The Biking France Blog is back … and I’m on my way to, well, France.
I’m starting to write this post in the airport in Columbus, OH. Check-in was a breeze, and the person at the American Airlines counter didn’t even bat an eye as I checked in my two panniers, connected by bungee cords, with the top half of my ultra-light, plastic floor pump sticking up. Susan was worried they wouldn’t let me check it like this. So, first travel hurdle cleared. The second one: I’m a little worried the pump will get broken on the way to Paris, so my fingers are crossed … and I just knocked on wood. Not that I’m superstitious. The guy in front of me was checking in his cello, and told me that once, on a flight to Nashville, it got destroyed. Uh-oh. Thankfully, I not going to Nashville.
Here’s the schedule: Columbus to JFK, then the overnight flight to Paris DeGaulle, take RER train from the airport into the city, head over to Gare Montparnesse and catch the 14:47 (that’s 2:47 for all you Americans) fast train to Bordeaux, where I’ll spend the night. And hopefully be able to sleep. I have an Ativan, which helps reduce the anxiety about not being able to sleep, which in turn helps me sleep. I hope. I also have melatonin. And might have a glass or two of wine. It’s a process.
And then: Tuesday morning I get my bike from the guys from O2Cycles at 9AM at the designated spot in front of one of the three ibis hotels near the Bordeaux train station, and then get on the 10AM train to Sarlat (in the heart of the Dordogne). From the Sarlat train station, I’ll do a nice 35-mile loop (maybe more if I’m not too jet lagged) along the river, up to Domme, past a few castles and villages and head over to Beynac where I’ll spend the night. We stayed here before, way back in 1997. Great town along the water with a castle up above. Susan loved Beynac, so it will be sad to be there without her.
And then: south to Fumel and the Lot River (where I’ve never been before), a visit to the amazing castle at Bonaguil, along the Lot past Cahors and Figeac, and then further east to Conques and some amazing gorge riding. Then back to Sarlat as fast as possible, where I’ll take the train back to Bordeaux to meet Justin (my nephew). Then back to Sarlat and a proper 10-day Dordogne loop.
The riding will be amazing, but I have a few other goals in mind for this trip. For me, these French bike rides are therapeutic, something I need to do. It’s an adventure, it’s a challenge, it’s scenic … and it makes me feel young again, like it’s the 80s and early 90s again when I first started doing these bike trips. I know, I was a French bike-touring pioneer! Plus, biking in France is good for my TBI brain: The challenge to try and relax and handle the anxiety of all the traveling. Right now, sitting here in the airport, with an hour to go until my plane boards, I’m cool, calm and mostly collected. I’ve learned that when travelling, getting to where I need to be super early is a stress/anxiety easier. So, Justin, be prepared to get to train stations and airports early!
Mindfulness: I’ve learned a lot about mindfulness from Susan the past few years. It’s all about being in and enjoying the moment. Be here, be now. This is hard for me, as I’m a “what’s next” kind of person. And so, every day and every kilometer of this trip, I’m going to try and relax and take in everything around me and use all my mindfulness training. Go slow. There’s no rush to ride to the next town. What does it matter if I get there at 4:30 or 5:15 or even 6:30? Spend more time in a nice village, look around, sit there and take it all in.
Mindful photography: I’m gonna stop a lot and take photos. Mindfully (a new setting on my iPhone!). Usually I hit the brakes, take a quick shot and am off, all in less than 15 seconds. What’s the rush Steve? And, I think I’m gonna take several videos and put together a Biking the Dordogne and Lot movie. I’ll try and post a few of the shorter videos on this blog.
Mindful eating: I tend to wolf down my snacks during rides, and am usually famished and eat like an even-hungrier wolf at dinner (I imahine wolves eat quickly, what with all the other wolves wanting a bite), sucking in almost as much air as food. On this trip, I’m gonna eat healthy during the day, lots of apples, bananas and nuts/dried fruit, with a pastry here and there. And then: a big dinner, but I’ll eat slowly, savor every bite and drink my wine leisurely. I tend to drink wine way too quickly and before I know it my half carafe is gone.
Here’s the link to last year’s trip & eBook to Bordeaux.
Mindful writing: I tend to write down the facts, just the facts, in my biking France journals and blogs. This time, I’m gonna try and focus more on the emotions, the little things, the scenery, the people I meet, the things I think about while riding. Plus, I’ll write a lot about Justin once he gets here. He’s a very amusing fellow!
OK, I’m at JFK. I finished writing this post … and now I’m waiting mindfully for my next flight.