Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Trip dist: 152 kms. Trip time: 8 hrs, 40 min. Tot dist: 2023 kms.

Celebrations II/The German.

Wow. I didn't know I was going to hit the 2000 mark today (was thinking it would happen tomorrow). Also had no idea today I was going to bike the longest distance I've ever biked in one shot, and over 150 kms at that. Must've been the favorable wind. :). I think it is good not to be able to exactly predict when the occasions to celebrate come--makes things more fun that way. :D

It rained pretty hard for the first 2 hours of the ride this morning. Ended up as soaked as if I had just taken a long sojourn in a washing machine with no spin cycle. Blech. But then I found a gas station, where they had those horrible air hand dryers that everyone hates? Lifesaver. In less than 5 minutes of standing patiently under the warm air I was as dry as a history textbook. :D. Great things, those hand dryers.

Anyway, the ride was rather boring after it stopped raining until all of the sudden I see another cyclist, a (blond! blue-eyed!) gentleman in his mid-thirties, pass me quietly without saying a word. This cyclist was on a touring bike and with loaded panniers, indicative of long distance travelling, and because of this, too, not riding as fast as the sports cyclists. Now, when I see such cyclo-tourists, I'm naturally quite curious to find out where they are going, what they have seen and heard, and in general, talk to them, so having someone pass me by like this without a word was nothing less than unconscionable. I promptly, therefore, after debating for a few minutes with myself (if he didn't say hi, chances are he doesn't want to speak to people, so I shouldn't disturb him, but then again, what he did is a rather barbarous thing to do, so should I just pass him quietly as well and embarass him, or what?) I picked up the pace and caught up to him (bonus question for you math-oriented folks: Two cyclists start riding in the same direction at the same time, one travelling at an unknown speed and the second one travelling at 20 kms/hr for two minutes before accelerating--assume acceleration is instantaneous for simplicity--to 26 kms/hr. If the second cyclist overtakes the first cyclist in 15 minutes after reaching the speed of 26 kms/hr, a) what was the speed of the first cyclist? and b) how far did the cyclists travel before the second one caught up with the first one?).

Turns out, he was a German dude from Hannover, had started riding the day before in Alicante, and was headed back to his hometown over the next few weeks. We were heading, therefore, in the same direction for at least the next 500 or so kilometers! Could this possibly be? I couldn't believe my luck! Finally, did I dare to think...the travel companion (blond! blue-eyed!!) I had all this time been looking for? Given the circumstances, I was looking a very exciting and rewarding conversation. He was pedalling a little bit faster than my usual pace, and because of this I had to make some effort to catch him every time we went back to single file due to traffic, but I figured, at this pace my knees won't give way until at least 2 hours from now, and until then, I thought, the sacrifice is worth the potential interesting discoveries, and I'm a buy on credit type of girl, so good tradeoff, right?

It soon became apparent, however, that my German friend was mostly interested in exchanging useless statistics: how much had I biked, how many kilometers did I bike a day, how fast did I go, how many kilometers had I done this day, how many left to go, at what time did I start, and he bikes 120 a day, and expects to do something like 3000 by trip's end, and he started two hours later today than I did, and he was in Alicante for two and a half days but didn't see a thing, because he's simply biking, and my spedometer now reads this, what does yours read, etc but nothing ever nearing anything more meaningful. A few short kilometers later (less than 10, it turns out), we parted, in another very strange and absurd way: the road forked, he turned towards the coast, I followed the more direct route to the next beach town 40 kms away, and when I slowed down as I saw him start to veer away and said to him: "I'm heading this way...", expecting, perhaps, a clarification of why, since we were headed for the same place, he took a different route, he simply nodded and without stopping yelled "Good luck!", congenially, it is true, but the sterile conversation and the hollow nature of the parting left in me an insipid taste in my mouth that reminded me a bit of something Primo Levi said about the Germans in one of his books.

We didn't even take the learn each other's names.


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