Distance: 44.6 miles, Average speed: 9.8 mph, Nearest town: Street
I’m cycling alone, but the number of fun conversations I’ve had is actually becoming a problem for my daily progress, in terms of miles. It started soon after I woke. A woman was camping next to me with her 3 kids. They had quite a setup. She pulled a trailer behind her car that contained their tent, cooking shelter, cozy long chairs, bikes, and more. Her trailer started to make me think of the Herminie’s magic bag, in a recent Harry Potter movie. We talked about camping, distance running, my cycle trip, and more.
The owner of the campground is an older man but very young in spirit. One time, I asked one of the other staff members where he was. I think it was his daughter. She responded with something like, “E’s around ere somewhe, can never keep track o’em.” Like a lot of folks I’ve met, he thought I was Canadian. One possible reason is that Canada is part of the British Commonwealth, so Brits and Canadians travel back and forth. Not surprisingly, another reason is that Minnesota boarders Canada. After one of our final conversations, he said, “I’ll see you before you leave.” I was running late when I left, but I still made a point to drive by the reception building, catch his attention, and give him a wave good-bye.
Around 2pm, I saw a handmade sign I always have a tough time passing, “Farm shop.” The shop was a fun collection of vegetables, fruit, jam, and other treats. I’m pretty sure the guy at the till owned the farm. He just looked like an experienced farmer, with a friendly yet gravelly voice. He made some suggestions for veggies that would work with the most common meal I’ve been making, rice and __________ along with some ________ and maybe some ________. Rice travels well in my limited space and works with everything, especially vegetables, which I’ve been enjoying a lot in recent years. I also bought some ice cream at the store, which I haven’t had since I started. It was made nearby, in Bath.
Whenever I thanked the farmer/shop keeper, he’d usually respond with “You’re very welcome, very welcome.” He suggested I have the ice cream in garden. An American translation is appropriate here. In Britain, a garden is not just where you grow things. It’s what Americans call a back yard, usually with a lot of flowers. I thanked him, walked into the garden, and started adjusting some bits on my bike. He walked out of the shop and said “You can have a seat if you like. You’re very welcome to.” I thanked him again and said I would after I finished with my bike.
I finally sat in a chair, enjoyed the flowers, and especially the ice cream. I was almost finished and started thinking about where I needed to cycle to next. The man walked out of his house, which was next to the shop, and asked, “Would you like some tea or coffee? You’ve very welcome.” I thanked him again and said that I would enjoy it but that I needed to cycle more miles. And he responded, “Alright, but just so you know…” You can guess. I hope I didn’t make him sound “overly social” or bothersome at all. If I had the time, I may still be talking with him. I could hear cows very near the; store. I would have enjoyed learning about his farm. Since I’ve been traveling through farmland, I’ve been thinking of Bob Kleve, my brother-in-law. He grew up on a farm, and I think he would enjoy seeing the farms here, just learn how they’re similar & different to American farms.
Another type of person I meet is other cyclists, always when they’re passing me. They usually make a fun comment about my bike or how much I’m carrying.
I hope I’m not carrying on too much about this, but another fun conversation today occurred at the youth hostel I’m staying at, near the town of Street. Andrew, at the reception desk, said he’s gotten to know a lot about the end to end ride because cyclists often stop by here. He told me about the different types of cyclists that show up, and especially how people who carry a tent are often looking for a reason to get rid of it and the rest of their camping gear to reduce weight. I commented that I was doing ok. Then, I couldn’t help but have some fun and said, “Hey Andrew, I might have something that’s a little different than what you’ve seen before. I’m on a folding bike.” He was genuinely surprised and curious. We spent some time looking and talking about my bike.
Ok, one more fun conversation. Two women in their late 50s were sitting at picnic table when I rolled in. It had a great view from the hill the hostel is on top of, which I had to climb to get here, ugh. Anyway, one of them asked about folding bikes because she’s thought about getting one. The other asked about camping. I’ve passed by both as I made my rice & veggies for supper and talked some more. They spent a few days with friends at a nearby farm, did some bird-watching after that, and got caught in the same downpour I got caught in yesterday.
I forgot to mention, the cycling was ok too. Many flat stretches, perfect weather, and a few towns that really do look like time forgot about. Most of the buildings in these towns were very old stone, quite a few had thatched roofs, and most had flowers in pots or window boxes. There were also several monuments to soldiers of the Big War and fun little city centers. It’s now 10:30 pm, past my bedtime.