The past few days in London have treated me well, despite the frenetic pace of final race preparations. Regrettably, these Brits barely speak any American, but I understand their “English” far more than the German-French-Dutch “melange” of those friendly Belgians. Needless to say, stopping off here on the way to the starting line was a good choice.
In between time spent catching up with old (and new) friends, I’ve been heading out on cycling outings around London to pick up final pieces of gear. It’s been unnerving dodging hackney carriages on roundabouts while Siri spits directions in my earbuds, but exploring the city by bike has offered a new perspective of the place. In other news, it’s taken a few days to adjust to riding on the left side of the road, but I’ve finally mastered it – just in time to move back to the right when I cross the Channel.
Many an hour has also been committed to last minute route-planning. While the Transcontinental lays out four predefined checkpoints, the rest of the route is up to each rider to decide – a weighty responsibility. (There’s not exactly Google streetview in Bosnia.) I close with a plea that someone put Garmin out of business with a superior GPS unit, and an uplifting quote from the Bike Snob’s self-entitled 2010 tour de force:
“The Amish can resist Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, pornography, ice-cold margaritas on tropical beaches, designer drugs, fast cars (actually, all cars), thong underwear, American Idol, Amazon.com, and sneakers. But they can’t resist the bicycle. This is because the bicycle is a Truly Great Invention.
A bicycle is a Truly Great Invention because it is part of the entire range of human existence, from frivolity to necessity. A bicycle, if understood correctly and used to its full potential, is actually a key to a completely different and in many ways more rewarding, way of life. Sure, there are limits to the ways in which you can use a bicycle but those limits are surprisingly few. A bicycle can give you the feeling of freedom and speed you get from a motorcycle, the sense of well-being and peace you get from meditating, the health benefits you get from an afternoon in the gym, the sense of self-expression you get from learning to play the guitar, and the feeling of victory you get from completing a marathon. It’s an invention that was in many ways ahead of its time, and whose time has finally come.” – The Bike Snob
Belgium tomorrow. Cheerio for now!