I feel honoured and privileged to have had the opportunity to witness the incredible beauty of a landscape unfurl in all its wondrous variety. As a cyclist you feel part of it. You feel every bump in the road; you bounce along tracks like a pea on a drum or glide down effortlessly through high sided mountains. You smell the fresh cut hay; the tarmac after it has rained, or the stench of recent roadkill. You hear the gentle cow and sheep bells; you grip the handlebars hard with the roar of an approaching lorry. You hear the silence. You witness the farming calendar unfold as crops grow verdant green, are cut golden yellow and ploughed earth brown. You feel small, you feel exhilarated, you feel lonely, you feel strong.
The kindness of strangers and generosity has been overwhelming and humbling. There have been countless incidences of warmth and humanity along the road. Whether it has been Thomas, the Vespa driving German policeman making sure I was OK in the longest, deepest, darkest Norwegian tunnel, or Corinne & Herve who invited me in and gave me a guided tour of Loire chateaus after I pitched my tent by their watermill . If there is one thing I’ve gained over the miles in a world where materialism and self absorption often seem to dominate, it is my desire to keep that wheel of altruism turning. As a solo female traveller, one of the questions I have often been asked is “Aren’t you afraid?” I would be lying if I was to say there haven’t been moments in my green tent bubble where I have thought that the bogeyman was coming to get me. These have been temporary and entirely fabricated in my over imagination. In many instances, being alone has worked to my advantage, and hospitality offered more readily.
As the dust of Southern Spain gets replaced by the dew of Autumn chill, and the wonder of the midnight sun metamorphises into the long low shadows of Winter, the “What If’s” at the beginning of the trip are now becoming “What Next” …. and so the adventure continues.
As a newbie to blog writing it has been a surprisingly interesting and enjoyable element of my journey which has passed many minutes of thought time on my bike. A huge thank you for everyone’s encouraging feedback and comments. I hope to find home adventures to continue writing about for those that are interested on a more domestic view … until the next exploit emerges.
It feels appropriate to finish with the words of my father for this particular cycle odyssey. For it is my parents I have to thank for never curtailing that sense of adventure or independence of spirit. My mother’s encouragement and support when I have called crying by the roadside with fatigue and frustration or with high pitched excitement at a jaw dropping vista has been unflagging. I know she is proud of this endeavour as my father would have been and I am eternally grateful for the nurturing unconditional love given to all their children with an unwaivering encouragement to discover, to be curious and to follow our hearts no matter what direction it has taken.
My father wrote in his diary after travelling with the army at the age of 21:-
“It has been a year of experiences, staying in any one place no longer than three months, seeing new countries, new cities, new people, new customs, gaining knowledge everyday in many spheres, which one may call living a life. No one can live a life unless he is conscious of living it by absorbing and appreciating, accepting and rejecting the life in which he finds himself. My interest in life has been stimulated by variety. To be ever interested in life is possibly an idealistic philosophy. It is certainly a claim against the office desk.”
I am dedicating this post to them.
Youth Adventure Trust – https://www.justgiving.com/cycleodysseyYAT
Re-cycle – bikes for Africa- https://www.justgiving.com/cycleodyssey