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!” (more…)

Cycling Europe Day 4: THIS Is Why

Part of the Camino de Santiago

Part of the Camino de Santiago

Let me tell you what it’s like. Maybe you’ll understand:

The Semana Santa in Caceres, Spain.

The Semana Santa in Caceres, Spain.Let me tell you what it’s like and maybe you’ll understand:

You’re cycling along, pedaling slowly uphill in the sweltering Spanish heat. A group of five cool dude Spanish cyclists come up from behind and easily pass you. Each and every one of them gives you a wave, a smile, and a buenos dias. You forget the heat and the hill you’re ascending for just a little bit and you feel all warm and fuzzy inside (not because of the sweltering heat).

A bit later a single cyclist, in his 60s, quickly passes you, looks back at you and says, “Bon camino.” You don’t realize what he said at first and reply, “Buenos dias.” Then it clicks. “What did he say? He didn’t say buenos dias. It sounded like bon camino. I wonder what that means.” Shortly after which you start seeing signs that tell you that you are cycling right next to the famous pilgrimage route called Camino de Santiago and you get all excited, especially when you see an old bridge on the trail and a resting place for pilgrims. It is then that you realize the cyclist was saying something like have a good journey or have a good road and you feel all warm and fuzzy inside again. (more…)

My European Cycling Adventure: Crossing from Portugal to Spain

There are so many different kinds of travel and as many different reasons to leave everything one knows behind them to venture into the relatively unknown. People travel to see sights, to go shopping, to live with nature, to learn about new cultures, to meet people, to relax, and the list goes on. Most of us engage in each of these kinds of travel at different times in our lives according to our needs and desires.

Four days ago I arrived in Lisbon, Portugal to start a trip of my own. But this trip is not to see the sights. It’s not to go shopping. And it’s definitely not to relax. I’m going on a journey to get to know myself. As long as I’m able and have the time, I’ll definitely do my best to see some of the sights in Europe. But my main goal is really to challenge myself, learn to enjoy the challenge, and to understand myself better in the process.

I arrived in Lisbon on April 13, a bundle of nerves from anticipating the challenges I would be facing ahead – ALONE. My first challenge was reassembling my bike. I had never done this before and I was very worried after I took it apart that I’d never succeed putting it all back together again. (more…)