I haven’t written for a while. The reason is I’ve wanted to give up. I’ve felt like it’s too much. It’s no fun, I am not enjoying it.
I had written several posts back in March about how hard I was finding it, how the elements were grinding me down. I realised then why so many books about long distance cycle tours are boring at best. Because all you get is a repetitive stream of the author saying how hard everything is and how tired they are, mentally and physically……
It was boring me. In a desire to describe the reality of the situation you suck the life out of the adventure. Yeah we get it Iain, it’s not easy. In truth, perspective dictates how hard a person finds it. Sure the hills don’t change from one person to another unlike the weather but how an individual approaches it makes all the difference.
Unfortunately for me, my personality leaves me open to feeling the set backs more than some. I take it badly when things don’t go as I planned. This often happens, being at the mercy of the climate on a bicycle.
I so want to be that carefree, free spirit who doesn’t get ruffled. I can play that individual when circumstances are going as I foresaw.
The true measure (am I being measured?) of an individual is how they react in adversity. I am falling down at that hurdle.
My default reaction is to get myself out of the situation one way or another and to set about avoiding a reoccurrence.
When that adversity is wind, rain, sun or lack of drinking water you can’t avoid it. My mind then turns to thoughts of giving this up and returning home.
Sucked in to the tornado of all the good things I envisage being able to do, eat or see upon getting back to England. Even the thought of the flight and sitting watching new movies drinking free wine livened my spirits at one point. That’s how far off the radar I had fallen.
I carried on because I couldn’t leave anything unfinished here. This trip isn’t something I would anticipate repeating, upon failing the first time. It is all or nothing. If part of me still craves the open road and all that goes with it I have to go on.
To return home, enjoy the trappings and luxury of life in the UK (compared to South America) within a week or two, then to feel even an ounce of regret, would eat me up.
I put my feelings of trepidation to one side and went again. It wasn’t great, out in the big wide open valleys with just knee high bushes for company, no clouds in the sky.
There is nowhere to hide. The dark clouds of loneliness follow me, just a speck in a vast landscape, occasionally punctuated by a fast moving vehicle heading down the straight roads jolting me out of whatever thoughts I’ve sunk into.
I go on because, out there, there is no choice. Coming across a tree or a derelict building is a highlight, an opportunity to get out of the sun or the wind; on a bad day, both.
It’s a lonely business cycling in this environment where shade is a long lost friend. The magic powers of even just ten minutes in it’s company rejuvenate me, allowing me to continue with a little less despair and trepidation.
Is this the way I want to live my life? Is this actually what is happening? or is it just the way I construe events in my own mind and describe it to match my mood?
I still get between the places of safety, of food, of water, sometimes it takes longer than anticipated but I get there. The whole sinking into despair is just a construct of my mind, a choice I make.
Riding a bicycle long distances is just one big mind game. The physical side of it, is generally whatever you make it. In my entire life, I’ve never been fitter than I am now. I wasn’t four and a half months ago when I began. It comes with the territory.
I’ve recently alluded to suffering with the whole trip and have been overwhelmed once more with the messages of support and encouragement.
“You can do it”. “Keep going”. “I’m Inspired by you”.
The ups and downs I go through are no different from anyone’s life, maybe mine are just magnified and obvious. You can choose how to react to situations, it’s not easy, there are constant battles. It is different for everyone. It depends on your perspective on how you perceive situations.
You carry on regardless, repeating the same mistakes until something knocks you out of it, or you don’t….
You live your life and when your time is up you wish you hadn’t spent so much time doing something you didn’t enjoy. You wish you had tried that ‘thing’, whatever it was that you loved but you didn’t think you could.
I’m just riding a bicycle but it causes an outpouring of support and encouragement from all sorts of people.
People I admire, people I love, people I look up to, people I think are better than me, people I don’t even know.
Think about that. How simple is this. I ride a bike, something I love doing. But I do it in such a way that others think it is amazing, that they can’t do. They use words like respect, epic, amazing, unbelievable, inspiring, to describe me?
That isn’t me. I’m just Iain Denley from Watford.
But it is.
All these people are just people, they are just like me, they are scared, they are held back by their insecurities, their fears, worries of what the future might hold, they wish they had the guts to do what other people do.
So everyone of you that sits and reads these words and thinks I am amazing, you are too. You do have it in you.
Go follow your dreams, go chase that ‘thing’ that you would love to do in life. Choose carefully, choose wisely and choose your mind-set.
You do have a choice. If you are worried what others may think if you fail then I am going to break a habit here and use someone else’s words.
The Man in the Arena – Theodore Roosevelt, 23rd April 1910
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
After a period of rest and reflection I shall roll out on to the road once more. To continue the debate with my insecurities, my worries and fears.
I have to. I must try.
They are just a construct of my own mind, designed to keep me safe. I must thank them, listen to them, whilst telling them to be quiet, it’ll be ok.
It always is.
And do me one favour, go do your ‘thing’, just try, because if Iain Denley from Watford is amazing, then so are you.