From Dutch-Land to Deutschland

In the 14 days that have passed since clambering over my back fence-gate in Brixton, London I have learnt, loved and lost. Mostly I have lost a pair of gloves and the skin on the souls of my feet, but I have lost all the same. Sympathy please.

WHAT ON EARTH AM I DOING?!

In the heat of the moment, many of life’s decisions seem as if they are the most important thing in the world. And then you look back and wonder what all the fuss was about. Welcome to the first two days of this adventure.  

Pre-fence scaling, my mind had been largely consumed with thoughts of starting the trip. Then, all of a sudden, I didn’t have to think about that anymore (because I had started). And that left a whole lot of space for my thoughts to run wild. Given that my brain is a living breathing fun fair on an average day, with added freedom it became a full-blown Six Flags Magic Mountain. Everything just felt… odd.  Continue reading

The importance of looking back

In late December, tragedy struck my life. Whilst cycling back from a romantic break in Bourton-on-the-water (yes I said Bourton-on-the-water), Storm Frank got all up in my business. He wrapped his watery claws around my iPhone, thereby signing its death warrant.

After some mild wailing, rocking back and forth and a failed experiment with an ice cream tub and a bag of rice, I paid Carphone Warehouse a visit and bought a crap £10 phone. I had to hold back the tears when a four year old picked it up, placed their innocent paws on its screen and asked: “Annnnerrrrr. Why isn’t it moving?” I proceeded to explain, through sobs, that the Samsung E1200 it wasn’t a touch screen device.  Continue reading

50 states beyond the comfort zone

Yesterday I was going through old notes, and I came across this post I wrote back in March, having been home from the states for a month. I have no idea why I didn’t post it at the time. But with pre-trip nerves for NZ in glorious full swing, it seems rather apt to share it now…

50 states beyond the comfort zone

I bet you hate cycling now, don’t you?” The questioner looks at me, eyes wide, a knowing nod waiting in the wings as if my response is a forgone conclusion. I disappoint them, and gleefully. After cycling solidly for 7 months, through every type of weather and terrain imaginable – my days back in the corporate world are bookended by two simple joys. The ride to work. And the ride home.

When I left the UK bound for the US, I wasn’t entirely prepared. I mean, I was spread-sheeted up to my eyeballs, I had maps and kit and gadgets coming out of my ears, but the physical challenge – well, that was a whole other level of unknown. Of course I had a ‘base’ of fitness, but short of riding round the British countryside all day every day, I was never going to replicate the 11,000 miles ahead.

What I discovered over the months that followed, shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did. Let it be known that he human body is an incredible machine. The mind a far greater one. And that if you guide both with a firm, but steady hand in a single direction, sooner or later (granted sometimes it’s later), they’ll catch on. They just have to.

Between thinking and doing

I was nervous about the pedal across the desert, and yet, other than one unhinged chef, a deranged waitress and an aggressive racoon, that turned out to be rather fun, beautiful even. I had some concerns about making it over the Rockies on a fully loaded tourer – In the end I had such a blast on first two mountain passes, that I changed route and sought out three more for good measure. I was worried about making it to Maine ahead of Winter – In early November I wheeled across the state border wearing shorts, and under sunny skies.

In fact, all the parts of the trip that turned out to be scary, troublesome or challenging, I had no idea they were about to be (fancy that). So when they did, I was rather preoccupied with the the task at hand, and a little too busy to be afraid.

It strikes me, more often than not, that the worry, the build up of self-doubt, the play-out of each and every scenario that could lead to disaster, it never happens. So you may just as well skip the fear part and wade head long into the doing. You could argue that it’s a dangerous mindset to have. But once the lid’s off that box, once you’ve tasted the high that only a leap into the unknown can bring, there’s no going back. And so, sat typing this from comfort of my office chair, I find myself looking at a map again. And I think:

“I couldn’t possibly… well, actually … maybe, I could…” 

Route 50, across the Nevada Desert - not so scary afterall

Route 50, across the Nevada Desert – not so scary afterall

Will Bears Chase Us If We Cycle through Denali National Park?

Ah Alaska – land of the eternal sun, the last frontier, namesake of the world’s finest baked desert and home to The Ice Road Truckers. With only 6 days before flying out again to Seattle – I was here for a good time, not a long time. So I made a call to trim the fat and head straight for the best scenery the state could muster. I had no idea that I’d stumble across one of the greatest roads I’ll ever have the pleasure of cycling….

LINDA THE LEGEND

Following another nervous cram-Boudcia-in-a-box flight, we were greeted at Anchorage airport by our Warm Showers host, Linda. In case you’re not familiar with WarmShowers.org – no it’s not a porn hub (yes, you thought it), It’s actually a network of kind fellow two wheeled fanatics, happy to open their home and offer you anything from space to pitch a tent and fresh water to a bed, laundry, food and transport. All for free. Best of all, you get to hear about the place you’re visiting from the people who spend their days there. Priceless.

After reading Linda’s profile – I just had to stay with her. This 69 year old grandmother of 6 still thinks nothing of cracking out 100 miles on a bike. She has a bucket list of things to do ‘while she can still walk and talk’ and ticks an item off ritualistically each year. China, the Galápagos Islands, riding the length of Route 66, she’s done it all. After taking up cycling when she was 64, of course. Dear careers advisor, when I grow up, I want to be … Linda. Continue reading