Get Lost

22 February, 2016

A few things in life make me happier than combining my passion for cycling, travel, and exploration. Mostly by choice, I do most of my exploring on my own, which sometimes leads me to getting lost. I consider myself a great navigator, reading maps and learning directions by memory used to be a favorite pass time, but I'm a firm believer that some of my most memorable experiences and adventures have happened in the process of finding my way or getting lost.

When riding around in Paris, I constantly got lost. After miles of passing quaint neighborhoods, cafes, and parks, I would find that I distracted myself from keeping on course while sampling these spectacular details of the city of lights. Looking for a sign that pointed to the Seine, I knew I had to follow. In the back of my mind I remembered that Paris is a circular city with the Seine cutting through it's heart, from there I could find my way either on the left or right bank by the upstream flow of the river.

Finding myself in this conundrum frequently, I knew to follow the sign back to the Seine and head in the direction I intended. I had little idea of where I was going and how I would get there but I frankly didn't care. My pedals were turning, the sun was shining, kilometers ticking away, I had plenty of summer daylight and everything I needed in my tote bag to get me home.

Over the weekend, we had lovely weather. A day of fifty-six degrees in the middle of winter deserved a day of celebration by bike. Slipping on my cycling shoes, I knew it was going to be a bike and hike adventure through surrounding woodland trails. As my fiance and I set off pedaling down miles on a main country road we veered off from the asphalt into a vast forested area after spotting some spectacular single track and gravel paths sparsely populated by hikers and mountain bikers. Hikers stared at us, puzzled by the conversations about which path to take, the gravel or mountain bike trail, while mountain bikers nodded at us with approval.

After taking a map, we steered down the gravel path where we soon found ourselves in the dwellings of trees and rocks. The gravel pavement was rough, debris covered, and muddy from days of rain before. Through narrowed packed gravel, we floated over the forest floor. Pedaling, ascending, hearts pounded while we smiled with our bike faces on. We were satisfied on the beautiful gravel road of the mountains despite not having the correct bikes on these trails.

Suddenly, we realized that we hadn't seen anyone else on the trail and then the doubts of going down the right trails started to consume our curiosity. Are we lost? What if this path becomes dangerous while descending among leaves and debris? What if we get hurt? We had no idea where we were on the map.

As quickly as those fears entered our minds, two mountain bikers politely and slowly passed. We quickly asked if they could tell us where we were on the map and if the gravel path continued on right. The riders pointed to the map in the direction of the gravel trail that looped back to the 301, we could find our way anywhere back to the 301 as long as we continued along gravel trails. Like the Seine, the gravel was the heart of the park where many off-roaders and hikers trekked to find there way back to where they started. We thanked them as they shredded off down a single track.

The forest was dark by evergreen tree canopies and we were starting to get tired and hungry after covering two hours of gravel trails. We bolted down easy hills and followed the map to exit. Once we finally hit the pavement, we rolled through hills with views of lakes, eager to eat. Happily exhausted and happy to have found our way back, we were pleased to find that we live in mountain and road biking territory. The ride in the park was unexpected but it exceeded all expectations. It was a good day to get lost.

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