I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoy’d
Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; . . .
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known;
. . .
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, from Ulysses
I was on the road almost four and a half months with my bicycle, and in that time collected many of the “timeless moments” that make a pattern of history (T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding). This blog is full of them, and they visit me at random the way memories do. As I write this, I’m at home in Vancouver, resting under the cover of a rare and record-breaking dump of snow. I remember a day five months ago, at the end of July: I had just started on the Donauradweg and I was in a state of elation over the long, paved, car-free cycling road ahead of me, the scenic Danube canyon and the warmth and light of summer. I had been two months on the road, was feeling strong and in my element. Free of navigational challenges and motorized traffic, my mind instead played with thoughts of people in my life. I felt overwhelming appreciation for family and friends at home, and new friends I was meeting along the way.
I thought in particular of two other people I wished I could have told about my adventures. One was my dad. He would have had a large map set up on a bulletin board, pins in hand to mark my progress with each blog, email or phone update. (Unbeknownst to me until later in my trip, my nephews and niece were doing this with their parents.) The other person I thought of with gratitude, and sadness for his early leaving, was Peter Marcus. He wouldn’t have approved of the weight I was carrying (he probably would have made do with a toothbrush and a minimalist repair kit), but he would have given a thumbs up for the ride. And it was on one of his and Ana’s Gabriola Cycle trips (Mexico, 2005) that I got re-enthused about cycle touring, and on another (Camino de Santiago, Spain, 2006) that I was inspired to come back to Europe for this solo cycle tour. I am indeed “a part of all that I have met” (Tennyson, quoted on one of those whimsical bike route sign posts in Serbia).
“Two drifters off to see the world.
There's such a lot of world to see.”
Thanks, Tidy Man.