The days are all blurred together. Wake up, ride, find an afternoon hangout, relax until things cool off. Ride some more – the only day of the week that I make sure to be somewhat aware of is Sunday, the day of the week when it’s a nightmare to refresh any supplies that we run out of.
We were so unbearably out of shape in the beginning that it took us awhile to notice that we started to increase our kilometers per day steadily. By the time we reached the end of La Loir a Velo (The first leg of the Euro Velo 6 rout, mostly along “La Loir” river) We were easily hitting 50 kilometers per day, once finishing more than 80. And the riding for the first half of France, is fantastic. Mostly straightforward, very clearly marked. We celebrate each day’s work. It feels like honest, earnest work and I truly feel more centered and even from it, though days where we are delayed become harder to not pout over.
The pounds shed, and then shed some more. A quick glance in a public toilet mirror tells me I have cheekbones again. I am not at all certain what I weigh, but every week I quietly vow that I’m never going back to where I started.
My beard is getting somewhat epic, or at least, interesting. I do not have an appropriate pic to represent this. Bear with me.
The kids are champion travelers. It does take awhile to get used to the two naps a day they now take where before only Stella napped, and that was once a day. The rests give them energy they spend right around the time we are the most tired. I have learned when it’s time to hand the iPad over to Cole, somewhere around the witching hour when he starts to get really easily irritated by anything Stella does. I can’t fully blame him, as Stella will occasionally spend a full 20 minutes sing-songing some new string of syllables she made up. It’s unbelievably adorable, but having experienced it firsthand, being right next to it can get to be a little much after the 15 minute mark. The moments where I hear Cole in the trailer behind me, putting on a little show for Stella and hear them laughing together are easily my favorite moments of the trip.
The ride is not without casualties. First I nearly lose our camera bag, which has every important document we have, and is probably the worst thing that we could lose that isn’t a child. Only the kindness of another couple we only passed briefly on the road saved us that day. I was not even aware I had lost it when they showed up while we were refreshing water, having backtracked a good 3 kilometers to find us after discovering the abandoned bag on the side of the road. They had to look at the camera photos to realize they had just seen us, then they had to turn around and speed back the way they had just come.
That put the chill in me, but not enough to keep me from then losing Christine’s hoodie by not tying it to the back of the trailer strongly enough. Or losing one of Cole’s shoes, rendering the second useless.
Then I lost my iPhone. My poorly, cracked, 2010 bought iPhone 4 that really needed to go already. It went. And then, I believe, I was done losing things. Here is the last Instagram photo you will see from me until I find a proper replacement somewhere down the road.
We wild camp for a solid two weeks, maybe more, until everything smells a little too ripe and the centre cannot hold. Choosing a place to camp is always exciting, occasionally stressful, and occasionally horrible. As we do it more, we become more brave, almost daring ourselves to out-do the previous night. Our most successful camp was made beside the Loire, just as we reached the end of that particular stretch of the Velo 6. From there we headed deep into the middle of France.
And after that day, we became slowly but dutifully rained out of Western Europe.