So picture this. At the campground, tent close to bike. You’ve been efficient and emptied the tent on the way out. There was no wind last night, so you didn’t bother pegging it except for the front door. You set up the stove to make coffee. Last night, it took to the third-to-last match to get the stove lighted for soup (who knows how old these matches are and things are a bit damp). You want to give the last two matches a chance, and the wind has picked up since last night and is a bit gusty, so you put it out of the wind, between the tent and the bike, thinking, it’s a safe stove, it should be ok even this close. The last two matches don’t do it either so you walk over to borrow matches from the nice French couple in the camper a few hundred yards away. Stove lit, water on, you walk back to return the matches. On the way back, just too far away, you watch as a gust of wind picks up the unpegged tent (no wind last night), throws it into the burning stove, which tips over by the bike. Visions of flaming disaster, tent inferno, bike inferno, fill your mind.
Luckily, you get there in time to right the stove, still burning, put some more water on and finish making a cup of coffee. The damage is limited to a bit of burnt grass and a small, easily fixable, hole in the fly.
Sadly, no photo of tent up. The wind kept lifting it so I had to collapse it.
It had better be worth it. Who am I kidding, it always is.
The bad thing about my USB charger dying is that I have no way to charge anything and even the power packs are dying. Even if I paid for electricity at the campsites, I don’t have the connector you need to use it, and I can’t find an outlet in any of the buildings at this site. Oh well, hope for the best.
The next two days of riding are not especially exciting, especially after where I’ve come from. But it’s either this or the even more boring toll roads, so I enjoy it as I can.
More empty villages, in a different style.
And the open road.
Oooh, a bend!
I got to the campsite with a bit of light, again got the snack bar operator to let me in. Unfortunately by the time I got my camp set up, he was just closing so my dream of pizza died. But, he kindly gave me the last fries from the fryer, and sold me some wine, so I was set up. Still hungry, I made more soup (I’d bought a lighter at my daily Lidl visit). Even my headlight batteries were dying, so I just got to enjoy the dark.
And the Dipper.
My route for the day. It’s even straight on the map. There weren’t many elevation changes either.
In the morning, the lovely view of horses nearby.
And all the campers across the street.
Biked packed for the last day on the road.
At least it’s beautiful weather. After picking up a still warm baguette from a bakery (and some pain au chocolate for the children), I hit the (very straight road).
Still straight. But lovely sky.
I actually love the way windmills add to the landscape.
A curve, and buildings, wow!
I’m back in the area of the Western Front and various roadside sights point to the remembrance. There are figures of soldiers sitting to the left of the church.
As well as a large monument. The Monument de Ferme de Navarin (French link).
And more fields. The clouds are coming in.
The trip as far back as Belgium (camera battery died), back on the boring roads all the way home. But even here road closures and work added to my trip, with huge backups on the Dutch border by Antwerp and road closures by Breda. Thankfully on a motorcycle I could get through more quickly (thankfully I’d fixed the hazard light switch!), but it still added time when I just wanted to be home.
My family was glad to see me.
During these last days, I had a lot of time to think on the straight roads, and I tried to pull together all the threads that had been going through my mind on this trip and try to answer the question that sent me on the road: what do I want to do with my life? And how do I get there.
I didn’t come up with a really good answer, but the thread that kept running through my mind during all those switchbacks was the phrase they drilled into us during riding lessons, “Where you look is where you go.” As I thought about it, I thought it could also be applied to life. What you focus on is where you go. That seems simple, but it was something I needed to articulate. I am easily distracted, and come up with lots of attempts to try to get somewhere, and have a bunch of different ideas of where life might go. It brought home to me the need to pick and direction, look there and go.
However, there was another riding concept that seems contradictory that also applies: target fixation. This is when you fix on one thing and ride towards it without meaning to. This can be bad if the target is a truck, tree or other immovable object.
So, the trick is to keep your head moving with the road, with the focus ahead of what the bike is doing. Look as far down the road as you can and let your attention drive where you go. Your attention can’t stay still either, it needs to keep moving ahead as long as you do.
At the same time, just like a trip, sometimes the road is blocked. And this is what I think my main problem is, that there may be no roads for me to get where I’m going. I have known what I want for a long time (to effectively work on a transition to a more sustainable world), but I just keep finding road blocks and dead ends.
I guess in the end, I need to find a direction that works for me and focus on it. And while this trip helped me to remember the need to focus, to look where I want to go, I still need to figure out what direction I need to go on. Maybe another road trip in the spring will help?