Monday, July 22, 2013

Go Bike

I. bike bike bike time to bike. I rode out to Woodstock Ukraine a few
days ago, and the spell was broken: I am no longer sick of my bicycle.
Once again I can't seem to take my eyes off it. A few more days in
Odessa to wrap things up and then I'm on my way.

The last week has been a little rough. Too much procrastination. I
know it's not the only solution, and certainly not the best solution,
but packing up my whole life and heading down the road is certainly a
wonderful cure for feeling mopey.

II. I didn't travel alone on the way out to this Woodstock festival. My
Odessan programmer friend had suggested the trip, so we rode out
together, stayed two nights, then rode back. I know I've done a lot of
touring in the last couple years, but I still consider myself pretty
slow, and I was worried that I would struggle to keep up. My friend is
in good shape, and I am optimized for epic distances with a heavy load -
a short, light jaunt might be challenging!

But it turns out that riding 6000 kilometers in the last year has
conferred certain advantages to me. The "short" trip ended up being 50km
one way, and while that's well under my average daily distance, it's
nothing to sneeze at. By the time my friend reached his previous one-day
record of 25km, I felt loose and overly-talkative, while he looked eager
to take his backpack off and find something to sit on that was *not*
attached to a bumpy country road. I hate to feel good about myself at
another's expense, but damn did I feel pretty good about myself!

The festival itself was quite fun. It was on the beach, and I did a fair
bit of swimming and beach volleyball. One young dude we met was keen to
talk about college, opportunity, and American life, and he plied me with
cognac while talking my ear off and asking lots of questions.

One question this kid asked was, "Black people are... sly, right?"

III. Cycling makes me feel confident and capable, but running makes me
feel like a freakin superhero.

I developed a case of plantar fasciitis some time around the beginning
of 2012 that put an end to whatever meager running habits I had. A year
and a half later, I finally feel confident running a few miles once or
twice a week. I've gone a half a dozen jogs through Odessa, sometimes
hitting the beach for a swim as well.

After just two or three little jogs, I noticed a marked difference in
how I hold myself while walking around the town. My ankles are stronger.
My balance is more tuned. If I trip my toe on something, I simply glide
over the obstacle like a hopping bird.  My shoulders are looser. It's
just amazing!

IV. Oh right, this is a bicycle touring blog. Well, it isn't really, but
I'm pretending it is for now. So: touring news!

On Wednesday or Thursday, I'm going to head back to Moldova and then
head into the Romanian Carpathians. I'll toodle around Romania for a
bit, maybe see some Transylvanian castles and whatnot, then meander my
way back to western Ukraine, whence I shall head to Krakow to catch my
flight back to Sweden.

That's all I know for sure at present!