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The Little Things

by Tara

In our "normal" lives, both Tyler and I are known for our easy-going demeanor. Our friends have even jokingly referred to us as "zen masters" on more than one occasion. While it is fine and dandy to be even-keeled at home, the day to day life of cycling around the world almost constantly puts our shared nickname to the test. Though we often face challenges large and small, it is unquestionably the smaller ones that inexplicibly make us lose our sanity.

For example, Tyler tries his best to keep his panniers clean, organized, and "presentable". If I pack the food panniers (they are on his bike) so they look "as if an alien life-form is growing in there" he will stop in a huff, and, with a frantic look in his eyes, start chucking every single thing out of the pannier until the surrounding area is strewn with its contents. He will then very meticulously re-pack everything until it suits his sensibilities.

I, on the other hand, become a two-year-old when I am trying to wheel my heavy bike through deep sand or scrubby bushes. I push, I push some more, and either the bike stays put, or it goes every-which way with a mind of its' own as I trip over rocks and get scraped by bushes. It's a very humbling experience to find that while I thought I was very mature and even-tempered, I am entirely capable of digressing to toddlerhood.

We get through our miniature crises with a lot of compassion, humor, and supportive encouragement. When Tyler senses I am about to lose it, he orders me to "step away from the bike", while taking it from my hands and wheeling it for me. Somehow, he always manages to do it right before my gut reaction kicks in: to scream like a madwoman, knock it over, and throw large rocks at it.

When things aren't going well at camp, and I feel that Tyler might take our tent poles and throw them into the ocean or woods, I pry them from his determined fingertips and calmly work on whatever the problem is while assigning him to a different task. Our rule "if you are upset, you don't get to make decisions" has proven invaluable.

For me, unexpected climbing is one of those things that, without huge feats of mental gymnastics, makes me want to kick and scream and die right then and there by the side of the road. A quick 50 kilometer flat coastal ride was what we thought was in store today. When we left camp and began climbing almost immediately, it took hours to wrestle my inner monologue into shape:

  • WTF, we're climbing.

  • Why are we climbing?

  • We're not supposed to be climbing.

  • It's supposed to be flat.

  • Why aren't you flat?


  • Shhh just chill.

  • Shut up.

  • Why did that sign say 70 kilometers to Rethymnon?

  • It's supposed to be only 50!

  • Just look around. You're in Greece, remember?

  • So? That doesn't mean it doesn't SUCK.

  • This is just a good workout, that's all.

  • Who works out for four hours everyday!?

  • Look at those flowers blooming.

  • Flowers blooming!

  • Flowers blooming…. flowers blooming… flowers blooming…

  • Keep concentrated on those pretty flowers.

  • They smell good.


  • You just climbed mountains the other day and you were fine. This is not a big deal.

The mental games continued like this for what felt like a very, very long time, and wouldn't even be quelled by the loud music I played to drown it out. My attitude was so out of line that it was even hard to appreciate this truly awe-inspiring flock of birds swooping around and around in the sky over a particular area. The photo really doesn't do it justice.

The Birds

Eventually, after much unnecessary mental anguish, we called it a day at 50 kilometers when I spotted a gravel path leading off the road. What we found was a perfect free-camp overlooking the ocean! I found it a lot easier to be a "zen master" here:

Cretan Free Camp Cretan Free Camp

Ignoring a painful incident involving me being off balance, being crushed by my heavy bicycle into the thorns of a giant prickly bush, having to be rescued by Tyler who swiftly removed the bike and wheeled it along so I could squeeze numerous thorns out of my bleeding skin… setting up camp was a jubilant affair.

Tyler Unfurling Our Tent Tyler Crazy Hair

The coastline was stunning, the weather was a balmy 78°F, and there were lots of rocks and caves for us to explore. Best of all, we had it all to ourselves! After setting up camp on a perfectly-sized flat area of earth, completely surrounded by sharp uneven rocks, we went off to a pool that Tyler discovered.

Rock Pool Water Filled Cave

We both went for a frigid dip (me, the slow way, inching in, and Tyler the fast way, with a leap). After the heart-stopping shock of cold, we both felt much cleaner and very refreshed.

Although I may still want to have a tantrum every time I have to climb something unexpected on my bicycle, I have grown in other ways. Nine months ago, I was absolutely terrified to climb up and down a cliff in England. Today, without even Tyler's steadying hand, I scaled the rocks by myself, finding hand holds and moving gracefully up the jagged cliff face to head back to camp.

I was so proud!

Tara After a Swim (not sweat stains!)

Now we're settled in for the night, enjoying the view and excited about the days of rest we have waiting for us.

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Coasting in Crete
In Years Past and Future
2011 - Tarred
2012 - Hanging On
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Meta Morning


Yay, Tara! You rock!

Your dialogue sounds vaguely familiar...it's me gently coaching myself through my lab work while swearing the whole time.

Keep up the bad assness, you two.

Oodles of love,
Posted by KELB on February 18th, 2010 at 5:19 PM
Tara, you're a laugh riot! I thought your description of the techno music was funny...this was a scream! Vaguely reminiscent of Jo Anne dragging her loaded bike up a long set of steps to a train platform somewhere. At one point she just stood and stared up the steps at me...I thought she was going to cry....(she may have), but we always seem to get through it and the rewards are many.
Love you guys,
Jo Anne and Fritz, Kent, Ohio.
Posted by Fritz Seefeldt on February 19th, 2010 at 9:47 AM
Tara your description of the pannier packing, and frigid dipping (I'm a fellow incher, she's a leaper), describes Heather and I pretty much to a T. Glad to know that we have a doppleganger :)
Posted by Mike on February 19th, 2010 at 12:30 PM
We just had supper with your folks and of course had to check out your adventures. Loved the place you camped at. Also laughed at your non-Zen moments. We love you bunches. Kathleen and Marcelo
Posted by Lepeley-Bell on February 20th, 2010 at 7:23 PM
Karina - Thank you!!! :D Facts vs. Interpretations comes in handy too. Love you!

Fritz & Jo Anne - Heeheehee thanks! Ooof, stairs are no fun-- I feel for you Jo Anne! Luckily(?) our bikes are way to heavy to push up more than two or three, so we have to find somewhere else to go. Or disassemble everything and ferry it up piece by piece. Love to you guys!

Mike - Glad to know we aren't the only ones! I tell Tyler "I have a process!" and then he leaps in and splashes me. :-)

Kathy & Marcelo - It is so great to hear from you! Thank you for always being such great zen-like examples to follow. I love you too!
Posted by Tara on February 21st, 2010 at 4:06 AM
Thanks Tara for sharing! I was in much need of some bonding over the silly frustrations we face.. And how sick of ourselves we get during them!

I faced a terrible day last week with an even more rotten attitude. Not fun! And I needed a gal-pal to just rot with for a minute. This entry helps! :)

You look fabulous and I'm so happy to share in your sights and sounds! Keep up the good work on the blog! I miss you so much my dear friend!
Posted by Bobbi Lee on February 22nd, 2010 at 11:26 AM
BOBBI! I didn't know you were following along! Glad to hear this post helped brighten your crappy day a little bit. :-) I miss you too! Sending loads of hugs your way!

Oh PS: Soon we go to home country. I no can wait.
Posted by Tara on February 26th, 2010 at 8:14 AM