Riding a bicycle that has bags loaded over two racks, things strapped, stuffed, and dangling off of nearly every inch of empty space draws a certain amount of attention from locals. Frequently, we are asked about our destination, the weight … Continue reading
I write throwing sidelong glances at a tiny screen, one leg crossed over the other, one foot stuck through the spokes of the back wheel of my bicycle, with my back against one of those new refrigerators designed to look … Continue reading
Broke a rack, blew up a cable housing, bent a derailleur, had all the hardware in a crankshaft replaced, ripped holes in shirts, socks, pants; used a lot of duct tape and limped to nearest cities where we were wholly … Continue reading
The Carpathians; inhabited largely by tradition, cattle farmers , wild berries and the ever present cool mountain fog. We climb into the heart of Ukraine’s only mountain range, and frolic along its highest ridgeline, by way of steep, curly, and … Continue reading
We arrived in L’viv, Ukraine during the early part of a Sunday evening at the tail end of an annual jazz music festival after climbing hill after green hill, leapfrogging with other cyclists out for a ride on a nice … Continue reading
Unfortunately, this post must coincide (maybe even precede) my account of my time spent in Russia. I write this from a hotel room maybe one mile from the Poland-Ukraine border, on the Ukraine side. It is the kind of hotel … Continue reading
Russia. An incredibly vast and diverse land and people. It houses a language that caresses my dumb American ears. My time here is almost up, and I unfortunately have been so occupied with experience that writing has been largely neglected. Please accept my apologies for the quality of photos, as I struggle not only to find a place to develop film but also a place to scan photos in.
I solemnly swear to write more on this wholly hospitable country and my travels within it very soon. In a few days, I will pack, again, and return to Helsinki to meet my bike partner and we will ride, ride, ride.
I must admit I have been dedicating a lot of time to practicing the art of procrastination in regard to this particular report. I have been attempting to convince myself that tomorrow, the next day, the words I require will … Continue reading
You welcomed me in my mother’s tongue, celebrated my twenty-second birthday with fervor as if you were the patient matron witness to the previous twenty-one, enveloped me in stoic bonds of silent solidarity, fed me and housed me. You revealed to me a most incredible and harsh beauty, an unfathomable stillness that left the breath meant to swirl within my lungs frozen.
This trip, this adventure planned to traverse your frigid shoulders has only managed to graze one singly. We suffered at your mercy, fumbling with our stiff fingers, stinging from pink and tender skins for days until we grew calloused to your climate. You froze our breath in our nostrils, our sweat in our boots, our dinner on our spoons. We pressed until we crested, able to wake a thrilled audience to your deliberate blue transition, your slow drag of morning. We became efficient, swift. Melding ourselves into you, we woke with you, slept with you, experienced you as silently as you us, and we accepted contentedly all that you had to offer up of your surreal heart.
After completing 9 short days and 120 KM of our proposed 40 and 400 KM, I watch your fells and frozen lakes and shivering leafless birches whip by from an expensive bus seat with the ache that something, someone, beloved is growing perceptibly unreachable. Snow gleams clinging to the high branches of stiff pines. It is as if we have discovered the existence of a magnificent secret, as if we have just glimpsed the heart of something too great for words, too large for us to wholly comprehend, something that we have been subconsciously lacking from our beings all this time. We watch this environment that has been our home pass away, destined for lesser parallels.
It is bittersweet. It feels as if this thing slowly drains through the cracks between my cupped fingers. It has left its taste on my palate, an awareness of a brilliance that I knew not before, something to hunger for. A new appetite for another adventure.
Please note there is an in depth trip report and more photographs pending.
Our prospective route on two wheels. This comes after the 6 weeks in Finland for skiing and socializing, 4 weeks in Russia, then another week in Finland frolicking.