Didn’t You Get a Sore Bum?
It wasn’t the heat, the number of punctures, setting up camp alone at night, or what did I eat that interested people most, instead it was the following three “didn’ts” that got asked in one way or another by almost everyone who had followed the adventure.
Didn’t the distance you had to ride worry you?
Strangely enough, it never did. Not during the planning, the riding and certainly not after the ride. Of course I knew it was a long way, but the overall distance never did.
For as long as I can remember, I have broken large projects like this down into smaller sections, put them away in a safe place at the back of my mind and then only released them as needed. It is my coping mechanism. This meant that when riding, I only ever thought about that day, getting to the top of the next hill or when pushing into a head wind (two days from Berri to Blanchetown), I was concentrating on just getting to the next white post. The worst that could happen if I missed getting to a destination is that I would bush camp for another night. I had food and water, what else did I need?
It was not until several days after completing the ride that the enormity of the accomplishment sank in and I realised that I had indeed ridden all that way, on my own and without a major (mechanical) breakdown or incident.
Didn’t you get a sore bum?
I think everyone gets a sore seat bone from time to time but for me it never became an issue. Probably because I was wearing padded cycling pants and that the bike seat was narrow enough that chaffing was not a major concern. It was definitely not because I am super-human. However, there were times when I started to get sore and the best remedy for this was to get off the bike for a few minutes, and that the derry-air breathe.
For me, these five minutes on the side of the road standing over the bike frame and wriggling my legs was enough to remove any soreness. Then it was back on the bike again for a few hours. After a couple of weeks even these sore moments had passed.
There was never a day where I thought that my undercarriage was going to divorce me.
Didn’t you get bored out there on your own?
No, not once, which I suspect is a family trait. There was never a time when I didn’t have something to think about, felt bored or wished I was home in front of the “box”.
A lot of my attention each day was focussed on the mirror and what was approaching from behind. It was a full-time job avoiding becoming a squashed bug of some juggernaut’s radiator! Any spare time I spent listening to the birds, day dreaming about almost everything, thinking about the next big ride, planning the rest of the day, checking that the solar panel was pointing to the sun or just making up stupid games and cycling experiments. Now that I think about it, I never did decide if there was a set distance between the white posts in any one area.
What I did learn from all this free-thinking though, is that spending three weeks contemplating the white line on the edge of the bitumen is a liberating experience. I have returned home feeling more enthusiastic, imaginative and relaxed than I have for a long time.
And then I went back to work!