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    Day 1.122 – The Shield

    San Fernando -> Matamoros
    Distance (km) : 140
    Time on bike : 6h 26m
    Brutto time: 09.00 – 18.00
    Avg : 21.6 km/h
    Max.speed: 38.9
    Total (km) : 46.543
    Altitude: 8 m
    Difficulty: 4 of 5

    I have a strong sidewind in the early hours today over a flat landscape in the company of a crop, I can not identify. But it is golden and fine and ready for harvest. The sidewind hits me from an easterly direction – at 2-4PM, my nose is aimed at 12PM – and both my panniers and my psyche is hit hard. Around noon, I have a long and straight stretch of asphalt that lasts for 32 km.
    Together with the sidewind, which requires a constant pressure in the pedals, it’s mentally hard to see the asphalt stretching in front of you without the slightest curve, without the slightest diversion.
    The first curve is fortunately to the northwest, the right direction. It is not great, but sometimes small curves have the biggest effect, and soon I go from 20 fighting km/h to 32 flying.

    There are almost always small fly-like insects on my arms and legs when I’m on the road. Most of them die once they come into physical contact with the thick and highly sticky (like fly paper) SPFr 60.

    A Protective Shield:
    Everyone (everone!) stare and gaze at me wherever I am and I am going crazy. There is honking after me non-stop, and if we added some strings and a couple of trombones one would be thinking that the Berliner Philharmonishes Orchester were performing. I ignore almost all the attention, give a poor “hola” here and there, and just keep concentrating in my little artificial bubble of music and focused momentum. I pack myself mentally into several layers of varnish, which together form a shell, that I seek protection from. As a bullet kissing the barrel of a gun goodbye, I am fleeing the here and now in the fastest fugitive gear, in a blind quest for progress.

    But this is not what long-distance cycling is all about. Long-distance cycling is about getting rid of all these protective layers and filters on your mind and your eyes that prevent you (me!) from seeing how the world is really put together, about getting a feel of how the world’s social and cultural dynamics and structures is manifested and works.

    I know that this self-created shell is relatively easy to get rid of again, that it is not here to stay, and that it (the mental shell) apparently (and surprisingly) has been necessary for me to be able to focus 100% on the purely expedition-related part of WT. Will see if I can get rid of the shell when I hit the US ‘cos this being non-social makes me feel a little sad when it is not the image I am used to mirror myself in.

    The figure started as a 5-digit, then it got 4-digit a few weeks ago, then 3 digits, but now I have only a 2-digit number of kilometers to the U.S., and it excites me heaps.

    I finally reach Matamoros. The city has 430,000 inhabitants, and is located right next to the Rio Grande that separates Mexico and Texas, USA. Yeah, baby, USA!

    As I sit here early evening on the Plaza Allende in Matamoros’ center, waiting for my gorditas at an outdoor food vendor, it is hard to grasp how much momentum Zülle has seen here in Mexico. 1.900 km in just 16 cycling days. Just a month ago I imagined that I’d stay in Mexico for some 3 months, and here I am, just 500 meters from Texas, only 3 weeks after I arrived in Mexico.

    The feeling of accomplishment is allover me in layers the thickness of which isn’t matched by the thickness of the SPF 60 sunscreen on my shoulders nor by the protective shell in my mind…

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame 🙂

    On this day..


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