Bicycling with Daniel
Now in the days of the shutdown I have been cycling less. Sitting at home my thoughts go back in time to earlier cycling days. I rummage through the boxes of unsorted pictures and leaf through photo albums - all from the pre-digital days and a bit chaotic.
When traveling in the days of film cameras, we didn't take as many pictures as we do now. With few photos to back up my memories of the towns we rode through, where we slept, what we ate, how many kilometers we covered, my reconstruction of the past can be pretty spotty and occasionally downright wrong. Nevertheless, I cherish those memories and the mood they convey is perhaps more essential than all the statistics I could have kept. And I do have a few pictures and diaries.
I love to think back to my first bicycle tour. Or almost my first which I will write about here. The very first was a ride with my son Daniel. This was in early 1981, Daniel was 14 and I was 41. We set out from home with our clothes and tent packed in plastic bags which we strapped to our bicycle racks. We had no panniers, I was an absolute beginner.
I have no pictures from this three-day jaunt, but remember my thighs burning like fire from the efforts of the first day. I was a total newbie to cycling. Fortunately, Daniel knew how to repair a flat tire, I didn't, and that came in handy. We had a pup tent and slept on the ground in our sleeping bags, no pads! In the morning the forest ranger came by and told us camping wasn't allowed there. The second night we took a hotel room. On the way home we got lost and had to push our bikes uphill through the woods on the steep bank of the Isar. What an adventure. And it was love for cycle touring at first sight.
Shortly after this initiation, I planned a two week tour for Daniel and me in Italy. His two older brothers had their own plans. I got the maps and had an idea what towns in Umbria would be nice to visit. I didn't realize that many of those medieval towns would be situated on the top of a hill.
In those days in Europe, train travel with bicycles was easier. You could send your bike ahead by train with panniers attached, no hassle. They took a few days to arrive at the destination, but when you got there, they were waiting. I wish that were possible now!
Of course we had innumerable adventures, good times as well as adversities. This was just the beginning of many years of traveling by bike on my vacations. I was hooked. I wonder now how I had the courage to embark on this first bicycle trip in a foreign country with no previous touring experience.
I considered whether I should transcribe the original journal here. In it I describe headwinds, quirky rooms we had, a storm in the night on a hillside in our tent, pushing up steep gradients and coasting down, the kindness and generosity of the Italians, the times I felt no longer willing or able ... the stuff bicycle tours are made of. My cyclist readers are familiar with it all.
Daniel is now 53 and has three children of his own, Luci (21) and the twins Nelli and Valentin (15). He is a social worker specialized in addiction prevention.
And here's something for the music challenge in my group over at "Cycle 365 - The bicycle in daily life". Daniel also plays trumpet in the Express Brass Band.