has been fantastic. Next I’m moving on to Portugal, just to see what’s shaking over there.
Hey, I hope my fellow country-men and -women are having a great Canada Day weekend! I drank some Spanish beer and listened to some Tragically Hip. Good times.
By the way, I just wanted you to know that you are my favourite blog reader. But don’t tell the others.
Until next time, this is your favourite world traveller, signing off.
PS: I have a great story about my visit to Andorra. I can’t believe what I rolled into. I will save that one until next time. Try not to hurt yourself on the edge of your seat, which is where I am sure you will be ;)