Brief Encounters of The Friendly Kind
I’m now sat at my friends’ kitchen table enjoying some coffee and toast, but most of the trip so far has been far less luxurious and much more transient.
Fast friends are definitely the order of the day, here are a few but not all (Zaf if you are reading this, I’m writing a whole post about Canterbury!):
On my way into Cambridge I met this lovely pair of humans from the Black Forest in Germany, They’ve been travelling for two years on an extended honeymoon. Their rigs and accoutrements were far more sophisticated than mine (excuse me Agnes Nutter, but I have just thrown some bags and a saddle on you).
(Notice the much more chipper and convincing thumbs up than mine. Seasoned tourers)
We chatted for ten minutes, got a guy to snap a photo and then miss his bus. Sorry. And that was it. They are heading to Edinburgh, and I offered to keep in touch in case they needed anything, The power of bicycle bond
Two Cheerful Chaps
As I was heading off the ferry into Calais. I became aware of two other people wearing the Lycra. And indeed, they both had two wheels as well. We were both heading in the same general direction and they invited me along. So in convoy we were escorted off the train by a support car with flashing lights. It felt exactly like I was in the Tour De France, if the Tour did not involve leg shaving and had been routed through the maze that is Calais Port. Maybe next year?
(Saying goodbye at Béthune after allowing me to ride behind their speedy non-pannier clad bikes. )
They were two friends with grown-up families travelling from London to Lille over two days. On a mission to meet up with family who were visiting war graves. It reminded me of the first trip I made at 21 with my friend Paul. We travelled from Birmingham to Cornwall over a few nights and had planned at one stage so cycle around Iceland together, Maybe one day in the future?
It was fun to ride with other cyclists for a while. We received boulangerie generosity and drank Coca Cola under the shade of a children’s playground outside a McDonalds. The only place open on a Sunday in France after 12pm. There was less decision making to be made, some chat and camaraderie and I probably pushed myself harder than I would have done alone.
It was the first day of what has turned out to be an early heatwave. Thanks human-induced climate change.
Nicolas? Nicholas? Nick?
Most recently, I had a two minute chat with a cyclist when departing Lille for Brussels.
He was preparing to leave for Turkey by bicycle, and then onto Iran (“Maybe, you know there are visa issues. Ce ca”).
He told me he was going to escape from phones and technology and all of this digital mess, as he looked down at my Garmin and iPhone mounted on Agnes’ handlebars. I told him I comprehended and then realised I had missed my right turn about a mile back. Brief friendship can sometimes lead you astray…
…I pedalled back, and then on towards highs of 36c on the second day of the heatwave.