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December 20, 2019

Ashland, Oregon Ashland, Oregon Ashland, Oregon

Bill Heimann's Bicycle Workshop at his home in Ashland, Oregon
Bill Heimann’s Bicycle Workshop at his home in Ashland, Oregon

This journey does not want to start. It keeps distracting me with other things. First, there is the city’s form of government that I want to see changed. I have been working on a change to our city charter for about a year now and the work is just ending the first major phase, taking a lot of my time.

Then my daughter came from Atlanta for a visit. Doesn’t she know better than to interrupt her father at this time? Children, just no thought for their parents. Well, I did, as always have a wonderful time with her. We get along very well and enjoy each other as adults. It was a good time, but will I ever prepare for this leaving?

I believe that as we reach true adulthood we can make a choice. We can decide if relatives are going to be friends. It is not written in stone that we must spend time with a sister, aunt or any other relative just because of a one night stand by another relative.

The house, oh for Pete’s sake the house; nothing like living in a 110 year old house. It is just like living with an old man. Always complaining about something and demanding you fix it. So, I must go around looking and listening, trying to figure out what this place is asking me to do. That hinge, drip, leaking door seal and on and on, stopping me from the real task of preparing to ride Columbia.

Oh, I guess I have not said where I am going. Yes, Columbia. I am flying to Medellin on December 27th and as per normal don’t have much of a clue where after that. It is interesting that friends keep giving me information they think I will use to plan my stay. I do thank them and may find the information useful but as to planning….

Yesterday I finally began to prepare. I had put the panniers on the bike last week but then had to stop to help John referb his bike. I like working with John on his bike or anything. We find joy in sharing time.

See, even talking about starting gets interrupted.

I have a travel list that I have been using with small modifications for many years.  Using the list I find each item and check it off as “have.”  Then as I pack it I check “packed.”  As I went through the list I could not find my stove.  Last summer returning from Brussels the airline lost a pannier.  Not the one in which I keep, oh well talking too much. 



H             P                                                                              H             P

____        ____ DRESS PANTS                            ____        ____ SANDALS

____        ____ BELT                                             ____        ____ HELMET

____        ____ 2 RIDING SHIRTS                       ____       ____ LONG SLEEVE SHIRT

____        ____ DRESS SHORTS                          ____        ____2 MIRRORS

____        ____ RIDING GLOVES                        ____        ____ DRESS SOCKS     

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Anyway I thought the stove was gone.  I went to the store to look for another as it was too late to order one from my pro deal with MSR. 

Ran into someone who has been working with me on the charter change; see again, interruptions!

Returned home without a new stove, but looking again I found it, right where it should have been!  Sometimes distractions can bring fortune. 

Got most of the items on my workbench, some packed.  Maybe, just maybe I will finish on time.  Wait, isn’t there some big event next week?  Most likely have to take a few minutes to celebrate my first Christmas home in several years.  Just have to be patient with yet another interruption!

–Bill H.

♦ ♦ ♦
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The End

July 18, 2019

Ashland, Jackson County, Oregon, USA

This morning I got up and made coffee.  Standing in the center of the front window of 647 Siskiyou enjoying the steaming cup, I viewed a doe, a fawn and a buck, an unusual site to see such a family.  But the viewing from my favorite morning place was also unusual for me.  It has been over 3 months since I last stood in this place.  A very good 3 ½ month journey has ended and another chapter has begun.

All my journeys have chosen their own paths and their own times.  I seem to have little say in the matter.  When I found myself in the very small Greek village with a broken bike I had no desire to return to the island of Evia, but the trip had its own idea of where I was to go.  After the repair and a stop in a cell phone store to talk with island born young man, I spent another, almost 2 weeks on the island. 
My original trip plan was to try to find a way to cycle to Norkapp in Norway but the road would not have that plan.  Brussels and the Tour de France became the destination.  A wonderful hostess in Brussels, a friend in Prague, a meeting with a family from Tanzania at the Tour, all combined to show me the end of this journey. 

As I sit here at my home computer talking with you, flashes of this journey come into my vision.  The first days with John visiting an old touring friend in Phoenix, cycling to Bisbee, AZ through the Sonora desert and camping on Lake Pleasant for a farewell to John and the US. 
The first days of cycling, out of Athens in heavy traffic and up the steep hills to find a campground that had burned down in their version of the fires of our west, comes to my eyes.  The long, yet short ride to Thessaloniki that I thought would mark the end of Greece but again the road had other ideas.  A night with a wine producer added another day to my stay in the country before the final crossing into North Macedonia and the bringing of a new country to my tires.   
The meeting of a missionary family in the Skopje, the capital, a food tour and enjoying the old bazaar, where my hotel was located added 3 days to my stay in Macedonia.  Then Serbia, a country I had heard a lot of negative about, most of which turned out to be untrue.  The wonderful mountains with their great climbs, the friendly people and good food left me with a whole new picture of what is Serbia.
An unplanned short stay in Croatia because I followed the river the wrong way did not give me enough time to really appreciate what I was finding to be amazing people.  Leaving Mitrovica I followed the Ibar NW instead of NE, forcing me to turn north into Hungary much earlier than planned, producing another example of the road leading the journey. 

Budapest brought the beginning of the end.  Now I was headed to Brussels and the Tour. 
Next, Munich instead of Passau due to a train mix up.  I wonderful mix up as I met a Spaniard living in Munich, Mixx.  How more appropriate could that have been.  We spent 2 great days together enjoying Munich and its beer gardens.  It is always great when what appears to be a problem shows itself to be a wonderful opportunity. 

Then Karlsruhe, the home of a long ago friend I could not find and back to cycling.  Up the Rhine to the Saar and then the Mossell and into Luxemburg, trying to be in Brussels by the 5th of July.  Good riding along the rivers with paved bikeways, no climbs or motor vehicles. Soon the bikeways became a little boring, just pedaling along though the little changing scenery.  Not really why I tour but great for making time.  One hundred kilometer plus days are easy.  I finally pedaled off the rivers into Luxemburg, back into the mountains and their ever changing views. 
My hostess in Brussels and I had been talking using What’s App and she suggested that I find my way to Wiltx, Luxemburg and pick up a ravel (pronounced havel) a rails to trails facility and follow it to Bastogne. Then another ravel to Libramont-Chevigny, Belgium to catch a train to Brussels as my time had run out.  No matter how tight my schedule I cannot miss the opportunities of meeting the locals and learning about their lives. So, extra delays always appear on my agenda. 

Marilyn is a great hostess.  She met me at the Brussels train station and we cycled to her narrow 5 story, 100 year old downtown home.  From then on we toured Brussels, watched the Wimbledon finals, ate good meals, worked on her 8 bikes, her son’s commuter and enjoyed each other’s company. 

The Tour de France was exciting and fun.  We walked around the Fan Zone buying once in a life time items, seeing the riders, talking with the sponsors and soaking up the atmosphere on Friday.  Then on Saturday during the Grand Depart I stood on the starting line.  While seeing the wonderful backs of all the taller folks in front of me I watched the start on the big screen in the Royal Plaz.  Sunday brought the Team Time Trial, with a great viewing place within touchable distance of the teams as they flashed by.  It also gave me the opportunity to meet a wonderful family from Tanzania there for the race.  The son is studying architecture in China, the daughter is studying in a Brussels high school and the mother and father work and live in Tanzania.   It was fun sharing with them how the race worked and learning about their very unusual lives. 
Oh, you are talking to an international bike mechanic.  I went to visit a friend in Prague, leaving Marilyn with some instructions on getting parts for her son’s bike.  While in Prague she texted me asking what had to be done with the parts.  After a couple of texts back and forth we got the problem solved.  Think about that process, an American bike mechanic in Prague working on a bike in Brussels. 

The trip to Prague was very nice.  To meet an old traveling friend, share a wonderful city with a food tour and learn about the culture while staying with a local, how much more can I say? 

The road brought me to all I have seen and experienced on this journey.  Over many years letting it decide and direct my travels has always been my way.  I say that like I have a choice, I do not.  I hope the road continues to guide me the rest of my life and maybe beyond

—Bill H.

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