Pushbike Pilgrim

Journeying Through Life On A Bike

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I’m Actually Doing This

As my (now ex) front door clicked shut and left me locked out, a question repeatedly ran through my head, “what on earth am I doing?”  This is the nearest thing to a panic attack I have had.  The whole situation seemed ludicrous, but at this point I have very little choice.  I’m actually doing this.

The last two days have been an emotional roller coaster.  An hour of cold rainy headwind was a particular low point, reversed by a glimmer of sunlight as the road turned downhill and I started to feel my fingers again.  About five miles before arriving both times I felt the premature elation of arriving before realising slowly that I still was a way off.  However this only seems to accentuate the bliss of climbing off the bike knowing I’m not going to fail today.

The most striking epiphany I’ve had so far was invoked by my first host.  Heather didn’t know me at all but took me in, fed me and gave me a guided tour of Chelmsford.  She had no agenda and took nothing.  It was this fulsome hospitality that eased my doubts and reminded me that we need people.  Her hospitality not only gave me the essential shelter and sustenance I needed but also the encouragement that out there people are kind.  This reminded me of my last night in London with good friends, one of whom (the ever thoughtful Amy), gave me the chocolate eggs that powered me through the first day.  My brother was also there.  He bought me my saddle to cradle my bum as gently as possible for as far as I get.   Tony wasn’t there but he sold me his bike at a very reasonable price and threw in some extras for free.  Renata taught me how to stretch and told me what to eat to stay healthy.  El lent me her titanium spork which is apparently an essential touring companion.  The people from Tech 21 sponsored me with an Ipad and an Impactology case.  It is this Ipad that directs me as I meander through strange places.

mr-slocumWhile I wait for my ferry at Harwich I will leave you with a picture of Mrs Slocum who’s breakfast I mashed this morning as she’s getting old and her teeth aren’t up to much.

A Pilgrims Folly

I have decided to leave my job, the city I live in and all my wonderful friends in London who make the city worth living in.  After two years in the capital I feel the need to move on and have a more stereotypical adventure.  I settled on the idea of cycling to Istanbul.  A quick internet search suggested I follow the Rhine then Danube and Google Maps tells me its about 2000 miles.  I’ve guessed I can cycle 300 miles a week and have booked a flight back to the UK in May.  Departure day, or D-Day as I like to call it, is the 25th of March.

The anticipation of an expedition like the one I am undertaking is probably the best part of the journey.  I feel I am waking up from two years of sedation, after the numbing effect of repeatedly being rattled in the gloom and fluorescent flicker of the Bakerloo line.  I have an over eagerness which ignores the practicalities of actually cycling 60 miles a day.  My longest ever bike ride so far is 30 miles, after which pain woke me in the night with burning agony throughout my thighs.  I relish the concerned looks and laughter when people discover my folly.  I enjoy the sense of nervous unease when I feel unprepared or unable to do it.  I am already feeling the health benefits of a more foolish life.  I remember the sense of relief when I booked my flight and the elation at handing in my notice.  I like my job but the decisive moment when I burnt my metaphorical ships and had to go through with it was exhilarating.

For now I prepare, more spiritually than practically.  I am contemplating failure and trying to imagine the loneliness, isolation and fear.  D-day is six weeks away and I will get round some training but for now I’ll enjoy the excitement of adventure.