Thursday, 11 June 2015

On y va ! (An after midnight bike ride in the Shire)

That's French for Let's Go! 
Odometer before departure

It's 8 am in North Vancouver.  I'm reviewing the travel stages that I have to perform today. Today will be a rather long day.

Ready to go ...

On y va !

At 10 am I'm ready to check out.  In line in front of me is Klaus T. from Germany. He is about 50 years of age and sports a gut in a tight T-shirt and a Kaiser Wilhelm Schnurbart. I giggle away until he leaves the room and then say to the receptionist:  If you were wondering about the moustache: That was an Emperor Wilhelm Moustache.  She says "actually I WAS wondering about that moustache!". So I explain to her that during WWI every decent German was trying to copy that bloody thing to show his patriotism for the German Empire but that I hadn't thought people did that still.  When Klaus T. was leaning on the reception it was evident that he thought that he was striking a cool pose. Little did and does he know what the world really thinks about his moustache.

Back to the long day: these 4 pictures should indicate HOW long it will be (The size is kind of proportional to the distance covered).
To Waterfront Skytrain Station

Hopefully not the last I will see of my saddle bags (bad memories of Amsterdam Schiphol)

The bike with neither air nor pedals
My ride

to LGW
  The worries were unfounded.  The bike survives and I receive two (2) panniers at the luggage carousel in Gatwick Airport.  Then it's time to get my bearings.

Fortunately on a bridge OVER the motorway ;-)

While I am navigating by the sun (no cell phone signal), I am surprised to see this sign.  In this Old Hollow I lost the bolt that held the pedal that I lost the next day on the trip in 2013.

The bike paths could be MUCH worse.  And what a heavenly quiet; no cars to be heard on these paths!

A bicycle parkade at the train station

Travelling along OLD railway lines with OLD bridges

to some tiny English town some 20 kms from Gatwick
While most British are very helpful in spirit, not many know what lies outside their particular shire.  And even if they do, they say something like "Go to Hobbiton, then turn left at the oak and then the next right". But they are utterly astonished if you don't know where Hobbiton is. By this time it is 2 am Vancouver time, I am getting tired, and the British drive on which side of the road? Correct, not the right side; must be the wrong one then.  Not something one wants when dead tired!
High Street in Hobbiton

An even older bridge

Almost there !
While some of the way points are familiar, others, i.e. the entire chosen route between Gatwick and Mont St. Michel, are terra incognita to me, which leaves me trembling with anticipation.  It all comes back to the line in that song. "See all the things you thought you'd never ever see'.  Some of them have been seen on TV, some of them every child has heard of. The white cliffs of Dover; Passchendaele (I only learned yesterday that this is where Grandma's uncle Leopold died in WWI; seems Great Grandpa and his brother Leopold were engaged to sisters, my Great Grandmother and her sister Charlotte; Great Grandma was the lucky one of the sisters) , Vimy Ridge, Bayeux, Mont St Michel.  These are the way points that every traveller has heard of. But what really causes the trembling right now is that I already know that while these places will generate a tingling to see them in the flesh, there will be other yet unknown places that will really give me goose bumps. I have no idea what they will be, but I know that they are there.  And travelling by bike eliminates the risk of missing them while rushing by them along a highway.

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