My mind has been full of decisions to make over the last few weeks. I’ve been conscious that Spain has been approaching and I didn’t have a plan on what to do when I got there. Just getting to Spain would be amazing and somewhat emotional as it would be the first part of the plan complete.
I’m currently in St Jean Pied de Port some 10km from the Spanish border so saving a monumental disaster I’ll cover that off tomorrow!
On hearing a friend of mine was due to be walking the Camino de Santiago in September and having read about people cycling it sometime ago I thought it might fit my (loose) plans. That is why I headed for St Jean Pied de Port in France, it is a traditional starting point for the Camino. Judging by the number of tourists and associated crap that goes with that I’m in the right place!
I’m going to follow the route on and off, some on the trail where it is suitable for my bike and luggage and take the road elsewhere.
The original idea was to ride to Spain to learn Spanish before flying to South America to start the ride north from Ushuaia. I had toyed with the idea of learning Spanish in South America previously but I tied myself in knots over travel insurance of all things.
However it made more and more sense and others I have met advised likewise. To go and learn Spanish in South America before starting the ride. The Spanish is different although similar, but then again it varies in certain countries in South America too.
I’ve been looking at options on where to learn Spanish, where to live, all the while with Ushuaia (where I will start the ride north from) on my mind.
The thing is, I chose to ride South to North through the Americas because it needs to be summer at either end for the roads to be open, I think….
Summer ‘starts’ in the very south on 1st December so I was always planning around that date. I couldn’t wait or begin in time to get to Alaska for 1st June or so to head South.
It appears most people go North to South because of the wind. However most people I had read about whilst dreaming of this trip went South to North. Maybe their stories were just more interesting?
I have experienced the wind in Patagonia, I have read the stories about it being impossible to cycle because of the head wind and I hate cycling in the wind…..
You would be justified to ask, why the hell are you doing it like this then?
I guess the simple answer is; When you gotta go, you gotta go.
To be slightly more philosophical about it, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to do this, there is just the hard way. Like building up to hills then mountains so my knees get accustomed to the strain, my mind has been toughening up over the last couple of months too.
Of course I don’t know how much or enough; how will I react faced with an imaginary future scenario? Who knows, you don’t until you are in it.
But it worries me and that isn’t a good frame of mind.
I’m resorting to my tactics that got me out of the door in the first place and writing lists on what worries me and then to address it.
- Flight to South America – I leave Madrid on the 27th October 2014 bound for Buenos Aires.
- Accommodation in Buenos Aires – not sorted, I need a room for me and my bike (proving to be the problem!) for November.
- Language School in Buenos Aires – Tentatively sorted.
- Flight to Ushuaia – not sorted, waiting till accommodation is sorted first.
- Clothes and gear – I want a warm jacket, a new sleeping bag (not many feathers left inside my current one). Don’t know what to do about footwear/leg wear because of the cold and rain. Trying to find out what i need to know and sourcing a reasonably priced one of the above is troublesome when living in a tent. Lack of WiFi and electricity stop easy research!
Then there is the worry about losing all my cycling fitness and strength by spending a month in a city. I doubt there is much decent riding until you get well out of Buenos Aires, so maybe I just join a gym but it isn’t the same thing by far.
When I get to Ushuaia, do I leave straight away? Do I stay and do some trial runs first to get used to the big change in climate and to trust my legs again?
Then the final thing that actually makes me laugh, because it worries me the least but I’m guessing most people (not doing this type of thing) would want to know. What is your route? Which way are you going?
Ah hmmm, well I’ll pick up a map when i get there and see where the road goes North……
It sounds like I’m a bit of a worrier from reading that back.
Well I guess I am, I need to be in control, I need to know certain things to be comfortable and to relax. I hate messing things up. In fact it’s not that, I can’t stand the thought of other people judging me for messing it up. To be a failure in others eyes, to have this impossible dream, throw it out to the big wide world, have people say it’s amazing, wish me good luck, only for me to fail.
The abject misery of people looking at me and seeing in their eyes that they ‘knew’ I wasn’t strong enough, that people like me always fail, always give up, always are the weakest link.
I can’t stand the thought of that more than most things in life so hence I’m worrying about being prepared enough.
I’m not under any illusions that Patagonia is a place to be respected and getting something ‘wrong’ there can potentially be really serious. It’s not a Summer ride through Western Europe with a shop on every corner and sunshine most days.
So hopefully my list of worries above actually address the important things, like staying dry, warm and having shelter. Things that keep you alive when you realise that you are lost and you should have spent more time researching a route….