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Published: March 26th 2018
Somehow this year feels different, although much so far has been familiar: I made the customary wrong turn after leaving the airport (having inadvertently left my directions in my luggage that was being transported in the van. Worse yet, I wasn't even positive I had the name of the hotel right), but according to Google the ride was a whopping 1.9 km so it didn't really affect anything. In fact the distance was so short I hadn't even bothered to don my cycling shoes (nor even take the traditional airport photo), and most of the group decided to walk it (toting the airport baggage dollies with them!). I wheeled into the lobby at 8:30 AM local time, only to discover that
• I had beaten the others there (no surprise)
• The hotel did not appear to be expecting us (this caused me some mild consternation, as I wasn't 100% sure I was even in the correct establishment)
• In any event they were full and in the process of checking people out, so no rooms would be available until noon.
So I sat down to wait and see what would happen next, wishing I had been able to
sleep on the plane. In short order others arrived, reservations were confirmed, and the rest of the group set about assembling their bikes. Later, after a snack and a brief nap in my newly-acquired room, I set off to see if I could catch up with a group that had apparently taken a bus downtown. On the way I was reminded of home as bike lanes appeared then disappeared, and the pavement occasionally got dodgy while traffic snarled around me.
With only a vague notion of where I was heading I did eventually manage to find myself in the centre of things, and ended up making friends with an English couple I asked to take my photo (I didn't know they were English at the time, but that happy circumstance rapidly became apparent). In fact Sophie and Tom from Reading and I got along so well our ensuing conversation lasted for many quite enjoyable minutes before we reluctantly said our goodbyes. Then, after some further urban exploration, I decided it was time to return. At that point I had little idea of where I was, but I just navigated by gut feel and instinctively (and somewhat remarkably) I chanced upon a cycle-friendly route back to the hotel, where dinner proved to be to everyone's liking.
Tomorrow I will get to see what I can do on a real ride - of late I have been so preoccupied with trying to manage my mother's transition to a long-term care facility that I really haven't trained adequately for a trip of this magnitude.
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