3614.2 kilometres. That's how far you, our beloved steel steeds, have carried us. You never let us down, even though we demanded a lot from you. But you never ran out of steam even on the most uncomfortable roads. You became faithful companions on an adventure whose history is deeply engraved in our memories.
Admittedly, it was not always the great love. There were moments when we would have loved to leave you behind and look for a more comfortable way to travel. But we would have missed out on a lot, because on your steely backs we were able to learn a lot during the four months.
With you, we learned to appreciate slowness (although we did speed up over time). It means having time to really notice the things around you. The little cafe around the corner, the funny street dog, the architectural style of the houses, the changing vegetation or the breathtaking landscape. Hectic was a foreign word for us. While we were sitting in our saddles, we had time to think about what we had experienced. And we did experience quite a lot.
One of our first lessons was our dependence on the weather. Being completely at the mercy of all weather conditions was new for us. You two dear steel horses carried us through wind, rain, fog but also through the heat and endured stormy thunderstorms with us. The weather has influenced our mood and our route and we have learned to deal with it, because the perfect cycling weather rarely exists.
With you we have learned that less is more. We missed (almost) nothing in terms of material things and learned to limit ourselves, even though we would probably pack camping chairs on a future cycling trip.
You have taught us what distances, metres in altitude and gradients really mean. You don't just cycle up the pass quickly, you don't make a short detour of 50km, this is possibly a day's stage. Up the mountains you felt insanely heavy, all the greater the pleasure of whizzing back down the pass roads. This elicited a whoop from us every now and then. We covered 45,552 metres in altitude together. Through hills, valleys and gorges, over roads full of exhaust fumes and deserted off-road tracks, you did it all.
But above all, we were able to experience freedom with you. Even if it felt restrictive at first not to be able to make every detour, it helped us to be completely in the here and now. Our paths brought so many exciting and unexpected things that we didn't even get to mourn the things we might have missed. So the simple thing becomes the highlight and that makes you grateful. Riding through the area with you was a feeling of freedom despite, or perhaps because of, the priorities we had to set. The wind in our hair, the sun on our face, a steady pedalling, the most beautiful routes and landscapes, that is freedom.
We can describe being on the road with a two-wheeler perfectly in one word: intense! While at the beginning it was mainly intense for the buttocks and muscles, in the course of this trip we got to feel many things first hand. There is not only a slight smell of exhaust gas, we are right in the middle of it. There's a thunderstorm, we need shelter. It's going uphill, we have to fight. It's going downhill, we are exulting. We cross a beautiful landscape, we rave. We reach the day's destination, we are tired. We have headwinds, we are annoyed. We have exciting encounters, we are thrilled. With you, you two-wheelers, we are close to everything and we have learned to appreciate that. Especially the closeness to the people is inspiring and allows for many encounters on the road. You were admired by many people and amazed many.
Sometimes we even met our own kind. There were not many cyclists, especially not those who had been on the road for a long time. All the greater the joy when you then met like-minded people. You immediately felt connected as part of this small community, the exotics among travellers.
Now we have packed you up in Crete and sent you home. Whether this was a good idea, we are not yet so sure. We miss you already although we have been looking forward to other means of transport for some time. We will now try this out. Luckily you are both well looked after at home and ready to go at any time. And who knows, maybe we will get you back sooner than planned. You were the perfect start to our travel adventure and it certainly wasn't the last time we travelled together. Until then, have a good rest and take care!
Your helmsmen and -women,
Sara and Beni
P.S. This is not the end of the blog, just a new chapter that is now waiting for us. We don't know exactly which one yet.