Tracks

Melton Mowbray to Warlingham: Thursday 03 August 2017

13:37. Moving again. 30km. Melton to Leicester. Perfectly pleasant ride, given the fact we hadn’t ridden fully-laden for eleven days, and, despite one gentle ride at the weekend, had been fairly inactive – and softening.

The getaway was nice and smooth
until the moment we came to put the panniers on the bikes.

Yesterday evening, whilst packing as much as we could, I noticed an unfamiliar-looking screw on the bedroom floor. It may have dropped out of something when we were unpacking.

It’s an innocuous looking thing that may have dropped out of the spare bag of nuts and screws that we keep just in case. I’ll just pop it th…

Ah, the pannier with that in is in the garage. I’ll just pop it in here for now.

“Shit!”

As I went to attach the front-left pannier, five minutes away from departing exactly when we wanted. The bottom rail that holds the pannier onto the bottom part of the front rack: hanging loose at the hook end. I didn’t need to look at what kind of screw was missing.

I knew.

“Motherfucker!”

Let’s get a screw from elsewhere on the pannier and use it as a replacement for now.

“Motherfucker!” It’s come loose, but it won’t come out. May as well check all the others while we’re at it.

Good job we did.

“Motherfucker!” They all need tightening. On every pannier.
Ortleib: kings of the pannier – never heard about this before. Is it a thing?

It must be.

One Heath-Robinson patch up with a piece of string and we’re rolling. A little disconcerted at the thought that the panniers are not as infallible as I’d thought, but what can you do? And it seems like gravity does more of the job than the hook, so…

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“It’s raining.”
“It’s only drizzle – not worth bothering about.”
“True, but there’s no let up in the clouds. We’re just going to keep running into it.”

We did. Not more than three minutes later, the drizzle became a downpour.

“I’m stopping.” To poncho.

“Where is it?”

“Motherfucker!”

In one of the more accessible panniers.
Yes, that front one now bound up a little more with some twine.

Still, we got it off and got in to get ponchoed and waterproof-trousered

And had a quick snack: we’d been riding for practically an hour, so why not?

The rain’s stopped. Of course, England and its bloody showers.

But we got to Leicester well on time for an easy wait for our train.

~~~~~~~

Now we sit. Uneasy. Uneasily waiting to meet our bikes again at St. Pancras. Hastily chucked into the bike hole on this train. Glad you don’t have to pay for that indignity on British trains. Hold tight Finkel, hold tight Einhorn: we’re thinking of you. It won’t be long.

~~~~~~~

And they stood
all the way!?

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Oh, I’m so proud. They grow up so quickly these days, don’t they 😁

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A Little Bit Different

Melton Mowbray: Sunday 30 July 2017

13:19. A. week has passed. A life has been honoured.

The bikes remain in the garage.

The funeral was on Thursday. Short, sweet and fitting. Memories were shared. Grief was shared. Love was shared. Bread was broken. Life was celebrated. Laughter was raised.

Life moves on.

Life continues.

The bikes came out again yesterday. Pannierless, we wrestled nothing – wobbling along the first 500 metres like a pair of drunks trying to disguise their tipsiness.

But, as the town became a village, and the village became a country lane, control and familiarity were regained, and it felt great to push the pedals round and round, pump some blood around the body, and clear the cobwebs gathering dust.

It had been less than a week since we arrived, already much hardened by our three weeks on the road, and it’s amazing how quickly you can soften up given a week of relative inactivity.

Can’t be sure when we’ll be back proper Tracing-Horizoning again, but we’re inching along the red-tape maze and it feels like the end is in sight. Don’t count your chickens an’ all that, and I already feel like I’ve cursed it, but, yes, I sense we’ll soon be back on the road and making our way Southward again – approaching from the North rather than the East, as originally thought a little over two weeks ago.

Since we set out on this whatever-it-is-we’re-doing, time has seemed so much bigger: minor moments filled with so much new that 24 hours can feel like a week, a month, a year, which is fantastic, and does make you pause for thought when you consider how repetitive a stationary day-to-day life can be if you allow it.

When travelling, I look at yesterday as if it came from another time. I guess we’re used to looking back at events and assuming there are blocks of mundaneness in between, unworthy of remarking or reflecting on – though maybe we should reflect more on why those unremarkable days exist and whether we want more or fewer of them.

Again, despite being stationary for a week now, last Sunday feels so far away: a week full of things not for the action movie silver screen, but the stuff of poetry and verse. A period full of empty: being touched by things I can’t identify or recognise, but that trigger all kinds of responses and reactions.

It’s grief, it’s love – it’s life, in one of those raw moments when you feel and recognise it for what it is; and that is as valuable as hanging off a suspension bridge by your teeth on a fraying elastic-band, or something.

And now it’s time for the life of those living in the human form to move forward.

But again…
…a little bit different.

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The People in Our Paths #2

Canterbury to Melton Mowbray [Part 2]: Sunday 23 July 2017

16:50. Market Place, Melton.

Nine days since receiving the confirmation. Ten days since receiving the warning about what was happening and wondering how in the hell we’d get from there to here.

We’re here.

We’ve journeyed across five countries, almost incidentally, in order to do so.

Despite the circumstances that impelled the detour, we’ve been able to take in: the fabulous riding experience that is Belgium, the scarily erratic to quirkily quaint North of France, the real beauty of Kent, and the, to be fair, not-too-shabby scenery surrounding my old stomping grounds.

The bicycle moments of feeling a place on all of the senses would have been tragic to miss on a headlong, blind dash here. We’ve felt and experienced them together, as we always intended to try and do once we made our first tentative steps towards achieving this way of life a little over two years ago.

Every cloud. As always.

And there would always have been a feeling that some of the world was missing if we’d never made it to England on our outing, so something else to appreciate.

And, of course, last but not least – people: the kindness and generosity of people.

Through our mediated lives, we are led to believe that the world is populated by untold monsters, psychos and fanatics ready to take your life, your belongings or your principles at the drop of a hat.

Then you get out and you meet people; you open your need to people; your self to people. Love is returned and is never the less touching for being much more ubiquitous than our subscriber channels would like us to believe.

Thank you so so much: Peter and family in Asse, Isabelle and Tom in Aalter-Brug, restaurant-lady in Schoorbakkehoeve, and Chris and Caroline in Canterbury. You warmed our hearts on our mini-odyssey here.

Now to family I see all too rarely, so, despite the circumstances, I hope we’re able to enjoy some quality moments together.

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