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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In Between Days, Riding in France: Houlgate – Le Havre (1 – 2 September 2015)

Camping Municipal des Chevaliers, Houlgate – Tuesday 1 September 2015, 9:50 am (Day 100 of my midlife gapyear)  In the Australian way, it’s the first day of Spring – but as I’m in France, I guess I can say it’s the first day of Autumn. After getting up to go to the loo at 7, I went back to bed and dozed off and on until 9:00 am – realising, again, that if I didn’t feel like getting up, I needn’t.  No where to be, no where to go. No one expecting me. I can tell already it’s going to be a …

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Silent in Foggy France: Bayeux – Benouville – Houlgate (30 – 31 August 2015)

Sunday 30 August 9:10 am – Relais ‘La Roseraie’, Bayeux (Day 98 of my midlife gapyear) I wonder when I will converse again. Will my voice go rusty, my tongue uncertain? This will be day eight without a proper conversation. ‘Sadness & Happiness’ – the last poem in Selected – one of my favourites – so much so as I think my shoulders slumped and I let out a little sigh of … there should be a word which reflects the regret of finishing a book. Now I’ll have to finish my ‘poem’ and prepare to share it with Robert. …

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