Bum news about fanny packs - Jimmy Carter thinks I'm a sinner - CycleBlaze

February 17, 2007

Bum news about fanny packs

Hard at work, furiously waiting for something exciting to happen
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There was a man once who tried to sell fanny packs in Britain. American, he was, and he couldn't understand why everyone burst out laughing. Only after presumably the not inconsiderable cost of shipping these things across the Atlantic did he find that the word fanny doesn't all mean in Britain what it does in America.

These differences of language are what make travel fun. When I signed up for the Warm Showers list, I was delighted to find that it was run by a couple of guys called Roger and Randy. I gather from Roger, who is a French-Canadian, that those words may not mean the same on the other side of the Atlantic either, especially when used in conjunction.

Anyway, I have been looking up people on the list and getting nice replies from them, including one from a cyclôte called Blaise who writes to say she is in Istanbul at the moment with her friend Liza, but that she's asked her parents to look out for me instead.

Is there any sport like cycling where enthusiasts would go to that much trouble for each other?

I may need a warm bed and a shower now and then because the plan now is to set off on April 1, which is April Fish day in France and, appropriately, April Fool's day everywhere else. It will be cold in central France at the start of April, especially if the weather doesn't improve from the biting chill and persistent icy rain and wind of late March. I am a hardy camper who laughs in the face of adversity but discomfort I take seriously.

I am taking the train from Agen (known for its prunes) to Nantes, then riding to the Atlantic before doubling back to follow the Loire as far as Tours. The Eurovélo route then follows the river north-east to Orléans, but not only is that out of the way for me but the associations with Joan of Arc are far too painful for someone born in Britain.

So, cross-country from Tours, then, through first some undemanding and uninspiring countryside and then the glorious beauty of the hills before Dijon. After that, up the Doubs valley (my favourite in all France) to Besançon, on from there to Mulhouse, into Switzerland at Basle, along the Rhine and then the Danube across Germany and Austria and down through Hungary.

Beyond Hungary lies Belgrade, but that's so often preceded by "war-ravaged" that I think I'll go east into Romania at Timisoara, birthplace of the 1989 revolution, then wiggle my way around Transylvania before going north of Bucharest to Constanta and the Black Sea.

Steph won't decide until the last moment if she feels up to joining me. If she does, it will be at Mulhouse.

I already have an invitation to stay in Romania, in a town called Blaj. "My father is really proud of that place," my friend Laura says, "but blink and you'll miss it."

I met Laura in England. She's a friend of Cornelia's. I've also e-mailed Cornelia to say that I'm on my way and to stand vigil at the end of her street with her arms stretched wide ready to run towards me. Oddly, I haven't heard anything back from her.

I think she may not love me any more.

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