The Spoked Traveller | Seeking culture, adventure and a good story
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The Spoked Traveller

It never occurred to me to leave my bike at home on my first overseas trip. Twenty years later, nothing has changed. Whether at home, or in a foreign country, riding makes me feel closer to people and places.

I created this site as a hub for all things cycling; it’s a celebration of bike culture. Where to travel next, how to travel, where to get advice, see some cool practical bike fashion, what to eat. I’ll share what I know; and I invite you to do the same.

Over the next few months keep checking in as I’ll be adding some new menu items.

See you on the trails. Melanie

Cause you, love love love. When you know I can’t love. You love, love, love. When you know I can’t love. You love, love, love. When you know I can’t love. IMG_5520 I listened to Iceland’s Of Monsters and Men while skiing today--a raspy foreign whisper and church bells felt like the soundtrack to the fjords, the black blue ocean, tall pines dipped in snow and cold air that stung my cheeks. There’s an old voice in my head that’s holding me back…well, tell her I miss our little talks. The parking lot was full at 10:30am on a Tuesday. We climbed to the intersection where we had lunch the first day and got stuck the following day; this time a woman came up and over the crest with two duck tolling retrievers on leads, one on each side. I let out some ridiculous coos: “Oh babies… look at you!” She laughed and kept going, her companions dutifully trotting beside. Amazing. It made my heart full to see this. IMG_5555       And you, love love love. When I can’t give love

I bought cross country skis in Norway today. Not rented, but bought. I will take them home with me once I've broken them in here--the birthplace of nordic skiing. A place that seems to be outlined with tracks--alongside the roads, the city parks, the sidewalks, the fjords... trails are everywhere. For $250 including bindings, I walked out of the store with the skis slung over my shoulder feeling like I became a member of an ancient  Norwegian club. Yea, I'm one of you now. Maybe I should have cut my thumb and rubbed blood with the teenager that sold me the skis, but that's just not sanitary these days. Instead, I had the best guide a person could want: Bjornar. For as long as I've known this viking, I mean man, through hiking in Scotland, biking up a 2,000 meter mountain in Croatia and riding across Sardinia, I was always curious, yet frightened, about skiing with him one day. He's been skiing since he was old enough to stand. So, it was with a bit of trepidation, anxiety and excitement, that we set out at 4pm, just as the light was going down and the snow, finally, began to fall in giant blobs. It couldn't have been timed better. I couldn't wait to begin gliding.

I should have known when Bjornar said, 'let's go for a walk,' that it would require a backpack with sandwiches, a thermos of coffee and extra clothes. On my first full day in Tronheim, I woke at 12 -- still a little jet lagged and truthfully still reeling from an all-nighter in Iceland the night before. Dressed in gore tex and light weight running pants, performance jacket and running shoes, Bjornar meant business. So, at about 1pm we set out. It's not as dark as I expected --the sun sits on the horizon, and the blueish grey colour illuminates the houses and snow. There is nothing sad or dark about it. And, especially during the holidays: bright white stars, and yellow candles in the windows and door trims glow. It's peaceful. house house 2

It's about -15 Celsius and I'm swimming laps in an outdoor pool in Iceland. Every time my head bobs to the surface, the freezing air electrocutes my wet hair. Through a cloud of steam drifting across the water, I can barely make out the heads of other swimmers next to me. Resting on the side, it's been ages since I swam laps. I turn to a man beside me: "It's exhausting." He doesn't answer, then pulls his ear plugs out. "I said, it's tiring." "Yes," he replies, "but you won't have sore muscles like running." Agreed. It's like he knew what I was thinking. Running has destroyed my feet, but that's another matter. From downtown Reykjavik, it's a 10 minute bus ride to the Vesturbaejar Swimming Pool.

I never sleep Sunday night. You see on the Monday morning I commute to London to teach a class; it's two hours away. I used to drive and now I take the train. But this morning, I took a bus. "It's half the price and right now every dime I have is going to my Norway trip." This is what I say in my head. I wake quite groggy at 6:30, out the door by 7. I'm the only person on Queen Street and it's still dark. Across from the Much Music studios, I smell bread--specifically, I smell freshly baked croissants. I walk by. Am I stupid? Obviously if I don't turn around and get a croissant. It's still warm as I put it in my purse. Arriving at the bus station, I decide to do some work. Laptop, cord...cord? I forgot to pack the cord to my computer. Settle down, Chambers. This just means you can't reread your lecture notes. Fine. I'll read a book. I will get a cord somehow in London. Relax, Chambers, worse has happened. Beside me a bearded man with a black turban shakes his coffee cup. "Want me to put that in the garbage for you?" I'm sitting near the window. "Thanks," he says. "Sure."

Outside the church, a sign: Toronto Salsa Practice. Wow, hip grinding in a  house of worship. The guy outside informs me I'm early. Mid 50s, he looks like he hasn't slept in days and his comb over is flapping in the wind. "You joining?" "Ahh, yes, yes I am," I stammer. "I'll come back closer to 3:30." I go to a bar for a little liquid courage: $5 caesar down the street from St. Paul's on Bloor and Spadina. It's a rainy cold Saturday and I figure few will turn out: maybe just me and Combover. I return and pay my $5. There's no lesson, the woman tells me. It's just dancing for two hours. "Lots of levels," she continues. The place starts to fill up, and it turns out Combover works for the church--so I will not be dancing with him. Not now, or ever. Shame. 10805714_10204057318168277_1641822322524689309_n  

At 29-years-old, Lena Dunham (creator of HBO's GIRLS and recent memoir author--a memoir at this age? Seriously?) has got it all figured out: 'we're all screwed up and that's ok.' Wow, I'm almost 42 and I only figured this out in the last few years. I assumed I should have come to some epiphany by now; that I should have some things 'straightened-out.' Well, in some ways I have, but new and strange moments of living in 'awkward-city' crop up all the time.