I'm dreaming of riding my bike, or riding my bike and dreaming - I can't seem to figure out which one's the reality. Just like in a film the landscape in front of me unfolds, and after every cover a different scene, each one more beautiful than the last. I ride uphill on a deserted road. The bright sun sparkles on the asphalt. In the shadows the road is wet and slippery. Birds sing, but stay invisible in the endless trees of the valley. Everywhere I hear water splattering on the rocks.
As reach the top I ride across and the wind fills my ears. Sweat cools in my neck and after every corner the view changes. Big manors made out of piled up rocks, the same warm colour as the soil, enclosed by empty fields. No living soul, no dog, not even a chicken around. The noise in my ears softens till the road is flat and I can hear the birds again. The sun warms my salty cheeks, I see snow powdered mountain tops in the distance.
The motionless city appears, the high houses engulf me and the only soul I see is an old man on a bench, dozing off in the sun. Nobody seems to be awake here. The traffic lights blinks orange and the high houses release me, while the empty fields embrace me. I float and dream and travel on over winding roads, swinging through the landscape, up and down untill I read Hincapie on the road. My pace gets heavier, no birds now, just me and my panting breath and after every corner a whiff of frontwind. Hincapie, Hincapie, over and over Hincapie. The church, in site atop the hill for ages already, has a bell which doesn't chime. In the distance a dog barks.
I descend. The wet road shatters my dream, splatters mud on my shining bike, makes my legs and bum and glasses wet and dirty. Shadows dance on the asphalt, I squeeze my eyes to see where I ride and there is the sun again. The splatters of mud begin to dry, the dream returns while I float into the next still city. A woman sweeps her door step without even looking up from her work, even though there's not a mote to clean. The snow covered mountains seem so close I can touch them by just stretching my arm. The road is long and straight and wide and in the distance I see the next town on a hill top, hazy still, because there are many meters to go between me and the town. The cathedral on the hill casts her long shadow ominously over the houses of the city. I leave her behind quickly and ride uphill again. I can't do anything else but look at the white mountains which rise above everything.
The air gets warmer, soggier and saltier and through the trees I see the ocean. Waves break at the rocks deep down under me, the beaches are perfect yet deserted. Up and down, with a thousand times up and down the coast road brings me home. A different view again and again, every time a new panorama so beautiful I am sure I must be dreaming. Not a soul, not even an animal disturbs my dream. I am alone and the difference between waking and sleeping, between cycling and dreaming gets hazy. And all the time, wherever I ride and dream, I feel the warm sun on my face and see the white, snowy tops of the Pyrenees in the distance.
Marijn de Vries is a Dutch pro cyclist and journalist