I got to Canberra early enough to make a detour to the Green Shed, a side business attached to the local rubbish dump. I appreciate that they save them from the landfill, but most of the bikes in there were crap. I found one wheel, though, whose rim might replace mine. I bought it for five bucks and strapped it down on top of the pile.
A car tourist from Melbourne asked me, “So where are you going?”
Meaning, today. Not “What are you going to achieve in your life”. Fwew!
Her sister and her dreadlocked friend seemed interested too, but they just nodded when I answered,
“Today I’ll shoot for Queenstown, and try to camp somewhere on the other side.”
I guess on their map it doesn’t look too far away. But she was quick to point out, “Oo there’s a big hill over that side of Queenstown. Good luck!”
And that was the first time of many that I was warned of the Queenstown “hill.” (more…)
June 7. The visa begins, but I am still in Spain, pedaling more kms than ever before, under a hotter-than-ever sun. I reach Almeria with plenty of time to spare, and give my rig a tune-up on the rambla, amidst an angry protest against Israeli terrorism and Spanish arms manufacturing.
The ferry terminal has a little makeshift mosque. Huge groups of Arabs and a few Europeans; ninety percent take the ten o’clock for Morocco, leaving me feeling quite hard-core alone with the Algerians.
The day starts like any other; we pick the slugs off the tent, I run a brush through my pony tail. Breakfast, some stretching and some pushups; a liesurely breaking of camp.
But when we get back on the bike path, it isn’t long before we realize – it’s the first of May, which is a special day for villages all across Bavaria. (more…)
I recuperated quickly from my nightmare getting to the Steigenberger Airport Hotel, and subsequently passed a night of Cloud Nine luxury. Lily fed me, and I had a badly needed shower. You should’ve seen the water run black from washing my hair! Not to mention my dirty clothes. And there was a bed with snowy white sheets, big enough for my 190 centimeters – and Lily too! In the morning I used her pump to fix my flat tire, and somehow we found a much easier way back to the campsite. Maybe it was because it was during the day, but it probably had more to do with Lily’s superior navigating skills.
Back at camp, I began preparing for a birthday feast the next day. (more…)
The plan was to zip back up to Maastricht to see a couple of people, then turn right around and rush across France and the Pyrenees a thousand miles in three weeks for La Criticona, the world-wide critical mass in Madrid. Once back in Limburg, I would only check in with Paul, a Belgian sailor mate I met while sailing across the Atlantic, and meet up with Patrick Buckley, son of the Irishman who welded my bike frame, who I’d promised to visit if I were ever in the Netherlands, then quick head back South. (more…)
When you travel slowly, as you do on a bike, you can notice the little changes.
Sailing for two months from the Caribbean to England, the temperature of the air and water decline ever so gradually, day by day, a natural change that is unnoticable except in hindsight.
Approaching the border of a different country, one can detect shifts of dialect in the simple words of neighbors, like a bleeding language buffer on either side of the invisible line – especially in Belgium, where both Dutch and French are official languages of the state.
Geography follows this gentle course as well. (more…)
A couple more days at the squat in Leiden…. working the security-barricade door at a huge techno party; “Whaddya mean everyone has to have invitations? Nobody has an invitation!”…. an impromptu scavenger hunt, conceived on a whim, with our legs dangling over the canal: one broken inner tube, some cat hair, and a poster with Dutch written on it; one white flower, a high-pitched noise, and one shoestring; all found within 45 minutes on the brisk Spring streets of Leiden…. a speech, requested by our host after a Wednesday night eetcafe, about my trip and my philosophies…. one final, quiet dinner with Sandor – an oldschool squatter with the use of only one arm(still rides his bike – coaster brake – still rolls spliffs no problem and still cooks vegan gourmet deliciousness)…. some city sights we didn’t discover till our last day…. aah Leiden – one of the gems of Holland. (more…)