So, this is the photo I didn’t dare post. Proof of the piebald impact of cycling westward only. Nicely suntanned knees and calves, and forearms, but the rest as delicate as a baby’s bottom.
It’s been lovely to take a short break in Berlin this weekend with old friends Herbert and Jörg Hildebrandt formerly from the East Berlin Cathedral Choir where Jutta and I used to sing 1977-81, and then a day in West Berlin (though indeed, no Wall) with Thomas and Anne Rost, also met 30 years ago through the same choir.
Berlin is such a lovely and civilised city. Quarter of a million cyclists descended today on the city from the surrounding countryside for a traffic-free day cycling on the autobahns, all official – but Thomas and Anne and I took to the water in their new sailing boat, picture shortly to be posted.
One thought I meant to mention a couple of days ago, concerning again how kind people can be.
Back in Poland, I was – I thought – yelled at by a Mercedes driver just before Czestochowa who had to break sharply coming the other way not to be bit by a large logging lorry in the slow process of overtaking me on a narrow road.
I thought the driver was blaming me for his misfortune, and made an appropriately rude gesture in his direction.
Imagine my surprise several hours later in Czestochowa itself when, suddenly, there’s that same driver standing by the roadside by his car clearly wanting to talk to me.
I stop, and with my fragemented Polish quickly undestand that he wants to apologise for being misunderstood. He’d been alarmed, he said, that I was in danger, and had mis-expressed himself with his facial gestures. And was desperate to say sorry.
Apology accepted, and we must have shaken hands three times in a minute in frantic gestures of regret and forgiveness.
People are kind. I asked for some water at a house where the husband was hobbling around the garden on crutches. While his wife (of course) filled the bottles, we got talking, and it turned out he’d just had an operation for a badly-inflamed Achilles heel.
Ah ha, I thought and said. My own fate, narrowly avoided, early on this cycling odyssey. And even worse potentially than I had feared. Two weeks later, he told me, and the doctor said his whole foot would have had to come off. As it was, he was expecting not to walk properly again for several months.
Whew – lucky escape for me, as I explained how I had decided to rest over in Budapest to let my own heel heal. As it were. And then, his wife appeared, with my bottles. Full not with the usual tap water, but with ice-cool, sparkling mineral water.
People are sometimes amazing – a trip to reassure this one cyclist of the goodness of human nature.