Forks in the Road? (page 2) - CycleBlaze

Bicycle Travel Forum

Forks in the Road? (page 2)

John SaxbyTo Graham Smith

Glad your question is turning up some helpful comments, Graham, and if the way forward is lightened/illuminated by Yogi's bons mots, so much the better.

On the same subject of journeys leading to unexpected changes:  This doesn't involve a bicycle, but the motive force was an old Fiat 500, which isn't far removed from pedal power. You may know (of) Pete FitzSimons' splendid book, Gallipoli?  His preface places the genesis of the book in his journey (by rental Fiat) from Oxford to the battlefields in the early 1980s. He gives a touching account of the welcome he received from four Turkish workers who were maintaining the sites; a welcome which in turn opened the door to his own reflection on and reconstruction of the history he had been taught. It's a brave and candid personal story. (I came to know about the book through some fortunate serendipity:  Marcia, Meg and I took a family holiday in Turkey in 2014, to celebrate Marcia and my recent retirements, and we met four Australians on our journey. They told us of Fitz' book, and I bought it on our trip to the Gold Coast the following year.)

Cheers,  J.

Reply    Link    Flag
3 months ago
Graham SmithTo John Saxby

John there you go again. Another excellent memory prompt via the Fitzy story. In April 1979 my wife and I cycled to Gallipoli from Istanbul. We arrived across the strait by ferry from Cannakale on ANZAC Day eve. It was during Ramadhan. We cycled toward the ANZAC Day beaches and met a small group of Turkish soldiers on duty guarding the entrance to the area which is conserved now as a national park. The soldiers invited us to have tea and biscuits, even though they themselves couldn’t partake in daylight hours which was a fasting time. 

As we drank tea and chatted with the friendly soldiers they suggested we camp near them rather than continue to the beach area. The reason? Too many young Australian and New Zealanders (mostly yachties) would be drunk and aggro, and there had been reports of thieving and punch ups near the main camping areas closer to the landing beaches.

So we did camp with the Turkish soldiers, woke before dawn and rode to the ANZAC Day dawn service which was incredibly moving. But indeed there were many drunk, objectionable, young Australians on site. Shameful behaviour, including wrapping themselves in the Oz flag. It was the first time I’d seen that type of disrespectful behaviour on ANZAC Day. 

So I have both fond and not so fond memories of ANZAC Day. And I bought Fitz’s book for my dad, but I haven’t read it yet.

Reply    Link    Flag
3 months ago
John SaxbyTo Graham Smith

Oh, my.  What. A. Coincidence.  Do read Fitz' book, or at the very least his Preface, bef you give it to your dad.  I have to believe that you, Jane, and Fitz could share some poignant memories...

I'd welcome hearing your thoughts on Fitz' book--but perhaps we shd do that via personal email, otherwise the link to cycle-touring could get a bit tenuous, and stray onto the Forbidden Terrain of politics. Good thing you guys visited Gallipoli by bike, tho', if only for the sake of this thread. ;-)   ('Course, how were you to know?) 

Reply    Link    Flag
3 months ago
Robert EwingTo Graham Smith

Well yes, I can say many of my tours corresponded to life changes. Some tours were caused by life changes and others tours were the cause of subsequent life changes. I’m thinking most were a mix and for me it can take a while to discern which is which.  Most certainly my first long distance ride down the Pacific Coast in 1963 at the tender age of 16 was a coming of age saga but now well over five decades later it is still informing and educating me.

In 1970 my island sweetheart, MJ, and I toured the Hawaiian island of Maui. Later that year we married. Late in 1974 we rode the Island of Hawai’i (the Big Island). Taking an unconventional route, we climb over the old Saddle Road and camped at the state park at the 7,000 ft level in below freezing temperatures (In paradise!). My son was born nine months later. Certainly those ride caused some deep changes in my life.

There were a number of less consequential rides in the ensuing decades where the causation and causal effects were less dramatic but not without some personal impact.

No long tours in the 90s or early 2000s. With limited time off from work my adventures went to sea in a kayak, often paddling for a week or two along the Outer Banks of British Columbia (the windward coast of Vancouver Island).

Then I was diagnosed with heart disease. I refrain from the gore but there what seemed like at the time an eternity of different drug regiments and procedure culminating in a four-hour failed effort by two cardiologists to rewire my heart from the inside. Post-op I made a trip up the Puget Sound to Seattle to trade my mountain bike in for an electric bike, but on the wall was this beautiful celeste blue Bianchi cyclocross bike. I have no explanation, but I couldn’t go through with the e-bike. I’m still riding the Western Flyer some fifteen years and 80,000 km later.

In 2009 I was taken off Warfarin, a blood thinner, and as something of a celebration or just the love of life, I took the Amtrak to Klamath Falls, Oregon and followed the Klamath River, including the historic Topsy Grade, an 150 year old abandoned stagecoach road, from its source to the Pacific Ocean before heading south along the coast to Cayucos, California, near San Luis Obispo, where my brother met me as I walk to the end of the pier and triumphantly threw my medical ID tags into the Pacific.

That ride initiated a series of rides following other rivers, most notably the Columbia and the Colorado rivers and then other types of rivers such as the river of coal flowing by train from eastern Wyoming to the Pacific and onto China. The last of these rides followed the flow of the many volcanoes of the Cascade Mountain Range from Hope, BC to Mount Lassen, CA.  Those rides were addictive to a degree. They allow me to breath in all life’s facets in their primary colors. I am debating if the journals from those tour are worth the time and energy to re-post. Given the near lock down from covid, I might make a start.

 

 

 

Reply    Link    Flag
2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Robert Ewing

Do it!  We’d love reading some of those old journals.

Reply    Link    Flag
2 months ago
Graham SmithTo Robert Ewing

Robert that’s a brilliant summary. Thanks for that. It’s a few years since I read about your 1963 tour and was very inspired by it. Very few people have such an experience at such a young age. 

And yes as Scott says, do journal some of those other tours if you have time. They would be much appreciated by readers. 

Reply    Link    Flag
2 months ago