A journal of 2,000 kilometers by bicycle to the foothills of the French Alps to knock at the door of the once owner of my 1967 Peugeot
It begins like this, all Hollywood:
Under the saddle and secured around the seatpost, an old Peugeot touring bicycle named Manny reveals a window to his past. There hangs a small metal plaque with an engraving: a name, a street address, and a small town in the foothills of the French Alps.
I picked up the old set of wheels at a railway station in Porto, Portugal from a man who had little to tell or cared little to say. The bicycle had been sitting in a shed, somehow protected from the years--still a road eatin´ steel steed of five speeds. Manny is from another era, 1960-something--like early Stevie Wonder or late Beatles. French red and chrome all over.
Manny and I are making a pilgrimage, 2,000 kilometers across the Spanish North, along the Cantabrian Sea, up over the Pyrenees of French Basque Country, and into the foothills of the Alps to return an old bicycle to the front door of its once owner--an old Frenchman who may just as well be long gone or moved on...
Given the bicycle´s age, Nenes Relerou is at youngest 60 years of age. And of course, it is quite possible that the man is no longer with the living. It´s possible the house was destroyed or burned and I arrive to find little. But I like to imagine that Nenes Relerou is in the tawny twilight of his years, still pedaling out and back amongst the hills near his home...
...He won the Tour de France in 1978. He´s the town´s poet-laureate. He´s an old butcher who works to pass time and avoid the idleness of retirement. Or maybe I´m the only living person who speaks his name. I enter town with a tailwind on a Sunday of silent streets. I walk up to 4R Lafayete and Nenes Relerou--an old man, about my height, smelling of garlic and absinthe--answers the door and invites me inside.
In supporting this project, one is supporting the process of a young writer in his effort to assemble his first work. The product will be illustrated journal that includes a fictional correspondence between the young cycling pilgrim and the old French writer Nenes Relerou--a consideration of the connection between youth and old age and the at times dubious path that leads from one to the other and back...
The project will be in collaboration with a Bilbao-rooted artist and illustrator, Ane San Miguel and will offer a transmedia format including audio clips, a soundtrack with original compositions, photographs and illustrations.
More than anything, I write this story for my community, my family, and for those along the route who lend me their inspiration. And of course, I write for Nenes Relerou and in reverence to the serendipity that brought me to tell his tale--for it is my own.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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a quirky postcard from the camino...notes and observations on dreams of pilgrims...Estimated delivery: Sep 2012