So there you are, all packed up, standing at your doorway and wondering whether or not you are about to make a terrible mistake by heading off on your first cycle tour on a bike that looks more like a camel than the slick vehicle that you usually ride. Most likely you will have over packed, taking far more than you really need for the journey you are undertaking. Don’t worry. Once you settle in, after a few days riding, you can always send a box of stuff home in the post.
I keep looking at Trevor, my trailer, sat in my shed with nowhere to go. I wonder where we might head next, after a summer spent in singular days, cruising around with no particular destination in mind. I’m beginning to get a little twitchy, wanting to explore again, to travel slowly through the landscape, absorbing everything I see. I want to get out and meet people, share stories and food, and more than anything, bring some colour into a life that has often felt monochrome for the most part this year.
Everybody has their own favourite places, or at least they should. Some are places you may only have visited a few times, but for whatever reason they have left you feeling you have gained something by going there. Perhaps you met somebody or saw something that made your heart sing? Perhaps you listened to the chattering dawn chorus or watched rabbits bounding in the evening warmth? Whatever the reason, you now have an indelible mark on your soul, one that, if you are anything like me, will draw you back time and time again.
Yesterday was one of those days. You know the kind I mean, a day when you have to go out but can’t find any motivation to get going. Sometimes on those flat-as-a-pancake days I just give in and drive to my destination, but yesterday I didn’t. Against the odds, I somehow made myself ride Kermit to Okehampton where I had appointments at the doctors and a less formal one with the supermarket.
I was sat on a bench in the wonderfully named Woolfardisworthy, Woolsery to the locals. It was bright and sunny. I’d been riding for quite a few hours to get here. Despite this fact, I was only about five kilometres from my start point. The main reasons for this were non-existent roads and road closures that forced me to deviate back in the direction from which I had come. My excursion had stopped here because there was a shop, much needed water and a chance to take stock in the warm summer sunshine.
Ever since I was a boy I’ve been inquisitive about what lies around the corner or over the next hill. Almost as soon as I could ride a bike I would set off to explore the boundaries set by my parents. I would frequently travel far beyond them, feeling self sufficient even at an early age. Accompanied by friends, or my big sister, I began to learn the topography around the area in which we lived, navigating the myriad of country lanes that linked the villages. Sometimes we would head for Everdon Stubbs, a woods where we would find chestnuts or conkers. At other times we would head to another village to see what it had to offer or just meander around without any great purpose.
I don’t know where my time goes. One minute I’m writing here and the next minute two weeks has flown past without a thought to stop or slow down a little. I’ve been managing the injuries I wrote about last time as best I can and am pleased to report that I have made good progress. I’ve ridden Kermit a few times by limiting my mileage and keeping half an eye out to gently increasing it. In addition to that there’s been some pilates and a little yoga, as this always helps rebalance muscle groups that can easily get out of sync with one another when you do repetitive exercise like cycling.