A day of respite and clothes washing in the ancient university town of Pavia at the confluence of the Ticino and Po rivers.
I missed the memorial for Victoria Amelina. So tired after yesterday on so many different road surfaces in 27ºC heat. I had the link to call in to Boston at midnight. Set the alarm. It woke me but I was so deeply asleep I turned it off, thinking I’d set it wrong for the morning. Vic and her Poem About a Crow had been on my mind the last few days as the range of Carrion crows faded and Hooded crows became dominant. Known as the grey crow in Ukraine, Ворона сіра (in Lviv) or Corvus cornix (in Rome?) we had planned to go birdwatching in Ukraine after V-day. “If we don’t do anything to stop war crimes, who are we?” she wrote before she was killed in a war crime three months ago.
Walkmeter, not a heron, has been my tool for tracking this adventure. Like the pair of us cyclegrims, it runs out of energy from time to time. And the other day, we had a series of battery management issues because our phones burned up lots of power searching as we went in and out of coverage.
So I’ve restarted Walkmeter from the town of Bard. It’s a shame but Walkmeter wasn’t designed for 2000 kilometre workouts and once we hit the 999.99 kilometre milestone, lots of little things started to go wrong. The customer support team were great and advised me that there are limitations with using Google or Apple mapping APIs when the ‘workouts’ get this big.
Our journey to Bard was 1167.01 kilometres (sum of segments 1127.01 recorded + 11 + 3 + 1 +25 lost).
We’ve been using Komoot extensively as our main journey planning tool. We also use Google maps from time to time. And then everything was being captured and broadcast from Walkmeter. Komoot has this capability too but it can be quite unwieldy when on a bike and burns battery if you don’t use offline maps. Walkmeter runs in the background simply recording without any rider interaction.
Wow, is Edwina using Walkmeter to track us? Is that how she keeps appearing?
And Edwina knows to add 1167 to any number you see in Walkmeter to get the true distance. So the distance to Pavia has been 1167 + 158 or 1225 km from Canterbury. The purists will add another 555 km for the leg from Manchester to Canterbury last year which means these cyclegrims have covered 1770 km together so far. And there are still another 700 km before Rome.
By the way, we’ve got better about managing the excess calories needed to cycle these distances. A simple way to look at this is that the average male recommendation is 2500 per day. Call it 2400 or 100 per hour. Walkmeter estimates that 4 hours cycling burns about 3200 calories or 800 per hour. That’s 700 per hour in excess of normal function. So that’s why our fuel intake has to be about 5600 calories per 5 hour-cycle-day. We typically eat three meals a day plus four or five big snacks. Even the eating can be exhausting.
And here’s another thing I notice that is very different between walking and cycling. When walking, slow relative to cycling, there is a pace and a rhythm to the stepping. That rhythm, the cadence, facilitates contemplation, at least in the early stages of the day. Deep reflective thoughts are harder to achieve on a bicycle. The canals of France and the 15 km dyke we cycled yesterday are flat enough that a rhythm is possible but vigilance is still required. Potholes, traffic and centipede crossings are unpredictable. The need for hyper-vigilance is rare when walking though maybe wolves will change that.
And finally, an observation on recovery rates. I used to take a day or more to recover from a 50 km walk – call it ten hours effort. It takes me a shower and less than an hour to recover from a 80 km cycle. And yet, during the workouts, I hit my limits on the bike quite regularly but rarely when walking.
And finally, I think there’s a daily lifetime memory from the lifetimes lived among the lifetimes we cycle through. What an adventure! And my wife was right when she said Vic would have laughed at my turning off the alarm.