There’s a story that our favourite monk, Ajahn Brahm, tells that I’ve been thinking about a lot over
the last few days: A hiker was walking through the forest when suddenly she met a bear. Backing away from the bear, she fell into a hole. At the bottom of the hole was a rattlesnake. But luckily the hiker was able to grab a branch as she was falling. Suspended between the bear and the snake, the hiker looked up and realized that above her head was a bee hive. Rather than panic, she opened her mouth to catch a drop of honey that was falling from the hive.
We are not in such dramatic situations on our bike trip, but there are certainly lots of moments when we choose to enjoy the sweetness of the moment in the midst of everything. Not always, of course. Sometimes we whine and worry and get frustrated and scrappy. But more often we just enjoy ourselves and don’t worry about what is going to happen next.
Today, for example, we rode up and down the biggest hills yet, here in Swiss Normandy, during rain and sun and wind and more rain. And some sun and a lot of rain.
But the views were stunning and it even seemed like the cows were cheering us on – I think they were actually crowding at their gates because they were waiting to be fed, but it was fun to imagine them cheering.
Suddenly we swooped down a long hill and were in a valley beside a beautiful river with white water rafting and a cafe built against the granite rock face. We pulled over. (Actually I pulled over and said, “It’s time for coffee.” in a voice that no one was going to argue with and in we went.
Inside we sat beside the heater, dried off our wet rain gear, had hot chocolate, crepes, coffee and fries and a lovely chat with the owner. It was wonderful. Food for the stomach and the soul.
Later, just a few kilometres into a flat, smooth, paved path that would take us all the way into Caen, our destination, the tandem broke down.
It turned out the piece that holds the ball bearings in the internal hub had disintegrated. When Derek checked, there were only 6 of 10 bearings left.
While he was assessing the situation, a couple walked by and asked how serious it was. Before we knew it, they were offering to drive Derek, Jasper and the tandem all the way to Caen (about 25 km) to the nearest bike shop to get it fixed.
So Anna Sierra and I rode along the beautiful path beside a river to meet D, J, their broken bike and their new best friends at a camp ground just outside Caen.
While we were riding, I asked Anna Sierra how she was doing. I thought she might be concerned about her brother and her dad driving off with brand new friends without us and with a broken bike. She said she felt great and was just enjoying the smooth, downhill path. “Right now I’m just riding, Mama,” she said.
When we arrived at the campground we found it was permanently closed. Luckily we didn’t have to wait long before Derek and Jasper drove up with Cathrine et Guy.
They didn’t have any luck with fixing the bike, but with their help we were able to arrange to stay at a hotel downtown that would house our bikes and put all four of us in one room.
There are at least two more bike shops in town, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings.
For now, we are all together, warm, dry, fed and cozy and the Bonnicards are planning to meet us tomorrow to visit Caen together after we take care of the bike!
Hope everyone is doing well! We think of you often and send our best.
We are passing all kinds of apple orchards and thinking about my mom’s famous apple crisp and the thick apple cider at the Parkdale Market that Anna Sierra loves so much. Derek and I have been enjoying delicious cider here and we all tried (and loved) pear cider.
P.S. News flash – Cathrine and Guy took Derek and the tandem to La Maison Velo this afternoon
We’ll be rolling again tomorrow. But first Cathrine & Guy insisted that we go out to their favourite restaurant in Caen to celebrate the bike fix and to wish us well on our journey. A broken bike has given us friends for life.