Sirapon cycled behind Nadine. Sirapon may have been annoyed, but perhaps I only imagined this because she was by far the most experienced trekking cyclist among us, and what experienced trekking cyclist wouldn't be annoyed having to follow a couple of amateurs? Or maybe she was just amused, as what experienced trekking cyclist wouldn't have learned to accept all that happens on the road with a feeling of amusement? Indeed, Sirapon had said just the night before that the difference between an adventure and an ordeal is a state of mind. So, the adventure was underway.
My navigation skills having been learned at sea, I looked for the sun, but the sun is hard to find from the center of Brussels. And as it was near midday-- two and a half hours later than when we had planned to begin-- as it was near midday what would I have gained by finding the sun? It would have been neither east nor west. If I'd found it, it just would have been there, peaking. But I looked for it anyway, feeling wise. I found interesting Belgian facades and a thin strip of sky, but no sun. Giving up on the sun, Lien and I reversed our course and we cycled past Grote Markt and we asked for directions and eventually we were on the road to Buvingen and Holland.
|The story of the end of the first day's cycling, in Buvingen, Belgium. by Lien|
Four days later, in spite of my navigation, Sirapon, Nadine and I were weaving through the crowd along the Rhine, in the center of Cologne. Lien had turned back in Aachen, as she had things to do back in Belgium. Though we had missed Lien's enthusiasm for the last day and a half of cycling, Sirapon, Nadine and I had reached our goal to complete the first leg of the journey.
At the beginning it had been uncertain as to whether anyone would be able to cycle from Cologne to Slovenia, where the next cyclists would begin from. Now Sirapon made it clear that she would cycle as far as Passau, near the Austrian border. Before we parted, I removed the green ribbon from my bike and cut it in half and gave half of it to Sirapon to carry to Passau. The other half I would give to Lien or to Lore to carry from Slovenia to Reyhanli. I said goodbye to Sirapon, and to Nadine, who had been an unexpected but welcome addition to our group. Nadine's plan is to cycle on her own from Cologne to Basel, and then to Milan.
As I write this, Sirapon is somewhere near the Rhine-- perhaps in Bonn or Koblenz. She is raising money along the way for Syria Relief and Development. Here is her page: https://www.crowdrise.com/cyclingrelayforsyria/fundraiser/siraponsoinak
Sirapon is from Thailand. She's been on the road cycling for five years-- a hardened trekking cyclist. And now she's Syricipede's cyclist on the ground.
Meanwhile, Lore, who will be one of our cyclists from Slovenia to the Syrian border, has been fundraising like mad. She recently hosted 'Syricine', a big fundraising get-together with films and food. The result of that initiative had been a near doubling of the total money raised for Syria Relief and Develpment, to over $2,200.
Here is Lore's fundraising page:
This is a winning team, especially now that I am not the navigator. Join the team by donating, or by cycling for a stretch of the journey. I'm right here, waiting to hear from you.