I was going to do something stupid and then I got smart.
When friends ask me about my timeline for this trip, I tell them I’ll keep cycling until I get tired. Depending on how you understand that, it can sound very romantic: I’ll just keep cycling and cycling like this forever, maybe.
No I won’t.
In my head, I can be ridiculously flexible. In reality, I am an organizer that sticks to the plan as if not sticking to it will bring the death penalty.
There are a million limitations. I don’t have visas to every country in the world. In fact,
I am completely limited to visiting European Union countries that allow the Schengen Visa. Ramadan is coming up at the end of June and I am NOT cycling 100km a day while fasting 18-hour days. I actually need to end this a few days before Ramadan because I still have four days of fasting from last Ramadan that I need to make up before this one rolls in. I spent a lot of money so my four kids could join me in the UK this summer. I have to be there before they arrive. And finally, I unfortunately do not have a limitless supply of cash and, even though I’m saving on transportation costs by using my own leg power to get places and I’m camping when I can, this trip is still very expensive for someone like me.
So no. I’m not going to cycle forever. And yes. I do have a plan. But I am not going to tell you what it is. I do not want to burden myself with people’s expectations or with my own, for that matter. If the day comes that I’m too tired to cycle any longer, I stop. If I can manage, I’ll keep cycling until I reach my final planned destination. It doesn’t matter. I’ve already done so much and I’m so thankful.
I have been feeling tired the past couple of days. I feel it mostly in the last 40 km of my
daily cycle and then when I arrive to my destination. I haven’t been taking many rest days on this trip. I took one rest day after my first week of cycling and it completely demoralized me. I was bored. I was alone. I wasn’t enjoying myself. So I’ve been avoiding rest days generally. I had two really nice rest days ten days ago when my husband came to visit. And now I just want to keep moving because the more rest days I take, I risk losing interest, and the further away I am from finishing this trip.
In my grand plan, I had a stop in Verona, Italy. It’s only some 45 km from the previous destination, Mantova. But I really wanted to see Verona so I made it the shortest cycle of the whole trip. A few days ago, I started considering bypassing Verona and going directly to the following destination. It would mean a very long day of cycling but it would also mean saving a day. I told my husband Colin that he would just have to bring me back one day.
I sat down last night to plan today’s rerouting. It would mean around 150km of cycling. I had cycled more in a day already on this trip. But the route would be tricky to navigate and it would be terribly exhausting. I was already tired.
So I got smart. I decided to sleep in, eat a long, relaxed breakfast, and cycle a short 45km to see Verona! This would be my rest day. And what a place to spend a rest day in!
I pitched my tent in a camp that has panoramic views of the historic city. I didn’t even shower. I rushed off immediately to see the sights.
The money I saved today on accommodation ended up getting spent on visiting the home and tomb of a fictional character. You got it: Juliet. I couldn’t help myself. I also bought a lock, wrote my name and my husband’s on it in permanent ink, and locked it together with hundreds of other locks on Juliet’s gate. I got my picture taken in Juliet’s balcony and waved back at some young school boys who got very excited about the lady in the balcony who acknowledged them. I got my picture taken holding the right breast of Juliet’s statue, which is supposed to give you forever love. And I wrote my name and my husband’s on the entrance wall to Juliet’s house and enclosed them in a heart. Absolutely ridiculous and I loved every moment. I kept the two keys to the lock and the permanent marker and those will be probably the only physical memorabilia I’ll have from this trip. Knowing that tickles my heart silly.
I am very tired though. But I don’t have to cycle 150km tomorrow; just some 110km or thereabouts.
Which reminds me of Italian street signs. Italians seem to think about distance the way Egyptians think about time. We’ll tell a friend, for instance, that we’re stopping over for a visit around sunset. That could mean almost anything from 4pm to 9pm. “I’ll be there in half an hour” actually means something in the range of two to three hours. I’ve been following Italian street signs to get to my destinations. I wish I had stopped to take a picture of two particular signs. They were at a T-junction. For cars emerging into the main road, there was a sign indicating that Piacenza was left and it was precisely 17.5 km away. Exactly across the street, cars passing on the main road had a sign saying Piacenza was 18km away. Today on my way to Verona, I passed a sign saying it was 12km away. After two kilometers, another sign said it was 14km away, and after another kilometer towards Verona, the city kept getting further from me because it was 15km away.
I had a telepathic conversation with that last sign (Yes. Signs do talk and I can talk back to them telepathically).
“Dude, your buddy back there told me Verona was 12km away yet you’re now telling me it’s 15km away! Which is it??”
“Si si. We are both right, amore. If you draw an imaginary line from the 12km sign to Verona, it will be 12km long. But if you follow this road, amore, it will be precisely generally 15 km until you get there. Perhaps 14. It is not important. You take this road, you get to Verona in the end.”
I’ve been trying to eat as much as possible on this trip, but it is inevitable that I will lose some body fat. Do I lose this body fat in the parts of my body that have a little extra to give? Of course not. This woman, who has virtually no boobs to mention to begin with – partly because God created me that way and partly because my four kids ate what little I had – is losing even more fatty tissue in the boobs region. And my butt is going flat. It’s not a pretty picture. I won’t even be able to reinstate said fat when I get home because Ramadan will begin and I’ll have to fast. Boob and butt fat will have to wait till the end of summer, I’m sorry to say.
It’s going to rain in Verona. I need to find a place to eat. I left my cycling shorts and underwear hanging to dry in the camp, which is not exactly close by. They will be soaking by the time I get back and may even have blown away in this wind. Absolutely nothing I can do about that at the moment.