"Why do you like cycling so much?" Cameron asks as he bounces deliriously on the bedsprings of the cheap
And now I don't know whether I got my distance and gradient calculations right, if we can get there or not in the time we have available, whether we should have ridden further and faster in the first four flat weeks, whether we should change the goal (and all the arrangements we have made for bike return transport, accommodation and onward travel), whether we should keep trying, whether everyone wants to carry on (or even wanted to go in the first place) or whether the whole business has become more of a chore than a happy family outing. And Cameron thinks I like cycling!
There's a day like today in all our family expeditions; a point at which it all seems impossible and pointless, at which the pain seems to be outweighing the pleasure, a time when fate and fortune seem to play with us, when our fortitude is challenged and faith in our own abilities tested.
Today the weather cooled off and we made good progress on smooth flat tarmac; was good fortune with us after days on hilly gravel trails in oppressive heat? Then the growing cloud cover threatened rain; is that better or worse than sun? Is the weather for or against us?
We arrived early in Donauworth, at the confluence of the rivers Worntiz and Danube. Taking time to relax we viewed skeletons of saints in the churches, picnicked and waltzed the Blue Danube by the river, ate ice-cream, drank coffee, soaked up the Saturday morning atmosphere, bought a badminton set to play with and had fun as a family down by the river. Tiredness forgotten, it all seemed worth it for just an hour or two like this.
Then an accident on the road; Matt got his fingers caught in the chain. Some nasty cuts needed roadside first-aid. Fate screamed STOP NOW and get straight back home you irresponsible parents. Two pedestrians stopped, offered to find a doctor and give us a room for the night in a nearby village. Was the universe saying 'Don't be hasty, take time to decide.'
Matt said he was OK, he wanted to cycle on. Only eight yet strong and brave in difficult circumstances, he showed great fortitude. Implicit in his action he tells us all we can do this if we want to, together as a family, even if it hurts a bit. We used the strength in our legs to ride to
We wandered around
There's no denying we've bitten off a challenge in this journey but in a sense that's the point. Having that clear, stretching goal creates a focus, narrative and drama that shapes the experience and helps create the rounds of highs and lows that are the holiday from the routine of regular everyday living.
"Why do I like cycling so much?" I'm not sure that I do but I think I maybe addicted to the intensity of experience we create around it and the way dealing with that brings us together as a family and team.