Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Good-Natured Vince - A Rock and Roll Type of Guy

As we prepared to leave Gyor this morning, we decided to play a little joke on Vince Mercier, who has shown amazing speed and endurance on his bike. Serge and I gathered up a number of fairly large rocks, put them into a plastic bag and placed them at the bottom of his rear bike bag. We then started out from Gyor to the city of Tata, and as usual Vince was rolling out in front, noting however that his bike didn't feel quite as it usually did and somehow seemed a little heavier. It was only after about an hour of riding, and Vince fiddling around with his bike trying to understand why it felt different, that he finally decided to have a look in his bike bag and found a plastic bag full of rocks. Always the sportsman, Vince took it all in stride without rancor or grudge (although I must admit I'm going to check my bike bag before we ride tomorrow). We all had a good laugh, including Vince, and we rolled on.

It doesn't take long to notice differences between Hungary and the other countries we have passed through. It's obvious that Hungary does not enjoy the affluence of Germany and Austria, the roads are often in need of repair, many of the cycling routes run on or beside roads, as opposed to the separate well maintained cycling paths we enjoyed in Germany and Austria, and the villages and towns, while picturesque, are not affluent and buildings are often in need of repair. That said, the people are wonderful, always willing to help, the food has been great and the prices very reasonable. 

My entry into Hungary was special, I'm only two generations removed from this land, and even though I don't speak the language, Hungary is part of my heritage. As a child I listened to my mother and my beloved grandmother Margaret speak Hungarian. Many of the foods remind me of my grandmother (and mother) and it's strange knowing that if history had been different, I might have been one of the people I am cyling by.

Once we arrived in Tata this afternoon, we decided to try out a local thermal bath, so we drove about 20 kms to a small town called Komarom and tried out the Komaroni Gyogyfurdo Szauna Belepo and it was, as my friend Claude Lamarre put it, a cultural experience. This sauna was searingly hot and the Hungarian way is to sit 10 minutes in the sauna, immerse yourself for a minute in an ice-cold pool, relax on a reclining chair for a few minutes and then repeat the whole process five more times. Needless to say, we were incapable of doing this and after two repetitions we were ready for a good Hungarian dinner.

Tomorrow we continue our cycle to Budapest, and we expect to arrive there on Friday.

One last note for today, I received early this morning a notification that the following comment had been posted on the May 5 blog entry:

"Lorsque j'ai vu l'article de La Presse à votre sujet, cela faisait 5 jours qu'on m'avait diagnostiqué une leucémie lymphoblastique aigue (LLA) à l'âge de 41 ans. Il va sans dire que votre histoire m'interpelle et que j'espère de m'en sortir aussi bien."   JF

While I don't know JF (the person who left this comment), I hope he is well, and if you are reading this I wish you the best. We will think positive thoughts for you as we continue our ride, and I hope that you and I will one day be able to meet and celebrate life together.


  1. You can do the rock trick with a kayak too ;-)

  2. Bonjour,

    Je lis votre blog depuis le tout début ayant eu connaissance de celui-ci par mon médecin Dr.Jean Roy. Ayant eu moi aussi une greffe de cellules souches il y a deux ans, j'admire votre courage et votre détermination à poursuivre ce voyage. Je vous souhaite un bon retour à Montréal prochainement.

    La vie est plus forte que tout!