Sometimes when you cross the threshold and set out on a journey, you don't know what to expect. Will your adventure bring pleasure? Pain? Joy? Hardship? Restoration? Embarking upon such a journey means stepping into the unknown, leaving behind the soothing bubble of your comfort zone, wondering how far you will go. For some this means adding an extra hill to their route. For others it means adding an extra five miles to their ride when their legs are already jello. And for yet others it means leaving all that they know behind. The roads that have become their meditative pathways, the street signs that are indelibly etched in their memory, the town line that they sprint for with their buddies, all are traded in for unfamiliar ground.
This journey was one cut from the cloth of the latter. My fellow traveler and I would begin this walk-about with helmets strapped to our baggage as we made my way down the ramp to a 747. This flight would take us for a brief layover in one country before it arrived at its final destination in another completely different country. From that plane, my companion and I would take a train through the Italian countryside made up of farmlands and vineyards to a bus. That bus would carry us across the border through one European country and into the next. Heavily armed customs officers would inspect our passports and welcome us to their country, and then send us on our way. Disembarking the first bus, we would carry our gear to another bus, which would bring us to a ferry to cross a neck of the Adriatic Sea. Onward, that bus would swerve and creak through twisting, knarled, single lane roads, just inches away from multiple, several hundred foot drop-offs, the absence of guard rails and the presence of certain death. These were the kind of roads that were converted from goat paths, they would birth us to our final destination, an island famous for being a French "health spa" in the 1800's.
Weary from travel, we wheeled our suitcases down the old cobblestone walkway, the town's original main road. Reaching the dwelling that would be our home for our time on the island, my companion dug into her purse to find the 100+ year old iron key, unique with its curves and handmade imperfections, and unlocked the heavy wooden front door. We piled our suitcases inside. I ran my thumb over the strap of my helmet, grinding away some of the salt from my last ride, in anticipation of what this journey would bring. The hour was late and the arduous day's travel behind us, we decided to crash for the evening.
Awakening to a breeze flavored with sea salt mingled with the island's herbal bouquet, the morning shone brighter then many in recent past. Perhaps it was the mediterranean sun but, more likely it was of the anticipation of what was to come. The first day of our stay, used to gather supplies for our extended stay, only served to further starve my desire to ride.