I’ve been here before. After all the ideas and organisation, effort and soul searching, it’s nearly time to go and do whatever it is you’ve dreamed and planned for. I’m there again right now. Just over 6 weeks to go until the start of the ride and I feel like I’ve totally lost control of everything!!! Why?, because everything I could do is either complete and just waiting to happen. I’ve done all the training I can, I wont improve any further. I’ve done all the planning I can for the route and the maps are sat upstairs, waiting. I’ve written and talked to so many people over the last year and a bit, that I’m talked out. I’ve done all the organisational things I can and, in short, I’m knackered and just waiting to go!!!
There are events to run, but they are just waiting to happen. There are people to ask for sponsorship, but that’s down for April. All in all, nothing I do, from now on in, will make a blind bit of difference to the outcome of the ride,and that is what is really really scary, and really really exciting. From now on in I’ll be crossing ‘I’s, dotting ‘t”s, and waiting.
I’m waiting for a bike, a teepee, a saddle, and lots of things. All are ‘on their way’ somewhere in the ether, winging their way to me right now, and all I can do is wait. I’m waiting for the postman, parcelforce, Sustrans parcels, etc. I’m waiting to pack up, tick the list and leave. My mind has been waiting for a rest, and bless it, at last, it can have one, at least for a little while.
I’ve never been any good at waiting, it gives me too much time to think. I think too much anyway, so this doesnt help. I know all about waiting from previous experience climbing. “On Saturday I’m going to have a go at x,y,or z” and with that, you’re commited. Well, you’re not really, but for me, if I said I’d do it, then I would, and I’d have to play the waiting game until Saturday or whenever.
The lead up to any event is a time when you actually do all the final mental preparation. The increase in butterflies and the nagging doubts are all neccesary to a successful outcome. I know this from both previous experience of running, climbing and flying, and from studying Sports Psychology as a major at University. What we think and how we react to those feeling are directly related to our performance.
I’ve read reams on the subject, but still dont pretend to understand. You cant visualise a 4000 mile ride! You can have a plan if you must, but mine is deliberately loose. I can think about how I might feel the day I go, but that’s only a moment in the ride, and the ride is an awful long way. Personally, I’d hate to know, or have control over the outcome of every day, to understand how I will feel at a given time, or where I might be. I relish being ‘out there’ somewhere in the ether myself, like a parcel, waiting to be delivered. I like not knowing where I will be and when, but I hate waiting. It’s my own fault I have to wait. If I’d kept quiet about the ride, I could have sneaked off when I chose. I would still have to wait for the bike though!!
That aside, it’s only now that I’ve had time to really think, and thinking too much, as I said I’m prone to, is not good. Well, it is good if you can think of positive things all the time, but like almost everybody I know, waiting means thinking about the’ bogey men in the closet’, all the things that might, but almost certainly won’t happen!!
Part of the waiting game is looking back at what you’ve already achieved. A sort of a personal ‘pat on the back’. It amazes me when I look back, just how involved this process has been, How many people have influenced the preparation for the ride and how big the workload has become, and how much I have learned in the process. We get used to this workload, and when it lightens, well, for me, all manner of things have happened.
As I sat here yesterday, I reached out and chose an ‘Angel card’ , given to me by some friends. The card said ‘PATIENCE’ and that seems rather appropriate. Pateince isnt something you’re taught at school, it’s a really hard won thing for most of us, me included. Having done all this work, I want to go, but I must wait for all those final pieces to slot into the jigsaw.
I love the idea of just thinking “ho hum, reckon I’ll leave today”. It has a great sense of freedom attached to it. Those of you who have read Josie Dew’s account of her UK coastal trip will know that that is exactly how she did it. She ran out of reasons to ‘not leave’, so she went. Personally, I’m really looking forward to that point, the point at which I have everything I need and I can leave. I will feel a lot more comfortable then.
The waiting game also plays on my mental health. Everything I have done in the last year, I have almost had complete control over, including the preparation rides. Now, I sit here wondering what to do next, waiting for parcels that allow me to tick boxes. I can, and do, get vey anxious and mixed up about whether things will actually happen. It’s a mild kind of paranoia where I stop believeing in the world again and the trust I am slowly building with it. At it’s peak, I cant see any of the good I have done or any readiness to ride. Fortunately this only lasts, typically, for a couple of days and then dissipates.
Yesterday was a prime example of this uncontrolled waiting. I knew a several parcels were coming at some point this week, but not which ones were coming when. Yesterdays suprise was a package from www.sustrans.org.uk containing Tees, leaflets, collection boxes etc, which means todays suprise is a Brooks saddle (I wanted a wider one for the upright riding position I’ll be using). Well, I think it is, but it could be mudguards for the trailer box from www.carryfreedom.com!
It’s actually, also a lot of fun waiting for these things, the fruits of my labours and the generosity of others. I was really suprised last week, on Friday, when something ‘ plopped ‘on my mat that I wasnt expecting!! Tearing the parcel open, I found a lovely pair of All-Weather gloves, and a weatherproof ‘ Beanie’ from the good folk at www.sealskinz.co.uk.
So there it is, I’m waiting for kit, waiting to leave, and waiting to feel the freedom that any cycling journey brings with it. It’s been almost a year and a half in preparation and it seems like 5 minutes ago that I unfolded the folding bike and began to dare to believe in what I might do in the future again.