I needed a day out. A day when I’m not sat at home wondering where everything will lead. Today was that day, even though it didn’t feel like it when I got up. To be honest it doesn’t often feel like a good day and during most of this year I’ve just tried to accept that carry on as best I can. There has been no great journey, no adventures of any kind, just the day to day slog of trying to get through the days and weeks. There has been changes in medication, mostly successful, and ongoing investigations into other aspects of my ever-struggling body and mind. But they haven’t led anywhere that feels different to the place that I started from.
I have a strong personal belief that leaving isn’t the toughest part of a long journey. That award goes to returning home. There are many articles about the pains and pitfalls of arriving back in reality and many of those describe something close to the stages you might experience when you’re grieving. So, what happens? Why is getting back to the home that you most likely love, and have at times yearned for, so difficult? Perhaps the fact that we give coming home no, or little, thought before leaving may contribute to its impact when we return.
You’ve been away and completed your first ever bike tour. Congratulations, you now know the joys of travelling slowly and simply under your own steam. Sitting here I’m wondering what you are thinking. Why did I wait so long before I started, is common. You might also ask yourself, why was I afraid, or, why did I carry all that extra stuff that I eventually sent home in a parcel? Some things worked well, and some didn’t, but next time you will have more of an idea what suits you personally. Cycle touring is a learning curve. You must get out and explore to understand what works for you in any given environment, and that takes time and experience.
Once you leave home and head off into the big wide world on your bike, life becomes a lot simpler. Gone for now are the letters dropping on your mat and the annoying phone calls that make demands on you when you’d rather be resting in the evening. There’s no nagging boss or deadlines, outside of the ones you set yourself. You are free to do as you wish, explore where you will and travel slowly and purposefully through the world, rather than rushing around like a headless chicken.
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.