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The value of walking forward

A place to hang your helmet

UNITED KINGDOM | Friday, 10 March 2017 | Views [396]

The trip was never a great rush of excitement. This was probably in part because it was a trip I had been wanting to make in some form or another for a few years. Though I had always been too busy with the 'other stuff' of which life consists. Namely work and a relationship and the items that seem to accumulate when one adopts a sedentary life; items that fill space but never the unidentified emotion I often felt when I stared in to the middle-distance and forgot where I was. Anyhow, said relationship was coming to a drawn-out conclusion and work was both disenchanting and easy to take time away from, thus I decided to semi-commit to the trip I'd been inadvertently holding at arm’s length for so long.

I was first struck with the idea of a bicycle as a way of travel after meeting several saddle-hardened riders on Ruta 40 in Argentina. They all seemed so strong in their resolution and the idea of travel being a challenge of ones mental and physical stamina greatly appealed to me. I knew but a little of the intricacies of tour-cycling when I met a young man in the suburbs of Frankfurt to inspect his sale, but I was sufficiently tired of engines to decide his bike would be the one to take me all the way to Scotland from where I stood. I was grateful for the fact that nobody was watching when I - almost disastrously - discovered the brakes were the reverse of Australian bikes, and only just managed to stay on the right side of the handles.

Throughout mainland Europe I was blessed with ample bike paths and generous locals, the latter a theme I was pleased to discover continued across the channel. I arrived in Dover and had the instant ambition to escape to the countryside. I was rudely oppressed in my ambition by the unfamiliar steep roads leading out of town, the likes of which I had not yet encountered. Once beyond the wash of the salt-spray I begun to keep a keen eye through the hedgerows for a place to pitch my tent. I spied some heavenly soft, green field and approached the nearest house to ask for the privilege of occupying it for the evening. The gravel drive should have announced my presence, but I yelled 'yoo-hoo' a few times for good measure. I had barely closed the gate when two enormous Alsatians came bounding from the side door in a fit of frothing rage. I stood rooted to the spot with my hands above my head as they darted in and out, their Tyrannosaurus jaws snapping at me. Thankfully my saviour was not far behind her guards, and I heard her calling them off before I dared look away. After they slunk off behind her I was too busy counting my lucky stars (and fingers) for the obedient nature of Alsatians to be offended by my fair scolding for trespassing.

Drama out the way, I reached the point of my intrusion, upon which this plump, middle-aged heroine informed me that the owner of the soft, green grass was a witch, and after conversing further and her realising I was of sound mind - despite my choice of holiday - she invited me to stay in her home where she mostly lived alone. We dined on jacket potatoes from her garden and spoke into the night, paintings of hunts filled the walls, all the while her guards never took their eyes off me.

Tags: cycling, tour

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