After 18 Very Long Months, TDA Global Cycling Is Back In The Saddle
“In the middle of the path of our life I found myself in a dark forest, for the straight way was lost.” – Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy
After 18 frustrating months of not being able to run tours, on Sunday, September 19th our company will finally start two long distance cycling tours – TDA’s Great American Roadtrip from Santa Monica, California to Savannah, Georgia and the Trans-Europa from Ljubljana, Slovenia to Gibraltar. During these months, I have often felt that I was in a dark forest, lost, trying to gather my coordinates and find a way out. I grew up in a forested area and as a mere child of 11 or 12, I used to go picking wild mushrooms, so forests don’t really scare me. Nevertheless, being lost is no fun.
The Divine Comedy, which I quote above, is an epic poem – just as our trips are epic cycling tours. It is divided into three parts – Inferno, Purgatory and Paradiso and according to Britanica.com, it traces Dante’s journey from darkness to divine light. The title, The Divine Comedy, is not really a comedy in the Hollywood sense, but rather a work in the classical style that begins ‘in misery and confusion and ends in elation or happiness’, though I must admit, watching the news and my surroundings for the last 18 months, the words Divine Comedy in the Hollywood sense has crossed my mind a few too many times.
The poem has often been written about in the recent past. To quote a recent article in The Economist, “Dante was not just a poet of crisis but also a poet of hope. The ‘Divine Comedy’ is that rarest thing, an epic poem with a hopeful ending. It is about getting a second chance—and ultimately finding joy.” And so, on September 19th, we as a company and the riders who have decided to join us in spite of all the uncertainties, are hoping that we are now in the last third of the COVID-19 era and that elation and happiness will follow.
Having said that, one thing I can tell you is that it will not be easy. Each day as we prepare for the tours, we are facing unpredictable events, be it Hurricane Ida in New Orleans (which we plan to visit in early November) or the possible closing of the first few campsites in California, due to the State government’s desire to discourage the use of forests at this time as a result of the wildfire situation.
There is a way of examining this through another prism. The Japanese culture has a way of looking at beauty, what they call Wabi Sabi. Wikipedia defines it as appreciating beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. Wabi came to connote rustic simplicity, freshness or quietness and can be applied to both natural and human-made objects as an expression of understated elegance. It can also be used to refer to the quirks and anomalies that arise from the process of making something, which are seen to add uniqueness and elegance to the finished object. Sabi refers to the beauty or serenity that comes with age, when the life of the object and its impermanence are evidenced in its patina and wear, or in any visible repairs.”
We have already cancelled our new tour in Korea and Japan, the Journey to the East, twice so I and many other riders will have to wait and see and hope that the third attempt scheduled for the Spring of 2022 is successful. In the meantime, I am looking forward to a most likely, somewhat imperfect, tour of the Southern USA with hopefully plenty of Wabi as well as Sabi. I can only hope that the participants on the Trans Europa and Great American Roadtrip feel the same.
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