Cycling Europe Day 38: When Passion Wears You Down

I’ve had a few jobs that I’ve absolutely loved. Have you? You know how you just love going to work, you love what you do, you enjoy it, and you wouldn’t give it up for anything? But still there are times when you thank God that the weekend has arrived. Or you can’t wait for your next holiday. Or you come home one evening completely exhausted and you wonder how you’ll manage to keep going?

This trip is becoming that job that I absolutely love but that also wears me down sometimes; except instead of getting paid for it I’m spending money left, right, and center.

I really had planned on trying to make this a budget trip. I was going to camp as much as possible to cut down the costs. But then you have many days like today where you cycle more than 100km in blazing heat and by kilometer 90 you decide, “Fuck money. Fuck, fuck, fuck money! I am not going to camp after all this. I want a room. And a bed. And space. And electricity to charge my equipment. And a decent breakfast in the morning. Fuck money!”

I’m feeling really worn out.

I think the Slovenians traumatized me. Any time I’ve had to cycle on busy roads today, I’ve found myself physically shaking.

The perfect bike route. The road is on the left. That huge, smooth sidewalk on the right is for bikes. Can you believe it?

The perfect bike route. The road is on the left. That huge, smooth sidewalk on the right is for bikes. Can you believe it?

The Italians made me feel so comfortable and confident on their roads no matter what kind of traffic. The Slovenians scared the living daylight out of me.

Lucky for me, Austria seems it might just be cyclists’ heaven. I’m now afraid of making premature judgments, but the Austrians seem to have got it right.

Today I cycled northeast from Graz to a small town named Langenwang. There is a major motorway that connects the two. Running exactly parallel to it is a single carriageway. Most of the time, that single carriageway isn’t very busy. But even when it is, there is almost always a really decent bicycle sidewalk on at least one side of the road. I almost always avoid bicycle sidewalks when they exist because they are always poorly maintained, with bumps, cracks, potholes, and bad curbs to go up and down. Not in Austria. Although not always perfect, these bicycle sidewalks are perfect enough. And they aren’t just inside the towns like everywhere else. They are on the side of the major road that ties cities together. That is exactly what I’ve been looking for in a bicycle route. None of this hide them away so they have no idea about directions and can’t see signs. None of this give them a maze of routes that are so long and convoluted that their only use is going out for a leisurely ride on a Saturday afternoon as long as you don’t actually have to get somewhere. If these sorts of routes continue throughout Austria, I will be seriously impressed. I’m impressed anyways even if they only exist for the length of today’s ride.

There is no need to tell you how breath-taking the Austrian landscape is. Everyone already knows that. You’ve seen The Sound of Music. The whole country looks like that! I love Austrian houses. I want one of those. They aren’t too big like American homes nor are they too small. Many of them are painted with bright colors on the outside. I love their roofs. I love the flowers on the windowsills.

I’m really worn out. But every day I get closer to my goal and I can now see that I have it in me to do this. Despite the exhaustion, that’s very exciting.

There are obviously different reasons why people go bike touring. If tourism was my

I just thought this was cute.

I just thought this was cute.

main reason, I now know that I would probably stick to no more than 60-70km a day. I’d organize a shorter trip as well, probably. And I’d have two night stays in some places to visit them properly.

As it is, tourism is not my main reason for doing this trip; it is a wonderful byproduct.

So one of my challenges is learning to work through the pain, the exhaustion, the fear, the anxiety, and all the other obstacles I might face. We do the same when we have a job we’re passionate about and want to excel in. And if we don’t have that job, then we might as well work hard towards getting it because there is no feeling more satisfying than to feel absolutely worn out from doing something you love. And damn am I worn out!

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