In an effort to make the most of my weekends, me and my bike have decided that, we want to hit the road together, and go places. The very idea of being a sofa lizard, scares me into adventure and to seek out life experience. This week, I purchased some panniers and a lightweight sleeping bag for bike trips. All that was left for me to do, was ‘G’ myself up for some exploring and then get down on it.
Having cycled 130KM the previous day, and with an even longer day ahead getting to my mums house, here is how it went….
It was a cold night in the tent. When I woke up through the night for a piss, I checked exactly how cold. Just 1 degrees Celsius. I read somewhere, that old bad boy, bad ass explorer, Capitan Scott, came up with a clever solution for getting his team moving in the freezing Antarctic conditions. He noticed morale was low in the mornings, especially when it came to leaving the warmth of the tents at the start of the day. He saw a potential hinderance for the team because of this and didn’t want to lose time in his race to reach the south pole. His solution was to invite a bit of friendly competition into their lives and set them the task to see who could best estimate the air temperature outside, and rewarding who ever guessed the closest. The team started using different methods in order to try and gain the advantage over each other to hone their guess to a more accurate answer. This involved opening up the tent early, going out and reading windspeed and I’m sure much more technical readings. But the point is that the cold became secondary to the competition, and without the men realising, Scott had found a way to encourage them out of the tent quicker, as well as raise morale. I had no such leader on my expedition and it took me ages to leave my tent.
Glad to have made it through the cold night and my mood buoyed by how well the previous day had played out, it was time to get moving once again. My primary objective for the morning was to find coffee, food and somewhere to charge my electronics (FYI – I love it when that is the start of my day). I found somewhere to do all this within 5 miles of where I slept. I used that time that I had set out and was patiently waiting for the battery lives to fill up, as an opportunity to be reflective of yesterday, and to set out any objectives or goals for that day.
With my belly full, electronics charged, blood correctly caffeinated and water bottles refreshed, I reset my sights for the Welsh border. The temperature out side was rising and the day was shaping up to be a beaut. 15 minutes later, I came to a road sign saying “Welcome To Wales”. In my mind, a little prompt message was displayed that said ‘Bike ride to Wales, achievement unlocked’. I done my normal thing of having a road side jig, and small to medium levels of celebration via dancing or whooping. My time in Wales was restricted to a very brief 45 minutes or so. I still had around 100 miles I needed to pedal out before I’d be home for the night, so couldn’t really hang about for too long.
By the time I had traveled as far east as Shrewsbury, it had just turned midday. Hungry again and in need of a break, I found a quite pub for some lunch. The barman was making polite conversation and was asking if I had cycled far. I divulged the details of my plans for the day and how far I had already come. His reaction was to make a joke and ask “Do you not know that the trains are running mate?” The must have been chatting amongst theirselves at the bar whilst I was waiting at the table for my food, as when the waitress came over with my order she made a similar attempt at humour asking “You do know we have hotels here?”. Although they were just being silly, they had highlighted something about myself that I’m very proud of. You see as humans, we are naturally wired to take the easy path or to lean towards the easy option in our lives. Yes, I could have taken the train or, yes I could have stayed in a hotel. But I wanted to push myself into some level of discomfort or hardship, so that I could come away from the situation with a sense of achievement. I’m proud that I choose to challenge myself on a regular basis.
The remainder of my ride was definitely at least pleasant, but I was glad to be getting to my mums house, knowing that I could have a good soak in a warm bath. I stayed up chatting and sharing anecdotes with my family as long as I could before turning in for the night. I was grateful at the idea of a night not spent shivering and was more than happy at the prospect of a night of comfort on a mattress.
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”