Well, why am I here?
Let’s leave the flippant answers (cycling, boozing, skiving etc) on one side and go back to Sapiens. Humans first evolved about 2.5 million years ago in East Africa, from an earlier genus of apes, Australopithecus. Subsequent migration and settlement resulted in an assortment of primitive humans throughout Europe and Asia. One of these was Homo Neanderthalensis, mainly in Europe; another was Homo Erectus, mainly further East. By about 300,000 years ago most were using fire on a daily basis. By about 150,000 years ago our own species, Homo Sapiens, was present on the world stage but minding its own business in a corner of Africa.
About 70,000 years ago something very strange happened – Sapiens leapt out of Africa and within a very short time overran the entire Eurasian world, (probably) hastening the demise of all other human species
Many interesting theories have been put forward; for a summary of these, and for an interesting new insight I would recommend “Sapiens” by Yuval Harari (to whom I must give credit for much of the anthropology in this blog). But more of that later.
So that gives some answer to the question “how” I’m here. But still not “why”. Surely there must be some point to our lives … some purpose?
Three broad attempts have been made to answer this question, to ascribe a sense of purpose to our lives, on a humanist basis:
Liberal humanism – which attempts to endow Sapiens with inalienable rights; endowed by whom? A creator?
Social humanism – humanity is collective, rather than individualistic, seeking equality between all humans;
Evolutionary humanism – let’s not go there: Hitler, eugenics etc!
Some may find satisfaction in one or more of these. Me? I’m not so sure. But the question of “purpose” must be answered .
Of course, there’s one more possibility – belief in a creator. God.
When I read “The Life of Pi” I never twigged that the tiger represents God.
The writer has said:
“Life is a story
We can choose our story
A story with God is a better story”
Food for thought!
Back to journey
It’s been a day of intertwining madness and glory.
Leaving the hotel I discover it’s drizzling. Oh yes, I did find a hotel last night in Herrenberg – it seems such a long time ago.
The first hotelier welcomed me with a smile and a handshake ….but had not yet opened for the summer. I later returned, though, for an excellent meal in the restaurant – which was open. His friendly hospitality made me proud to be European (sorry!!)
The second greeted me with a frown, and a single word – “Nein!”
The third, a Chinese couple, opened a room especially for me …. €20!
Back to the drizzle; it’s remarkably refreshing!
A few miles down a gorgeous country lane lead me to ……. a few miles along a dual-carriageway with thunderous traffic!
Gratefully diverting to a forest track, a few wonderful miles lead me to ….a rough ascent resembling the Snowdon Pyg Track! On a folding bike? I don’t think so.
As I said, the madness and the glory. I’m now officially in the National Park
Eventually, with the drizzle receding, I embark on a stunning descent to Wolfach. 6 km without touching the pedals …. and then another 10 down to Schiltach. What did I do to deserve this? I have a feeling I’m going to pay later. I pass a “Wolf and Bear Park” Par
I wonder if any are still to be found in the wild throughout the Forest?
For the first time in two days I encounter other touring cyclists: three elderly gentlemen complete with white beards and Ortliebs …. but no helmets. They give a cheery wave
After lunch (a cheese-burger and a beer) I continue to Schramberg
Although I don’t realise it until I’m 20 miles further on, over what must be the longest, highest hill-climb in the entire Forest (I told you there would be a payback) another moment of madness strikes – I leave my phone in a shop!
Serendipitiously, I discover this just as I buy a pastry after what seems like hours of yearning for one. I can’t decide which is greater – the anguish of the phone loss … or the pleasure of the pastry!
Half an hour later, I reach Triberg, my destination for the night
Madness and glory intertwined
Distance travelled 59.7 miles
Elevation gain 8,562 ft !!!
Average speed 8.9 mph
Maximum speed 35.1 mph