The day the idea of a long bike ride was born

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeijing 2007, they were busy building the Bird´s Nest Stadium and my daughter Emma and I were busy trying to get into Tibet. We were staying in a hostal in one of the few hutongs (old neighbourhoods) saved from the bulldozers which were cleaning up the city in preparation for the Olympic games.

In the hostal I met Fritz, a retired German, heading back home after cycling round the world.

We sat in the hostal´s courtyard and chatted well into the night. Fritz told me about his children and grand children; he told me about wild camping in the Australian outback; he told me about the thousands of kilometres he had ridden, about scary moments, the beautiful places he had seen and the kind people he had met. We also talked about his forthcoming 70th birthday, about aging and what it meant for him. I felt inspired by his stories and that night I found it hard to go to sleep.

In the small of the night, I thought about the time when I crossed the Pyrenees from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic on my own in 2002, carrying everything I needed in my rucksack.  In those 47 days up in the mountains I experienced absolute joy and freedom. I thought about how I loved the company of my friends and family who met me occasionally to stay a few days with me. How good the encounters with other walkers in the mountain huts at the end of a day were, and how great it was that at any time I  could look at the map and decide to go down a valley to a glacier lake, have a dip in its waters and let the sun dry me out.

But most of all, how much I loved the long days on my own. There and then, I decided that one day I would take to the road on my bike, and like Fritz explore the world.

Next week it will be the day.


6 thoughts on “The day the idea of a long bike ride was born”

  1. Your enthusiasm is so infectious, Blanca, and I know exactly how you feel! That was what was so lovely about the Cycle Touring Festival, where we met you – being surrounded by like-minded people who understood how you feel about your bike and about travelling by bike, being in the wilds, meeting and talking to people on the way, travelling slowly, taking it all in … I admire your spirit and think you are very brave setting out on this journey on your own. I get butterflies whenever we set off touring, but once on my bike I feel free! I wish you safe travels, seeing beautiful places, meeting lovely people and having fun – have an absolutely fantastic trip and I shall be following you all the way. All the very best, Chris xx

  2. Did you by any chance keep in touch with Fritz? I imagine he would be thrilled and touched to know he had such a life-changing effect on you! (kind of an “it’s a wonderful life” experience–he walks around not knowing what an influence he has had).

    Can’t wait to follow your adventure both b/c it will be amazing in and of itself and b/c you write so well !!

  3. It is going to be fantastic Blanca – and you are, like Fritz, going to inspire others to do the same…hopefully even me one day! 🙂

  4. You’ve just summed up the reasons why I want to go on a similar adventure. I’ve only managed to travel for the three weeks I’ve escaped from work previously. My husband doesn’t like to travel at all so I go on my own. Now I’m retired I can finally contemplate that round the world exploration I’ve dreamed of since my teens. It will happen. And you are already doing it! Kudos!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *