Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I finally knocked the bastard off...

Where to begin with my first post in my blog eh? I was going to wait until my big journey began before starting this blog but I think it already started October 5th 2005 when I left for australia.

As the title of my url says, I have skinny legs. Which I am constantly reminded of by friends, friends of friends, family, work mates, girlfriends and anyone elses who feels they know me enough to get away with slagging them.

"what do you mean cycle, you?, haa sure look how skinny your legs are!"

"you are feckin mad, you are too skinny"

(lying naked in bed with a girl, which is rare) "oh my god your legs are actually skinnier than mine!"

But these legs have never let me down, scuba diving, snowboarding, running, cycling or hiking. You see they have a secret weapon, my stubborn brain never letting them stop even when they ache, sun burnt, muddy, cut or freezing. So I decided a few months back to leave Ireland by bicycle and just go wherever I wanted. Yes, it is probably the worst thing to pick for me, it would be easier by train or even fairly cheaply by flying Ryanair all over. There are two reasons why I decided to cycle.

One: Because I like to travel, I like seeing new places, getting lost and finding yourself again. Seeing all sorts of strange and beautiful creatures. To see things most people will never see. To live free of societies pressures in nature. But to do this you gotta go slowly and trust me there are not many modes of travel slower than me cycling a bike. To do it extremely cheap in a tent to make it last as long as possible before I have to work again.

Two: For the challenge, to get stronger, to find out what I can do with these skinny legs. To take the next step in my evolution.

I leave on the 12th of October, even if its raining!

So while I tick off the days on the calender till I leave I am not gonna sit around on my super smoothe ass and do nothing. So I got out of bed at lunch time today and decided to go for a wander up Little Sugarloaf mountain in Bray but believe it or not it was raining so I said I better not risk leaving the house and getting wet. Haaa there are so few days of the year when it is not raining here in Ireland that if you acted like that you would do nothing. All my time living in Bray and I have never been up the Little Sugarloaf, terrible.

So off I went and as usual I was not sure of where to go so I just headed in the general direction, up past the McNamees house, past the scene of one of the most (only) horrendous wasp attacks of our childhood, past where we tried unsuccessfully as kids to catch pheasants using fishing line and raisins. Blindly walking along a dirt road through the mist, cracking twigs and scaring rabbits, pheasants and kestrels away. It was typical Irish "rain" hanging around the hill, not really falling yet soaking me.

I got to what looked like a trail off the road and up the hill. That trail stopped after a few yards but I continued anyway. Eating blackberries and half tempted to see if any of the crazy little mushrooms had any magic in them! The forrest cleared and I could see past the open space and into what looked like another wooded area that felt like the right direction. With no trail to follow I was making my own by standing on the thorny blackberry bushes which were taking lumps out of my beautifully formed ankles. So I was at the point on hill walks where the bush is getting too thick to follow and I have a couple of choices. Turn around and retrace my steps and find another easier way. Or convince myself of something that is blatantly not true "sure it looks like its thinning out over there". Never one to turn back I pushed on. The blackberry bushes where now up past my naked knees and busy painting detailed dotted red lines like roads on a map all over my legs. Minutes later I was kicking my legs higher than I thought was flexibly possible by me just so I could get them high enough to bring my sandled foot down on top of the branches that where now five feet high. It only took 30 minutes to get through haaa.

Now for what I hoped was the sugar on the Little Sugarloaf. If sugar is the worst ankle breaking territory of all time then I found a ton of sugar. A few hundred metres of slippery, unsteady, perfectly designed ankle breaking rocks later and I had summited one of Brays skyline "mountains". I did it all unsupported, without food, water, phone, supplemental oxygen, sherpas, camera crew and with no view as the mist was really thick haaa. But I did get hazy glimpses of the peaks of the other hills around, which gave a surreal feeling of being at the top of a vast Tibetan mountain range. I could almost picture little Tenzin sitting on the other peak meditating. Another unexpected all time life moment provided not too far from my house. On my way back down I decided against retracing my steps precisely as my legs didnt have enough skin left to deal with round two with the blackberry bushes from hell so I stayed on the trail. Turned out I saved myself a 10 minute walk on the trail by taking my trip through the blackberry part haaa.

No matter how big or small the goals I set in my life are, I always get more out of the journey than the accomplishment. I got some quality quiet time away from noisy cars and people and away from day time TV and into nature. Only a 20 minute walk from my house and I am with the animals, well maybe not with, but at least I can see them haaa. Its not exactly the vast eco system of Wellington diving but there is so much beautiful Irish wildlife and charming countryside right on my doorstep! Not to be counting down the days but its only about 25 to go before I leave. There is so much I want to do around here before I leave but the nice thing is it will all still be here when I get back eventually so I have decided not to do a big tour around before I leave.

"What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from." T.S. Eliot

I am not leaving to get to a particular spot on the map. I want to go to every single place in the world so naming any as an end goal would be pointless. I just wanna get out there and see it all, have some (alot) adventure, not have to work for a while, to live a life less ordinary. I dont want to just fly past on a bus, I wanna be a part of the view. To find myself in a place like Wellington, not speaking geographically but to be truly happy with how I am living and surrounded by amazing people like Halena, Mike, Tony and Libby.

So I wait, hiking, cycling, swimming and working in a degrading job as a barman. Preparing mentally to have nothing but my bike and tent and some money. To cycle along slowly, dropping in on friends to have a wash, steering clear of work and hopefully continue being as happy as I am now and finding myself in another beautiful place.


Anonymous said...

awesome i want to read more - it wasn't your legs I remember haha
Try to always carry a pair of underpants on your travels and you will never be embarrassed:)Megan

Anonymous said...

right, little sugarloaf it is for me too....i haven't climbed it either, although I've been meaning to for years in a half-hearted kind of way. On your cycle, "may vaseline for your chafed arse be your light in times of darkness" - better than anything Ghandhi would come up with. Or i guess your super duper bicycle seat you bought will take care of that too.

Anonymous said...

should have signed that last comment....dara

your canuck said...

Omg. I guess i'm going to have to start mentally preparing MYSELF for you going on this trip, eh? lol but yes, bring some extra underpants. and polysporin for infections. hahaha and remember to give your mom my contact info. and i'm going to look into some anxiety meds for myself :) Oct 12th!!! bah...

Anonymous said...

Been there, done that and have the t-shirt to prove it!! Had to hike up the little sugarloaf a few times with the foreign students, its not all its cracked up to be but if you're going to go again, go through the kilruddery side from windgates, much better that way!!Make sure to bring a few RUBBER tubes with you on your travels, you never know what to expect and you will need them on those dodgy european roads!They can also double up as other essential items if funding is wearing thin!

Beth said...

Hello Stranger, I didn't know you were back in Ireland I was in Dublin a few weeks ago just came over for a bit of a holiday made me feel very nostalgic, brought back memories of JJ's. Your new expedition sounds very exciting I'm looking forward to reading all about it and if those skinny legs lead you through London at all let me know as thats where I'm living now. Glad to hear you're well and still maintaining a healthy spirit for adventure. Beth x