The drive to my AirBnB in Limburg was easy and relatively short. On the way, I received a text message. I know I shouldn’t have, but I gave a quick look to see how it was for. It was Luc, my tour guide at Leo’s Cycling Collection. The message was still visible on the screen and I could see it said one of my cycling heroes had died.
I would later learn that Patrick Sercu, teammate to Julien Stevens and Eddy Merckx, among others, died after a long illness. He was 74. The Belgian sprinter had been the topic of many conversations that week. He was much beloved and respected by Belgian cycling fans. It was very sad news. I was bummed.
Perhaps it was because I was thinking about Sercu or still reliving my encounter with the jerseys, but I didn’t even notice when I left Belgium and entered the Netherlands. It wasn’t until I was 10 or so miles over the boarder that I noticed the street signs and road designs were different. The roads also seemed more organized and everything a little more tidy.
The Air BnB was located smack-dab in the middle of Dutch suburbia and just a few miles from the Amstel Gold Race finish in Valkenburg. I would be staying in a simple guest house behind a cute white home where a free-spirited Belgian yogi named Katty lived. A theme of spirituality and Eastern religions dominated the decor and complimented Katty’s warm and generous demeanor.
I unloaded the car and reached out to my friend Richard, who lives nearby. He and I met several years ago at the Papendal BMX track at the Dutch Olympic Training Center in Arnhem where I was working for Box Components and he was spectating with his son, then a young BMX racer. We kept in touch over the years. He helped me find my Hitachi Eddy Merckx. When he learned of my trip to Limburg, he reached out. Through a friend, Richard was able to get me entry into the Amstel Gold Xperience even though it had been sold out since November.
Richard picked me up around 7 and took me to dinner at an F1-themed restaurant owned by a former professional BMX racer he knew. The place was packed. We took a seat at a table outside along the sidewalk. The restaurant was informal, but the menu was slightly upscale. It was the first “adult” meal I’d had since I arrived in Europe some nine days earlier. And it was delicious.
I had a beer with my meal, that the waitress described and a “special beer made by a local craft brewery.” Although I had no idea what she meant by “special,” I felt like being adventurous and took her word for it that it was good. I figured, I’m in Holland, a few miles from Belgium, of course it will be good. Then, I had a fleeting thought—Maybe here in the land of Belgian ales and Trappist brews, “special” means something exotic like an IPA. To say I’m not a fan of IPAs, is an understatement. But since I had seen all of about three IPAs on grocery shelves since I arrived in Europe, unlike in the U.S. where it often seems like 90 percent of beers are the bitter brew, I blew off any concerns I might have had.
As soon as the beer moved across my lips and hit my tongue, I tasted the sharp tang of pine needles. It was an IPA. I drank it anyway. And although I wouldn’t order it again, it wasn’t too bad. Since then, I’ve actually tried and finished IPAs twice, once unknowingly.
After dinner, Richard drove me around the area and showed me where Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race would finish. We drove down the Cauberg and through Valkenburg. Having watched the race in videos and on TV many times, it all was all very familiar. The finish up the Cauberg had become one of my favorite race features in any race and I Iooked forward to Amstel Gold every year because of it. It bums me out that the race no longer finishes there.
Richard also showed me where I would pick up my rider packet and start the Amstel Gold Xperience the following morning, if I was feeling better. Richard’s tour was awesome and so was the meal.
When I got back to my room, I decided was too sick to do the 80-mile ride along the route of the famous Ardennes Classic the next day and I wouldn’t need to bother getting up early.
Steven at the AirBnBn in Aarselle, had described one of the drugs he got for me at the pharmacy that morning this way: “Take one packet before bed. You will sweat like crazy all night, but in the morning you will feel better.”
I took the meds, climbed into bed and immediately went to sleep. I woke up several times during the night, each time well aware that I was lying in a virtual pool of sweat. Steven wasn’t kidding.
In the morning, I was still very sick. It was a beautiful sunny day and perfect for a bike ride, but I was going to have to miss the Amstel Gold Xperience. I was gutted. I ate a little breakfast and discovered that not only was the coffee in my room instant (I noticed this the night before.), but it was decaffeinated. What was the point of such an abomination?
I disassembled my bike and put it into the travel case. I had been dreading stuffing it into the bag again, but it went smoothly and now it was done and the bike out of my way.
I checked the Google for local coffee shops and found a couple of possible options. I chose the one not in the city center, which I knew would be crowded with tourists. On my way, I shared the roads with riders doing the Amstel Gold Xperience. There were hundreds of them. I was envious they were riding in the beautiful sunshine and I was too sick to join them.
I spotted a bakery well before getting to the destination I had plugged into my map. I stopped to see if they also served coffee. On this day, the day before Easter, the place was packed. I looked around and saw no signs of coffee. The pastries looked amazing, but I had no appetite for sweets and needed an espresso, pronto.
Parking was sparse near the bakery so I had to grab a spot on the curb several streets over. On my way back to my car, I gave an adjacent “tea house” a closer look. On the patio were 10 or so tattooed bikers, most of whom were dressed in black leather. Undeterred by their sideways looks and cigarette smoke, I entered the place and saw a big espresso machine. Jackpot. I ordered, took note of the gelato and pastry selection and returned to the patio to find a seat. I chose a table as far from the bikers and their smoke as possible. Unfortunately, they had taken most of the tables under the canopy, so I took a seat in the bright sunshine. Its warmth was pleasant, but I could feel the uncomfortably intense sun on the bald spot on the top of my head.
The waiter, who I took to be the owner, was dressed in jeans, a black T-shirt and boots. Ink sleeves covered both arms. I assumed he was the reason the Dutch biker gang was hanging out at a tea house. He dropped off my coffee and wandered over to the bikers to take their orders. With limited distractions available on the patio, I entertained myself watching the gang. Most of them looked as if they’d made some bad life choices, among them smoking and possibly heavy drinking, which left plenty of premature lines etched on their faces. Still, they carried an air of middle-class comfort. Their bikes were nowhere to be seen.
I finished my coffee faster than I might normally. The sun was burning my balding head, despite the fact that I had grown my hair 1970s long in an effort to match my appearance to the age of my bike. I also was bored. And I needed to blow my nose. The snot was flowing out of control and I was out of tissues and quickly used all the napkins on the table.
Being that Easter was the next day and I had nothing at the house to eat, it seemed prudent to hit the grocery next door before I headed back. I grabbed my usuals—orange juice, water, a baguette, sliced cheese and meat, cookies, muesli and some milk. I looked at other foods, but the AirBnB had no place to cook and I only had two more days in Europe, so I kept it simple. Not to mention, I still felt like shit.
Not long after I got back to the house, Richard messaged me to see if I wanted to get some good coffee. He had seen my FaceBook post about the decaf instant that was in my room. He was appalled and embarrassed and wanted me to know there is good coffee in the Netherlands. He picked me up about an hour later. He was with his son, Ruben, who was a good foot taller than when I had last seen him a couple years prior.
Richard wanted me to see more of his hometown, so we went to Maastricht where he knew of a good coffee shop that doubled as a bike shop. On the way there, we visited a bike shop that had a small range of vintage road bike and jerseys for sale. I wasn’t feeling very much like spending money, so I didn’t look as much as I might usually, nor did I ask about the prices of the various, cool, wool jerseys that hung around the shop.
Maastricht, Richard explained, was unique because so much of its architecture was influenced by France. It felt like so many other Northern European counties I’ve visited—the building facades were hundreds of years old while the businesses they housed included banks, restaurants and bars, grocery stores and shops selling modern design goods.
The coffee shop, Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee , had a cool vibe, great coffee and killer pastries. It was easily the best coffee experience I had in Europe that trip. The bike shop seemed to be less important that the coffee shop, and it seemed to focus on clothing and accessories and, possibly, repairs and service. The service department was “closed” and the lights turned out, but there were a few customers there shopping for jerseys and helmets. You can check out the shop with Team Sunweb pro cyclist Coryn Rivera here.
Richard, Ruben and I caught up on things and chatted about the city, BMX racing (which is how we met), tomorrow’s Amstel Gold Race, Ruben’s new interest in photography and whatever else came up.
While I was working on my second cup of coffee and sampling the carrot cake, I received a text message from Celment Lucas, a BMX racer and friend. He wanted to know if I was planning to attend the European Cup BMX race that weekend in nearby Zolder, Belgium. Not long after that, I got a second text from a racer there asking the same thing. I shared the messages with Richard and Ruben. Although we had no plans to drive the 40 or so minutes to watch the race, we really had no plans at all, so Richard suggested that if I wanted to go, he would be into it. I gave it a few minutes thought and decided it would be fun to see a European round of BMX.
After we casually finished our coffee and food, we took a walking tour though Maastricht, ending in the city center where an antique swap meet was going on and, in an adjacent parking lot, the Pro Tour team cars were starting to line up for the Amstel Gold Race team presentation that would take place later in the afternoon. We browsed for a bit before heading back to Richard’s car.
The drive to Zolder was pleasant. The roads were small and narrow and there were relatively few people on them. The sun was finally shining. The trees were budding, the grasses along the roadways were green again and the spring flowers were beginning to bloom. I was feeling okay, but the snot was flowing. I must have used two dozen tissues on the drive. Lucky for me, Richard had a stash of tissue packs in his center console.
Driving into Circuit Zolder, the one-time home of Formula 1 racing in Belgium, I was hit with memories of my last time there for the BMX World Championships in 2015. At that time, the company I worked for, Box Components, not only sponsored the event with number plates, but also sponsored many of the world’s top professional racers, including Niek Kimmann and Stefanie Hernandez who would end the rain-soaked race weekend wearing rainbow jerseys. It was great weekend for us and I had many positive memories from my time there.
Working with Zolder and the World Championships in Belgium is also how I met my friend Gil, who took delivery of my Brooklyn jerseys in Gent and with whom I had lunch on the first day of the trip. Gil recently told me he took a new job with Flanders Classics, the organizers of Gent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders and the other big Flemish Classics. Sadly, all the race but Omloop Het Nieuwsblad were cancelled or postponed this year.
Although I had been to many BMX World Cups in Europe, as well as a few World Championships, I had never been to one of the Euro rounds. The Euro rounds, like a National here in the United States, includes amateur and professional racing. The amateurs are of all ages and experience levels. It was cool to see how a race of that scale is run in Europe and to experience the vibe and be among the people who appreciate BMX—the racers, parents and spectators who had to pay a 20 euro entry fee. And despite that fee, there were far more people there watching than you ever get at a US national.
I spent my time checking out the venue and visiting with some of the World Cup racers, coaches and mechanics I know. I swung by the Dutch team pit and talked to Willie Meijer, the head mechanic and the Australian pit where I visited with coach Wade Bootes and racing siblings Kai and Says Sakaibara. Along the way I ran into New Zealand’s Sarah Walker, France’s Manon Valentino and 2018 world champion Sylvain André, Danish coach and former racer Klaus Bøgh Andersen and others.
The racing was exciting and fast paced. And it was nice to spend the day outdoors in the sunshine. After about three hours of BMX, we decided it was time to head back to the Netherlands. The walk to the exit took longer than it should have. Richard knows as many people in BMX as I do, so along the way he and I both stopped numerous time to visit with people we hadn’t seen for a long time. One of the people I finally found was Clement Lucas, whose query into wether or not I would be at the race was in impetus for us going. Clement was my marketing intern at THE about a decade ago. He and I have stayed in touch over the years. He’s stayed with us when he as vacationing in California and we met (along with Klaus Bøgh Andersen) when he was living in Copenhagen and I was there for a couple days after a BMX World Cup in Sweden.
Without a doubt, the best things to come out of my career in the bike industry, particularly my years in BMX, are the many friendships and acquaintances made over the years. Richard and Ruben, Clement, Klaus, Sarah, Wade among the dozens more people I have been fortunate to meet and get to know. Although unplanned, the day trip to Belgium and the BMX races was one of the best things I did this trip. It reminded me that I need to live in the moment and be open to making changes in my plans.
We got back to Valkenberg after sunset. Richard drove us around the city, showing me a variety of landmarks and architecturally interesting buildings. We asked through a sculpture garden outside a super-fancy and expensive hotel, whose name I forget, then headed to a very cool restaurant in an old barn. The restaurant was closing, but they let us come in for a nightcap. Informed of my preference for Trappist-style ales, the waiter recommended something completely different. Open to taking risks and loving in the moment, I took his recommendation. I forget what the beer was, in large part because I really had no idea what it was to begin with, but it was tasty.
My illness had zapped my energy and by the time we got back to my Air BnB, I was toast. My nose was also stuffed to the point where I was breathing almost entirely through my mouth. It had been a very long, but extremely enjoyable day, but I was ready to call it done.
After taking the Belgian meds and shooting some Afrin up each nostril, I climbed into bed and went to sleep. As with th night before, I would wake up from time to time and find myself wrapped in sweat soaked sheets.
Easter morning, I awoke to a perfect spring day. The sun was shining and the temperature was perfect. It was perfect wether for an Easter egg hunt. Perfect for a bike ride or bike race. Perfect for a hike. Unfortunately, I was felling anything but perfect. I made myself a simple breakfast of juice and muesli and checked the day’s race schedule. Unfortunately, I discovered that I would be unable to watch the Amstel Gold Race remotely. There was no television in my room, so I would have to stream it. Much to my disappointment, however, all the live streams were blocked in the Netherlands.
After doing numerous fruitless searches for ways to watch the race online, I wandered into the backyard to sit in the sunshine. Katty, my AirBnB host, came out to say hello and check on me. She told me she was headed home to Belgium for the day to prepare Easter dinner for her family, so she would be away. She asked about my plans. I was hoping to find a nearby coffee shop or bar I could walk to and where I could watch the race on TV, I told her. She was unaware of the race and had no idea where a bar might be, but she gave me several restaurant recommendations. She also told me there was a coffee shop at the end of her street, just a few blocks away. This was, indeed, great news.
As we talked, she was kind and voiced her concern about my illness. She offered to make me some ginger tea, which she said would help me. Reluctantly, but somewhat desperately, I accepted her generous offer. She left me and returned a few minutes later with a hand-drawn map showing me the way to a vegetarian restaurant and to a Thai restaurant. Some spicy Thai food sounded like a great lunch or dinner option.
The short walk to the coffee shop—less than 1 kilometer away—was a good test for me. I was feeling much weaker than I expected. And I was lightheaded and a bit woozy. The coffee shop was inside the walls of the castle at the end of her street. I had driven past the castle several times in the short time I was there, and was curious about it. Richard had mentioned there was a restaurant inside. The coffee shop had seating in and outside. Many of the tables, however, were occupied. I grabbed table for two away from the rest to the diners. I was practicing social distancing before it was the cool thing to do.
I ordered a cappuccino. The various food items on the menu didn’t appeal to me for some reason. The coffee came with a side of strawberry ice cream. It was delicious. It may have been the best thing I had ever eaten. It was so good that as soon as I finished the cappuccino, I ordered a second just to get more ice cream. The second coffee came with a citrus sherbet. Although not as tastily as the strawberry had been, it was satisfying just the same.
I walked back to the Air BnB feeling better than I had on my morning walk. The lightheadedness and wooziness were gone. I took a new route in the hope I’d pass a bar or restaurant that was open and full of Amstel Gold Race watchers. The neighborhood was virtually silent. I saw no one and the two or three bars I passed were dark and empty. And I saw no signs anyone would be there later to host a viewing of the race. How was I going to watch the race? It was sad that I was so close to the race route and lacked the energy to make my way to the roadies to watch the riders pass by.
Shortly after I returned to my room, Katty knocked at the door carrying a thermos filled with her homage ginger tea and box of tissues. She also brought me some bags of other teas. She wished me a nice day and left for Belgium.
The ginger tea was fan-fucking-tastic! Whatever I though about the delicious strawberry ice cream I ate that morning, the ginger tea was a thousand times better. I expected an herbal concoction heavy with the taste of tree bark, fungi and bitter berries with a hint of ginger and maybe some lemon. What Katty made was amazing. It was warm. It was sweet. It burst with the flavor of ginger. It soothed my sore throat and calmed my cough. To this day, I wish I had the recipe.
I spent the bulk of my morning laying in bed, streaming television series on Netflix like the recently released Hanna. From time to time, I’d try to stream the bike race. At some point late in the day, my efforts payed off and a stream of the race opened up on my laptop. I don’t recall exactly where in the race it was, but it was late. I’d guess it was within 40 or so kilometers. I do remember that I saw Julian Alaphillipe and Jakob Fuglsang attack my race favorite Mathieu van der Poel. And when Van der Poel chased them down with 500 meters to go for the win, I was ecstatic. What an amazing race. It had me wishing I’d pulled myself out on to the roadside or made my way to the finish.
After the race finished, I went back to my TV shows and took a nap. When I woke up, I was feeling a little better. I drank some of Katty’s delicious ginger tea and planned my adventure to the Thai restaurant.
Using Katty’s map and information, I looked up the restaurant on Google. It appeared to be about 2 kilometers away. Katty told that on the way, and very near the house, was a nice path for hiking. I planned to take a walk there first, then make my way to dinner. The “trial head” was really a pathway between some homes and a farmer’s field. It was very short and not very secluded. Still, it was nice to walk among the trees. And in those trees, I spotted a few local birds I had never seen before.
The route to the restaurant took me through Katty’s neighborhood, past a number of pastures large and small, most of which were inhabited by a horse or two. The way the Belgians and Dutch mingle the rural—small farms and livestock—with the urban, is a beautiful thing. I really love the towns I visited and walked through in both countries.
About half way to the restaurant, I started feeling an uncomfortable urge in my bowels. It was unusual for me to need the bathroom so late in the day. With each passing block, it got worse and I began to wonder if I would make it to the restaurant in time. I also worried what I would do if the place was closed. I continued in the direction of dinner, but weighed my options as I walked. Based on Katty’s map, I was unsure exactly how far I had to go. Nearly three-quarter of the way there—probably—I decided that the known was safer then the unknown and turned back toward the house. My bowels were not happy.
The closer I got to the house, the faster my pace was. But I couldn’t run. In fact, I could barley walk fast for fear I’d lose control of myself. The last 500 meters or so, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. I did.
Apparently, one of the side effect of one of the meds I was taking is diarrhea.
When it was all over, I considered heading back out to the restaurant. The fear of another attack, however, kept me at the house. I made some sandwiches, ate the rest of my muesli and washed it down with orange juice and herbal tea. For dessert, I had cookies an the remainder of Katty’s ginger tea. It wasn’t an ideal last meal in Europe, but it got the job done and it used up all my food stores. After getting my luggage packed and loading some of it into the car, I watched a little more Netflix and went to sleep.
I woke up early wanting to get on the road before the Monday morning rush hour. The drive from Katty’s to the Brussels airport was supposed to take about one and half hours, but possibly up two or even two and a half with traffic. As is my norm when going to an airport, I planned for the worst case scenario—three hours—and added a couple hours to make my check-in time. I also needed to stop and fill up the gas tank before returning the rental car. My flight was scheduled to leave at 11:30 a.m., so if I was on the road by 5:30, I should be there with plenty to time to spare.
I forgot that I was traveling on the Monday after Easter. I don’t really know what that means in Europe—does everyone return to work early Monday morning or do they take an extra day off—but based on the empty highways, I tend to think the latter may be the case. My drive to Brussels was fast and uneventful. Stopping to get gas gave me the usual stress, but it only took two tries with two different credit cards to get the pump to turn on. I arrived at the airport early, squeezed into the ridiculously tight underground parking lot and dropped off the car at unattended rental car return.
No longer a status carrying Delta customer, I was pleasantly surprised to see the short line for “regular” travelers—another benefit to arriving way too early. I got to the counter quickly, loaded my bags onto the scale and handed my passport to the woman behind the counter. Her first question: “Is this a bicycle?”
So much for all I had heard about how the bike bag I rented always slips past bag checkers. She changed me an additional 50 euros on top of the $50 I paid for an oversize bag.
After passing through security, I searched for a place to spend the pocket-full of change I had collected on breakfast. I recalled that the last time I ate breakfast in the Brussels airport, I had a nasty cappuccino and the worst pain au chocolat I had ever eaten. I hoped for better this time. I walked past the crowded Starbucks and found a counter where they sold a wide variety of parties and sandwiches as well as espresso drinks. everything looked pretty good. I calculated what I could buy using just my change and ordered a cappuccino, a pain au chocolate and a cheese danish. With that, I had only three coins left over.
I made my way to the gate, took a seat and enjoyed my breakfast as best I could in a crowded airport. While watching the passing travelers, I reflected on the past 10 or so days. Getting sick sucked and really put a damper on the trip. Still, I made the best of it. With the exception of missing the Amstel Gold Xperience, which was a last-minute addition to the trip anyway, I did everything I set out to do. Okay, yes, I didn’t visit a Trappist abbey for beer. And I generally ate pretty crappy food. But really, I have no regrets and few disappointments. I really fell like I made the best of my situation and managed to push through the shitty virus and get things done.
The Paris Roubaix Challenge was brutal and fun and demoralizing and inspiring and horrible and beautiful. When I climbed off my bike in the velodrome, I was shattered. I imagine the look on my face was akin to those on the faces of men fresh off the battlefield. Of course, I got over my experience by the time I was went to sleep that night, but I’m pretty sure I was in a state of shock.
I can still remember how difficult it was for me to walk and ride back to my car. I was dazed and confused. I remember how much I had to focus just to undress and redress in dry warm clothes. I remember how slowly I moved as I disassembled my bike and put it in the back of the car. I remember sitting on the back of the car, dazed and staring out into space, slowly eating some sort of European energy bar and drinking water, trying to muster the energy to drive back to the Air BnB. Between then and going to sleep that night, all I remember is that would have killed for a hamburger, frites and a Coke.
Two days later, when I was sure some sort of illness was coming on, I rode the cobbles again. This time, I was somewhere in Flanders, and likely somewhere along the Ronde van Vlaanderen course. It was fun. It was easy. Much easier and much more enjoyable than I expected it would be a couple days after finishing Roubaix. It was overcast and chilly. Just as I would expect it to be in Flanders. My wool Brooklyn jersey and shorts paired with wool arm and knee warmers kept me perfectly comfortable.
A year later, as I write this final chapter, I have to admit that dozens of times, I’ve thought about how I’ll do the Pairs-Roubaix Challenege next time. And, of course, I’ll also do the Tour of Flanders the Sunday before. Maybe I’ll even make it a two-week tour and add the much mellower Amstel Gold Xperience to the end of the trip.
My plan now is to ride on an a vintage steel bike again. But I’ll fast forward to the mid-1980s or even the early-1990s. Even though I wished I could shift from the bars a thousand times while I was on the cobbles in Roubaix, I still want to do with a pre-STI/Ergo Power bike. But I definitely want to ride with aero brake levers, at least seven rear cogs and maybe a 39-tooth small chainring. Maybe I’ll ride the Bucker bike I’m building now. Or maybe my Etienne de Wilde Splendor, the frame of which I like to think raced both Flanders and Roubaix in 1986. I’d use Time pedals if I rode the Buckler; Campagnolo SLs with clips and straps on the Splendor.
To be honest, I’m not sure either bike would really improve the ride or make it any easier to finish the 109-mile course. For sure, it would feel less impressive than doing it on a bike built in 1972. And it may even look less impressive to those I see out there on the road. But I’m not convinced the bike matters much. At least not until you get to the type of bikes used since Fabien Cancellara won Paris-Roubaix in 2006. I think that’s when he and a few others started using bigger tires with lower air pressure on bikes built around frames and components that are insanely better than anything you could get back in the day. For sure, the current crop of gravel bikes—the descendants of Cancellara’s 2006 bike—would make the ride a more bearable.
I can see myself doing the two Monuments on either of those bikes and in matching kit, of course. I’d like to be 30 pounds lighter. I’d like to share the experiencer with a friend or two. I’d want support along the route so I don’t run out of food or water again or so I can drop off or pick up extra clothes. I’d like to shoot more video with at least have two cameras—helmet and bike—with much longer battery life. Even better, I’d like to have a buddy along the way who can shoot me riding some of the cobbled sectors, say Arenberg or Carrefour de l’Arbre, from above or at eye level with a drone.
Between Monuments I’d like to hit one of those Abbeys I missed last time around. I’d also like to see the Ronde, Gent–Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix live and from the roadside or experience watching a race in a bar with the local fans. The rest of the time, I’d want to ride and keep my legs subtle for P-R, visit more cycling museums and private collections, maybe buy some cool bike stuff, visit more friends and I definitely want to eat better food at better restaurants.
Also, as I write this a year later, it would be rude of me to ignore what’s going on right now. The world is in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and everyone I know in the U.S., Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Italy…is affected in some way by the pandemic. All of us are in some level of lockdown, with the exception, maybe, of Japan. I’m extremely thankful I’ve had so many opportunities to travel the world—for work and privately—and meet new people and make new friends.
Last April, I was the most recent time I was able to do this and it’s thanks to all the great people I met on my trip, from the Air BnB hosts and the bike guys I had befriended prior to the trip via FaceBook to the various people I met for the first time. Without them, my trip would have been mediocre at best. I’m grateful for their contributions then and for the continued friendships we have today. I wish all my international friends and their families good health during this crazy time we’re all experiencing and success after it’s all over.
Peace & Love,