Our lonesome, solo cyclist is making his way across Hungary, then Romania followed by Bulgaria and finishing of by crossing western Turkey to Istanbul. Dont get to excited and get a cold beer in celebration just yet as there are plenty of miles, mountains and villages
to conquer yet. Solo travel, cycling, touring, loaded touring, and adventure cycling are by-words for an event such as this.
Mom is already at 32,000 feet and smiling I guess as she wings her way home. Meantime its a hot, humid morning here in Budapest as I work my way out of the almost 2 million souls that comprise the city on an average day. First stop was to find a tiny foundry known for its high quality castings. Since I have interest in that sort of stuff and it was within 25 miles of my route anyways, I stopped in and yes we had a visit about possibly doing some work with them in the future.
BUT, my bike was not running as it should. My new Shimano hub was not giving me the juice to charge…..and I was on the lookout for shop to have it looked at. I am in the middle of a very heavy industrial area, keep that in mind. Rail tracks knit the ground everywhere, and semis and small delivery trucks are like ants. My main goal is to just live thru it all at this point. Whoosh goes the semi………….and right ahead of the semi is a nice black BMW 2 door with a fellow who just swung the door open……..its now a 1 door BMW along with a crunched front fencer where the rear semi tires ran up. Guess what, amidst that exploding glass and plastic body parts?………there it was on the left, tucked in between metal munchers and rebar crunchers…..Eurovelo and the great mechanic Istephan Visi. Look him up if your ever thru thzt area…..he’s located right across the street from an accident. That should be easy to find.
My route leads me almost due east towards Timisoara, and yes I confess it was very hot and muggy with the humidity. No shade like I had become used to in Poland, no clouds till late after noon. Just pedal and wonder how Moms flight home was, or how was Nevada’s and Uncle Bills class with Eddy Mardis / Shawn Didyoung and Russell Yates? Fun I bet, as I sit here pedaling away. No, not feeling sorry for myself, I understand I am being given a chance to do something very special by a wife who is willing to shoulder the burden I place on her. Thanks Mom, your the best…..and when I get home I am going to let you pick whatever you want off the McDonalds menu. My treat.
Some miles south of Timisoara I encountered what I will call pretty incidental hills. But the next ay my knees where killing me. The goal was to tackle the Trans Alpina thru Romania. But given what is taking place I made a choice that would allow me to hopefully conclude this jorney not be medically unfit before it was done. Yes, I turned due south back towards the shores of the mighty Danube.
It was the ckickety clack or shod horses, and two young men in folk costumes that caught my attention as I cycled slowly thru another tiny village in Hungary. Not sure what I was watching, I walked over to a fellow holding a movie type camera, and asked him the best could what the event was that was about to take place. The celebration of the Grain Harvest by wnich bread is made and by which we take communion was the reply. I stood around for a good hour, letting the crowd of participants and spectators build. More and more teams showed up, thier wagons festooned with wheat sheaf decorations, the occupants dressed in thier finest attire. MIRKO, was introduc3d to me, and he spoke enough english to be my chaparon and translator for the event. As it turns out, Mirko has 2 sons whom have both moved to USA as well as his youngest daughter. MIRKO has visited Miami and Washington DC, loves it, but his home town will remain his home town. The parad3 begins, with horse and riders out front, sheparding the wagons that follow, down the street in parade format to the Orthodox Church where a mass is held, communion, and then a paprade to town center where a meal is served. I WAS invited to the meal, but sorry MIRKO, i passed so as not to offend anyone with how badly I smelled. Maybe next time amigo, we will break bread together and call upon Jesus to bless us and our families in 2 different languages at the same time.
Right now tonight, I am sitting in an extremely noisy outdoor bar in Kovin Serbia. They are celebrating thier cities birthday 1617, I think is what they said. And they have the volume knob twisted right off the the sound system. The base notes are spilling coffee out of my cup, the guy at the next table is hummimng wildly in his beer suds.. thats the prelude to a walk I just took.
Noticed a handsome guy making something I had never seen before…….sort of a decorative lace type waffle. I ask him if he speaks English….yes, very well he replies. And the visit ensues, in my native tongue…..no guessing, no google translate. Ends up he flies private jets, hes the pilot not the wing washer or ashtray emptier. I only go America once too see the man my father shot down during the Balkan conflict. Matter of fact, if I have it correct. It was the only US jet shot down during that war. They made a movie about it called 21st Second, that was the time to impact. As it ends up, both service men had a great visit, both profesional soldiers and understanding of each mans role. Quite a visit for me.
Riding down the road, a small village and a smokin hot day that melts your icecream before you get it out of the store. I sit out front, under yet another beer company awning and share the days thoughts with 5 locals. We cover politics, love Trump……..my kind’a guys….I bought them all a beer….PBR. A wood splitter, a painter, a brick layer, a bum and a saddlemaker decided no borders and less politicians and thier cousin burro-crats would make for a nearly perfect world. Here in Serbia, $200 euro will hire a journeyman anywhere any day of the week. Serbia is only good for the political class, not good for the working man they told me with no room for joking…….sorry folks the band just kicked into a folk round dance and hannah montana just asked me up for the rubber chicken two step…….who was I to refuse a women with a bigger moustache than myself. Hell I was born doing the rubber chicken. Hard to type with this much sweat on me, feels like my overly loose shorts will fall off…….hope she doesnt think thats to forward of me. Thank god, a waltz, I will have too dance with her brother now…..jist my luck.
Back to the blog they are going to leave me alone for a while I think. Passing thru another tiny village just this morning, slight drizzly rain falling, stray dogs cross the road with no interest in anyone, stray cats……..none. I can hear a tractor and heavy saw running behind a steel fence. Wholly crap, I may have to change bars folks my head is rattling. So, I walk up to the 2 ladies visiting on the sidewalk and ask/pantomime the sound I can hear. COME, says the bigger gal. COME ME. I follow along like a heel trained pup. We get behind the fence where an antique Soviet tractor direct drives a homemade saw mill made for dangerously remove fingers and cut up firewood which is always cut into 39″ lengths and not cut smaller till later when it arrives at this guys shop. His job is cut it all into 3 equal length pieces and split it in half or thirds. So he sweats and cuts, while his wife splits and SWEATS, yes the same bigger gal that let me in.
Then there was Mike standing on the sidewalk, wiping sweat from his brow, two empty beer and a longing look on his face. A pile of wood was at his feet, and a hot axe standing at his side. His 3 toothed smile welcomed me in like an “AIRCONDITIONED” sign does when crossing the desert. He wanted to know all about me, what I did, where I was from, why was I in his town….to which I lied a little. I told him I had heard about him as the fastest wood splitter in Serbia…..another huge 3 toothed smile……I think deep down he knew I was yanking his wooden leg.
GYPSY HIEST……..at arms length or front seat view as it was……….Fresh tomatoes, a chunk of Mangalica pig that had been smoked. I sat on a bike bag for a stool, the sky to the west had run the color spectrum out of color as the sun began to rise somewhere over the horizon. My tent was all set up in the back of a walnut grove, a 1960,s Soviet cement post and chain link fence makes up my picturesque backdrop. Feet?………..a bunch of feet……….CENTIPEDE i am thinking……….turning around to be greeted with the smiling faces of not one but 7 GYPSIES. Thats the equivalent of bathing in blood before swimming in the shark tank folks. Anytime you see a Gypsy smiling you know danged well he has just spotted what he plans on owning in 10 minutes.
Each smiles in turn, throws a gunny sack thru a hole in the chain link fence and dissappears into tall weeds like a rehearsed Las Vagas act. Stealing corn was my guess. Not to worry thier hands are full they cant take my bike or pants if thats the case. I strip and commence my evening shower. I am pouring not as warm water as I would like over my filthy goose bumps and have water in my left eye when I notice the smiling corn thieves are actually as surprised as me and watching a naked Caucasian wash his………..well he was washing. Its about now I pay more attention than the first time around, there are 4 women in this group, all under 20 except for one. SMILE I say too myself….. its an international symbol for, I am friendly, I am naked, I am caught, and whay the hell are you CORN THIEVES just standing there. I grap my only clothing close at hand and immediatly cover my left elbow. They, throw bags that CLUNK, what the hell, since when does corn clunk.
In unison, they turn and head back into the weeds again. I finish up my washing and get properly dressed into something with sequins this time and some fringe on my socks. Here they come hunched down low, only this time they are all carrying items that are to large for the bags and they also clunk when thrown down. They are stealing STEEL from out of the refinery someplace. The youngest felow sprints past me, the others duck down beside the fence……..I dont think they even noticed my sequin outfit. Here he comes with Native Dancers full brother long trotting, pulling the roughest built Gypsy wagon I have ever seen. Like fine a tuned precision drill team, they chuck bags and scrap into the wagon and are on board quicker than Seal Team 6 left Bagdad. CLUCK, CLUCK, and a slap of the riens on Mr. EDS BUTT, and a smiling crew of gypsy night robbers was off in a spray of broken grass and walnut leaves. This will go down in the annals of history as one of the greatest hiests pulled off at the refinery. Darn near $3.47 cents worth of scrap metal yanked in just one nocturnal escapade. Folks, there is no way of telling when the huge smoke stack at the refinery is going to fall, but I bet the day that that news makes the headlines…….there is a smiling gypsy somewhere who knows more the rest of the story.
Sitting this afternoon, eating ice cream while sitting on a park bench as my electrical tech stuff charged up in my room. Hello she says, a beautiful young wome rolls up right in front of me to the town fountain, shes on a loaded tour bike. A few seconds later her boyfriend rolls up to join us and a touring cycle gab fest breaks out. There dream trip is too make it around the world, so the best I can, I tell them about my own trip. We share notes on roads and routes, as they are headed for Istanbul as well. Both are 4th year students at a University in Austria. Both are students of Phychiatry, have a blessed journey Nadja and Daniel our paths may cross yet again as a very fit Daniel was having knee issues identical to my own.
I cant tell you in words just how much fun it has been over the last 2 months or however long it has been. Yes, there are those days that complaining and selfpity take thier selfish toll on my blessings . But the Lord knows perfectly how to throw in someone or thing to bring me back to the reality of what he has laid before me….the health to make the trip, the safe roads, the people whose lives are tougher and rougher than any I have endured. Those same people have greeted me with a smile, and are eager to visit with me. Thanyou Jesus, bless those who take a moment to read this.