Day 45 – September 30th: Erick, OK to Shamrock, TX – 90 km

I’ve always been impressed with the Americans’ ability to integrate and assimilate foreign cultures. It is already stunning to walk through their major cities and go through the ethnic enclaves, the famous Little Italy and Chinatown of course, but also Little Ethiopia, Japantown, Little Manila, Korea Town and many more. But coming to a city like Shamrock, in the middle of Texas, which is entirely Irish themed reminds you again that this is a country which has been built on waves of successive immigration.

Song of the day: Dirty old Town- The Pogues

And so to fit today’s subject I needed a piece of Irish music. And I’ve decided to go for The Pogues. Ok, they’re not Irish, but in an age where Swedes sing like Texans, Englishmen rap like hoods from the Bronx and no one can tell, who cares where anyone is from. Everything is intertwined. American Country music is but traditional Irish Folk songs adapted to a different setting. Music has no frontiers. And this sounds as Irish as it gets to me.

Life goes on

Not easy to pick up again

Not easy to pick yourself up and get going again. You’ve crossed a country where guns are everywhere, where attacks with firearms are common, where the threat of terrorist attacks is omnipresent, only to return and find this.

Not easy to pick your topic, anecdotes shot through with cynicism, stories of exhaustion and tales of disappointed hopes, when it’s people that have been killed, people that have been irremediably crippled and people that have been forever broken.

But that is what they’d want, to destroy, annihilate and silence us, and so we will keep building, creating and singing with a vengeance…our artistic vengeance, our creative settling of the score.

With words, songs, projects, ideas, stories and dreams we will show them that we are more alive than ever.

Sadly, I have nothing to offer to those who suffer but to cultivate this gift that is life, that which they can never take from us…

This blog will be back to normal tomorrow as I hope our lives will soon be.

Here and now I am grieving, there and tomorrow I will be moving on, towards the West, towards the Ocean and towards myself.

One

After much hesitation, I’ve decided to post what I have written in the sleepless night that followed the November 13th attacks. Hesitated because I’ve always been uncomfortable with putting stuff out there that has been written in the thrall of emotion. Hesitated because this doesn’t seem like the place to put it out. Hesitated because I don’t want to be part of the discussions that will arise from this tragedy, the shortcuts and simplifications, over-emotional appeals and self-aggrandizing statements.

But if I don’t use this plateform to express genuine emotion, flawed as it might be, what is the point of writing at all?

If I don’t use this platform for other things than pretty pictures of sunsets and entertaining tales of adventures, what is it really worth?

If I shy away from other people, their opinion and reality, from the painful questions that come with it, why would I want to publish anything?

Excuse my shortcuts and simplifications, over-emotional appeals and self-aggrandizing statements, I’ve just woken up and the wake is painful.

One o clock. The phone rings. The words cut through the thick fog of sleep. The world cuts through the bubble of meaningless plans and hopes and dreams. Terrorist attacks. 129 dead.
I check on those who are there. Those who love football, who love music, who love food, who love life. It could be anyone.
The randomness of their attack makes me feel fear. Fear what I feel. Hatred. Anger. Directed at no one.
But anger needs to be directed. The images I haven’t seen and names I haven’t heard yet are already burning into my mind’s eye. Burning words of hatred not yet spoken waiting to be said. Waiting to be aimed at someone.
And as the first wave shock subsides the certainty that someone will say these words, will play the part, lay our hearts on the line. Some of the media. In a frenzy. Sniffing blood. Some of the politicians. In dammage control. Sensing opportunity. Some of us. In pain. Drawn in.
When they will close our borders, try to narrow our minds and tighten our hearts, everyone will play a part.
To defend liberty by not letting go of our freedom to think and to forgive.
To safeguard equality by not condemning all of them as uniformly evil.
To claim fraternity by not hating those who weren’t born our brothers.
To stand as one without making our ground a battlefield
To think as one without yielding to uniform thought
To walk as one without marching for vengeance
To sing as one without chanting discord
To be as one while remaining each one
To make sure they haven’t won

 

 

 

Day 44 – September 29th: Elk City, OK- to Erick, OK – 70 km

So as I mentioned before I was going through a bit of a turbulent time in my head. I’d just missed a concert in Oklahoma City by a hair, my repeated flats were tiring (!!!) me out and I had a general weariness coming up. I was reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho at that moment, and after two weeks of rather blissful cycling I might have read a little too much into it. For after triggering a brief initial round of excitement the novel proved to be rather limited in scope and quality. And my newfound optimism and faith in the workings of fate remained fragile. The shadow of my previous American experience and it’s harshness was still menacingly looming and I hadn’t yet shed the fear of a disastrous event that would put an end to this trip. But I was working on it, and confident that I could make this the last bout of anxiousness of the trip.

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Song of the day: The End – The Doors

A perfect illustration not only of the state of mind I was in at that moment, but also of my aforementioned previous trip to the US. A disturbing, jarring piece of  music. Like a bout of dizziness, interesting in nature but unpleasant to experience. Not my favourite track by far, but one that might be as indispensible as suffering is to a growing soul.

 

Day 43 – September 28th: Clinton, OK to Elk City, OK- 70 km

I’ve decided to add a little something to each post from now on, namely one song that is associated to a particular moment of the trip. You are probably familar with the magical feeling when a song fits a moment and surrounding so perfectly, it seems to have been written on purpose.

Before I left I had the good idea of stocking up my i-pod with songs, notably Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of all times. Though their selection remains controversial (by nature, omissions and choices), there is a great deal of musical gems there, and combined with other (more contemporary) artists of my own choosing, there have been some very nice shuffle-mode surprises.

I hope that I can maybe share and make you discover a couple of the tunes that have become the soundtrack to my trip.

First Song: Passenger – 27 

One of the artists I listened most to, both while preparing and during the trip. An example of steadfastness and artistic integrity, this song of his was the one I chose to put on when crossing Washington Bridge in New York and kick off this adventure.
Here are the lyrics, I have nothing to add but to say that I wish I’d written them:
27 years, 27 years old
Only thing I know, the only thing I get told
I gotta sell out if I want to get sold
Don’t want the devil to be taking my soulI write songs that come from the heart
I don’t give a fuck if they get into the chart, or not
Only way I can be, is to say what I see
And have no shadow hanging over meI don’t know where I’m running but I know how to run
‘Cause, running’s the thing I’ve always done
I don’t know what I’m doing but I know what I’ve done
I’m a hungry heart, I’m a loaded gun

27 years, 27 years now,
Only thing I know, I know that I don’t know how
To please everybody all of the time
‘Cause everybody always fucking changing their minds

A little bit faded, a little bit jaded
Don’t want to stop, won’t be persuaded
To write words I can’t believe in,
To see my face on a video screen

 

Sixth Week – The importance of being honest

This is a peculiar moment in the journey. The initial excitement of the unknown has given way to routine and habits but without them having yet become too familiar to be boring.

It is also the moment when I’m coming to terms with the fact that this journey is not going to attract the widespread attention I secretly hoped it would.

To quote the article below, the spark hasn’t started the wildfire that would help me set my musical career “ablaze”, but I warm myself near the campfire of those I know to be around.

The sympathetic eyes of the few who follow as day after day passes, are always worth more than the hollow approval of the masses.

And living what I am, seeing what I am given to behold and being where I am supposed to, it seems their indifference is growing less cold.

What I am missing will always be but a means to an end and it doesn’t mean that much in the end.

The end being always to write, play and record new songs and I can feel them coming up on the horizon, like the many sunrises in the endless skies in front of me.

I sometimes briefly forget what is truly important, but there are always people that remind me, through a comment, a compliment or an article.

When I read the one below for the first time, I remembered a lot of the truths and reasons that have convinced me to set out on this journey…and will keep me going…  

In 80 Days Across the States – The revolution will not be televised

Day 42 – September 27th: El Reno, OK to Clinton, OK – 95 km

The famed route 66 is nice, but inconsistently existant.
And having to turn back after several miles because there was no sign indicating a dead end doesn’t contribute to my happiness.
While they don’t have the energy to put up these signs that would be well useful, they do have some to spare when it comes to putting up  a continuous fence, which means I can’t get back on the I-40 unless I turn back (or other bad ideas that I will come back to later).
In any case, there’s not much in between Gas Stations, so I keep going until I reach Clinton.

Day 41 – September 26th: Chandler, OK to El Reno, OK via Oklahoma City – 45 km (+ 80 km hitchhiking)

Having noticed my slightly deflated front tire, I decide to get up an hour early to fix it and get a fresh start…
Except that after having changed the tube, I find myself flat again, 15 minutes later. I do another tube-swap with the same result.
I’m all out of tubes, in the middle of nowhere, with 120 km to go to Oklahoma City.
But luckily I can catch a ride to the next village. They invite me to the Sunday mass, at the end of which the pastor asks the congregation whether anyone can help me out. And indeed I find someone to give me a lift to Oklahoma City and a bike shop.

Rex is a well nice guy, and his ancestor, whose name he shares, is a certain Benjamin Franklin. So I enjoy an improbable ride through Kentucky with the great, great, great-son of one of the founding fathers, all the way to an open bike shop.
Turns out I have little metallic filaments fom truck tires that have been piercing my tubes.
I get it fixed, but my troubles are just starting…

Day 40 – September 25th: Tulsa, OK to Chandler, OK- 100 km

I should have known that the first night in Oklahoma and it’s related troubles where an indicaton of what awaited me in that state.
But for now everything seems fine, apart from a slightly deflated front tire.
Which will turn out to be the beginning of a stretch of bother that will last for some days.
And I will find myself knee-deep in it, fishing for sense…

A photo posted by Phileas (@phileasmusic) on

Day 39 – September 24th: Chelsea, OK to Tulsa, OK – 97 km

I’m now on the historic route 66, which I will be following all the way to Santa Monica, California if everything goes well…

Day 38 – September 23rd: Wyandotte, MO to Chelsea, OK – 75 km

And so I officially enter Oklahoma, and set up camp near Chelsea.
I am tired and a bit reckless and plant my tent in a residential neighbourhood.

And so for the first time since the beginning of the trip, I find myself confronted with the police, the neighbours called.
After an initial tense introduction (“hands where we can see them, step away fom your tent”) the officers turn out to be nice enough, and actually quite impressed with what I’m doing.
But I nonetheless have to dismount my tent, pack up all my stuff and get on my way, which is not easy to do when you’re being watched by two policemen.
They advise me to stay at the nearest Motel, but given its state, I prefer to keep going, and eventually find a Church backyard, where I can set up…

Day 36 – September 21st: Springfield, MO to Carthage, MO – 93 km

After 93 kilometers I find the most beautiful camping site of the trip so far, a river near Carthage.

I’m about to leave Missouri and head into Oklahoma, and also the Transamerica trail I was following since Kentucky.

 

Fifth Week – Halfway there with no end in sight

So I reckon the halfway point deserves a special post. I thought hard about what title to give this post that attempts to give an impression of the successive states of mind I went through.

Nowhere near with no end in sight
That would have been the title I would have used at the beginning of the trip. Never had I been so unsure, full of doubt and skeptical towards a project of mine. But I just gritted my teeth, and got on with it, step by step, ignoring the thousand good reasons that would make it impossible and concentrating only on putting things together. Like a puzzle I couldn’t believe would ever look like the picture on the box, but that I kept adding pieces to until I sat in my saddle and pedalled the first tentative strides into the uncertainty of the unknown.

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Somewhere with no end in sight
And so I found myself taking every day, every stop, every city, like a small step yet again. I made mistakes, I was unaware. I discovered and understood. I reflected and did better. Found a routine, a place outside of the world, parallel to it. When everybody was static yet busy I was passing. And people liked me for a small moment of incredulity, maybe even amazement. I was a forward movement, cyclic in scope, that cut through the whirlpools of life.

 

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Everywhere with no end in sight
The free-wheeling feeling that I am nowhere and everywhere at the same time.

 

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Anywhere with no end in sight
And I am immersed in this parallel path, counting to myself of ways I could have gone. I don’t sing often but I’ve got music playing in my head all day. I speak to few people but learn new ways of talking. I take what I’m not supposed to but always leave something behind

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Halfway there with no end in sight
And as I am preparing for the next step, I’m taking stock. More and more I find myself smiling to myself, incredulous.  Unable to grasp it while clinging tightly to it.

And I don’t want it to stop. I want sunrises with a horizon, not the walls and the fences.

I want endlessness, not the confinement of stasis.

I want life, not the idea of its perfection.

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Halway there and an end in sight

And at the same time I’m longing for the end. Every stretch of road is defined by its destination, which I am striving for.

Always projected forwards, towards a reason.

And so I’m yearning for the arrival while I dread it.

I’m waiting for the conclusion, and want to postpone its judgement.

I want vindication, and fear being proven right…

 

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Day 35 – September 20th: Hartville, MO to Springfield, MO – 86 km

In Springfield I have my second warmshower experience.

A lovely couple that make me feel right at home, incredibly nice and welcoming.

So much so, that I have a hard time finding the resolve to get going again.

But the road is still long, and Springfield itself too big to be my kind of city.

So I finally to set out again…

Day 34 – September 19th: Summersville, MO to Hartville, MO – 97 km

Several times I passed Harley Crews on the road (mainly Saturday and Sundays, so not the fierce kind I presume)…

Sometimes they would stretch out a hand, like cyclists do when turning, which I thought was pretty uncool for hardcore bikers. Took me a while to figure out that given that they weren’t turning anywhere, they were acknowleding me and my mount.

So I must have dissed quite a few bikers, which is not cool…

Especially after having watched the whole 6 Seasons of “Sons of Anarchy”, I’m not too proud of myself…

Now I reply with a casual half-raising of a couple of fingers, after ignoring them, I’m giving them the fingers…

 

Me and the Sons of Anarchy…

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Day 32 – September 17th: Farmington, MO to Ellington, MO- 125 km

This is supposed to be the most difficult stretch of my itinerary. But when you can start your day well-rested, get up before sunrise, don’t need to pack up all your stuff and have a quick shower, things move along much easier…And so it is that I set my personal record…

Now I get how some people can do 100 miles per day…

Which is not my goal, but I get a great early start and at the end of the day it’s my personal record…

Note that even well-rested, I can’t remember where I am 😉

Day 31 – September 16th: Chester, IL to Farmington, MO- 80 km

People tell me about a place in Farmington, specially designed for cyclists, where you can spend the night and give what you want.

When I arrive I get the keys at the Police Station and enter the place, which is quite amazing.

Though I don’t care much for the TV and the AC, it’s immaculate, you can do your laundry, take a shower, cook a meal…

In the end the donation is not so casually asked for as people told me and I grudgingly leave the 20$, but only cause I’m a tight-fisted bastard, in all honesty, the place is great and I get a good night’s sleep…

 

Day 30 – September 15th: Carbondale, IL to Chester, MO- 104 km

The next day, I get a little too comfortable…

I start messing about, changing the songs on my I-pod, transferring videos and downloading podcasts…

On top of a massive breakfast and another shower, this means at mid-day I still haven’t left…

I still manage to make it to Chester, Popeye’s hometown…

Everything, from the Town Hall, to official buildings and statues is about the sailor, Olive and the others…

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Day 29 – September 14th: Goreville, IL to Carbondale, IL- 80 km

After a month on the road, I finally manage to set up a warmshower (the couchsurfing for cyclists thing)…

The couple of times I tried before didn’t work out, but this time everything works smoothly.

I take my first shower in a month, and after rivers and late night rain falls, I do admit it’s quite a feeling. Jack then invites me to a great organic restaurant and I even get to do the Dylan Cover in the Bar:

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For the “real” version, click here: Like a Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan Cover)

Fourth Week – Keep calm and carry on

A quiet week in sum, where I pick up my habits, find a routine and continue to explore the different aspects of this extreme country.

I’m getting better at handling my bike, effort and orientation. In short, I’m starting to really enjoy myself without second thoughts.

 

 

The song of the week:

Satyagraha

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It’s no finished yet, and I’m not usually up for putting unfinished stuff out there, but you have been waiting and asking for this one for quite some time…so it’s up to you whether you want to indulge it or wait for the finished product…

Day 28 – September 13th: Herod, IL to Goreville, IL- 80 km

Things I thought I wouldn’t need and realized are indispensable:

My Ortlieb Panniers: Because though everything else is disintegrating, wearing thin and breaking eventually, these are indestructible and watertight.

Kobo Reader: Because after a day’s worth of effort it’s good to unwind and have something to look forward to…
It also serves as dictionary, translator, can store cartloads of books, weighs 500 grams, has one hell of a battery and I don’t need a headlight to read in my tent.
I was skeptic, I’m converted…

My camel bag: Because if I had to stop every time I wanted to drink, I’d still be in Washington.

Extra Charger: Cause otherwise I would spend my days in Fast Foods and Libraries charging my appliances…

My I-pod: c.f my Listening Routine

And all the little things like: my comfy pants (thanks Kamel), my woolen socks (thanks Godmother), my knife (thanks dad) etc…

Day 24 – September 9th: Bardstown, KY to Sonora, KY – 100 km

My reading Routine:

Lunch break: Portuguese Books on my E-reader (I’ll come back to that particular item)

Night: I started off reading Sylvain Tesson’s In the Siberian Forrest. Perfect adventure read, a lot of thoughts on loneliness, the need for movement, the leaving behind of “society”.
Then I started reading a fantasy series, Mistborn, which is less intellectually stimulating but a great read and very entertaining (kind of what you need after 90 kilometers of daily cycling)
I took some Mark Twain (Roughing it), John Muir (My first summer in the sierra) and Edward Abbey (Desert Solitaire: A season in the Wilderness)
Don’t know if I get round to reading them (I’m waiting to cross the “mighty Mississippi” for Twain and California for John Muir) but it’s good to have something to look forward to…

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Day 23 – September 8th: Lancaster, KY to Bardstown, KY- 100 km

My Listening Routine:

Early morning: Classical Music. Relaxing and not too aggressive a music, but still covers the noise of traffic.
In order of preference: Vivaldi, Bach and Schubert…

Morning: Portuguese Lessons. I figured I might as well use the time on the road to teach myself a new language. The course is not great, but good to get started.

Early Afternoon: Portuguese Audiobooks. So far, The Little Prince, Harry Potter 6, The Alchemist and Capitaes da Area. The Little Prince because I know it well and used it on other languages, Harry Potter cause it’s easy, The Alchemist because I have to shamefully admit that here was the only Brazilian author I knew off the top of my head. The last one, found after much searching, is a sort of brazilian Oliver Twist…

Afternoon: Shuffle music. Albums I discovered: Casadega (Bright Eyes), The Suburbs (Arcade Fire), Whispers (Passenger)

Late Afternoon: A podcast. Either France Culture (if I feel homesick), Ted Talks or Wait, wait don’t tell me…

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Third Week – A peek behind the summit

And so the most challenging of weeks ends…

To give you an idea, of the sheer vastness of my idiocy, even after the few days of pain and excrutiating hardships, I find myself hesitating whether to go back to the Adventure Cycling Association’s mapped out itinerary or continue the very unsuccessful mapping out on my own device.

Because Nashville is close and Memphis is beckoning, I find myself contemplating doing the detour. But after much googling and calculating, weighing the cons (no cycle lanes, no GPS, crossing the Appalachians again) and pros (bellowing out Paul Simon’s Graceland in the “cradle of the civil war”) I decide not to push my luck….To paraphrase Albert:

“Only a fool repeats the same action and expects a different outcome…and I know something about foolishness, actions and their outcome”…

 

 

Let’s hope my musical career will not follow the same pattern, in any case, here’s the song of the week.

Cassiopea (A fine Balance)
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Whereas Song for a newborn can be listened to as a universal welcoming song for all newborns, this song is addressed more personally to a certain little girl…

Day 20 – September 5th: Jeff, KY to Manchester KY- 70 km (+ 40 km hitchhiking)

So I am out of the worst, and back to relatively flat roads, but my GPS is still giving me trouble. And so it is that I find myself in front of a Higway entrance, with a sign saying “No bicycles”…I hesitate, but the idea of having to turn back, find internet, map out an alternate itinerary and go the extra mile is not very appealing. And cause it is a Sunday and there’s close to no traffic, I go for it. Barely half an hour later, a couple stops in their Pick-up truck and offers a ride. I hesitate but wisely choose to cut the crap and get off the Highway. Which is a sound choice as there is a police car a couple of miles down the road. And in truth it is one hell of an ugly, hot, climbing stretch that I am spared. Thanks Eddy and Suze…

Once they let me off, I get lost, adding about 20 kilometers to get to Manchester…where I have three flat tires in a row…call that poetic justice…

 

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Day 19 – September 4th: Pound, VA to Jeff, KY – 91 km

So, it turns out, I had been indavertently crossing the Appalachians. By all accounts not a route you’re supposed to take with a bicycle and far worse than the most difficult stretches on the mapped-out route (Missouri mountains and Rockys included)…

Turns out I’d been more or less following the Old crooked road, a Virginia Musical Heritage Trail, so let’s just say that musically, it made sense…

 

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Day 18 – September 3rd: Cleveland, VA to Pound, VA- 81 km

I have to admit, that today I nearly gave up. Faced with an ever-climbing and seemingly endless highway, I got off my bike and tried to hitch a ride. I’m not proud, but luckily for the integrity of everyone involved, no one stopped (which also means I didn’t try too hard)…
And so I had no choice, but to get back into the saddle, and ride it out…

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Day 16 – September 1st: Whyteville, VA to Damascus, VA – 94 km

And thus I find myself unexpectedly spending hours climbing atrocious steep hills, on endless Highways blistering in the Summer heat. According to the radio in one of the rare gas-stations along the way, the kids are off school a couple hours early because of the heat. I’m very happy for them. A little less happy not knowing what is happening, how long it will be happening and how steep the price will be I will have to pay for being reckless.

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Day 15 – August 31st: Christianburg, VA to Whyteville, VA – 86 km

As I mentioned before, I wasn’t to happy with the Adventure Cycling itinerary and the extra miles it added, while I still felt like being on precious little proprer “bicycle lane”. It is a habit of mine to challenge autority, even well-intentioned and better-informed one. So after Washington I decide to try my luck and deviate a bit. Unfortunately this is also the exact moment my internet and thus my GPS go down.

And the so the towns become smaller, the distances between them become greater and the climbing becomes steeper, as I make my way forward…

 

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Second Week – Habit of calm and quiet

This second week went rather smoothly. Ok, I’m not tearing it up either, but it’s not easy to go beyond a 100 km a day, being loaded like a Vietnamese rice-carrying pousse-pousse, with repeated flat tires and the time-consuming process of camping…

In any case, my goal is not to be quick, it’s to be constant, do less per day but without too many breaks…

And trust me to find a remedy when things are going too well, I’ll promptly rectify and spice things up…As week number three will show…

Musically, the song of the week is the first off the new Album, for which I am crossing the United States:

Song for a nweborn

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Written for my beautiful nice, this can be taken as a welcoming tune for all the new souls that enter this world, that soon will be theirs…

 

Day 14 – August 30th: Daleville, VA – Christianburg, VA – 104 km

I still haven’t gotten used to the Fast-Food clientele, obese and huffing, served gigantic menus by equally overweight employees.

But I’ll soon get used to it and won’t notice anymore, and in any case, they would be equally shocked to see us huddled on the streets and puffing away at our cigarettes…

Everyone has their own poison…

 

 

 

A photo posted by Phileas (@phileasmusic) on

Day 12 – August 28th: Charlottesville, VA – Lexington, VA – 96km

Despite my natural aversion against Fast-Food and mass-consumption there is an interesting, schizophrenic thing happening as the journey wears on. I tell myself the Fast- Foods are non negotiable, where else can you cool down, eat, charge your appliances, do your laundry and get the internet for 1$70? Public Libraries come more and more into contention as the journey goes on, but I can’t eat in them, hardly wash myself in their restrooms. But beyond that, somehow I come to look forward to the big cup of iced Subway Tea. And the same goes for the Walmarts, Walgreens and co. An eyesore they are, contemptible, but after a whole day of fuck-all small-town desert, I can’t help but feel the relief. Because if you want to eat halfway decent food (organic and such) and not Gas-Station Char-coaled beef…

The whole paradox of our times…

What I learnt from it all: I shouldn’t let myself get consumed by guilt…

A photo posted by Phileas (@phileasmusic) on

 

Day 11 – August 27th: Stubbs, VA – Charlottesville, VA – 88km

I’ve realized that despite the daily exertion and attention to healthy nutrition, I’m succumbing to the sweet temptations of the American Dream. My Body is literally going apeshit, screaming out for the sugary teas and bars and snacks that I’ve never had any longing for. After a cup of Subway tea I need a couple of hours and dozens of kilometers to get over the sugar-induced excitement.
Now I get the whole diabetes, obesity thing….Welcome to Hell, Sugar.

A photo posted by Phileas (@phileasmusic) on

Day 9 – August 25th: Alexandria, VA – Fredericksburg, VA – 70km

A typical good day: (Businessy):

Get up at 7. Take an hour to get my stuff packed up and myself ready. Have a small breakfast. Cycle for 40 or 50 kilometers. Find a Starbucks, Subway or McDonalds (in that order of preference). Wash my Laundry in their restroom and hang it out to dry. Charge my appliances. Plan out my itinerary. Do social media for you faithful folks. Have Lunch. Cycle some more. Find a nice place. Pitch my tent. Have Dinner. Read a bit. Sleep.

 

A photo posted by Phileas (@phileasmusic) on

First Week – Amish-on impossible?

So this first week didn’t exactly go smoothly.

Despite the excellent conditions I found myself in in New York (thanks to Kamel and warmshowers) I did have quite a few obstacles to overcome.

Not helped by my natural tendency to go and get myself into difficult situations (toll roads, floods, shitty bikes) I do think with hindsight that things could have gone much worse.

All in all I cannot complain, I can keep up physically, and should be able to adjust the details (GPS, gear, personal idiocy)

Now we’ll have to see for the musical side of things, because it is also and foremost a musical project. It turns out to be quite difficult to fit in collaborations when cycling an average of 90 kilometers a day, and the few I have done, as well as some musical goodies I prepared, will have to be edited before you can see them.

But, luckily I was a little ahead musically before leaving, so every week there will be a musical score. The first one is here:

Like a Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan Cover)

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It is not like me to read too much into covers, except if it’s “With a Little help from my Friends” by Joe Cocker, “Your Song” by Billy Paul or “Candy Says” by Anthony and the Johnsons. (Yes, I am aware I left out “Hallellujah”, “My Way”, “Hurt” and quite a few more, we can discuss it if you feel like it) 🙂

Despite it being a cover, this song means a lot to me. The lyrics of course and because it is the first Dylan song I ever heard (talk about a musical right hook to the left ear followed by an uppercut to the other side…wtf is this organ intro? this voice? the randomness of phrasing? I needed to listen to it three times to get anything of what was happening)

But foremost, this cover means a lot because when I recorded it at AndromiDen studio in L.A, I’d just been through an emotional roller-coaster, hit rock-bottom more times than I can think and had just gotten over myself for the sake of the recordings. And after a tiresome day of recording vocals, knackered and emotionally wired, I just stumbled across this particular interpretation. We decided straight away to record it, with just a joint, two mics and three takes.

I don’t think I have ever reached such a degree of honesty in a studio. When we tried to re-record it a couple of days later, better rested, well-equipped etc, I couldn’t summon any of the emotion I had felt and was unable to replicate the state of complete self-abandonment that I felt while recording this version.

Day 7 – August 23rd: Manchester, MD-Germantown, MD – 70km

And it’s on with the spokes. The first one I’m lucky, the guy in the bike-shop fixes me up with a new tire and a complete check-up, free of charge. The second one as well, and though the third one follows suit, I decide to stop tempting fate and get the equipment to fix them, though it’s a really complicated procedure, and I’m not sure I can do it (they basically “tune” the spokes). In the end I will have to buy a new, heavy-duty wheel anyway, three days later.

As for Washington, DC, it’s express visit (White House, Capitol Hill, Lincoln Memorial) and express departure. I should really stay longer, but it’s too early for resting in the trip and I wanna get away from cities, although this one proves to be better than I expected.

What I learnt from this day: If you don’t learn the basics, life will keep putting a spoke into your wheel

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