Saturday, October 18, 2008

Wait, wait, wait for it, ok now laugh!

Every single day something incredible happens. Last Tuesday stands out from the crowd!

I camped at the side of a reservoir in Brecon Beacon Park in southern Wales. The water was still, the woods were quite, a paradise spot to camp. Just as I parked up a kingfisher flew away, electric blue, my first and another life moment of the trip. I was only one more day away from Cardiff and decided to get up the following day nice and early and head into Cardiff to stay in a hostel. I tucked into bed around 7pm and put pen to paper on how easily I made it all the way through Wales, trouble free. Struggling over mountains and cruising through the valleys. Soaking up the scenery, not much to this wandering cycling lark, just keep pedalling and enjoy the ride. So I get up before sunrise, eat my usual ton museli, fruit, sandwiches, vitamins and glucosomine tablets to keep the old knees lubed up. Unlocked my bike and packed up the tent and got ready to freewheel down to Cardiff for my open top bus parade around town organised by the mayor.

It was just when I was about to load up my food bag onto my bike and I was imagining the press interviews when I heard a splash. I turned around to see my bike had achieved the impossible. It had done a ninja style somersault down the eight foot bank and into the deep dark lake. I stood at the edge of the bank staring down at all my gear, my life, sinking into the abyss. I have suffered in the past from some earth shattering moments and events but this one destroyed them all in an instant. I took my jacket off and dont ask me why but also my sandals and just leaped and slide down the thorny bank, ripping my feet to shreds and lunged out for my bike. The handle bar bag just flopped open and my wallet with a few hundred quid, iPod, camera, knife, gloves, hat, book, torch, vaseline, vitamins and of course my Passport dissapeared into the lake. None of that mattered as all my brain could think of save the bike. So there I am trying to swim around the corner to anywhere I can rest my bike to grab all the other gear.

Oh my god I could just not stop laughing, I broke myself up trying the get the bike out of the lake. After finally popping a vein I dragged her to safety then had to jump back in the lake and swim around the corner and go fishing for the rest. Passport luckily did not float to far away. I had to pretty much go free diving and duck down underwater and feel my way around on the side of the lake and grab my stuff, it was like Supermarket Sweep. I would feel the rocks and slime then all of a sudden I would brab my torch, yippee, then my knife ha forgot all about that. My wolly gloves, hat, Treasure Island book and vitimins looked like they were in a race to the centre of the lake so I let them keep their freedom. Got all tangled in bushes and crap trying to find things like my wallet and diary.

All through it I knew it was not actually going to end my trip but I was still freaked out that all my stuff got soaked. I swear on my life the bike was standing no where near the bank, it was the first time it fell on the whole trip and they way the bags sit on the back makes it ideal to do a roll once it falls. I dried off and got into half wet clothes from the bag and made my way into town about 40kms away. Flying down the hill I hit a rock and tear my tire, so I change the tube and tire in the rain on the side of the road with the dirt from the trucks destroying me. All ye can do is laugh, nothing else needs to be said or done but to just laugh.

So I spent two days in the cracking Riverside hostel just chilling out and chatting with a real character from Sydney, Ellen. Watching the presidential debate and talking about coffee and travel. Met up with the two German touring cyclists by chance in the city. Left the city happy and dry with a new waterproof camera, ready for England.

The generosity of strangers is what has made this trip so special already. Rambling around yesterday evening somewhere east of Bristol I asked a cyclist which way to go to buy milk and make a phone call. Next thing I know I have pitched my tent in his back garden, and I am eating the first course of our feast with John and Maggie. Turns out they are mad keen bike tourers and have been all over the world together on a tandem bike. Stayed up late talking about travel and adventure. He let me use his phone to ring a friend of mine I met three years ago in Byron Bay to arrange to meet him and gives me a map to get there in the most scenic way.

So I stayed the night in Swindon, staying with Jack and his Dad. Jack had to work but left the house in my capable hands. This is what I live for, to meet extraordinarily kind people. The little things people do for you, the trust of strangers. This level of excitment, wonder and peace is exactly what I have wanted for a long time. No rush, just chill, eat, read, chat and move onto another place I have never been.

No comments: