Bike Touring Journals by Neil Anderson and Sharon Anderson Lead Goat Bicycle touring Sardinia
All the truly deep people have at the core of their being the genius to be simple or to know how to seek simplicity.
~ Martin E. Marty
The morning sun shone in a cloudless azure sky and we quickly forgot our chilly night. Soaking up the rays, I marvelled that even in mid-January the sun could feel so deliciously warm.
Sharon extricated her bike from the shrubbery and discovered one of her pannier's U-hooks had snapped off - the result from too many bumpy roads. "Where are we going to get another one of these?" she moaned.
I removed a hook from her rear rack and used it to replace the broken part on her pannier. Then I fished around in our spare parts bag and came up with an old curtain hanger (I knew that would come in handy one day!), and fashioned it into a rack hook. It worked! I was pleased that instead of rushing off to buy a new pannier I was beginning to slow down and think differently.
We ate breakfast on the beach beneath a wind-sculpted tree, delighting in our own divine million-dollar view. Waves rippled ceaselessly over rocks. I imagined the rocks as people. Once young and rough, their sharp edges now polished and smoothed with the passage of time and endless perseverance of liquid sandpaper. They had accepted their fate and were at peace with the world. I mentioned my rocks as people analogy to Sharon. "You mean they're worn down?" she said. I guess it all depended on one's perspective. Perhaps Sharon was still thinking in urban North American terms. She saw tired, stressed out people, whereas I, on the other hand, had begun to see the rural alternative: Life in the slow lane.
I sat beneath our bonsai-like tree, watching the cool Mediterranean, contemplating waves, seagulls, and sun. I could have stayed a supremely long time. "Maybe I'm getting the hang of this slowing down thing," I smiled. The profession of guru began to take on a compelling allure - at least on calm seaside days. Windy mountain tops had always seriously detracted from the job's appeal. And I had a gnawing suspicion gurus didn't eat much, did they? The more I regarded it, the more I realized perhaps it wasn't such a wonderful idea after all. I decided instead it was better to lay under a shady tree and read. I did. All too quickly the sun marched over the sea's glimmering surface and submerged its fiery body into the Mediterranean. I abandoned my idyllic spot and strolled the beach, enjoying the lingering sunset.
On my saunter, I discovered a small freshwater spring trickling out of the sand. That meant we were going to have water to make pasta and hot chocolate drinks after all! I didn't want to chance drinking possibly contaminated water, so I fetched our Katadyn water filter. By the time I had purified two liters, pumping the plunger up and down, my arms had received an intense workout. Whew! I imagined that if I used the filter a lot, my biceps would grow to rival Arnold Schwarzenegger's!
As I retreated into a nearby thicket where we planned to camp overnight, cooking odours wafted through the dusky air. I peeked through the vegetation. Someone had bounced their four-wheel drive vehicle down the rutted track. Still worried about the implications of being caught illegally free-camping, we stayed completely hidden and wondered how long they planned to stay.
Fortunately, we didn't have to wait long for an answer. When the sunset was entirely extinguished, vehicle doors slammed and the engine roared to life. It soon regressed into the distance and we were peacefully alone once again.
I rummaged through our near-depleted pantry. A wave of anxiety washed over me. Not much remained. Food to me was like nicotine to a smoker. I was addicted to the stuff. With a sigh, I pulled out what little remained.
While boiling up the tri-colour pasta, Sharon fashioned a sauce from a few diced olives and a packet of salad dressing. Delicious! We ate heartily, enjoying the tranquillity. For dessert we snacked on Camembert cheese, seedless Corsican oranges, tins of pudding, and blocks of chocolate. Cyclists could eat an amazing quantity of food. "It's a good thing we didn't ride today," I said, patting my round tummy contentedly. "Or else we really would have been hungry."
"Do we eat to ride or ride to eat?" Sharon mused.
I gazed heavenward and mulled Sharon's conundrum while sipping a hot cocoa. "Ah, there's no life like it," I finally concluded contentedly.
The clear twilight sky, already massed with a maze of stars, portended another frigid night. After the good luck of seeing two falling stars, I prepared for bed by pulling woolen socks over my regular socks, and chuckled at the absurdity of putting clothes on to go to bed. But that was our reality. We experimented with another sleeping bag arrangement in our quest for nighttime warmth. We lay on one sleeping bag liner, then pulled the second liner and both sleeping bags over us. Tucking the edges under, we hoped to trap a layer of air between the covers and Therm-a-Rest mattresses.
I pulled the flannel liner close to my chin, and hoped we had finally hit upon a solution to our chills - I didn't particularly relish Sharon's unorthodox nocturnal feet-warming methods.
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