The last day of an extraordinary summer had to come at last. Since I had ridden northward and southward, I opted today for a route to the Süßer See to the west. I had seen a sign on my first ride in Halle and found it again today.
Off I set with glee – only to find my front tyre flat. How so, I wondered. Were not the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres supposed to be impervious to punctures? It turned out to be a pinched tube from deflating the tyres for the transport case. But the replacement tube also had a small hole, so I undertook the whole process again.
At last I could get going, only to find the route closed due to roadwork. Ah well, I will simply pick up a bicycle path through Neustadt and see where it takes me. After a few kilometres, the signs to the Süßer See appeared once again. Now they took through forest paths, villages and the double ribbon of concrete farm tracks. Here farmers were ploughing and putting on a layer of topsoil, which had blown away over the dry summer. As always, they hoped for rain in the midst of the dust.
I took my time along the ride back, savouring the farmlands and forest, thinking back over the 1700 or so kilometres I had ridden and looking forward to the next long ride.
I was not fully aware of it then, but the month or more of riding was another profound transition. It was not merely that my head had cleared, with a sharp recall of Chinese language – my passion – I had not expected. It was not merely the tanned fitness of day after day on the road. At a deeper level, it would turn out to be a pattern of life in which I did not feel pressured and tensed by all around, an ability to take on relatively little and reflect much. In short, a growing sense of calm and peace.