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The Journey before the Journey
Words by Fiona Adler
In just three more sleeps, we'll be on our way. Sian, Nickola, Michelle, Lysiane, Lisa and I - each taking a chunk of time out of our lives, to travel and ride together in France and Italy. After convening in Paris, we'll head south to our home for a week - a gîte called Velo Vercors in the village of Saint-Jean-en-Royans, in the western foothills of the Alps. From our base we'll explore the mountains and countryside. We then train over to Italy and have a few days of unstructured time, where we plan to give our cycling legs a rest (and most likely our shopping legs a workout) as we split up to visit Milan and Florence. We'll regroup at Hotel Belvedere in Riccione (on the Adriatic coast) for part two of our riding journey. One of our first rides will be the Nove Colli Gran Fondo (and yes, that translates to Nine Mountains).
Exciting times ahead, but it seems that the deadline of any trip naturally attracts a flurry of 'busyness' - and as I write this, we're in the thick of it. It's somewhat ironic when the purpose of a break is (at least partly) to relax, that the few weeks beforehand are even more manic than usual. Right now, our diaries are filled to the brim. Family and friends wanting to 'catch up before you go', work meetings brought forward so that we don't miss out (thank you), squeezing in 'quality time' with the partners and kids, and making sure we have everything we'll need for the trip. It's probably a good thing the flights are so long - we'll need them to catch up on sleep.
The anticipation of our upcoming journey is tainted slightly with doubts that keep us training hard and rushing to make preparations so that things are left in a reasonable state. "Am I fit enough to keep up with the others? Will I be strong enough to make it up the big climbs? Will my absence permanently scar the kids? Will the business fall in a heap without me? What state will the house be in when I return?" Obviously irrational thoughts that indicate a complete lack of perspective (and the need for a break)!
A long hill has a unique way of clearing your head - allowing you to think of nothing but the pain in your legs and the struggle of your breath. A crude form of meditation that pushes worries aside. During busy times, riding can be harder to fit in, but more rewarding. This weekend, reaching the tops of our climbs brought meandering, downward slopes and the opportunity to enjoy sunshine breaking through the trees and quirky, small town wonders. A few stops at local vendors, conversations with our soon-to-be travelling companions, and the pleasure of riding in the midst of Australian nature at its best was wonderful. A relief to switch off from to-do lists and other concerns.
We've all had different challenges with preparing for a trip like this.
Between us, we've had broken bones to mend, houses to sell, conflicting training schedules to contend with, night-shifts to work-around, new staff to hire and train, and (for some of us) much fitness to gain. A seemingly innocuous trip away has turned into a challenge to step up our riding and to some extent, our self-direction.
Planning a trip together has been a journey of discovery in its own right - perhaps as interesting and revealing as the trip itself promises to be. We've been let into each other's lives in a special kind of way with an empathy that is probably fairly rare amongst new friends.
Here's hoping that between the puffing and panting we have plenty of time for meandering and contemplation. The trip is about cycling, but it's also about taking time to stop and smell the roses (or sunflowers as they may be). Bring on the fun!
- 2014 will be the last year that Rapha will be part of @raphacondor JLT, concluding 9 fantastic years as co-owners. → http://t.co/11e5ZxOdoC
- 2014 will be the last year that Rapha will be part of @raphacondor JLT, concluding 9 fantastic years as co-owners. → http://t.co/TfWWoTG1ge
- RT @CondorWarehouse: @raphacondor JLT 2014 pedals will be @SpeedplayPedals Stainless White :-) http://t.co/S4oOK2gx8t
- RT @CondorWarehouse: A massive shout out to @SpeedplayPedals just received our pedals for @raphacondor JLT 2014 bikes. Thanks guys http://t…
- Congratulations to yesterday’s Alpe d'Quiz winner Darren Edwards who receives a Rapha Backpack. Today's prize draw → http://t.co/h4frOXDYma
- @vickiewoodsford @tobytoof @daithetooth @WhittleFit Thanks Vickie, very kind of you to say.
- @daithetooth Thank you Dai.
- @rich_mitch @RaphaCycleClub You're welcome.
- @rich_mitch Hey Rich, you're probably best to head to our @RaphaCycleClub in London to try them on with advice some our knowledgable staff.
- RT @rapha_australia: The first #alpedquiz question has been asked. "FAUSTO COPPI WAS THE FIRST MAN TO DO WHAT?" Answer at http://t.co/EnOFN…