What one fool can do?
We have been back in Toronto for a few days, and not that I am complaining or looking for sympathy, but having been away four months, and travelled 4,500 kms on two wheels, I am finding the adjustment tough.
On the positive side, having slept in nearly a hundred different beds recently, short of anyone, ala George Washington, placing a sign that “AC and AJ slept here” there is something to be said for sleeping in your own bed.
It’s also a comfort to come home to a house that has been cleaned by our house-sitters, Alison’s cousin, and there is now a fridge full of familiar foods and shortly, I will get used to the pleasure of drinking tap water and not polluting the planet with plastic bottles.
It is also comforting to have access to family, friends via reliable local telephone services and my computer keyboard that does not suffer from terminal tropical stickiness.
Then there is the weather, which fortunately has been sunny, but the drop in temperature of about 40 degrees had me shivering for a number of days. Saturday I got on my bike to go to the gym, the Spring Bicycle Show that we always miss since we are travelling, and to do some errands and with numerous layers, I survived, albeit chilled to the bones. Having acclimatized to the tropics, I am now appreciating why in Rajasthan locals were buying Tibetan woolens when the temperature hovered around 15 degrees.
There is also the usual adjustment to dealing with four months of mail, and thousands of emails, mostly junk but there are those nasty bills that need to be paid and all the papers to prepare tax returns: a far cry from the care free days of riding on quiet roads, savoring the local cuisine or watching the sunset over the ocean.
I also miss all the exotic sites and smells that come with the open road and destinations that unfold with each twist and turn of the road and the simplicity of living with possessions that fit into two small bags and enjoying meals after a day's ride and actually feeling hungry.
Now that I am back, I am replacing one routine with another: my near daily attendance at the gym of the local Jewish Community Center, where the morning regulars are there exactly like four months ago. There is the usual jockeying for the two elliptical machines with stationary arms that I like and the usual suspects are running or pedaling furiously going nowhere on treadmills or stationary bikes.
Since I am back to my old routines, I can be hardly critical of others’
given the limitation of time and climate and the desire to maintain some level of fitness. I do however wonder about the treadmill of life that cages so many wherein they always seem to have some reasons or other why they cannot get away from work and break patterns that tie them to home and their daily routines.
There were many cyclists and travelers that we met on the road, that become inspirational: the Swiss couple who had been on the road for about nine months, the Dutch couple who had been riding for about a year, and they all rode through the “stans” Kurdistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan etc. and the couple from Spain that rode their bikes through Central Africa, parts of the globe, which till know for me had been a great void, like the New Yorker’s view of the American mid-west and of course are now tonic for future travel plans.
However, I was most struck by Pete, the Dutchman, 64 years old, who with tears in his eyes would recount to all, how he and his wife had planned to travel on retirement. Unfortunately, Pete’s wife died four years ago and he is now travelling solo and trying to find solace on the road. His tale reinforced for me the belief that what one old fool can do, others can too and to do so while they still can?