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Oh yes! Matt is coming too.

So last summer I emailed round various folk who I thought might be interested in taking this little adventure with me. One of my friends, Matt, thought it sounded like a good idea but told me he wouldn’t be able to come as he couldn’t afford it. This was too bad as Matt and I had already shared two great holidays together, first on a road-trip round California in 2007 and then on a lads holiday in Croatia in 2009.

Road-tripping with Mr Matthew Farrer

 

Fast-forward 9 months and out-of-the-blue Matt phones me up and sheepishly asks ‘Hey – you know this cycle ride you’re doing? Any chance I can come on it?’. So he’s now in a mad rush to get a flight, bike, kit, fitness and everything else sorted before we head off. It will be absolutely brilliant having someone else I know as a companion for the whole journey. And Matt is possibly the easiest person in the world to get on with – so he’s the ideal travel buddy.

So we’ll be starting with four in our group; myself, Matt, Patrick (from California) and Jim (from Essex). No doubt the first few days will be interesting as we get to grips with both cycle touring and each other’s characteristics, habits and idiosyncrasies!

(Ant – if you’re out there, just look at what you’re missing out on!)

 

Solitude is pleasant. Loneliness is not.

I’ve read a fair few accounts recently of people who have done long cycle trips. And without exception, they all comment on how lonely it was. And they all comment on how difficult they found that. Which makes me a bit nervous…

I’ve always been more content on my own than most people are. I can quite happily go for days without missing conversation or company. I love being outdoors, lost in my thoughts, miles from civilisation. And no doubt civilisation is quite happy with this arrangement too.

Solitude is pleasant...

 

But I don’t think this is what loneliness is about. It struck me the other night that I am most lonely when surrounded by people. Not people I know, but just people. There’s something about witnessing social interaction whilst you are excluded from it (as a stranger) that makes your solitude suddenly turn into loneliness. This is why I am more fearful of the hours to be spent in campsites, in cafes and diners than the hours on my own on the road.

Loneliness

...Loneliness is not

 

Paul Tillich sums it up beautifully:

Language… has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone.

Got much experience of loneliness? Advice? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Update:

I actually wrote this a few weeks back but didn’t publish it. I now have at least two definite trip companions which is a real answer to prayer. So loneliness shouldn’t be as great a problem. Stand by for a blog post on ‘Learning to live with companions 24/7’…

 

Work-avoidance…

In an effort to try and get some hours on the saddle and miles on the road, I’ve devised a detour route to work. It takes about an hour (rather than my usual 5 minutes) and is relatively quiet considering its rush hour. The hardest part is dragging myself out of bed an hour earlier!

Hopefully the route should show up in the embedded Google Map below:

 

The ideal cycling prep…a week of snowboarding!

Right – I’m off for a week to the sunny, snowy slopes of Les Arcs 2000. Spot of very careful, no-broken-bones snowboarding. Yeah, sure….

Not suitable for bicycles

 

Update: I’m now back, with no broken bones or other cycle-scupering injuries!

 

No mud on me

The other weekend I fitted my mudguards. Easy, you might think. But I wasn’t counting on having to get my hacksaw out to trim the steel struts to the right length! Still, a good excuse to get the old work-bench out.

Fitting mudguards

Hacksaw time

 
(For anyone interested, these are the SKS Chromoplastic MTB Mudguards – to be honest, I didn’t exactly find a wide selection of suitable mudguards for touring.)

– Posted from my iPhone

 

SKS Chromoplastic MTB Mudguard

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