• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 10

Life on Two Wheels

At the tail end of a month on two wheels we stored the bags and set off on a ferry from the mainland to Brac, the first place you went on holiday with your parents, six years old, back when the Dalmatian coast was Yugoslavia on the brink of collapse and the pound went further and further each day.

Without the tent, the clothes, the rest of the gear, we were fast and free up and down the mountainous roads, some paved, others unsealed. Past grazing goats and shepherds huts constructed of dry stones–no mortar–from the same rocks that litter the fields, that make the walls separating plots, fortunes, and herds.

A picnic lunch with a view, we found the most scenic junk yard, scattered with the metallic remains of Yugos, Ficos, and Stojadins in various states of disrepair. We traded our bikes for the rotting interior of a compact silver Volkswagen, a picnic spread: sandwiches, olives, a sleeve of chocolate biscuits and a glimpse of the sea. Neighboring islands rising from the Adriatic, far enough away to feel dark and mysterious under the wide open cloud-streaked sky.

Now we weren’t trespassing per se, there was no fence or gate, this wasn’t a “pull your own” business, there was no office, no buildings; hell we didn’t see another soul. Even so, I still felt guilty. A lifetime of following rules, I still looked over my shoulder climbing in the driver’s side to sit on plastic seats, not quite comfortable yet tolerable enough after so many days in the saddle.

The wind whipped my hair and the cresting waves on the shores far below. I never remember conversations, not verbatim, not in real time. My nerves wore off, you opened the glove box; it was empty. We finished our lunch and packed our trash, our already light load even lighter, carried in our bellies instead of panniers.


Life on Two Wheels

We carried on around the island, past churches, villages, the sun sinking earlier and earlier as November wore on.

The descent back into town to the ferry port was epic, yet bittersweet, it was the end of the road, the last hurrah. We were going home soon to different countries, different lives, uncertain about the future. The sun was setting as we raced down the switchbacks, the last golden rays turning orange then red as we relished in the final payoff of so many steep climbs, so many hard days.

Waiting for the boat to take us back to Split we drank a beer in a smoky cafe-bar filled with men. Laughing and cold from the sweat and decidedly underdressed, we wheeled the bikes on board and watched the lights of the tiny port fade and disappear. Across the black water to disassemble and box up our bikes, and relent to the nagging time bomb saying this’ll all be over soon. Let’s leave that for tomorrow, though. For now we’ll imagine we have the sea and the hills and life on two wheels forever.