Soissons – Meaux (79km)
22 riders. Average speed 16.6 km/h. Time pedalling 4h45min
As we have cycled 1468km, our tyres are literally wearing out. On some of them you can see the fibres, the threads that hold the rubber at the core. The journey has done the same to us. It has exposed us to ourselves and to each other, letting everyone see who we are and what we can do, through thick and thin. There is little room for insulating yourself in a group and an experience as intense as this one. We are now intimately tied to each other and have come to get to know deeply people who recently were perfect strangers. And not just get to know, but to appreciate and love…
Today we had some challenging climbs whilst cycling but as we mentioned yesterday, cycling in this landscape is quite honestly like being inside a painting. Plus the afternoon was again unusually and enjoyably sunny. We had a break next to some impressively epic church ruins, then lunch at La Ferté-Milon where we found our way to the nearest Boulangerie and bought all kinds of delicious pastries.
Then we waved goodbye to Speedy at the side of the road. He simply peeled off/overtook the group, parked his vehicle in the side of the road on top of a hill and waved goodbye. Of course he left us rapidly, we did not expect anything less form Speedy. He´ll be remembered fondly.
The afternoon rolled smoothly, although there was a bit of traffic and we had some tricky moments (particularly when there was a big line of cars behind us that grew impatient to overtake). We took the chance to goof and dance around in the afternoon sun while fixing a flat tyre then rolled straight into Meaux. Accomodation was in a municipal building in Meaux – spacious, private rooms, beds and hot showers: ideal!
We discussed different options as to where to go first when we arrive in Paris, what route to take, what the plan could look like. There were a few ideas floating around, but the most important thing is that we are decided and determined that we will cycle into Paris all together. We have come all this way as a group and that’s how we will arrive.
Since we are so close to our destination, we reached a point of reflection; a precursor to that grand epic moment when we will actually arrive. To bring our journey to a close (and even though we were very, very tired) we took time to have a round of creative listening, where we could share feelings and thoughts. Almost everyone shared something. We talked about how the group dynamics felt, how we are aware of each other not just while riding, how we felt safe and trusted each other so quickly, how this journey taught us to not build walls around us and how it was an experience of direct democracy. We talked about falling in love, about being a wolf pack and how the journey changed us and became the purpose itself.
The feeling tonight is hard to describe. Our motivation and excitement about the fact that WE ARE ALMOST THERE is incommensurable.