23 Jun All The Things I Forgot
Cycling through the industrial centre of the United Kingdom, the idyllic wind in my hair was instead the turbulence of a thousand dirty lorries skimming my panniers as they passed, the beautiful ribbon of road was that of the A5 dual carriageway and the carefree independence of life on the road was replaced with self doubt and uncertainty. It was midday on the 14th of June and I was three hours in to my tour of the world. I had left home with a friend and a bag of pick and mix and now both were gone.
The women didn’t materialise, but through my first week I shared the homes and laughter of generous strangers, family and friends. I sat on a Harley Davidson, discussing classic cars and the world cup, spending my first night in the country home of welcoming strangers. I spent inebriated evenings with friends and tidied up loose ends and off-licences from my uncle’s home in London. I met up with Glen (http//:www.saberton.com), a friend who returned from cycling the world last year and my concerns were forgotten, replaced by excitement as I listened to his stories over an English breakfast. As I continued to ride, my overcast times on dual carriageways were replaced with glorious sunny days on undulating country roads, passing between rolling hills under clear blue skies. On leaving home, my sister had bet that I would only make it to France before falling in love with a girl and stopping, I barely made it out of my home country. Cycling through England, I had forgotten the enormity of what lay ahead, absorbed in a world of the familiar.
After 499km, I spent my last day in England with my parents in quintessential British style, eating bacon sandwiches and drinking tea, shouting at the television as England narrowly managed to stay in the World Cup. Final goodbyes at the ferry terminal were washed down with tears and the reassurance that everything would be ok.
Dolly, my affectionately named steed and only companion for the journey was secured below deck and I looked out over the white cliffs of Dover as we set sail for Boulogne-Sur-Mer. As I scanned over a French map with a can of cider all the things I forgot came rushing back to me. Surrounded by French speakers, I had forgotten that the next time I would be in an English speaking country would be in Australia, at least another 18000km of cycling away. I had forgotten that arriving in France at 7pm, I had nowhere to stay. And during the last week of the familiar I had forgotten that from this moment I would be alone, responsible for everything I needed from water to companionship. Within two hours I would be ‘fresh fish’, literally ‘straight off the boat’…