The hotel breakfast buffet was available, true to style, on a tray (no plate) and fitted into the remand centre feeling of the whole place. I managed to be packed and ready by nine thirty, a careful look at the sky and at the rather excellent windy.com app with rain radar confirmed my feeling that today would be a good day to put the linings into jacket and trousers and to keep the rain oversuit handy. I got onto the autoroute and headed up towards Dijon then, after another rain radar check, went right and followed Besançon and Mulhouse. Rain started as drizzle then in waves and by Mulhouse was getting persistent so oversuit on and pressed on. I then went up the French side to Strasbourg then crossed here into Germany. From here on I had near-biblical storms, the whole autobahn slowed down to 50 kmh and bow waves formed around all vehicles. Porsches were left floundering in the waves on the right side and I pressed on in the middle. Traffic was appalling and I cursed myself for not staying on the French side up to near Germersheim which is almost always far more pleasant and fun to drive. Anyway, too late for that. Rain abated slightly by Heidelberg and the last bit was just a slog up the hill to get home.
It was a very memorable trip, clocked around 3700 km (2300 miles), the bike (a Triumph Tiger 885 t709) was a rock and greatly improved with its new fork springs which were put in with a service and TüV by Bikebrothers before I left. There were a few issues with it running a bit too lean but nothing that really slowed me down (winter project). The navigator, a Garmin Zumo 590 was excellent and in combination with bluetooth speakers in my helmet was a great helper and guider on all routes. I shall do an extra page on other kit and a comment on my kit list, as usual, I think I took a lot more than I actually needed.
It has been an opportunity to see new many things and, at last, the Pyrenees but also to spend time thinking about where I´m coming from and where I would like to go, what´s important and what I can do without. I spent a lot of time thinking and remembering my time in orthopaedic trauma, various special cases which have stuck in memory and also the many which have greyed with time but were important stepping stones for me and, as always, for the patient concerned. I was very glad to have been able to make it to the Larrey museum in Beaudéan, to have seen the exhibits there and to have seen the film and met the actor who had the lead role and also to speak to him about the person Larrey. Larrey also had difficulties combining his professional/surgical life with his family life and I´m sure that I´m not the only member of the profession who has tried hard to cover both bases and failed here and there. I was also glad to meet the guy who was walking from Nuremburg to Santiago de Compostela and hope I was able to help him along a bit at a difficult moment, I hope he can find the strength to make it on his camino. The Pyrenees area was beautiful if occasionally a bit wet on the French side. It is definitely different from the alps in the sense of geology and climate, but has an equivalent charm, has some fantastic roads for motorcycling, or bicycling I suppose, and is a bit wilder, the peaks are every bit as impressive. Finally, I was also grateful to find a place to say “goodbye” to Nick and for two days to spend with Jon which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Did I come back a different person? No, not really, but I did come back with a better sense of perspective over the way that I had come so far and had maybe laid one or two ghosts to rest. I have realised the importance of making small steps every day and of making the effort to take these small steps.
“Auch ein neuer Tag fängt dunkel an.”mihi
translates as “even a new day starts in the dark.”mihi