I recently entered a short article for the ABC’s community page, ABC Open. They have a theme of the month, with this month’s theme being “Running with Scissors” – a story where you undertook something daring, out of the ordinary…
For some reason my article made the website’s front page today! Here is the story, and a picture or two to prove it – https://open.abc.net.au/explore/157033
“Eight months into my marriage, I realised something’s gotta give. Feeling trapped in a dud job and needing space from an ever-present spouse, I decided to tackle a solo female cycling tour – 1000 kilometres in 14 days. Sure I love cycling, but I’d never done more than 20 kilometres in a single sitting. Until then.
Preparation was short, dictated by the need for a quick getaway. I remember reading a few blogs and forums for touring cyclists, highlighting the need to prepare for rainy weather. “Never mind, it’s September in Europe”, I remember thinking – “not really the wet season” and “it won’t happen to me”. How wrong can one wager?
Landing in Maastricht, the hilly part of Holland, I remember looking for a quiet corner on the airport where I could unpack my partially dismantled bicycle from its airplane box and mante it, as a woman would say. Or try to. Hubby did try and give me some directions and practice. It must have worked, because I was off some time later. In a time before GPS, map roaming and technological advances, it was just me and my printed maps. I glided along rivers, over hills and through passes – Holland, Belgium, Luxemburg and Germany – getting lost often, wasting energy.
I hit rain. I decided to wait it out. I lost. That feeling of getting ready to continue a cycling tour – not a day tour or a quick dart – when it’s pouring outside, and you know you’ll be wet in five minutes flat, that feeling is indescribable. Defeat before you even start. You set off, your face gets slapped with wet. Then your saddle bags, then your shoes and finally the backsplash from the wheels. You should have heard the conversations in my head.
One other time saw me crying in frustration when my saddlebag’s string got caught in my spokes, broke off, got tangled so badly that it damaged the wheel. All the while it was past 5pm in a sleepy Belgian village. An unanticipated overnighter.
There were good times too, quite a few. Beer in youth hostels. Freedom as you cycle downhill through forests and riversides. Hobbling over antiquated cobblestones in tiny, ancient villages. Having a dorm room all to yourself. Growing stronger, cycling further each day. Missing my spouse.
We made up, we’re still together 10 years later. And I have a story to tell. I since read somewhere: “The worst day of cycling beats the best day at work”. I agree wholeheartedly now, but back then, I’m not so sure. I would do it again, though. With more preparation.”