Tuesday, 16 March 2010

A road too far

I am a person who sometimes rides a bike. I do not like the label "cyclist". I have been associated with all kinds of cycling for many years, but to me the machine is only a means to an end. What I really like is being outdoors, exercise, seeing pretty places, peace and quiet, hills, self sufficiency, cafes and cakes, maps, the weather and seasons, simplicity, and a bit of a challenge.

Despite my protestations, people do see me as a "cyclist", even though on most occasions I wear completely normal clothes and ride a three-speed utility bike. Sometimes people send me bike related jokes or novelties, and I like to think I accept them with good grace. Recently my lovely pal Mark loaned me "Discovery Road" by Andy Brown and Tim Garratt, thinking I would enjoy a book about two guys who cycled round the world, had lots of adventures, and came back enlightened by the wisdom gained on their epic trip.

Well no, not really. As with many of these travel books, they make me feel inadequate, when actually I'm quite happy enough with the adventures I have. With their, "you haven't lived until you've seen such and such a place by sunrise", while philosophising with some wise 118 year old peasant who's never been more than 5 km from home. I feel that they sneer at people like me who choose to live in comfortable suburbia, and get their kicks at home or fairly nearby.

In 2004 I cycled 1053 miles from Land's End to John o'Groat's, on a route of my own, following the high land wherever possible. That's me above, at Loch Ness, wearing some natty clothes that help motorists see me, although I was on very quiet roads almost all of the way. Clearly I didn't find any undiscovered tribes, or get my celebredee friends to help me raise £125,000 for charidee, but I did find out a lot about the places I went through, and discovered some things about myself that I quite liked.

I read the first 15 pages of Discovery Road, and put it down, for good. I've got my own life to lead, and my own adventures to celebrate.

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