With the arrival of morning (you know, at 3 AM) came a persistent bout of hip pain. We’d clearly be staying put today. Ben had loads of work to get done anyway, and our campground has a decent internet connection and a lovely fjord view. I’d never been so glad to be sitting tight.
This decision left me with the bulk of the day to soak up the downright stunning beauty that is Norway. The moss trimmed wooden houses, the squaking gulls, the clear deep fjords and the pine splattered mountains. It looks like a magazine and I’m sitting right in the middle of all of it.
Despite all this, I am what my dad would call completely “tipped over” by the realities of cycle touring here. These mountains are heartbreakingly steep and so carelessly wild. Despite the fact that every square inch of them seems to be populated with the summer homes of the locals, the moody weather, the persistent wind, and the long breaks between gas stations and grocery stores, make this place feel rugged and lonesome. I thought I’d finally conquered the fear that comes with the never-ending unknowns of a bike tour, but it has tracked me down and is haunting me in full swing.
I generally live for this kind of adventure, for the feeling of conquering big climbs and for scenery that as Ben calls it, “blows your pants off” (a misspoken rendition of knock your socks off) but today, I wish I was at home. I long for my my climate controlled house, to sit on a real chair (or even a couch!) with a real cup and a real plate wearing clothes that get washed in my own washing machine when they get dirty instead of wearing them for weeks on end. I’m thoroughly overwhelmed with this endless quest to find adequate food and water and access to internet and power all in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language after using up all my energy cycling every day. I knew it would feel like this sometimes when I chose to come here, but the intensity of the fear and stress are still a powerful force to overcome.
All day I’ve been thinking of one of my favorite quotes from Rainer Maria Rilke. “Let everything happen to you. Beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.”
This is what runs through my head on days when I have had quite enough cycling but there are hours of pedaling left to go. I think of it when the wind won’t stop blowing or when my hip won’t quit aching or when I writhe to wear the same gross shirt again. It sits with me when we visit the most beautiful places and when the weather is perfect and the pastries are easy to find. Everything can change in a second. Nothing stays the same for long. I’m hanging onto it today, hoping that tomorrow will feel less like a crisis, that the prospect of packing up my tent and spending literally all day going two miles per hour around tight switchbacks up steep cliffs will seem more like fun and less like work.