Why the Cycle Tour?
Final thoughts before lift-off
At this point, we have just a few days to the green light. In my parachuting days, about two minutes before we were bundled out of the door, the Red Light would come on in the aircraft doorway. It was the signal to get excited. Especially at night when the whole inside of the ‘plane would glow red.
With my initials starting with A, more often than not, I’d have the dubious pleasure of being first or second out of the door. I would regularly find myself hanging out at the doorway itself, one hand hanging on to the doorframe the other on my strop. We would stand waiting, peering out onto the ground below; loving the fresh air after the usual smell of vomit and farts that accompanies low level flying.
After two long minutes, the light would flick to green, heart rate would leap, and the dispatcher would bundle you out of the door, hopefully hard enough to avoid polishing the fuselage of the ‘plane with your face. I still love the smell of Avgas!
So the Red Light is on, and we are just in the doorway waiting for the Green.
Most of the preparations are complete, the house is empty, all of our stuff is sold, and we are trying to avoid too much fuss. We are eating all of our out-of-date food, cooked in what’s left of our pots and pans, off plates too chipped to sell, and with a motley collection of bent cutlery. I've started looking behind me now before I sit down as chairs seem to be sold from under my arse, mid-sit.
I think that this is a good time to examine why we aren’t just doing what most others do and get on a plane home. After all if most others do it – it must make sense, right?
Also; why do a blog? After all it’s more of a distraction on the tour, and a very public way to crash and burn if something goes wrong…and there’s a good chance it will; we’re no spring chickens. Even for the young and fit, there’s a thousand and one ways to come unstuck in Africa, from wildlife to wildly incompetent drivers; mosquitoes to monkeys…sometimes it seems like everything is out to get you! This trip is by no means a dead certainty; it all going to plan is extremely unlikely.
So why did we choose to head home by bike? Well mostly because that is sort of what we do. We have spent a lot of years journeying and expeditioning, in fact I have been doing it most of my life. The opportunity to ride across a goodly part of Eastern Africa seemed too good to miss, seeing as we were already here.
Of course there is more to it than that, there always is. The flippant “because it’s there” narrative mostly just means “I can't be arsed talking about it”…. it also implies “if you’re asking me the question; you plainly won’t understand the answer!”
So it’s not “because it’s there” it’s more “because we’re already here.” We know the journey, and barring mishaps, it is a beautiful, interesting, and exciting route, with much to see, with dramatic scenery and probably lots of cool animals.
I think there are a couple of things worthy of discussion from our point of view. One of the things we like about cycle touring is that the schedule we are normally bound to in our day-to-day lives is shelved. In the world of work, we undertake to be in certain places, at certain times, and we are expected to be there on time. Time is punctuated by places and people when we’re at work, and expectations of others dictate the pace of our lives.
When we are on a cycle tour, rather than places we need to be, we are travelling on a compass bearing to a destination in time rather than space. We have a rough date when I need to go back to work to earn some money; in the meantime, we are simply heading north. Success or failure ceases to have much meaning as a measurable point in space. There are no rules, just head roughly north and keep going.
Forward progress will likely happen at an average of about 15 kph, give or take a wee bit, and we will either be cycling or not, at any given time. Success will be dictated by how much fun we manage to have along the way. How far we expect to get will be January. Barring death, we imagine we will succeed in making it all the way to January. After all, we’ve made it to January a few times before.
One of the wonderful things about life on a bike is that you have absolutely no choice but to live in the present, the present is all there is. The past only exists in your tired body, and the future is very much dependent on you just “getting on” with the present. Living in the moment is your only option, living anywhere else is just quantum.
One of the things I am looking forward to is being present, and enjoying the company. Of course you do spend a lot of time in your own head when touring, especially slogging into headwinds, or pulling a shift on the front. However most of the time we cycle as a team and spend a good bit of that time laughing, or putting the world to rights. Or both.
Over the years, I have been guilty of being absent sometimes, even when I'm around. Work sometimes creeps into our home, and pulls me away from paying the right amount of attention to what’s happening there. I have also been pretty much on 24-hour duty for the last 5 years, and I'm pleased to say that I've now been formally relieved. Just like the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, only without the shiny shoes.
So one of the things we are also looking forward to most is being present and being back on our old expedition routine of work/ eat/ sleep. As I said before though, more than anything…this is just what we do.
Why the blog? Why not just enjoy the cycle tour?
I have asked that question quite a few times, and I've been close to forgetting about the idea. I am somebody who struggles with the 'techie side of life. It has been thanks to Annette, and one of our friends Guy (who I suspect has travelled to the 21st century from the future) that this blog idea got off the ground.
Without Annette’s patience and Guy’s input, this simply wouldn't be possible. Of course in Guy's century, this is child’s play.
So, why the blog? Well, we have benefitted from other people’s blogs over the years to help us research trips of our own. Particularly crazyguyonabike.com This has to be the daddy of bike blogs. It really is awesome.
We simply thought that we would like to return the compliment to those who have helped us, and will try our best to make it useful.
It is also a chance for one or two of my friends…or maybe all three of them, to keep an eye on us. (Annette, has more than three friends by the way…she’s way, way more popular than me!)
This may well be the pinnacle we can expect of quality writing on the blog. It is likely that future entries will be typed, by head torch, in a cramped tent; or maybe late at night in a bar (with a bit of luck), or possibly whilst knackered after a long days ride (somewhere in between the chips and the beans). Proofreading will probably be neglected, and wits most likely blunted by fatigue.
Please feel free to complain to Annette if you are not satisfied, or the punctuation or grammar is not up to the required standards. Please address complaints to her personally, and I’m sure she will appreciate the feedback.