Tuesday, June 30, 2009

(days) 1 2 3... easy as do-ray-mi

well, if you don't mind 4 flat tires on the 2nd day of orientation (yes, one was mine, from pumping my tires too much), getting lost, gene almost getting electricuited AND falling head over handlebars into a ditch while trying to take a photo riding fully loaded (he's o.k.)... then it could be considered simple as 123, do-ray-mi, abc baby you and me girrrlll.

when we heard the news of MJs death, we briefly nicknamed this the michael jackson memorial tour. and some of us considered riding with only one bike glove the whole way.

tonight we arrived in utrecht, 40kms south of amsterdam, to stay in an abandoned warehouse with a guy who sabrina met on couchsurfing. after arrival, since my chore group's chore this week is Making Dinner (they dont know my cooking skillz)... shawn, gene, eileen and i set out to find the nearest grocery store and then purchased food for the next three meals, stuffed it into panniers, rode back and cooked a delicious pasta with both vegetarian and meat options, and then we all played a massive game of hide and go seek in this nutty joint.


time to go to sleep. ill get 5 hours if i sleep riggghhht now.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Amsterdam and the last of civilization...

I just finished washing some dishes, mainly a butter knife used to spread nutella on bread (staple diet at the moment) at Jan's apartment here on the Noord side of Amsterdam. 63 ms. oslofjordweg, a former shipping container, since painted red and transformed into a narrow bedroom complete with kitchen and bath, has been my residence since hopping off the train from Paris on Wednesday.
After setting up the bicycle, I was introduced to student life in Amsterdam with a traditional homemade 'suriname'meal at a friend of Jan's, a houseparty, and a night spent dancing to wrap up day one. Not bad at all, would be my argument.

The 'crew' have been quickly streaming into town.

"How's the bike treating you?" ask two tall strangers as Chris and I walk down the canal... "umm..." "No, no... we're one of you, i mean.. global agents? I have the same bike as you..." responds Jake Moir, one of the 15 or so people I had yet to meet of our crew of 20. Amsterdam's petite size allows for a couple more random run ins with a few more global agents for change, and friday night finds 10 of us in a people-packed park, each with a bottle of wine in hand.

this is the beginning of our tour.

we've all got our reservations about the Balkans, and there is a reciprocating feeling of non-saneness among us too. some have experience in similar cycling tours, and some (cough cough) have never ventured from day-long tours. although, i did have my fair share of critical masses this year. and although we won't be a team of 2000, which is the stats of the latest Vancouver Mass ride (check out this cycle rant from a former professor of mine about CM here), our team of 20 will be a sight to see in our bright green and orange jerseys next week.

"training" these past few days has consisted of very slow mini-rides (as most people ride granny bikes with one gear) around the cutest lil houses on cobblestone streets that you ever did see, and a trip to Jan's parents house for use of their holy washing machine.

holy washing machine.
did i just say that?

i think i'm losing my mind. and, i promise my writing will get better once my surroundings get less comfortable. that's a usual trend that i've noticed.

ps, the library here is really neat.
ramble, ramble, ramble. orientation starts tomorrow and i'm moving from this nice little storage unit of a house out to the campground which will be hosting us for the next 3 days.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

parisien limbo & 6 days left

limbo could be a lot worse than this


but my limbs are itching for those balkan mountains, showerless days of chaos, confusion, and calamity.

amsterdam to istanbul has been 10 steps away since november last year. seven months, two full course loads, three fundraisers, conversations had, people met, $5000 raised for microfinance, czechy accommodation found, sunflowers planted, bike ridden, and ocean crossed, and here we are.

6 days till countdown.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

box of treats

You'd think that on the evening of your departure for a 2 month long cycling trip through foreign countries... on the evening of your embarkment on a journey that one year ago you never could have imagined yourself doing... a journey that relies 100% on having your bicycle endure the entire 15 hour plane ride from vancouver to paris, and then another 4 hour train trip to amsterdam, all inside a cardboard box... you'd think that as an amateur at this profession, you might get someone else to dismantle your bike and assemble it neatly into that cardboard box for you. because probably somewhere along the line, someone told you it wasn't that easy to do.

well, as usual, i found myself learning things the hard way, and after 3 hours of loosening bolts, twisting handlebars, loosing important miscellaneous small pieces under the porch, removing tires, not so easily removing pedals, finding makeshift tools to do the job with, and grunting and screaming as i realized the bike just doesn't slip easily into the stupid box (because i think my bike shop gave me a child sized box, i swear...) it worked. well, lots of packing tape, and it worked.

23 hours, 2 planes, and 117 tiny steps up a narrow french staircase near "sacre coeur de montematre" later, and my home for the next 10 weeks is sitting in a closet waiting for the train ride to amsterdam next tuesday.

at this point, 11 days will come too soon for my liking, but there is definately no backing out now.
besides, it'll be nice to stop paying $6 for a shot of espresso.

a bientot!