Cycling Europe Day 5: Settling In

We have a saying in Egypt: اللي تخاف منه ما يجيش أحسن منه – That which you fear most will be the best. I’ve decided my subconscious belief in the truth of this saying is the source of much of my anxieties.

Every morning since I started this trip, I’ve had bad morning anxiety. I become restless at 4AM and can’t sleep past 5AM. I worry about getting all my stuff ready. I worry about having breakfast early enough so I can start off as early as possible to avoid the noon heat. I worry about the road: will it be safe? Will I find water and food along the way if mine run out? Will I find a decent spot to pee when I need to? Luckily, the moment I put my foot on the bike pedal all my anxiety goes away and I just naturally leave it all to God. But I’ve noticed that the days I’ve been most anxious about have been the days that went really well. When I wasn’t as worried, the day was extremely difficult. “That which you fear most will be the best!”

Has that ever happened to you? Well it’s happened enough times to me that my natural tendency and perhaps even “protective” mechanism has been tending towards the anxious side. I don’t want to be anxious. It’s exhausting! But I think now that my subconscious pushes me in that direction to make sure that what comes will be the best.

I was really anxious this morning because I had a long over-100km cycle. But today’s ride ended up being absolutely wonderful despite its length, hills, and the heat.

I love Spain. The route today was so nice that I thought Spain had rolled out the good roads for me. They are so well maintained. The scenery in Extramedura, where i’m currently cycling, is gorgeous. I cycled past lakes and rivers and for much of the second half of the ride my fore drop  was ice-capped mountains. I so wish I could identify birds. I’ve seen so many beautiful ones over the past few days. In Spain and Portugal I’ve seen what I can only describe as a stork. One was sitting in a huge nest made on a telephone pole. Others. I’ve seen flying. Today I saw something that looked like a falcon or a kite. Then an hour later I saw a bird that looked like an eagle. But as my eyes followed its graceful movements in the sky, I saw it join about ten others and decided it couldn’t possibly be an eagle. They don’t travel in large groups, do they?

The road today involved lots of gradual ascents, but the scenery took my mind off all of it. And for much of the day I kept thinking, “Man! Is there anything as satisfying as getting somewhere with the power of your own body?” I always feel this when hiking. It’s an amazing feeling, as if you’re rediscovering what your body is really designed to do. We sit at desks all day, drive cars to the nearest destinations, use busses and metros, elevators and escalators, boats and planes. We don’t move anymore. Well, I for one have discovered that I love moving. It clears my mind and settles my heart. It feels right. It feels good.

Remember two blog posts ago when I wrote about my snake hallucinations? Well I saw a large one today, coiled up and slithering along the road. Spanish hospitals had better have antivenom.


  1. Do’nt worry about Spanish snakes. Poisonous species are not letal for adults, unless they bite you on the throat, for example. In addition, the most dangerous occurs along the north coast and the Pyrenees. About birds, Extremadura is a birdwatching paradise. You can find information in English about birds in Extremadura at

    In the regions where storks occur, it is common that they made their nests on the top of bell towers. They used to migrate to Africa in winter but nowadays many of them living in villages and towns stay all year round: a signal that climate change has started?

  2. “Man! Is there anything as satisfying as getting somewhere with the power of your own body?”
    No. That’s why I like cycling so much. Nothing but me, a bike, the air and the wind and the power of legs. And immediately all worries of the day are forgotten, just pure moving. It’s like meditating and best therapy for mind and body.
    Bon Camino, ya Nadia!

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