Good News For People Who Love Bad News

Surrounded by the heavily weathered and crumbling buildings of the city, I begin to make my escape. The city only has a thousand or so inhabitants, but the nuisance of bike lanes and parked cars on the side of the road are already starting to get to me. I wouldn’t mind stopping for a muffin or a Coke, but since it’s Sunday nearly everything is closed.   

At the Belgian equivalent of a yield sign I turn left, then right, and I’m There. The overcast skies, chilly weather and stiff wind set the perfect mood for this part of my ride, through There. There, in this case, happens to be a narrow stretch of road, about 3km (1.8 miles) long. What makes this road special is that it is all cobblestones, and not the smooth cobblestones that aren’t too rough; these are warped, twisted, ridged, rough, bone-breaking, wheel-breaking, make-you-cry cobblestones.  

There

   

  Sure, riding There hurt. Sure it made me think only of what the other side looked like. And sure my muscles felt like they’d been shifted around, then thrown indiscriminately in a blender with dull blades, but it was an awesome feeling.   

They say that the faster you go over the cobbles the easier it gets, and believe me, I tried. With a heavy wind exacting its fury on me I was relegated to a painfully slow speed, slow enough to feel every single cobble.   

When it finally ended, everything had a soreness to it. I had to physically dismount my bike and spin both of my wheels to make sure their straightness hadn’t gone astray (they hadn’t), and check everything attached to my body for more or less the same thing. Nothing had been lost, but I got that feeling again, that over any place in the world, I’d rather be in Belgium. My first real time on the cobbles was about as graceful as tripping down a flight of steps, I’ll give you that, but it was fun. After all was said and done I had a big grin on my face, and vowed that next time would be better. Lucky for me, “next time” was just about 20 minutes later. It hurt a lot less and I’m pretty sure I looked a lot better.   

I know there are a lot of people who consider cobbled sections as bad news, but what can I say? I like bad news.   

Until next time, There waits.

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~ by Mitcholo on February 21, 2010.

6 Responses to “Good News For People Who Love Bad News”

  1. Everyone’s happiness is different. I’m happy your happy finding yours.
    Love Mom

  2. You are much stronger than I am. Keep going strong– we’re all behind you!

  3. the pics rock. i may have to borrow one for a background. i too find myself the most happy when i challange the mind, body and bike.

  4. Looks like fun bro dont think i could handle it, do u have to change your tires out to bigger ones or do u just man up?

  5. HEY! it’s Raeley oh my gosh you have your own website and everything it’s awesome i love it i bet it’s fun actually i know it is DID YOU GET MY NOTES WHEN WE HAD THAT PARTY FOR YOU? stay strong no pressure but WIN! WIN! WIN!I LOVE YOU BIG BOY DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME NOW HEY TESSA THAT’S MINE GOT TO GO BEAT UP MY SISTER LOVE YOU BYE!

  6. Hi Mitch,

    Someone you met in AL told me about your excellent journey. Bon Courage!
    I’ve been following your blog.

    I did a somewhat similar thing way back in 1980. Like you, I was not a real accomplished rider, but took up the challenge with my Raleigh Grand Prix.

    After assembling my bike in the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, I rode out with what I had in my panniers.
    Over three months, I followed the coast through Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, and then the Mediterranean coast through Spain, Italy before heading inland to Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and finally back to Amsterdam. Stopped at Hostels sometimes, but as I was mostly going through the country-side, my tent was my home most of the time.

    So not quite the same journey you are taking, but I can certainly relate.

    Biggest struggle is sticking to it. Looks like you have a good fan base back home, which will help.

    Safe Travels!!

    Phil Cooper
    North Ridgeville, OH.

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