Downtown Tunis, Tunisia.
A little cafe on Avenue Habib Bourguiba. The waiter offers me a “personal discount” on my coffee because of something I’ve come to describe as “the bike effect”: my rig looks bad ass resting next to my table, and here the travel-worn, custom-grub adventure bike is out-of-place enough to mark me as an adventurer, a traveler, not just another tourist who comes on the ferry from France for an afternoon-in-the-medina to say “I visited Tunisia!” It’s not just literally that a bike is “open to the world” – it opens the very soul of the rider, and affects the first impressions of others in a mysterious but undeniable way.
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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…)
In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina(a super affluent area), I was sitting outside the public library having lunch, when a grey-haired woman in running spandex stopped to talk. She asked the usual questions about my bike tour, and then asked one I’d never heard before: “How are you doing physically?” (more…)