The cycle odyssey started with the luminescent midnight sun of the Summer solstice. With adventure still running strong in my bloodstream it felt important to book end the year by celebrating the Winter solstice. So this week, the Ginger Ninja and I were reunited for the first time since the cycle odyssey on a short excursion from Bristol to Glastonbury. Like old lovers it felt familiar but different. My legs are a bit creaky, the air is damp and chills to the bone but the whitewash of Winter provides a slowly effusing monochrome landscape that still makes me squint into the sun with wonder. There are noticeably more cars and I yearn for those long hours of wide horizon emptiness where it is impossible to feel anything but small and insignificant. Yet the moss covered lanes and high hedged hills of Somerset hold their own beauty and charm.
In Glastonbury I am offered a sofa bed by Matt – house clearance and bric a brac shop owner by day, Orgone artist by night. According to Matt, Orgone is made from metal filings, crystals and bits of copper wire and rids the air of harmful electro magnetic fields caused by mobile phones, computers and other electrical equipment. According to Wikipedia, Orgone is a “pseudoscientific and spiritual concept described as an esoteric energy or hypothetical universal life force” with dubious assertions of lifting the libido. So I was slightly alarmed by Matt’s 8pm pyjama appearance, but in fact he just wanted an early night and even though my overactive imagination got the better of me and a good night’s sleep, Matt couldn’t have been a kinder soul. Once again, I’ve realised that these out of the ordinary encounters come from being open to the kindness of strangers.
The next morning I cycle up to Glastonbury Tor in the darkness – a looming bump in an otherwise flat landscape. And as the light of dawn slowly creeps, so do the incense spinning bearded and bedecked, jangling and jaded, chanting and cheering. For me it was more a way of celebrating and book ending a year of change that I could not have possibly imagined. A simple time of reflection.
A sense of destination has obviously been prevalent in my life this year. Whether that was arriving in moonscape Norway and thinking of the 8,000 kilometres of untravelled roads to reach Tarifa, or simply identifying a wild camp spot on my map and making that my end of a cycling day. All those moments of kindness, bus stops tears, tunnel blackness fears have taken on a surreal, dream like quality. And upon return that sense of destination has been hazy. The road has no end, the diverging paths are many and that sense of purpose has been challenged.
However life’s twists and turns have taken on a new dimension recently with adventure at the core of my new direction. Recently I applied and have been offered a job as Corporate Partnership Manager at the Youth Adventure Trust – one of my cycle odyssey charities which supports vulnerable young children through adventure. I now feel well placed to understand how adventure can change the impossible to the possible; the “I can’t” to the “I can” and the confidence that this can instigate.
So while my long distance wheels are being put in the stable, I started the year with the words of Mark Twain:-
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
And I finish the year with the words of David Bowie:-
“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”
A huge thank you to everyone that has supported me in so many diffferent ways, especially Bharti Dekate my mentor who helped me summon the courage and overcome the fear to take the leap into the unknown.
Happy Christmas xx