Now, you folks out there who have come to expect a heaping helping of fast boats, and opulent boats, and luxurious boats, and beautiful beaches, and sun streaming down, and blue, blue water here in Swizzle-Town, today’s post is going to be a bit…different.
And this is simply because we’re having a bit of a bumpy re-entry back into the everyday now that the little impromptu magical mystery tour through Bermuda, St Martin, and the BVI has concluded. Of course there are tons of deadlines to meet, and piles of words to write about working out with ORACLE TEAM USA in Bermuda and doing 10 knots on a 64-footer en route to Virgin Gorda, and sailing with a pretty recognizable (and very cool) american sailor up to the Bitter End, but my mind is addled by the crisp sunshine here in soon-to-be-mid August.
So, as a result, the sun-addled mind has drifted back to my very first love…bikes with curved handlebars and skinny tires. And white gravel roads in Tuscany. And the St. Regis hotel in Firenze. And all the good things that happen when you just “head out” and trust that it’s all gonna work out.
Strava tells me I’ve run a couple thousand miles and biked well over 10,000 miles over the last couple of years, but one ride in particular a while back really hit me in the heart. Sure, the blood was pumping, and the sweat was beading, and all that, but what really struck me as I pedaled over ancient gravel roads and through ancient vineyards and uber picturesque olive groves under the hot Tuscan sun was how amazing bike riding in Europe really is.
The fact is mystery and mystique is what made this ride so cool. Mystery, and beauty, and gratitude, and Italianness, and hammering up and down between ancient hill towns south of Firenze and north of Siena–Chianti to those in the know. The mystery came from the fact that I had zero advance knowledge of what sort of cycling Mecca I’d been deposited into. I was learning what all the hub-bub was about when it came to chillin in Toscana, but the cool thing I was learning it all was all absolutely first hand. The sheer beauty of having zero preconceived notions can’t be understated.
What a fantastic, living, breathing, sweating, smiling, Buddhist lesson this ride proved to provide. Zero preconceived notions and dare-I-say zero attachment to any particular outcome and being armed only with a tourist map and a commitment to return to our charmingly uncomfortable villa after an agreed-upon 1.5 hours on the bike was utterly liberating. This would have been the case if my route had only brought me through the various working-class villages on the other side of the Chianti mountains. But it didn’t. Every corner, and climb, and forest, and crossroads, and signpost, and hill town sun-kissed stretch of tarmac was slathered in style, and dipped in mystery like a Bon Bon dipped in deep, dark chocolate. All I had was a trusty tourist map. And trusting the tourist map proved to be providential.
These are the days that I remember.
And riding from London to Monaco (just in time for the Monaco Boat Show!) in the inaugural charity event sponsored by Winch Design in support of the Blue Marine Foundation this Fall is what I’m about to start training for.
Who said there wasn’t going to be any blue water in this post?
Intrigued, right? Check back soon for more details.