A question I’ve been asked a few times is some variation on “Did it feel strange to leave home”, “Was it hard” or “Were you scared?”. The answer to all these is an emphatic no I’m afraid- I’d been looking forward to this trip for such a long time that when The time came, my eyes were fixed firmly forward and I was glad to be on the road. There’s a lot of talk about leaving your front for being the hardest part of any big undertaking, and over read off plenty of people bring sick to the stomach at the starts off their journeys. That didn’t happen for me though for a few reasons. I’ll try to dig into the main ones below, and explain why I might have appeared so unfeasibly calm if you saw me in the few days before I left.
Firstly, I spent the ride south through England visiting more old friends than I’d seen in years. There were Koki, Hannah, Richy, Jamie and Madeline on the first day, Jess and Steve on the third, my aunt and uncle and my mum on the fourth day and I still haven’t finished: in a few days time I’ll be seeing Pete and Shemine in the south of France. Far from an epic solo departure, this last week has been more like a trip down memory lane.
Social media means I’m much more connected than they were – for them, it really was setting off to be the only person they knew I’m the middle of a bunch of people who only spoke Russian.
Touring so far has been well within my comfort zone. I’ve done trips like this one – or at least like what this has been so far – many times. At some level, some part of me still thinks this is another two week trip across Europe.
I’m many ways, my life had come to a natural break before I left. I wasn’t ripping myself out of an I’m going way of life to go ride to China: that way has already come to an end, and this felt like the natural thing to do next.
I did feel a slight pang s I locked the door of the house where I’d loved since 2010 … but it was only very slight. The bigger pull was on the second day riding past the millstone that marked the exit to Derbyshire’s Peak District. I spent my childhood in that national park: I went there on Scouts trips, I climbed its rock faces and I rode its mountain bike trails. That, if anything, was the hard moment but the bike’s wheels kept turning regardless and soon I was past it, heading somewhere new. Another pull came when I lost sight of the Sussex coast but by then I was already four days down the road – and as before, I was already moving and didn’t have to make any positive action, just let the movement continue; this time I plant slam on the brakes, even if I’d wanted to!
I’m sure there’ll come a point a few weeks down the road where I wake up and think “Hey wait, why hasn’t this tour finished yet, I was only meant to be away for two weeks!” followed by ” Oh no, you mean I have to get on that flipping bike again?! “. I sure I’ll be lonely, but it hasn’t happened yet. I do admit though, my legs are a bit stiff today and I’m writing this post as an excise to not get on that flipping bike again.