I twisted my ankle that first day. I was nervous on my bike. A stop and a small crowd in front of me cause me to break, not get my foot out of the holster on time and topple over. Of course! What's the best thing to do before going on a biking trip? Hurt yourself!
Those first days of riding my unloaded bike were eye opening. I felt nervous every time I came to a stop sign. People crossing I held my breath. I knew how to ride a bike. I rode a bike in Cambodia. I rode a bike in Asian traffic, I told myself. Yet pedestrians and designated bike lanes were testing me.
Now my ankle was hurt and I was scared. It was bad. Really bad but I couldn't let Jonathan know. We couldn't afford to stay in Barcelona for it to heal. We had booked dates till Venice. If we stayed everything would go down the drain because of my lack of literal stopping power.
We decided to stay an extra day in Barcelona. I rested, he rode. That day I remember thinking how this had been a mistake. I had a twisted ankle and now this adventure was a day away and I had no clue what the hell I was doing. I had unsuspectedly dragged Jonathan a long with me and now there was no turning back.
He came back from a day of riding alone. Happy and sweaty telling me about how he was trying to find an empanada with no success. I felt guilty I had dragged him into this with me.
The next day was D day for me.
The last dash to get things done and pack up and ride to the ferry that would take us to Italy.
I had never ridden on a weighted bike.
I had never ridden on a weighted bike in a city.
and it was raining.
I had naively bought too much food for us. My two front panniers designated for carrying our food were full. Literally this was the first time I felt the weight of what I was trying to do. The bike was around 70 pounds. It was a solid brick I would barely move walking.
Jonathan knew this was going to be hard and we planned for a couple of "laps" around the neighborhood to acclimate me to a weighted bike. Right from the get go I couldn't do it. I couldn't steer. I couldn't get control of the bike. I fell and crashed. Try again. Jonathan holding the back of the bike to give me a push like a child and again I crash.
I can't do this. I physically can't do this. I can't steer that bike. We are fucked. We have three hours to get to that ferry but I can't ride to it. And now what? I can't ride a loaded bike? All of this and I can't do it. This is where the dream dies? I can't steer the bike. Now what?
I felt fear. Finally it had hit me. True fear of realizing I can't do this. All I had been fearing was true. It wasn't an idea. It had materialized. I really couldn't do this and now I would have to give up before we even begun.
I went to upstairs to the apartment one last time to use the restroom and I prayed. Maybe it is hypocritical of me to have done this, being I am not a practicing anything but, I prayed. I asked my grandmothers and "mi angelito" and god and the universe and anything and anyone out there to help me out. To give me strength. I was scared more than I ever have. I could feel the tears well up inside. I could feel the knot in my throat threatening to break me. I knew that if I started crying then it really was over. I couldn't let that happen.
This was it. I needed to somehow figure out how to steer a loaded bike in the next ten minutes or this is as far as I got.
When I got back down Jonathan has switched his lighter front panniers with my food loaded ones. His bike was a monster. Carrying my stuff and his. I didn't know how he could do it. After failing to carry the weight myself, seeing him carry all of it and then some amazed me. He was so strong. Strength I didn't even know he had. I got on the bike one more time and I was able to ride. Bittersweet success.
That ride to the ferry I just focused. Just get there. Don't break down. You can't. You need to make it. You need to stop and go when you need to and just go. I was holding it all in. I was petrified inside and yet I was moving. I was making myself move. My ankle hurt and my fear kept threatening a break down. I couldn't let myself go there. I just had to get there.
When we arrived to the harbor Barcelona has a statue of Christopher Columbus pointing to the sea. I looked up and saw it and laughed. How appropriate to have it point out to sea as I go on our own adventure to the unknown. For a brief moment there I even felt a kindred with Columbus. I was scared. I wonder if he was scared sailing into the horizon himself.
After the rain, the falls and the fear we had made it to the ferry and were bound for Italy.