My grand-father – Alexandre Dalmais, aka “Papi” – passed away a quarter century ago in the night of Christmas 1989, just two weeks after he was diagnosed of cancer. He grew up in the beautiful small town of Die, but left to the city of Lyon where he studied, worked and lived the rest of his life.
When I was a kid, he would tell me how he would come back to Die every so often. Back then he had little money and certainly no car, so he would go there by bicycle. We’re talking about riding an old bike on an small country road back in the 1930’s for close to 200km… This always puzzled me, I could not imagine anyone doing this…
5am, we’re still sleepy, the sun is rising,
the road will be lovely, we have a merry heart.
Valence, July 1938
Unlike most kids, I did not enjoy riding a bike. I was not very athletic and preferred staying home on my computer or playing board games… By accident I started commuting to work by bicycle a few years ago, when my office turned out to be just a few minutes away from home on a flat lovely trail in sunny California. A few years later I find myself commuting every day from Foster City to Palo Alto (still mostly on a flat lovely trail in warmer California) and enjoying every bit of it.
I just turned 40, twenty-five years have passed since I kissed Papi my last goodbye, sounds like a good time to revisit what that bike trip might look like…