Synchronised Rhythm

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Saturday 19 August 2017: Corn Field 12k beyond La Tranche-sur-Mer to the Coast around L’Houmeau [Part 2]

12:40. A hyper Utile! More supplies. Near L’Aquillon (I think). Lovely chilled decamp. Am loving this sense of freedom from demands, needs or expectations other than our own; and we’re not really expecting that much; just going with our flows and responding to needs when they occur.

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Yes, we do love it, but it is something that we’ve worked very hard for; and is something that requires constant work. We love it because we more consciously chose to do this than maybe any of the other choices made in our previous lives, but that doesn’t make it easy – though it does (if that makes sense).

We accept the difficulties because we have chosen them as part of our lives – and the benefits and freedoms arising out of living largely to your own rhythms outweigh any of them by a considerable margin; and in relation to our other lives, make them not that difficult at all; although this appears to be the default setting visible to most or many, and an unfathomable lifestyle choice, going by reactions we encounter along the way.

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Though many outside the age of certain lifestyle choices betray a more genuine feeling akin to our own: “Cool!” 😀

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Where some see deserts, some see life thriving in the cracks in between – as it speaks of possibility for us all.

Synthetic-on-Sea

Saturday 19 August 2017: Corn Field 12k beyond La Tranche-sur-Mer to the Coast around L’Houmeau [Part 1]

6:52. France isn’t all: ‘my-camera-isn’t-good-enough-for-these vistas’, ‘insouciant chic’, and ‘effortless cool’.

As we made our way along the much-longer-than-it-appeared-on-our-mapping-application D747, our in-union-with-our-sense-of-self-within-the-world-around-us was torn asunder, as every crevice of calm was assailed and invaded by the monotone roar of machines belligerently missioning from there to there, regardless and heedless, oblivious and dangerous – to life.

To all life,
That is all.

Cars, cars, and more cars, and trucks, and lorries, and camper-vans, and caravans, and engines, and wheels, rowing and rolling and pushing, racing, bursting great holes through the fabric eternal; no longer eternal, but victim to the cold caprice of disinterested cogs in the wheels that steal anything life.

Finally, we got off the main thoroughfare of coastal dashers to enjoy the paths, lanes and trails running along the dikes threaded through this land once reclaimed from the sea.

Lovely.

Even here, though, sanctuary was shattered by the sound of holiday camps pumping manufactured enthusiasm through inadequate systems, creating that perfect sense of jarring disharmony you feel when something is out of synch with the Living World.

Camps where kids are sent for a fortnight of enforced frivolity and fun-by-numbers, which must be fun for some – but is clearly none for some.

Definitions of ‘fun’ are as varied as those of ‘interesting’, ‘tasty’, ‘quality’, ‘beautiful’, ‘ugly’, ‘sexy’. They’re just words invested with meaning by the speaker, then invested with a slightly different meaning by the beholder.

Other words announce themselves as I reflect upon yesterday.

Plastic.

Synthetic.

Again, two words that hadn’t applied to our French sojourn so far.

We exited the marshland and continued along a lonely lane, tailwinds enthusiastically assisting us along our way.

And,

lost in a breeze

We got lost.

Well, not lost, but off track,

so we had to re-route

Back on the 747.

Caravan parks to the left of me. Caravan parks to the right. No-one allowed in or out. Concentration camps of conformity, where fun is synthesised down to its lowest common denominator and mass-produced on cost-effective scales out of garish materials born not of this Natural World; and born never to return to it either.

Hollow sounds, which ring tragic in the ear, carrying within them the absence of feeling that fills a joyful expression announced of spontaneity and free-wills expressing themselves.

“We are on holiday.
We are here to have fun now.
And fun we shall have. Goddammit.”

And they are everywhere around the Le Tranche area. People farmed out here en masse, deprived of the money they have worked hard for, to spend on this idea they have bought into, which seems to rob most all of their dignity and virtue, as they are subject to bombardment by the slightly off-colour, slightly out-of-tune, not-quite-the-same-tasting world; where individuality is quashed and a human becomes a mob; where frustration is released through enforced hilarity; where cries are released as alcohol numbs; infusing these simulacra of happiness with strains of terror, of anger, frustration and anguish, and a self-consciousness that this is a situation not really born of one’s own desires, but of choices made by another – and not really for your own benefit.

And it saddens me.
And it’s tragic.
And it’s sad.

which is why I’m here, and not over there,
where we all are

Who am I
the judge?

Pit-Stops

Friday 18 August 2017: La Roche-sur-Yon to a Corn Field 12k beyond La Tranche-sur-Mer

12:20. Another large E.Leclerc in La Roche-sur-Yon, to the South of the city this time, as that’s the direction we’re headed, but it’s still massive! Bit of a ridiculous size for us to do our shopping for the day, but it was exactly on the way, with little inspiring us to deviate – in this weather.

Pissing
it
Down

Temperature’s pleasant enough – 21º – so the bare minimum of layers is possible under the proving-ever-so-useful poncho, which will enable us to dry out more quickly when the rain does cease.

If

Our second point of call today will take us to La Tranche-sur-Mer, and a campsite there to meet a guy, Robert, who’s going to give me a hand with, and a second opinion on, tuning my front derailleur – thanks for putting us in touch, Sue.

I’ve been given a great step-by-step by the ever-supportive Rob from Rob’s Bikecenter, but it’ll be nice to have access to a stand and some more tools should I discover something unexpected.

It’s also a lovely ride to and along the coast there, and doesn’t add any k to our way, in terms of Bordeaux, so why the hell not make contact with another kindly soul?

And, from his last text, I get the impression the weather’s going to pick up.

Discarded Items #1

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Sunday 09 July 2017: Kyjov to Brno

At almost 9am we pack and prepare to make our way to Brno, and the promise of two nights’ stay in a three-bedroomed flat all to ourselves; thanks Ondrej, who, with his wife and children, is in the process of moving flat.

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Is it wrong that quite prominent in my mind is the thought of being able to see the new Spiderman movie?

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Items Discarded Thus Far

    • Covers to protect food whilst camping.
    • Spare ruler. ‘Spare ruler?’ What?!
    • Running jacket with removable sleeves. Seemed like a good idea at the time.
    • Recorder. Yes, the instrument.
    • Kettle. Unnecessary when you have a pan. And the cloudy water is suspicious.
    • Rain shoe covers. Agnieszka’s, though I think mine will soon follow.

3:56am

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Friday 07 July 2017: Biskupice to Zlechov [Part 1]

Awake. Intensely awake. Immersed in the sounds of a world cautiously waking up, and the sounds of the nocturnal creatures revelling in their dusky kingdoms before secreting themselves away as if they were never present; or almost as if they don’t exist at all.

Footsteps outside. Snapping twigs or breaking branches? Leaves rustling or jackets catching? Our curious interloper could be: former WWF Champion Slavek Švejk, down on his luck and looking to loot this potential goldmine of an overnight campsite, and woe betide either of them if they wake and try to prevent him from going about his foul business; or Henry the Hedgehog, coolly but cautiously ambling his way from a meal well-fed to a place well-bed – without the need to exercise excess caution as the tarmac assassins are mainly silent at this hour.

A light-footed hop and a skip tell me this is maybe a fawn.

It doesn’t really matter: we shared some moments, these creatures and I.

And as the morning chorus rolls in as if from a distance, over the seas, and over the horizons, in tune with the Sun, I’ll ignore this well-lunged cockerel getting some mid-night practice in while he thinks no-one’s listening, and pursue a few more Zs.

But, like the cockerel, I cannot sleep – though the cheeky bugger has fallen silent for the time being, making out he’s Mr Timekeeper, with no need of tuning to fill those pipes with cock-a-doodle.

I’m submerged in a chorus of song, featuring a dazzling array of the most beautiful harmonies and rhythms, the likes of which I have never heard before – at least, not altogether like this – being performed especially for me. Their fierce yet fragile beauty is melting my heart: it’s dissolving into the Earth around and being drawn up into the morning air of life.

Other more discordant sounds join in – some humanmade, others buzzy and waspy, others raspy and partridgey. And a gun! I think. In the distance. A hunter celebrating their mastery of all that is life, all that is beauty, all that we are a part; blind that their savagery removes all of the above and tears all apart.

And now the songs seem subsumed to the sound of a truck, a diesel engine, winding its way

away

Away from my heart, as mine once again rises with the life-invoked chorus of our true blooded cousins.

Michal & Zuza

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Wednesday 05 July 2017: Valašské Meziřící to Valašské Klobouky

Up: 7:45am. 22ºC. 208.93km covered. 15 hours 41 minutes 16 seconds riding done.

Destination: Valašské Klobouky

13:10. 29.5ºC. 240.62km covered. 17 hours 40 minutes 47 seconds riding done.

Destination: lunch 😃

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Michal: our mountain-trail-climbing hero.

424 metres plus Kraków above sea level.

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50km/h downhill: “Yee-harr!” Bee. Face. Bee. Mouth. Bee. Ouch!

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273.53km covered in total;  64.6km for the day; 20 hours 15 minutes 09 seconds of riding in total.

Arrive.

A yummy warm welcome of apricot dumplings thrust into hand on arrival.

Protective dog from Mexico who decided to adopt me 🐾

Didn’t help with the harvesting, though the human dynamo that is Michal was straight in and at it 😵

Me: contaminating the drinking water in our canteens with my under-rehearsed showering-in-the-tent technique 😨

Thunder and lightning all night in the mountains (at a present altitude of Kraków plus 111 metres)!

A magical, beautiful region.

An amazing day of amazing experiences.

Thank you Michal and Zuza: this day belongs to you.

Anew Relations

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Tuesday 04 July 2017: Vojkovice to Valašské Meziřící

6:20am. The roar of reinforced rubber accompanied by combustion engines propelling is thrown into sharp relief by the untold variety of birds tweeting and cawing. I think we were asleep by 10:30pm, when the noise from the nearby road subsided. Strange, you didn’t notice it until you were in the tent. The same goes for other noises, too, once you’re denied the sense us humans rely on so – or too? – heavily: sight. Once we are cocooned within the tent, other senses seem to heighten and become more attuned and sensitive to the objects that move them.

That must be the case regarding the road and the traffic. We both remarked yesterday, during what you would assume to be the peak-traffic period, that, despite being such a quality road surface, and well kept, the road was light on mechanised traffic, and therefore quiet, which made for another element in our super-nice day. Czechia, despite having its charming quirks, can’t have its rush-hour in this region between 9:30 and 10:15pm, so I hope we can look forward to another pleasant day’s riding.

Today’s destination is Valašské Meziřící, which, again, is an undulating ride in the mountains, though looking at the profile, it seems like we end up at a similar level to where we set out, so the extra 5km or so we may have to cover shouldn’t be felt too much, provided the weather doesn’t turn too nasty or Czechia drivers simultaneously decide en masse to take to all the roads.

We’re off to meet and stay with our first Warmshowers’ hosts, Michal and Zuza, who have offered dinner and a place to sleep for the night. From researching their profile it seems they are experienced tourers, so it’ll be interesting to meet them, not just as people, but to get some insight from others who have presumably ascended much of the steep learning curve we cling to now.

Gave the chains on both bikes a wipe and a lube yesterday, as both were beginning to give off mouse-like squeaks around the pulley-area of the rear derailleurs; though that can’t be it – he says, not really knowing if it can or not – as I only lubed them on Saturday. I’m hoping the bikes, just now fully laden and pulling us up hills at least 50% of the way, simply require more frequent lubing than regular bikes, and that there isn’t something annoying that will need removing from a bearing, for example, as that’s beyond my pay-grade at the moment. However, we’re experiencing similar squeaks in similar areas, so I hope it’s too much of a coincidence for it to be a symptom of anything more than regular use that requires regular maintenance. That said, I did only rub the chains down with a cloth before applying fresh lube, which I know isn’t the proper way to clean the chain, but I’m experimenting with short-cuts whilst on the road. If this doesn’t solve it, I’ll give the chains a blast of WD-40, then, once it’s dried, apply some proper, decent lube, which is supposed to be an on-the-road hack. Learning learning learning.

Glad the woman whose land we’re on offered us a sheltered place to leave our bikes for the night, as, presumably, given the fact logs are also stored there, they are in a much drier place than completely outside on this considerably dewy patch of exposed lawn.

The bikes: as an extension of us, we care about them, in ways and on levels maybe not right for material objects, but interacting with them constantly as part of our lives makes them, ahem, part of our lives, and so a relationship does develop.

I hope they’re OK.

Time to answer the call of nature and see – gonna wake that German Shepherd up when I do, though…

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12:35, and we’re sitting in Frydek Mistek, waiting for ‘brunch’ in a greasy Tex-Mex-style restaurant in the corner of the quaint, cobbled town-square. First impressions indicate a non-remarkable town, but, yes, with a well looked after centre.

Maybe, probably, there is more, but we were following our stomachs: having left our lovely overnight spot, and another gracious host, about 90 minutes later than planned.

‘Plans!?’ I’ll tell you about plans.”

“What? What will you tell me about plans?”

“Rain, surprise-rain, that’s what. How’s that do ya?”

Ah yes, the wet spanner in the works. “It’s just a bit of water: don’t panic.” And while we may not have panicked, it did cause a lot of hurried assessing and re-assessing of priorities.

But we got there, and here – and living like this is never boring or predictable 😃

The skies bode well now, but we all know what that means in this part of the world, don’t we 🙃

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With 160.28km and 12 hours 02 minutes on the clock – so 10.4k and 50 minutes done so far today – we still have 47km to go and, again, many undulations to undulate before Valašské Meziřící and hopefully meeting our potential hosts, Michal and Zuza.

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Arrive: 7:30ish.

The personal escort to the door turned out to be Zuza’s dad.

Great welcome.

Familiar chat.

Beer. Shower. Food. Beer. Wine. Bed.

An invitation to join them to Valašské Klobouky, 56km away, for some traditional harvesting in a mountain forest. Sounds like a beautiful ride through the mountains and a destination that’s right up our street 😃