Monday, 14 May 2007

The dream becomes a reality

In just 5 short days the dream I have had for a few years now, will no longer be a dream.

We all need a dream and if we fulfil one we replace it with another. My previous dream was to cycle from Lands End to John O’Groats and I have ridden that twice now. Once this one is over I am a bit concerned as to what the next one will be!

There has been so much to do over the last 2 months that I have hardly given the trip itself much thought. Renting the house has created a lot of work. The garden has been tidied following the normal winter months of neglect, all the wooden surfaces have been painted or coated in wood stain, broken green house glass has been replaced, broken fence panels repaired, leaking radiators replaced, the list goes on. Then there are all the formalities of renting the house out, sorting out the finances not to mention the purchase of bit and bobs for the trip such as tent, stove, water filter, suitable clothing etc. There still is so much to do, the clock is ticking and I shouldn’t really be sat here writing this when there are so many more pressing issues that need my attention.

It hasn’t been easy either. Every corner I turn I am faced with more problems, more expenses. More than once I have questioned why I am doing this, is it really worth all the hassle? Friends who have recently travelled around the world said they suffered the same problems and emotions, so I guess it is naturally going to happen when you are going through such a huge change in lifestyle.

I had always envisaged spending hours planning out routes, researching countries and acquiring visas, but in reality it just hasn’t happened. I really only made the definite decision to go on March 9th this year so there just hasn’t been time. Over the years I have thought about the countries I would pass through and that is basically the way it is going to be. I wanted to go North around the Black Sea rather than through Turkey, but the difficulty of getting a visa for Russia proved a problem and getting a visa for Iran is so much easier in Turkey that I decided to take the route of least resistance. Actually, I rather like the idea of little planning as it makes the route far more flexible. If I meet another cyclist I can ride with them if I wish without heading off route and it also stops me for making any schedules, I can just go with the flow.

I have been greatly encouraged through all the support I have received from family and friends even down to offers of sending out spares when I need them and financial support should I get into trouble whilst I am away. There are too many people to mention here, but thanks to you all, it has been uplifting.

But I have to mention my dear friend Caroline who has just been brilliant over these last few months. She even spent the whole of this weekend helping me clean the house and the kitchen now looks cleaner than I can ever remember. I am really indebted to her and like all true friends she can’t see what all the fuss is about and can’t see what she has done. Mind you, she keeps making more work for me and is bringing a carpet cleaner around during the week and that is a job I hadn’t intended doing. I am going to miss her so much whilst I am away. It’s going to hurt. But I am sure that when times are tough on the road and I am feeling down, a few words of encouragement from her will be enough to set me off in the right direction again.

So what can you expect from this blog? Well I hope to update it roughly on a weekly basis with accounts and anecdotes from the journey but I also want to express my emotions, to give a feel of the highs, the lows, the joys, the fears, the depression that is bound to surface from time to time, the despair and anger to name but a few. I suspect that they will all arise and probably be forgotten about unless I keep a diary. It’s a long journey, but it’s also a journey of self discovery. It was never meant to be that way, the dream was just a dream, but as the day fast approaches I realise there is more to this than just getting on a bike and pedalling romantically off into the sunset, it has the potential to be life changing, even if I don’t want it to be. Anyway, by the looks of it when I pedal romantically off into the sunset I am going to get very wet!


Lorna said...

Well done for being brave enough to follow your dream, John. Bon voyage and good luck!

Caff said...

I will miss you loads....but not the cleaning! I await with anticipation your tales of the unexpected and look forward to a few unusual postcards to add to my postcard board. Good luck and have loads of fun.

aoiffe said...

Life itself is a challenging journey, but many people just put their heads in the sand - and all they can see is sand and all they discover is that grit in the eye is painful, so then they close their eyes. You might get painful grit in you eyes along the way, but you will also be drinking a full measure of the wine of life and that is both joy and trepidation. What a way to live!!!! Go for it.

MartinT said...

Good luck John - I'll be thinking of you on PBP this year. A bit late, but a very good book was written by Anna & Howard Green "On a bicycle made for two" describing their 6 month cycle to work in Nepal. For part of the route they 'roughly followed' the route of Alexander the great through Eastern Europe & the middle East - and found Turkey to be the friendliest country they traveled through.

Paul said...

I think you ought to go by bus.


Henry T. said...

God's Speed John.
I was with you on your first Dream of Land's End to John O'Groats and had the pleasure of introducing you to the joys of Audax riding. I so much appreciated your tolerance of me (aged 65) on our LE/JOG ride and your superb organisation of our daily routine. May your God go with you, health and strength be yours. Henry T.

Basher Barlow said...

Beastie, remember to avoid Isle of Wight, you know what your map reading was like and I hear the postman who saved you has now retired :-)

Best of Luck from N,L,J and M.