Friday, May 2, 2014

the ride journal issue 8...

Thought I would post up the full story I had published recently in The Ride Journal Issue 8. A journey of a lifetime with some of the finest humans on the face of the earth... Hope y'all enjoy! Big love xxoo
Covered...

Freewheeling families

Adventure is something that’s been part of family holidays for as long as I can remember. From cold, cramped caravanning in the deep south of Australia on primary school vacations (Dire Straits’ “Brothers in Arms” still resonates in my aural memory banks to this very day), to our first return to Europe as a family, where Francs, Deutsche Marks and Schillings ruled, and before the fall of The Wall.

Since our paths diverged, with adulthood and retirement respectively, we’ve continued to find adventure in our own ways. In the past few years though, we’ve been bringing the family adventuring back, this time on bikes.

Though our family has always had bikes, it’s fair to say we’ve been quite late bloomers with regards to our zeal for getting in the saddle. Mum and Dad have found it a great way to keep fit aerobically with age, while I fell in love with it in the last few years, as my preferred mode of transport, living in the ├╝ber bike-friendly city of Berlin. 

Last year our passion for pedalling manifested itself in the adventure of a lifetime. A 300 or so kilometre ride following the mighty Danube river, across Austria, from Passau to Vienna; myself and my girlfriend, four of our friends, and Mum and Dad.

My parents are both pretty relaxed people and their easygoing nature definitely seemed to rub off on our group, especially when things weren’t going our way. Our ride from Aschach to Linz was one such time. After a solid day in the saddle, the heavens had opened and our miscalculations had us stopped on the outskirts of the city with a 5km ride along a motorway to our accommodations for the evening. The mood was somewhat sombre amongst the kids but, unperturbed, Ma and Pa took it in their stride. It’s hard to stay grumpy when people more than twice your age are going with the flow with lorries thundering past them, and the lifted mood ended in one of the funnest evenings of the trip.

Our daily itineraries were pretty simple: planned starting point and end destination with all options open in between. Sometimes we’d all ride together, other times in pairs or smaller groups. Mum and Dad would often give themselves a head start, but would invariably end up back in the pack at a perfect pace for sightseeing. 

Midway through our trip, we took on what was probably the most gruelling climb, up to the former concentration camp of Mauthausen. As it was, only the two young men made it to the top in the pedals, before walking down to help the others. We were a team after all! Each of us were moved by the experience, seeing the gas chambers intact, disguised as showers, and reading of the horrors of the prisoners who perished. But it was all the more poignant to share it with my parents, who grew up through that infamous period in history. 

One of the most memorable days of the trip was making our way through the stunning Wachau region where we unexpectedly came across a town party in the beautiful village of Weissenkirchen. Offering us wine and cheese (not to mention a test of our German language skills) the hospitality and generosity of the local people was incredible.

Unsurprisingly, the girls were especially popular and the local men embraced the opportunity to dance with the visiting ladies. A local winemaker by the name of Manfred took a shine to Mum and she was soon twirling across the cobblestones to the sounds of an oompah band, while Dad relaxed with a glass of red and chatted with the local priest. Truly priceless moments.

As an activity to partake in as a family, a cycling trip is the best. There’s the sharing of exploration and experiences and the collective feeling of achievement at the end of each day. But what it best provides us with, as a family, is simply time. Hours spent in the saddle, side by side, catching up on all of life’s little stories. Long breakfasts, lunches, dinners and drinks with nothing but conversation and a pack of cards for entertainment. 

You would be hard pressed to find two families and their dynamics alike and perhaps, for many, the idea of ten days cycling through a foreign country with their parents doesn’t tick any of the vacation boxes. For me, I feel truly lucky to have that kind of relationship with my mum and dad and can’t wait to start planning our next family holiday on wheels.

 Ma...
 Pa...
 Jig...
 Ally...
 Snickr...
 Luce...
 Roofy...
Kat...

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