Bicycle touring the Blue Ridge Parkway brought many visual treats. Mabry Mill, situated at milepost 176.2 on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, is one such place. The pancakes are pretty good, too!
Neil Anderson, enjoying one of his usual predicaments while on a
bicycle tour across the United States with his wife Sharon....
"This is a truthful book about what it takes to cycle long distance. It doesn't promise a hot shower every day, a warm bed and forget about fine dining. But what you will gain is something money cannot buy, which is the exhilarating bicycle ride of a lifetime."
"Travel with the Andersons through every village, climb the hills and coast the descents ... feel every bump in the road. Their adventure will knock you off your seat and back on the saddle."
Full review here.
|"When it comes time for me to check out of this mortal ball of dirt, I've realized the way I want to go out on my death bed, is by listening to a contest between Neil Anderson and Jim Foreman as to who can tell the absolute best cycling stories. I won't have to worry about getting to Heaven then -- heaven will have come to me." ~ King Leo|
|Seeking a change in their hectic lifestyle, Neil and Sharon opted for simplicity. They chucked the house, the car, the day-to-day grind and loaded up their bikes to head out on the open road. Out there, they encountered a world nothing like the one they left behind.... Check out Neil's armchair travel adventure bicycle touring books: "The Lead Goat Veered Off" about the encounters of cycle touring on the Italian island of Sardinia (Sardegna); and "Partners in Grime" about escaping the urban rat race for a life-altering world bicycle tour, beginning with a bicycle tour across Canada.|
Free excerpt from Partners in Grime
The Big Inning
"We are not rich by what we possess
but rather by what we can do without."
A thud sounded at the back door. Crossing the carpeted entryway, I yarded open a heavy metal storm door, and peered out into all-encompassing blackness. A blast of January air smacked my T-shirted torso like a Polar Express freight train loaded with ice blocks.
"Hello?" I called out.
The greeting vanished, snatched from my windpipe into a maelstrom of whirling snow pellets. A lump of whiteness, unobtrusively blown against the doorsill, rose, pushed past me, and staggered four steps inside before collapsing.
"What do we have here?" I grimaced, recognizing a scrap of multi-coloured scarf peeking forth from beneath a corner of the white mound. Having struggled three blocks from the nearest bus stop through a paralyzing whiteout, my wife appeared more akin to an abominable snowman than I dared mention.
"Yeti!" I exulted, throwing caution to the wind. "Welcome home!" No response. "Ah, life on the edge of the frozen prairie," I muttered, slamming the door.
"Frosty the Snowman?" I guessed.
"Icicles for sale?"
The slumped figure stared at me through ice-rimmed eyes, casting tiny daggers my way.
"Why did the snowman have a grin on his face?" Cold silence met my question. "He heard the snowblower was coming." Did I detect a faint smile from the snowdrift?
"Hoo boy," I said, surveying the mostly motionless heap of melting snow. "Lucky I have a car." Another unblinking glacial glare from behind frozen lashes telegraphed I was not endearing myself to her.
"Guess what?" I intoned, ignoring the wise adage: When one is in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. "We received a wonderful letter from the Sidewalk Police today. They're threatening to fine us severely if the snow's not removed from our sidewalk within 48 hours. I phoned and informed a Gestapo that I had already swept the sidewalk ... should I vacuum it too?"
Sharon rolled her eyes. "You know," she said, finally thawed enough to move her lips, "maybe the rat race isn't all it's cracked up to be ... after all, even if you win, you're still a rat."
I twisted my lips, nodding, and concluded that frozen brains were short on insight. "Maybe," she continued, "we should do something while we're both still young and healthy."
"I don't know ..." Her voice trailed off. She summoned strength and picked herself off the floor. Struggling, she removed her sodden woolen overcoat, and draped its dripping bulk on a peg over the boot tray. "How about cycling around the world?" she asked. "Now's our chance. No kids. No mortgage."
"Hmmm," I heard myself reply. "Sounds good." Warm tropical breezes sashaying amongst palm fronds already danced through my mind like pernicious nymphs. "Anything has to be better than this," I murmured, gazing out at a frozen white world and envisioning turquoise as a perfectly delightful colour for water. "Will there be hills?"
"Of course not," came the sweet reply.
Another free excerpt from Partners in Grime
The convoluted afternoon sky had grown dark -- so dark that streetlights flickered feebly, attempting to illuminate the baleful gloom. I stared heavenward. An uneasiness gripped me.
Anvil-shaped thunderheads had closed within hammering distance. Funnel clouds dangled wispy tendrils earthward.
"It's headed straight this way," Sharon said, calculating the wind direction. She pointed to a restaurant across the road. "I vote for waiting it out."
Being the ever optimist (tailwind!), I taunted her. "It'll pass."
Sharon regarded the sky's sinister features. The wind shrieked like a banshee, rebuking me for even daring to think about challenging its menacing supremacy. "An all-out drenching is assured," Sharon said, and prepared to launch into a full-scale difference of opinion. But before she could, a fellow hopped out of a cow-patty brown aging Buick. Engine running, headlights glimmering, windshield wipers flapping, he ducked under the roof's overhang alongside us.
"Hi," he said with a big smile. He reached out and grasped my cold fingers in a warm and hearty handshake. "My name's Jerry," he introduced himself. "I ride a bike, too."
As the wind gathered intensity, Jerry asked us questions. "I've seen a lot of cyclists go by," he said. "And I've always wondered what you guys carry in all those bags."
While presenting Jerry with a list of essentials we lugged in those burgeoning packs, fat raindrops began splattering the parking lot. Like an overweight tap dancer on a trampoline, pear-shaped globes bounced off the tarmac and leaped against our shins. "Not good biking weather," Jerry judged.
"It'll pass," I said.
The rain turned to hail. Ice particles shot from a pistol-grey sky, ricocheting off the blacktop like wayward bullets at a Serbian wedding celebration. "That would have caused some bruises," I winced. The wind twisted, whirled, writhed, corkscrewed. Hail turned back into rain. Hydrous globules slobbered our bare legs like some over-friendly St Bernard.
"I think your riding is done for the day," Jerry surmised. I nodded. "Can I buy you folks a coffee?" he asked. "My lady works across the road at the coffee bar."
I accepted his kind offer. It sounded a rather salubrious way to spend the next, oh, 24 hours or so. I didn't even have to consult Sharon. Call it male intuition.
We dashed across the road in record time. Carl Lewis would have been proud. I held the door of the Prairie Pantry as Sharon stepped through. "See?" I whispered. "It's passing."
"Yeah," Sharon nodded. "Like a kidney stone. And a good thing about raindrops that size? We can dodge 'em."
As Jerry guided us toward a booth I was thinking that something we had come to term as the 'kindness principle' was in effect. The first time we noticed the rule was on our cycle trip across the States. Whenever we became dispirited -- from rainy weather; a bike breakdown; or just from being on the road too long, far from family and friends -- someone (or something) happened along to rally our spirits. It occurred repeatedly ... so often that we began to wonder if a series of occurrences weren't merely coincidences at all. Perhaps a patron saint really did look after wayward travellers?
Jerry's wife, Ruth, hustled over. While exchanging introductions, pleasantries, and weather forecasts, Ruth offered to buy. "Tips have been good today," she smiled. What a province! Regardless of the weather, that Manitoba hospitality persevered.
Jerry peered out at the fury still swirling in the heavens. The storm had turned, taking another run. "Looks like this cloudburst isn't over yet," he remarked. I'd say his appraisal held water. Ruth brought hot chocolates. Jerry turned to his wife. "How about if we ask these folks if they'd like to spend the night at our place?"
Ruth agreed to Jerry's good idea. "I have to work till 8 pm," she said. "We'll have a late supper." She brought more hot chocolates. We slurped appreciatively, savouring the rich goodness, feeling the warmth flood down into the very depths of our beings.
An hour later, the rain eased to a drizzle. Jerry led us back across the road. While we grabbed our bikes, Jerry hopped into his car (still idling, headlights dim, windshield wipers slapping).
At a stop sign three blocks later, we pulled alongside two mud-spattered mountain bikers. Sharon and I chatted with them, waiting for traffic to clear. In a brief opening, Jerry zipped out. Pedalling at 40 kilometres per hour, Sharon and I glued ourselves to Jerry's bumper. The mountain bikers sprinted behind, trying to catch up. Just when they were about to close the gap, Jerry picked up the pace. Sharon and I, tucked in the big Buick's slipstream, smiled and shifted onto our large 52-tooth chainrings. That was the last we saw of those pretty mountain-biker-dudes-clad-in-sleek-cycling-duds.
"Well at least they look fast," Sharon laughed, glancing at their rapidly diminishing forms in her mirror.
"Bring your bikes through here," Jerry said when we arrived at his place a few minutes later. We pushed our loaded bikes through a backyard gate. There, parked on the grass, was a much-chromed and gold-plated Harley. I laughed. So that's what Jerry meant when he had said, 'I ride a bike, too.'
"Great bike!" I said, admiring the gleaming machine.
"Yeah, I like it," Jerry responded. "Over the winter, I park it in the living room." (And to think, I had felt remiss about working on my bicycle in our basement.) "Come on in," he invited. "I'll introduce you to the kids. Well, only one -- our daughter, Sabrina, is away at Turtle Mountain bible camp." Like a proud, but nervous papa, he added, "She's 13 and drop-dead gorgeous."
We met Jerry's 11-year-old son, Jerry Jr. Or, as Jerry referred to him: "Little Jerry."
We also met Jerry's dog, Sabo -- an intimidating hulk of Doberman-Shepherd. "Good Sabo," I muttered. "Good doggy."
"Just stand still until he gets a sniff of you," Jerry advised. "He's only bitten three people." He paused, and squinted, as if remembering something unpleasant. "Oh, yeah, and mauled one guy."
Sabo smelt us. He liked us. At least he didn't bite us. I wondered if the mauled guy counted as one of the three?
"I'll show you his training," Jerry said. "Sabo! Watch 'em!" The big dog's ears perked. Sabo glared at us and growled. I gulped. A guttural laugh broke from Jerry. "At ease, Sabo." The big dog relaxed. "That's a lot of fun when the sister-in-law comes over," Jerry said. "Your bikes will be safe here tonight."
"No kidding!" (I didn't even bother to lock our bikes that night. I thought it'd be kind of fun, in a sick sort of way, to watch a thief try to steal them ... but a bike wouldn't be much good to someone without legs, would it?)
Jerry glanced at his watch. "I have to get ready for work," he said. "I'm a plant engineer in Neepawa. Actually, it's pretty much a Homer Simpson job," he joked. "I watch dials to make sure the plant keeps cool. It's a pretty good job. Lots of time for doing what I like ... and getting paid for it. I've taken a ton of courses," he said. "Sometimes I play computer chess. In the summer, I spend a lot of time polishing my bike. As long as I keep those dials in the right place I can do anything I want...."
"That's the job I'm looking for!" I said.
"Of course," Jerry said slowly, "if an ammonia line ruptures, you're dead."
Hmmm. Always a downside.
Jerry left. Ruth wasn't home yet. Sharon headed off to shower. I was left alone to entertain Little Jerry.
I took the opportunity to show him some of our biking gear. "This is one cool stove," I said, pulling out our WhisperLite mini flame-thrower.
"How does it work?" Little Jerry queried.
"I'm so glad you asked." Little Jerry was about to receive one brilliant stove demonstration. One he'd still be talking about when he graduated - from university. I assembled the miniature blowtorch on the kitchen table and began pumping the plunger with long and steady strokes, pressurizing the metal fuel canister. "You guys have fire insurance, right?"
Slightly after 8 pm, Ruth arrived home on her mountain bike. Somewhat of a miracle, the house was still standing. Nothing a little ceiling paint wouldn't fix.
"No fender," I said, observing the telltale mud skunk-stripe decorating her backside.
She shrugged. "Yep, hardly ever rains around here. You guys hungry?" As usual, we were.
Ruth set to work frying chicken, boiling baby potatoes, and stirring a big pot of beans. Sharon and I tossed together a cucumber and tomato salad. While waiting, Little Jerry shared a box of chocolate-covered almonds with Sharon and me.
When Little Jerry departed to rent an Arnie video, his mom said, "Those are his favourite! He must really like you guys."
"Yeah," I grunted. "We've bonded." I didn't mention the fab stove demo.
A free excerpt from The Lead Goat Veered Off
Early the next morning, Sharon and I returned to the old Roman bath ruins and wiggled our way through a hole in the chain link fence to explore the ancient site. We had noticed the gap before and had wanted to explore then, but too many watchful townsfolk had been around to risk entering the forbidden zone.
Once we were inside, we were amazed to find the two thousand year old stone arches so well preserved. Even the disused orthogonal spa pools still brimmed with water, albeit fetid and floating with pearls of algae the size of bath bombs. But I had to give the Romans credit -- they sure knew how to build things to last.
Curiosity satisfied, and before we were caught snooping around, we departed our favourite Roman baths. A steep road led us up and out of the river valley. On the ridge top, we stopped for a breather and gazed down on the verdant pastures, their smooth expanses interrupted only by prickly hedgerows of thorny brambles, intertwined with spiky cacti. The impenetrable barrier of tangled vegetation looked more effective at keeping trespassers out, and domesticated quadrupeds in, than any barbed wire fence could ever hope.
Once up on the ridge our route to Paulilatino was effortless and we enjoyed our first easy ride in days, cruising along leisurely through flat sheep ranching countryside. We even came across what must have surely been an entry in the world's shortest train contest.
At Santa Cristina, the site of a three-thousand year old sacred well, we stopped to have lunch. Being winter, the place was deserted; we had the entire area to ourselves. We probably could have tread unmolested to view the holy well (ancients had used it to inaugurate neophyte priests), but there was a sign informing us of an admission charge. So, rather than risk the embarrassment of being caught sneaking in, I ventured into the ticket office.
A swarthy man, his cheeks sporting a stubble salt and pepper beard, ambled his way over to the ticket booth. Seeing him, I felt I fit right in. Since arriving on Sardinia I had adopted a once a week shaving routine myself.
He swung his ample bulk onto a stool and looked at me. I began my query. "Quanto costa?" I said, pointing to my eye to suggest that I wanted to see something, and plucked a Santa Cristina postcard from a nearby rack, held it up to him, and tapped my index finger on its portrayed sacred well. I thought my pantomime was straight forward: "How much does it cost to see the sacred well?"
Bemused, the dark-complexioned chap watched my impromptu antics, cocked his uncoiffed head, and in perfect English, said: "What do you want?" I imagined how ridiculous I must have seemed, and broke out laughing. It had been days since we had met anyone who spoke English and it came as quite a shock.
Switching to English, I quickly determined the cost of admission to the sacred well. Then, curious to find out how someone in a little rural backwater proprietorship had come to speak English so fluently, I asked him.
"I had a very nice Canadian girlfriend who taught me English when I worked at a restaurant in Switzerland," he explained, and extended a hairy paw in greeting. "My name is Francesco," he said. I shook his hand, introduced myself, and glanced around at my surroundings. The sacred well's ticket office was well-situated. In fact, it was inside a modern-day well itself -- a bar.
Three men stood at the bar's counter, watching my interaction with Francesco in fascination. Amused by my theatrical performance, they offered to buy me a beer. I accepted, and a cold brown bottle was slapped into my hand. After only a couple of sips (I swear!), Sharon came in to investigate. The men immediately bought her a beer too. Francesco the ticket seller-turned-bartender, translated both sides of our conversation with the men. After they had learned what we did for a living, we asked them what they did. The first fellow was a plumber, the second was a teacher, and the third was a shepherd. "It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke," Sharon whispered.
Our benefactors, rather than merely jokesters, turned out to be serious beer drinkers. In a few minutes they had downed two more beers each, and had bought us another one, even though we weren't halfway finished with our first.
The plumber and the teacher placed their empty bottles on the counter and excused themselves, explaining they had been on their way home for supper and had momentarily stopped at their favourite watering hole for a quick refreshment.
After they left, the stocky shepherd said, "Since I'm single, I don't have to rush off like the poor underprivileged married men!" He chuckled at his wit and introduced himself as Francesco. Below a shock of black curly hair his rugged face volunteered a day's worth of iron-file stubble. Like other shepherds, two missing teeth rounded out his pastoral appearance. (Obviously, shepherds and dental plans were like submarines and screen doors.) Francesco the Bartender kept up a steady translation as we bombarded Francesco the Shepherd with questions.
He had two hundred sheep, and milked them twice a day -- by hand. No wonder his forearms bulged beneath his navy knitwear! He noticed we were nearing the bottom of our second beers, and offered to buy us another.
"If I have any more, I won't be able to ride," I said.
The two Francescos spoke briefly amongst themselves, then Francesco the Bartender said "No problema. Francesco lives half a kilometer from here and says you can camp on his land. He has lots of space," the bartender assured us. That matter settled, Francesco ordered another round, then deftly slipped out the back door to milk his sheep.
An hour later, he returned and immediately bought more beer. Apparently all that milking made a man thirsty. We helped him drink it of course -- there was obviously too much for him to consume all by himself. At around 8pm (I think -- my watch was out of focus), we made ready to depart and drained our bottles one final time. Since arriving on Sardinia, we had been treated to numerous unsavory accounts from townsfolk concerning shepherds and I was a bit uneasy about going with one, even if he seemed like a fine fellow and had bought me beers all afternoon. As a precaution, I asked Francesco the Bartender if he would swing by the farmhouse when he got off shift. He assured me Francesco the Shepherd was an upstanding citizen, but agreed to drop by anyway.
My shoes felt unusually heavy as I made my way towards the door. My level of intoxication had surpassed my wildest expectations. As I dragged my uncooperative feet past the ticket booth, I had a brief flashback as to why I had originally entered the bar and tittered.
Outside in the fresh air, I mounted my suddenly skittish bicycle. Whoa boy! Francesco the Shepherd climbed aboard his aging Vespa motor scooter. Balancing a voluminous milk can between his knees, he lit a pathway through the black night. Like a pair of amblyopic moths, Sharon and I fluttered after the thin stream of light. All went fine till we rounded a corner and were faced with a stiff climb. Oh dear. The effects of an unknown number of beers hit me full force. I wondered if I were going to imitate Papa Giovanni's German motorcycle friends and have to sleep in the ditch. I even considered briefly whether Sardinia had a law prohibiting impaired cycling. Luckily, I refocused my inebriated attention on the task at hand -- wobbling up that monster slope in near pitch-blackness. I laughed. Sharon was having the same difficulties. Our jelly legs turned the pedals in uncoordinated square motions. In a drunken stupor, we zigged and zagged up the hill, nearly twice crashing into each other. With all that weaving, the half-kilometer to Francesco's felt much longer.
We eventually arrived outside Francesco's property. He flung open the metal gate and led us down a long driveway. As we neared the farmhouse, a pack of dogs yowled up a ruckus, howling as if possessed by the devil himself. In the Vespa's winking headlamp I discerned three fierce brutes shackled at various strategic points throughout the yard and prayed the chains that held them contained no weak links. I tried not to imagine the pain they would inflict on a poor defenseless cyclist if they unexpectedly gained freedom.
I noticed Francesco owned one of the popular three wheeled mini-trucks that constantly plied the island's agrarian roads. Sharon and I always hooted in merriment when a little tri wheeler scooted past us -- minuscule cab crowded with two, sometimes three, pastoralists. The Lilliputian workhorses were frequently struck into service hauling a variety of cargo -- from rocks and dirt to bales of hay and cords of wood. Francesco heaved the milk can into the back of it. Apparently he used his to go to the dairy.
Francesco leaned his motorbike against a woodpile and dashed into the farmhouse to coax a propane lantern to life. He came out and ushered us inside. In the lantern's harsh sphere of illumination, we surveyed our surroundings. A lengthy wooden table occupied two-thirds of the living area. Two accompanying benches resembled furniture rescued from a school cafeteria. I glimpsed a bed in a second room.
Francesco disappeared outside and reappeared with an armload of dry twigs and branches. He arranged them in the fireplace, then snapped a lighter. The tinder-dry pile ignited, twigs and branches instantly ablaze. Francesco positioned two kindergarten-sized chairs directly in front of the crackling inferno, and instructed us to sit. I happily plopped down. Suddenly, recalling chemistry lessons on flammability, I cautiously exhaled in short bursts for fear my boozy breath might create an alcohol flare. I tittered again at the absurdity of my thoughts.
Sharon and I sat facing the fire, staring deeply into the flames like a pair of hypnotized hunchbacked gnomes. Francesco disappeared outside again. A generator sputtered spiritedly, and a fluorescent tube over the table flickered feebly, its ghostly light casting an unearthly glow on the two mesmerized creatures hunched before the fiery gates of Hell.
The generator's roar stirred us from our trance. We glanced around. We were in a combination kitchen-living room. A small sink was tucked into a far recess. Above it, various cooking paraphernalia hung from the ceiling on hooks. Near the sink, an old stove and refrigerator kept each other mute company. The walls were bare, so to speak. In fact, the only artwork consisted of posters of naked women. I looked at Sharon. She reminded me of an edgy feline getting ready to pounce for the nearest exit.
Before she could leap however, Francesco hastened into the room and began to prepare supper. While he worked away, I saw Sharon's eyes wandering, scanning our unhygienic surroundings, lingering on the filthy table, squinting at the half finished bottle of wine there, wincing at the ring of unwrapped sausage next to it, and finally coming to rest on a disgusting pile of olive pits. I could tell she was panicking. She flashed me a look I clearly interpreted as: "Do something! Quick!" Instead, I sat contentedly, tranquillized by the fire's intense heat.
"We'd better get our food and make supper," Sharon said quietly.
She had zero success. As soon as we hauled out our food, Francesco ordered us to put it away. Sit, he commanded. He had made that fire expressly for us, and we had better darn well enjoy it. Sharon squirmed uncomfortably as Francesco poured us each a tumbler-full of homemade wine. Then, he handed us each a plate, stacked high with sliced shepherd sausage and black olives. When he disappeared into the back room momentarily, Sharon hissed her displeasure in my ear, and pronounced the wine "bat urine," the olives "inedible," and the sausage "gristly and impossible to digest."
I thought her culinary review a tad harsh. The fare wasn't all that bad. Okay, so the wine made my stomach do little flip flops, and the olives were a smidgen on the tart side (although nowhere near compared to straight off the branch like I had tried in Spain!). But there were no bones in the chewy sausage. What more could one ask?
Francesco reappeared from the back room cradling a package of pasta. In broken Italian I asked him how long it took to cure the sausage. "One month," he answered. I should have asked, "How old is this particular chunk of congealed fat?" But that was way beyond my capabilities. I happily munched away, nodding pleasantly, thankful for my cast-iron stomach. Sharon glared at me. I interpreted her searing retina rays as: "I can't believe you're actually eating this crap! Have some sense, boy! I can hear your arteries creaking shut from here!" She rolled her eyeballs upwards in disgust -- and caught sight of one of Francesco's nudie posters tacked overhead, the model tastefully spread-eagled. Sharon groaned audibly.
While Sharon fretted, wondering what she had gotten herself into, I was feeling quite relaxed, confident my intuition was correct that Francesco was an all-right guy (although, I realized, my senses were buzzed from sucking back all that alcohol). The bottom line -- I reasoned at the time -- a man with such good taste in art couldn't be all bad.
Francesco asked if we liked pasta. "Si!" Sharon replied heartily, grateful he had finally produced something that looked safe to eat. Francesco said he subsisted on pasta; he ate it three times a day, along with wine, cheese, and, of course, beer. Francesco fired up the propane stove. Soon, the aroma of bubbling meat sauce tickled my nostrils. Within minutes, we were inhaling gobs of penne slathered in a surprisingly palatable homemade meat and tomato sauce, topped with expansive quantities of fresh parmesan, and all washed down with a strong white wine. What a life!
I was about to dig in for a second helping when Francesco the Bartender made his entrance. He joined us at the table, grabbed a plate, and aided me in polishing off the remainder of the pasta. Slurping appreciatively, I finished my second helping, ready for dessert. Instead, aromatic homemade wine with a high alcohol content was served. During the next two hours my glass was never allowed to reach less than half before Francesco the Bartender topped it up. To make it appear that I was drinking the stuff, I stealthily poured my wine into Francesco the Shepherd's glass whenever he got up and tended the fire.
Francesco the Bartender complimented Francesco the Shepherd on his fine wine-making skills, proclaiming the wine "excellent," and insisting he should know because he had served some of the best wines in the world when he worked at various deluxe Swiss resorts. The wine reminded me less of a world class beverage, and more of something that had fermented an indeterminable time in a tepid rubber boot. Maybe one had to grow up on the stuff? Although, I had to concede, it was ten times more palatable than the other shepherds' hut brew I had the misfortune to sample. Noxious liquid that -- I was just beginning to brush my teeth again.
Francesco disappeared into the back mystery room, and reappeared holding a giant Tupperware container. He popped the lid and a pungent odour leapt forth. "It must be ready," Sharon deadpanned. Using a fork, Francesco the Shepherd prodded the shepherd's cheese out of its mouldy casing, and the two Francescos lovingly spread the soft creamy-coloured substance over hunks of crusty bread. I followed suit.
Francesco the Bartender smacked his lips approvingly, and loaded up another chunk of bread. I spit mine into a napkin and discretely slipped the half-eaten prize into my pocket for further aging. There wasn't enough mould yet.
Francesco the Shepherd returned the cheese to the back room for safe storage while Francesco the Bartender whipped up coffees in teeny mugs. Francesco reappeared hoisting a bottle of Cointreau in one hand, and a bottle of home-distilled White Lightning in the other. Sharon and I nursed our robust coffees with four sugars; the two Francescos doctored theirs with sugar and moonshine.
Cheery embers glowed in the hearth. At the stroke of midnight, Francesco the Bartender assured us again of Francesco's integrity, bid us goodnight, and left for his home in Paulilatino.
We got our Therm-a-Rest pads and sleeping bags off our bikes and unrolled them on the red tiles of Francesco's kitchen floor. Francesco lit the lantern hanging from the ceiling and ventured outside. The noisy generator clunked to a stop. Francesco returned, and clanged shut the heavy metal farmhouse door. Then, he bolted it. Still not completely satisfied, he took a kitchen chair and braced it against the already locked, industrial strength, metal door's doorknob. I wondered if all country folk were normally so paranoid? The way I saw it, he didn't even have to close the door. After all, there wasn't anything on God's green earth that had even half a chance of getting past those demon dogs!
|"[...] Whether it was a series of one day adventures, a week's worth, or two weeks' worth, or an adventure like yours and Sharon's [bike touring narratives] all affected me the same way; I want to get on my bike and ride. So, Neil, thanks for your excellent narrative because like all the others, it worked its magic on me [...]" ~ Ed Beckers|
Titles by Cycle Logic Press are available in bookstores everywhere or you can order today direct from Cycle Logic Press. Click "Buy Online" for secure credit card orders; or in Canada and the United States phone your order toll free to 1-866-825-1837. If you are a resident of Canada or the US and prefer to pay by cheque, you may send a cheque to Sharon Anderson, Box 2B C8, 432 Campbell Avenue, Coalmont BC, V0X 1G0. Books are $20.00 each plus a shipping charge of $5.00 per book. As well, feel free to email Sharon and Neil Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org
We offer bulk discounts to cycle stores, bicycling clubs, and other bookstore outlets.
Welcome to Cycle Logic Press. My name is Neil Anderson. I was born and raised in Princeton, BC. After graduating from Princeton, I moved to Edmonton, Alberta, married, and obtained a degree in Education. Along the way, my wife, Sharon, and I found time for cycle touring the world. Our first, longer than two weeks cycle tour, was to ride across the United States from the west coast to the historic town of Williamsburg, Virginia on the east coast. After getting a taste for life in the saddle, we decided to go a bit farther. We spent eighteen months bicycle touring western Europe, five months cycling around the North and South Islands in New Zealand, and then three months in Australia from Sydney through the outback to Ayers Rock and Alice Springs. We've also ridden an amazing long distance cycle tour across this great country where we live, Canada. I hope to get more photos of that journey online soon. Sharon and I currently reside in the peaceful community of Coalmont, British Columbia, with our two children, Norman and Kiaira. We eagerly look forward to our next bike touring adventure together.
|"I read your latest book [Partners in Grime] and it was a fun read [...] Just the thing to get the juices flowing as the touring season arrives." ~Kathleen Perreault|
|"[Partners in Grime] is an excellent and humorous read and what touring is all about. I have ordered the earlier book [The Lead Goat Veered Off] and await the next two forthcoming. I found this book through the Adventure Cyclist mag that I get." ~Jerry Daminato|
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Thursday, May 1, 2008