Trans-Europa and GART done. What Now?
It has been great fun once again to go places I have never been before as I wrote about in September. And now with the successful completion of our first tours since Covid hit, the Trans-Europa and the Great American Roadtrip (or ‘GART’ for short), I thought I would revisit a couple of the blogs I wrote at the beginning of the Covid epidemic.
In a blog written in isolation on March 24th, 2020, called ‘A Few Words From My Basement’, I penned the following: “Yes, currently there are many unknown unknowns but our modus operandi has not changed. We, as always, strive to do the right thing, whether that means taking steps to protect our participants or offer full refunds for our cancelled tours. We also try to see the big picture, keep our wits about us and deal with whatever comes up in a rational way. The coronavirus is a challenge but if you look at the big picture of humanity and the adversity it has overcome, if we all keep our wits about us, soon enough it will be just another virus which humanity has learned to deal with and overcome. We at TDA certainly have no doubts about it. And this one thing is certainly not an unknown fact.”
Four waves of Covid have come and gone and there may be some more to come. Vaccines that didn’t exist at the beginning of the epidemic are now saving lives. New better vaccines are on their way, as are better medicines to help those who get sick. Many now predict that the virus will be endemic as is influenza and other recurring diseases. In the first blog right after cancelling our flagship tour (the Tour d’Afrique) on March 15th, 2020 with the tour only at the halfway mark, I wrote the following: “What I am trying to say here, though I may not be doing a good job, is that all is well here at TDA. I hope that the same applies for our community of riders, supporters and their families. We are dealing with problems as they come up. At the same time, we have not lost our perspectives on the longer term and are not only planning to continue with our planned tours, but also looking at opportunities for new ideas – possible new ‘pop up’ tours and alumni meetings around the world. Of course, all this must wait for the virus to be brought under control, which I feel will happen sooner or later.”
Over the last 20 months we have had a few starts, only to cancel and wait for another opportunity. When we planned the GART, we were convinced that with the successful uptake of the vaccines, Covid will be under control in the United States. By the time we arrived in Los Angeles for the start Covid numbers were exploding in the southern US. Still, we decided to press on, simply because we felt that by making sure everyone was vaccinated and taking some common-sense measures, the tour can go ahead.
Starting on the very same day in Europe was the Trans-Europa cycling adventure (read ‘to Europe‘). Both tours were successful, Covid-free from start to finish and the participants who decided to join us went home tired, healthy (if we discount my bruises from a very nasty fall), and with a great deal of joy and satisfaction. Perhaps we were just very lucky or perhaps the success proves that if you do the right thing – or to quote myself from above “if we all keep our wits about us, soon enough it will be just another virus which humanity has learned to deal with and overcome.”
New tours are on the agenda, some will need to be modified, some may even be cancelled. New Covid strains worse than the ones already around, may surface – one such potential strain is being reported as I write this blog. Participants on future tours will likely need a booster shot. We better get used to having tests as we cross borders. We have all got used to security measures at airports that now require that we show up early for flights. In the old days I even missed a flight or two because I didn’t like waiting at airports. To some, perhaps many, the security checks are a pain in the butt. But we got used to them and we are accepting them because we love to travel. So it will be with Covid. If you want to go to Patagonia or visit your grandma in Italy, you will accept the fact that you need a vaccination and a test. For years all of us who went to Africa, whether for work or pleasure had to have proof of Yellow Fever vaccination. It never crossed my mind not to get it.
As the person who has the final responsibility for giving the go-ahead on a tour, there are always hesitations, questions, and doubts. Potential dangers lurk around the corner. However, in life, no matter what we do, there is a danger. Any cyclist who gets on a road that is shared with drivers is reminded of this every time they get on a bike. The statistics don’t lie. To end these musings, here is another quote from a blog called ‘Rediscovering Freedom‘ written in May 2020: “What there is, is the realization that life goes on and we all need to find a way to move forward. There are all kinds of challenges and unknowns but to quote the remarkable deaf-blind author and political activist Helen Keller, ‘Security is mostly a superstition, it does not exist in nature nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.’” And we at TDA believe in that.