Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Continuing Eastwards...

Well... as I expected I have nothing in my head to write just as soon as I get opportunity to write anything. I'm in Serbia for a couple of days now, and then I head into the flats of Romanian Danube territory, a place in which (unless a lot has changed) I will find dogs chasing after me (unceasingly unnerving, no matter how much you know its going to happen), lots of gypsies, mosquitoes, food not entirely to my liking, and no internet... so I'm taking advantage of the facilities of Subotica.

The whole journeying thing continues to progress healthily... I'm on target, not that a target means much at such an early stage, but still, it's better than being behind target. Entered Serbia this morning, and the roads got slightly worse, but I was prepared for as much, and they are not that bad... it's really a bit of a western misconception that every other society in the world makes do with bumbling up and down dirt tracks as a means of linking the nation.. I generally avoid country lanes out here, but the main highways are pretty good, and the courtesy of Hungarian truckers throughout yesterday was absolutely mesmerising... Gents the lot of them.

I've done pretty well on company of late also, met a couple of guys from Kent, 60years old going-on 25... they were cycling the length of Austria to Budapest, had me on the ragged edge all day in spite of their seniority, and very much attest to the idiocy of the school of thought that cycling distance is something to fear rather than relish. Also bumped into Luis, a Peruvian who has been riding all over the Balkans and Southern Europe, headed for France, an amazing guy and an excellent companion for a multiple-hour breakfast of coffee, nutella, jam, more coffee, more nutella, more jam, and an armful of baked goods. Less pleasant company was the carcass of a snake in the road.. I know that there are snakes out this way, and have seen them before, but prefer not to be reminded of the fact... it would have been nicer, furthermore, had the snake been a touch smaller... ideally it would have just been a hedgehog, but I suppose I cant have everything my way.

The other day, I was riding into Vienna, and left the flatflatflat Danube path for a climb into the city, and there's nothing like a climb to get the passions all fired up. Anyway, I thought then that I would like, not to renege, but to clarify, something I said a few posts back about Mark Beaumont's record, the record that I aim to beat.

I said that I had great respect for his achievement, and I do, to not do so would be impertinent and foolish on my own part... however, I sounded too diplomatic for my own tastes, and as this is my own blog, and not some BBC apologies page, I'm going to stand by my convictions a little more.

In short, though I respect Beaumont's achievement, I respect very little of that which I know him to have done with it. In my mind, the man represents an awful lot of that which is wrong with the world, i.e. a perfectly decent and likable fellow, cosied-up with people neither decent nor likable, for the perfectly reasonable reason of making one's life that bit more comfortable.... In particular I've thought of his advert for Orange, the one that says that I AM EVERYONE (but I am not the text message the woman was reading as she walked under the bus, the brain tumour in the businessman's brain,etc)...

anyway... the advert... which can be found on YouTube, says that our fellow is the man of the Nullarbor who gave him water when he needed it most... and, as I cycled up over that climb before Vienna, it really made me sick to think that some chap in the Nullarbor gave water, something presumably quite precious out there, to a stranger in need, and that that stranger then went on to sell the sanctity of that act to a bloody telephone company. Moreover, I'm sure that somewhere in the LloydsTSB investment portfolio, that which Mark is proud to be an ambassador of, there is some extraction industry or another blowing craters into the plains that are home to aboriginal communities... It's fine, I don't mind people making their lives a bit easier, earning some money, it's just a bit shit when it's dressed up in some saccharine bollocks that suggests all is lovely... As for my own diplomatic disavowal of my angst, I renege on it in the respect that, if people compromise morals, and nobody even takes them to task for doing so, then eventually we lose the standards by which people should be held to account.

In short, Mark Beaumont completed his excellent achievement, and then he sold it, which means that he received a good wedge of cash, and that was the price he received in return for having his moralities and affiliations questioned. Over and above all that, the next 6months/year will attest to whether I hold any moral highground, and whether or not I am just some embittered fuckwit who couldn't better his accomplishment anyway.

As for the idea that we need 6000calories a day to survive, I have worked out my own, highly scientific, equation, and am simply eating shitloads, and as much of it as I can keep down. As for the use of having tubes stuffed down your throat, I really don't know what use this is in touring distances on a bike, it really sounds quite inconvenient to me, and, having discussed the matter with Luis, John and Karlsen over the past few days, indeed it transpired that none of us had anything inserted into any of our bodily orifices prior to departure. Which can only be a good thing.

I attach a few more photos... my hands after a day of riding in the rain, don't know if the photo fully conveys the shrivel.. Tesco continue their domination into Hungary, this, in fact, is the very store in which I was caught trying to steal a nectarine three years ago... The photo fails it, but Vienna is beautiful, and has such a great feeling of liveliness and space going on.... cities really are so much better when people actually live in them, rather than just working there 9-5 in funeral attire ... photo of me... this is so we can all wait eagerly to see my changing appearance, I've been told through Austria that I'm skinny, which will never be how I see myself.... Also one of the Danube, and the cycle path along it.. leisurely is not the word... a great holiday route for any recreational cyclist; no cars, many camping facilities, beautiful scenery, bars and restaurants.

Anyway... enough... and Ill write again anon.

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