It's true - One week to go! I've been slightly dubious about putting an exact departure date on this thing since last time. For those of you new to the blog, my previous attempt to leave ended with hospitalisation and a four month lay-off! But, the procrastination can continue no longer. When next Saturday rolls around, I will no longer have anywhere to live in New York City. I will have my bike and my belongings, and I must ride.
I expect many of you will find this piece of news very exciting, especially those close to me. I am too of course, but currently the buzz lives deep down, stifled by a seemingly insurmountable mound of stressful last minute preparations and gear-gathering. At the minute it feels like it will be more of a relief than anything else to get on the road. It's not an ideal frame of mind to be entering into the trip with, but I guess given the scale of what lies ahead, it's somewhat inevitable. And even as I write this I can sense that bubbling feeling of unspeakable exhileration rising up. Yes, I will enjoy it. And I'm ready.
[Click on 'Read More' for full post]
Don’t listen to what anyone says. It is a magical place, full of unique sights, sounds, smells, people. I don’t think there’s anywhere else quite like it, and this is something to be thankful for. A couple of days ago I was blessed with a rare morning off from the normal rigours of my current routine, and I decided that instead of my standard morning cycle, I would make the trip that thousands of New Yorkers do every year when the sun reappears in the sky – I was headed for Coney Island.
I awoke early enough to avoid fellow revelers who had a similar idea of sun, sand and sea, but I couldn't avoid the Brooklyn Rush Hour Traffic. My route takes me from down Myrtle Avenue until I hit Vanderbilt –a street that transforms midway from a pothole-ridden nightmare full of badly parked cars, into a road characteristic of why Brooklyn is becoming a veritable biker’s inner-city paradise. A broad cycle path leads me smoothly to the Grand Army Plaza. Consisting of concentric circles arrange as streets, this is not only the Brooklyn equivalent of the Arc d’Triompe, but also forms the entrance to Prospect Park.
Okay, so here's the game. I have a shiny new Santos TravelMaster (as seen above in the ever-so-sligtly embarrassing publicity photo) which I plan to ride a minimum of 10,000 miles across North America, NZ, Australian and SE Asia. This much you know (or at least you do now). What you probably don't know is that as yet I haven't named my bike. Now this is a pretty big deal. Me and this bike are gonna get to know each other very well. We're really, really gonna have to become best buds. We're gonna spend a LOT of time together - enough to put any relationship under strain, especially one where I'm the only human being involved. Inevitably we're going to fall out every so often, but in general this bike will be the only company I have for long stretches of time whether I like it or not, so I better get used to the idea. Simply...we've got to get on well. And, central to this, is giving my bike a good name. Maybe I'm going a bit far, it is after all still an inanimate object, but I'm not going to lie to you, i WILL talk to this bike.
Once again, sorry for the lack of activity on the site - it's not good enough! However, I have been keeping all the boring bits of the planning process ticking over and have been immersed in books and maps regarding South East Asia, trying to get my perfect route. So that's why I haven't been blogging. Honestly.
Anyway! Enough of my excuses. The latest in my injury/delays saga is that I had to come back to Ireland for another appointment with the surgeon who operated on me. This was another big one; he was basically going to tell me whether the muscles were healing properly and essentially how much longer my recovery would take. After the disappointment of the last meeting with him I was pretty nervous, but luckily it all seemed to go rather well. He was of the opinion that everything was healing at a good rate, and I should continue to rest until Christmas, but after that it's all systems go! I obviously can't jump straight back on a bike and cycle 50 miles before hitting the gym, but hey, you gotta start somewhere. So I'll try pedaling a few short routes around here in Northern Ireland, and start with some baby dumbbells - My ego may take a knock but at least I'll be being sensible! That's the plan anyway, and I will now feel less guilty regarding the inevitable Christmas overindulgence.
In light of the good news, I felt healthy enough to attempt an early morning walk in the beauty of the North Coast of Northern Ireland. I'm desperately trying to find time and energy to improve my photography skills, which are at the minute, not great. I've never really got into photography the way I did with filmmaking, and I don't have a particularly good camera, but I'm going to give it a shot. Who knows, if I get better may I can blag a decent camera to take with me. So here's a few of my efforts from this morning, although I can't say it was a roaring success as my camera battery died before I'd even left the village. Lesson learned for next time.
That's it - with any luck, expect a couple of announcements regarding my expedition before Christmas. Otherwise, thanks for reading and following my adventures so far!
So it's come to this - sitting in my house, mindlessly fidgeting and counting down the minutes. Till what? Well, tomorrow at 2.30pm I have my meeting with the specialist who operated on me, and he'll be the one who tells me whether or not I'm fit to travel to NYC on the 30th November. There's an awful lot resting on that one little meeting, and I'm finding it very hard to put out of my head.
In truth it's been a pretty crazy couple of weeks. First, the operation itself, proving that sometimes pushing yourself to the limit maybe isn't always best. Then a week of complete agony (which was actually okay because I was pretty drugged up so it just kinda passed me by) and since then a week and a half at my family home in Ireland. I've been gradually feeling better and stronger, but it's been hard to know what to do. After months of complaining that I was always too busy with never a minute to spare, I suddenly have all the free time in the world to catch up on my reading, writing and planning. For some reason though, motivation was distinctly lacking and lethargy took control. I really didn't make the most of being laid up at home which is quite disappointing. But hey, at least I've been getting a lot (a LOT) of rest, and in the last couple of days I've been feeling all the enthusiasm flood back into my system. It's like rediscovering the trip all over again, and perhaps what I needed what a couple of weeks away from the daily grind of preparation. That's the optomistic view I'm going to take anyway (but I'm still disappointed I didn't get more done.)
So anyway, now I'm on the road to recovery, whatever the specialist says tomorrow. Life feels good again. I got to thinking though, what if something like this happened when I'm on the road? Well, firstly, I'd be screwed. Straight up stuffed. It also brought into doubt the wisdom of attempting this on my own. I have numerous reasons for wanted to do this alone. Hopefully none of those reasons are just that I've got no mates! The main drive however is that this is MY personal trip - it's the route I want to do, the film I want to make, the charity I want to fundraise for and the goals I hope to achieve from it (I've blogged on this before, so I won't drag it out.) It also feels like a good old fashioned adventure, and for whatever reason I feel the need to test myself against all the challenges and obstacles that this sort of trip throws up. I think it will give me experiences I can draw on in later life to postive effect. I also harbour a (slightly idealistic) notion that the film I make will be so good it will catapult me into my dream career of expedition videographer. Who knows, but you gotta at least hope for these things, right?! So, after all that I decided that if this trip is worth doing, which of course it is, then it's worth doing on my own. Decision made - I will remain a loner!
Anyway, that said, it's always nice to have company, and I'm definitely not adverse to the idea of being joined by people for some sections of the journey. A couple of people have already expressed interest in doing just this, and even my Dad is considering cycling some of New Zealand with me! But I'd like to now extend an open invite to any of you who like the idea - come ride with me! If there's somewhere in particular along my route you really like the idea of cycling, just get in touch and maybe we can work something out. Some of the sections I'm most excited about are the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island, some of the Canadian Rockies sections around Banff, and basically anywhere along the Pacific Coast from Vancouver to LA - any of those would be good for someone to join up.
So let me know what you think on the travelling along versus with a companion debate, and do feel free to email me if you want to join in the cycling fun.
More news on when I can go to NYC tomorrow - fingers crossing time...
Here is a blog I wrote in the early hours of this morning – I just couldn't quite function well enough to post it then!
It's 3.26am – what are you doing right now? Tossing and turning sleeplessly because you can't stop thinking about adventure cycling touring? I thought not! No-one in their right mind is. Well, I am. I wish I wasn't actually, but I am, to the extent that I've decided to give up hope of sleep now and read something – inevitably, its something to do with my trip.
So what have I learned? Not a lot, but I have decided I definitely want Ortlieb panniers on my like, they look awesome! I think I've also learned that I need to switch off a bit, perhaps I'm overloading my brain with cycle-film-adventure info. Resolution – no more reading about such things just before bed! Best switch back to my trusty Raymond Chandler novels for my night-time literary fix. I have a day of work ahead, both paid work of the boring kind, and unpaid work of the exciting kind. More imminent however is a 2 hour session at the gym at 8 o'clock. Which is in four and a half hours. Oh Oh!
I will blog more soon on training though because it's a pretty important aspect of a trip like this – just how do you prepare to cycle thousands of miles across continents with such variable climates? A question for another day.