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The Feel of My Tires
The Feel of My Tires

January 30, 2020

San Gil*, Colombia

( *pronounced “Hill”)

I always wondered how some travelers met so many locals.  I know, this is coming from a guy who seems to meet everyone.  To me that is not true.  I feel that I am traveling alone without meeting many people.  But I am always open to the opportunity.  One just never knows what is coming their way.
Walking my bike down the streets of San Gil, a big adventure town, a cute young woman stopped me and asked where I was going.  A very common question.  Donde va, is heard a lot.  After that de donde eres.  Where are you from,  is most often the next question.  I told her I was going to Colombia.  That stopped her.  Here we were in the middle of the country a long way from any major city and I tell her I am going to visit the country.
Hale is a touring cyclist.  She has been out since 2015.  Soon we were talking about travel.  No, not cycling.  The bicycle is a transportation device, not the journey.  After a while we exchanged WhatsApp info and I went off to find a hotel and she to work.  We had arranged to meet later.  
At about 4, I texted her and we arranged to meet at a panaderia.  She suggested the bakery and it was a good place.  We talked for 2 hours over a piece of raisin cake and a glass of manarina juice.  Can you imagine how many tangerines it takes to get a full glass of juice?  It is very good and I am hooked on it.
Hale has some wonderful stories of the road.  She now is settling down with a Colombiano boyfriend, but not completely ready to quit traveling.  She is running tours for Turkish tourists in Peru, Chile and Colombia.  A Turkish TV statio was publishing stories about her tours so they became more popular.  She is getting too busy for her tastes I think.  
We have plans to meet for lunch, tomorrow.  She is going to talk to a friend running a bicycle day tour company about me joining some tours as a helper.  That would be fun, but it is only talk now.  I have found jobs on the road a couple of times.  When canoeing the Missouri River I was hired to help a campground owner improve the business in his store.  I was offered a job helping a cab company increase their touring business in Peru, but declined.  It was just the wrong timing. As with meeting people I am not sure how these things happen.  
Some of it is that I am alone and more open to encounters.  Also I have learned to pay attention to my environment.  I watch people and listen to them.  I look at their moment to moment lives.  It adds so much interest to my life and travels.    
The ride here yesterday was, wait for this, EASY.  
“No, that is not possible.  How could any ride you do, be easy?”  
Yea, I know, all I ever talk about is how hard and big the hills are.  Well, yesterday began with a small, easy climb that took me quickly out of the city into the mountains.  As I was already above San Gil it was generally a fall from there.  Oh, there were climbs, but short ones.  Climbs I could work on my standing with.  
“Why, does he want to work on standing?”
Standing gives me the opportunity to strengthen body parts that need the action of standing to make them stronger and therefor improve my over all riding, making it easier and more fun.  
Yes, riding in big mountains can be fun. I complain but why would I do this if I were not fun?  Once I got a gold rose from the Tudor guild.  They were given for something beyond the normal that someone did.  I got mine because while talking with the then president I said, in response to her question about enjoyment of my work with the Guild.  Why would one volunteer if they were not enjoying the job?  Is it not the same with life and all things in it.  If we are not enjoying what we are doing, then why do it?  Of course, there are some things that we must do that are not as fun, but we cannot let them be our life’s guide.  
So, when I complain about the hills, wind, traffic or whatever, know that underneath there is always enjoyment of the moment.  I so enjoy the feel of my tires as they travel the roads of the world.  
Wow, what a way to live!  My tires are so lucky!

—Bill H.

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