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Old 09-10-05, 03:55 PM   #1
Ken Brown
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Realizing a Dream

I recently read a column in a newspaper by a man who had realized his dream of buying a motorcycle once he turned 50. It reminded me of my own dream, recently realized, of cycle-touring in Europe.

For at least 25 years I had maintained this dream. I had done a couple of three-day tours here in North America in the late Ď70s, and I came awfully close to cycle-touring in Ireland at that time. I had researched and selected my itinerary, decided that May was the best month to do the trip, had bought some of my equipment, and but for some reason I never did book the flight.

Fast forward to 2002, I was 57 years old, and I was no longer working full-time. I had bought a new bike the previous fall and decided on a touring bike, though I was unsure that I would ever use it for that purpose. I do not know what finally sparked my resolve, but I told myself it was now or never and began my research. During the preceding seven years I had developed a great interest in rail trails so the allure of Ireland was supplanted by the thought of Holland or some other location where there were bike paths. I no longer like sharing the road with cars and trucks, and climbing hills is not as much fun as it was when I was younger.

My favourite European cycling website was the Trento Bike Pages, and I started perusing peoplesí trip reports for a possible destination. The Danube jumped out of me, and I also found a few reports about the Taurn Radweg, a path that starts in the Alps and ends at the Danube in the city of Passau. I had to do it, to combine these two paths for a 650 km trip.

October 1st found me on a nonstop flight to Vienna, just me, my bicycle and my gear. I am not going to describe the trip here (you can see my photos and read my trip report at http://webhome.idirect.com/~brown/austria1.htm ), but let me emphasize here that the trip was everything I hoped for and will remain a highlight of my life for as long as I live. Am I ever glad I didnít leave this dream unfulfilled!

I had set a target to average 50 km/day (30 miles), which a couple people told me was not much. However I seldom cycled that far on a weekend ride, and to do it day after day, with loaded panniers, seemed daunting. I was also worried about knee and neck pain that had been bothering me that summer. However I found that I got stronger as the trip progressed, and averaged 65 km with a high of 91. My pains got better, not worse, as I spent more days in the saddle.

I think I inspired an old college friend, a relative newcomer to cycling. The following spring we did a 5-day tour in the 1000 Islands region of Ontario and New York. That fall I returned to Europe, solo, and cycled the Rhine and Mosel rivers (http://webhome.idirect.com/~brown/mosel1.html ), a trip almost as good as the first. My friend and I have done two more 4-day trips in Quebec and are planning a longer trip next spring along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and into Pennsylvania. Next fall I want to get back to Europe.

I turned 60 just before our Quebec trip this spring, a psychological milestone that had me wondering whether it might be too much. I passed the test unscathed. I still feel some pressure to get my touring in while I still can, but if I keep my health I could have many more trips.

I enjoy reading postings such as the one by Digital Gee (Woohoo!!! 500 miles!!!). We should all strive to attain our goals, whatever they are, now that we are 50+.
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Old 09-10-05, 06:38 PM   #2
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I enjoy reading postings such as the one by Digital Gee (Woohoo!!! 500 miles!!!). We should all strive to attain our goals, whatever they are, now that we are 50+.
At 65, and after today's arrhythmia episodes, my goal is 66!
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Old 09-10-05, 07:07 PM   #3
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Ken, loved your post! I just read the webpage with all the details of the trip, and it sounds FANTASTIC. You're giving me some ideas about what i might want to do in a few years, when my youngest daughter has graduated high school and I have more "freedom" to take off somewhere. Your trip sounds incredible.

And thanks for the comment about my milestone of 500 miles. It's not very far in the big grand scheme of things, but it meant a lot to me, and your post has inspired me to start thinking BIG and setting new goals.
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Old 09-11-05, 10:27 AM   #4
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your pics are great - they make me feel like drinking a big mug of beer, too bad I have gout
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Old 09-11-05, 10:33 AM   #5
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Simply fantastic pictures. My wife and I sat watching them with a lot of oohs and aahs.

I know we all need our own goals, but I'm sure thinking of adopting yours.
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Old 09-11-05, 10:34 AM   #6
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I would love to take that trip. I live in Austria for a few months
many years ago. I loved it's people, the country, and Vienna itself.
Few things make me jealous, your trip is one of them.

Did you find the Augustinerkeller in Salzburg?
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Old 09-11-05, 11:48 AM   #7
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I dream therefore I am
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Old 09-11-05, 02:38 PM   #8
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Very inspiring! I'd already been toying with adding a European trip to my "must do" list, now I'm going to have to add several!

A few years ago on my first long-distance tour, a friend e-mailed the following quote to me (author unknown), and since then I've always written it at the top of my journal for each trip:

"The miracle isn't that I finished, the miracle is that I had the courage to begin."
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Old 09-12-05, 10:27 AM   #9
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Thanks to everyone who replied.
Gary - I read reports by people who are older than I and cycle twice as far each day. We each have to set our own goals and yours is impressive given that you are new to this.
Late - I did not know about the Augustinerkeller but I did have a few good beers.
Big Guy - I have adopted a saying that is similar to yours: I would rather regret what I did do than regret what I didn't do.
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Old 09-12-05, 10:41 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Ken Brown
I would rather regret what I did do than regret what I didn't do.
Now THAT'S a great quote! Love it! You know, it's funny. Yesterday I was feeling like I wasn't pushing hard enough because I could "only" ride 40 miles before my knees said, "That's enough!"

Today, I feel terrific again for two reasons: one, I rode 40 miles yesterday! and two, I'm not dragging my sorry behind around today! I feel pretty darn good, actually. Took the stairs two at a time. A month ago, my first 32 mile ride wiped me out for three days. So something has to be improving, right?
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Old 09-12-05, 06:20 PM   #11
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Terrific ride Ken,
Your photo albums are wonderful!
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Old 09-12-05, 06:31 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Digital Gee
Now THAT'S a great quote! Love it! You know, it's funny. Yesterday I was feeling like I wasn't pushing hard enough because I could "only" ride 40 miles before my knees said, "That's enough!"

Today, I feel terrific again for two reasons: one, I rode 40 miles yesterday! and two, I'm not dragging my sorry behind around today! I feel pretty darn good, actually. Took the stairs two at a time. A month ago, my first 32 mile ride wiped me out for three days. So something has to be improving, right?

That's it. You put into words what I've been unable to. It feels so good to be out there doing something instead of pigging out in front of the TV. Kind of a nice adventure unfolding each time. It's being alive.

It would be great if, some day, we could arrange for an over 50 tour of Europe and make a huge memory together. I've been to Europe, but the idea of cycling around a place like Scotland floats my boat. Then, there are the pubs for relaxation afterwards. Darts anyone?
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Old 09-12-05, 07:03 PM   #13
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Awesome-Thank you so much for sharing. Now I have some new and different goals!!
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Old 09-13-05, 08:23 AM   #14
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Gary, 40 miles and feeling good the next day, you are already up to and perhaps past my level of fitness.
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Old 09-16-05, 12:29 PM   #15
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Those photos are incredible! Thanks for the pics and inspiration. I have travelled in Europe several times but always by car - next time will be on a bike. Thanks again for sharing.
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