Would you ride a bicycle to get here?
My husband, Malcolm, shot the photo on the right in the town of Volterra on a Trek bike tour we took through Tuscany last October. Best trip ever! But not without hard work. Climbing those hills. The Trek people billed the activity level of the 6-day tour as “moderate.” I suppose if you spend your life on a bike, riding the hills of Tuscany might be considered moderate.
From the moment we met our touring companions, I knew I was among avid riders. Ten out of our group of twenty were biking buddies from Southern California, climbers all. Three were Trek dealers. Two were marathon runners. One a semi-pro cyclist. And another, an adrenalin junkie on holiday. And there was my husband, soaking it all in, happy to be in his new, rarified element, flying up and down the narrow roads, miles ahead of me. My personal objective on the trip was to stay upright. To stay on the road. To pedal without complaint. And to live to see another day in beautiful Italy. And I did, indeed. Riding at my own pace, I proved to myself that I was capable and crazy enough to do almost anything, especially for guilt-free gelati, pasta and biscotti consumed in abundance every day. And did I mention the museums, restaurants and shopping in Florence? All sublime.
Cycling is a passion for some. An addiction for others. For me, uh, not so much -- though admittedly it was an extraordinary way to see Italy. I find riding is a lot like writing. There will always be those who are stronger and more skilled. Those who will always outdistance me seemingly without effort. The only way I imagine I could survive the writer’s life if I were to pursue it now would be to spend more time in the saddle. “In the saddle” is an expression cyclists like to use, referring to training or some such nonesense involving hours of sweating in spandex, pedaling obessively, either on the road or in stationary position hooked up to computers, measuring stuff like speed, cadence, heart rate, distance... Blechhh! It’s all in the details. And so it is with writing. It can be scary, especially in traffic. It takes persistence, focus - and it takes exercise to build those climbing legs for the hills. But oh, those hills! They can be beautiful once you get there.
Spring is almost here, and along with it, a new trek. The bike awaits.