Lost in the Land of Eagles: First Impressions



Helmet? Check.

Glasses? Check.

Tire Pressure? Feels about right, though there’s no way to tell for sure.

Headset? Seems tight.

Shoes? Right, they’re still in my bag…

A burst of giggling erupts as I kneel to unzip the suitcase. Maybe I should have waited to don my kit until after I finished fiddling with my bike, or at least put some sweatpants on over my bibs. It’s too late now; there is already a gaggle of Albanian school girls, friends of my host-family’s daughter, gathering outside the open door to my room. They avert their eyes as I exit, shoes in hand, and return to my bicycle in the yard.  It has similarly attracted a group of neighborhood children who scatter when I approach. Taking the handlebars, I swing my leg over the saddle, but before I can clip Eduart, the patriarch of my host-family, stops me. He’s spent the last hour silently watching me assemble my bicycle, but now he’s clearly concerned. He doesn’t speak English, and my Albanian is still pretty poor, so he simply points to my brakes and inquires with a thumbs-up. I squeeze the levers and return the hand gesture to assure him that everything’s fine, then aim the bicycle down the gravel path which serves as our driveway and kick off.

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