Of Fundraising and Biking and Cleanliness

I am filthy. My jeans have grease stains where they’ve rubbed up against the bike chain, and I was sad to realize this morning the long, dark stain I discovered on my shoe was, in fact, a tear where the fabric had worn tissue thin. They will have will hold together a bit longer— roughly two months longer to be exact. Several days ago, unexpectedly, my one pair of pants (the aforementioned jeans) also ripped in the crotch region. I am not too worried about it.

Everything I own smells like I’ve been biking across Europe (which in a twisted way, I’m rather proud of). My left hand is more of a claw instead of a proper five-fingered appendage, but I don’t think about it too often anymore. I just keep cycling. It has been exactly 70 days and roughly 2,400 miles since I started out from Lisbon.

I can’t believe I’m halfway through the trip. It’s been an amazing, and incredibly hard, journey so far. I’ve learned so much, and feel lucky to have biked through so many different countries and cultures. I wake up, eat breakfast, bike, eat dinner, and go to bed. Repeat, repeat, repeat. There’s something so difficult and wonderful about duplicating the same actions every day, but always in a different time and place. That I know every inch of my little tent, and could put it together blindfolded and one handed, makes it no less exciting to pick a spot to camp for the night. Every shower at the end of the day is the best shower I’ve ever had. Every day I’m looking at maps and finding my way to places I’ve never been before, but every day I arrive there, and it becomes familiar. Then I move on. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Biking 5-6 hours a day, then planning routes for another 1-2 hours, takes up most of the day. I’m in Eastern Europe, sitting in a beautiful converted ship in Rijeka, Croatia, which is now a hostel, and my dormitory has two portholes looking out onto the water. My bike is parked in the hull of the ship, where the staff assured me they are keeping an eye on it. Tomorrow I move on down the coast, biking down through the island of Cres, then taking the ferry to Zadar. I’ve been in most cities/towns for only one night, then moving on, biking anywhere from 50-100 km a day.

I have a tight budget on this trip and have been staying with hosts in towns along the way, as well as camping, and eating tinned sardines for lunch (they’re wonderful). The older I get, the less I care about material things, and am perfectly content with being able to carry all the things I need in just a few bags, and strapping them to a bike. It doesn’t bother me to wear the same thing over and over (though sometimes I miss having one nice sundress and a pair of sandals). Were I a man, I’d have a crazy mountain beard and people would look at me suspiciously as I biked through town. But since I am not, people are always coming up to me and asking me about my trip. Several have even taken photos of me along the way, which I find amusing, that there are photos of me on my bike floating around out there somewhere.

Unfortunately, I’ve had a few bumps in the road, namely issues staying with local hosts, and a few with camping. So in the name of safety, particularly in Eastern Europe and Turkey, I’ve started a small fundraiser, so I can stay at hostels instead of camping or crashing with locals. It’s my first fundraiser, so I’m putting it out there (no pressure at all) and any donations are very much appreciated. And if you don’t want to donate, please enjoy the biking photos posted on the campaign.

In less than two months I will be biking across the border of Turkey into Georgia. I can’t even imagine what that will feel like. Every day is new and different, with new challenges and issues, even though within it— I’m always biking.