Riding in Switzerland: From Brugg to Zurich for my day near Christoph

We re-join our story on the morning of my 123rd day on the road. I am in Brugg, Switzerland and poised to ride to Zurich in time for the Zurich Film Festival and a screening of Inglorious Basterds to be attended by Christoph Waltz. If, as you are reading this, you find yourself wondering what my thing about Christoph is, I’d point you to the explanation in this earlier post. Thursday 24 September 2015 Today is my last day riding in Europe. I wake with that thought and it weighs upon me. I have 40 kilometres to pedal and I …

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Riding in Germany & Switzerland: Cruising towards Zurich Wrapped in Anxiety

Monday 21 September 2015: Bad Bellingen to Bad Säckingen At the beginning of my ride, back in June, there were farmers selling cherries and strawberries, they were rolling hay in the fields. Now there are apples everywhere, nuts falling from trees and the only crop still in the ground is corn, just about ready to be picked. It’s as beautiful a day’s riding as I’ve had. It’s sunny and warm but not hot. Under a big upturned bowl of blue sky, I follow the river for a while then traverse the city of Basel. The city provides directional street signs …

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Riding in Germany: Cruising along the Rhine from Strasbourg to Bad Bellingen

I awake on day 117 of my mid-life gap-year in a hotel room in Strasbourg, France and keen to get to Germany. Friday 18 September 2015, Strasbourg to Ottenheim Admittedly, my morning coffee may have been a little strong. But the day is clear and I am leaving France. I’m jumpily excited. My legs bounce at I breakfast. As I begin my ride, I’m initially on the road and I am pumping, pedalling hard for the border. I switch to the footpath where I can, just to slow myself down, calm myself a little bit. I reach the Rhine and …

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Riding in France: Reims to Châlons-en-Champagne and a train to Strasbourg

We arrive on the 114th morning of my mid-life gap-year as I awake at Hotel de la Cathedrale in Reims, France. Tuesday 15 September 2015 I wake to an overcast day which quickly becomes a steady rain. I breakfast in my room, setting up the camping stove and a Mini Moko in the shower stall – I must have my coffee, but I don’t want to risk burning the place to the ground. I’ve been doing for a while when staying in hotels – shhh, don’t tell them. I spend the morning working through plans and details, sending emails, and just fifing …

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Riding in France: Two days of problem-solving in Reims

We arrive on the 112th morning of my mid-life gap-year as I awake at Hotel de la Cathedrale in Reims, France. Sunday 13 September 2015, Reims The past few days have been tough. They have been emotionally draining – between the time spent thinking about all those dead Australian diggers and my own homesickness. And physically challenging – riding in the rain, days proving to be longer than I expected. And now I’m having my period. I should know I don’t need to justify my decision to spend a second night in Reims – but, yet, I feel like saying I’m …

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Riding in France: Missing home between Noyon and Reims

We arrive on the 110th morning of my mid-life gap-year as I awake at Hotel Le Cedre in Noyon, France. Friday 11 September 2015 The day starts lazily. When I’ve paid good money for a nice hotel room I do like to make the most of it by languishing about in the comfortable bed, relishing the fact that there’s no tent to pack away, that I don’t have to carry my kit to a distant ablutions hut. So, I lie in bed, watching the BBC. Hearing English-speaking voices but not having anyone to talk to makes me lonely. Spending yesterday …

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Riding in France: Days with Fallen Australian Soldiers

I am slowly transcribing the long-hand diary entries from my midlife gap-year and turning them into blog posts. I’ve reached the morning of the 108th day as I awake in Amiens, France. Wednesday 9 September 2015 I’ve received a lovely email from Robert Pinsky in response to my poem about reading his poems. That gets the day off to a good start – I’m feeling light-hearted as I leave Amiens in bright autumn sunlight which warms me in a way it hasn’t in quite a while. I follow the Somme. I have a cheap mp3 player which I refill with …

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Riding in France: Arriving in Amiens

I am slowly transcribing the long-hand diary entries from my midlife gap-year and turning them into blog posts. I’ve reached the mornign of the 106th day as I awake in a municipal camping ground in Poix-de-Picardie, France. Monday 7 September In the night I have pulled on my jumper, my beanie. But once the extra layers were on my beloved sleeping bag did the rest of the job well and I sleep into the morning. At 8:00 I walk through the quiet the village of Poix-de-Picardie to the boulangerie. The day is sunny but very cool. I hope the sunshine …

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Riding in France: Cows, Coffee, and Poetry in Neufchâtel-en-Bray and Poix-de-Picardie (5 – 6 September 2015)

I am slowly transcribing the long-hand diary entries from my midlife gap-year and turning them into blog posts. I’ve reached the afternoon of the 105th day and I’m enjoying a coffee in a cafe in the town of Neufchâtel-en-Bray, Normandy, France.  Saturday 5 September 2015, 5:10 pm – Neufchâtel-en-Bray – a café It was a short but beautiful ride today. The first five kilometres from Grandes de Verts down to the greenway (a rail-trail) were maybe the most beautiful 5 km of the whole trip. Green rounded hills, covered in farmland – cows and corn, the fields recently tilled. The …

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Riding in France and Thinking of an Austrian Actor: Le Havre to Yvetot to Le Grande-Ventes (3 – 5 September 2015)

I’m slowly transcribing the long-hand diary entries from my midlife gap-year and turning them into blog posts. I’ve reached the 103rd day of my journey when I awoke in a hotel in Le Havre, France and rode my bicycle to the town of Yvetot and the 104th day when I rode on to a campground in Les Grande-Vents (a map can be found at the bottom of this post). Thursday 3 September, 10:30 pm — Emilie and Rémi’s Home,  Yvetot I rode 78 kilometres today – that’s not a lot for many bicycle tourists but it is for me. It was my …

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