By no means am I claiming to be a philosopher, but during this ride I had a fair amount of time to contemplate and reflect on the trip so far. I’m not at all surprised that I would make it. I knew that on Monday, 15th June, I’d be standing in Auckland with my trusty bicycle. I anticipated that I wouldn’t be ill, struck by a motor vehicle nor kidnapped by a serial killer along the way. However, I didn’t anticipate how I would feel when I made it.
I felt relieved, not in the usual way, like when I see a bakery or a smooth cycle path. It was more like I was carrying all these goals and expectations for this trip and in an instant they all unravelled. There’s probably too much to write about, but the three big ones are:
1. The physical challenge: I completed 945km from Wellington to Auckland, across 11 riding days and 4 rest days. I’ve never considered myself to be athletic, outdoorsy or remotely coordinated. I was curious to know how far I could go, how well I could perform when I was so far out of my comfort zone. I realised it was quite simple, I can go as far as I want to go. If I want it badly enough, I will do it.
2. Seeking joy and sadness: wisdom from my good friend Leo, I didn’t understand it at the time, but it finally made sense. To me, it means diving into the good parts along with the bad parts, making yourself uncomfortable to learn about the other facets of yourself. Since I’ve been spending 5-10 hours a day on my own, without music, conversation or distractions, I’ve been able to ponder without interruptions. Most people were shocked that I was solo, as though being alone was not a possibility for adventuring. Or perhaps some people are afraid of being on their own. I really appreciated the chance to explore my introvert self, so often it gets squeezed into smaller gaps to fit into the extroverts’ world. I was content to spend nearly a month without open planned offices or meaningless small talk. Every moment on the road is mine and I feel very fortunate to choose where that road goes.
3. Following my gut: this never really lined up with my way of doing things, my preference for logic and reason tends to take over. There were so many reasons not to quit my job and take this risk, but these reasons couldn’t overcome the feeling that I get when I cycle. It’s a combination of freedom and independence, where I only need to rely on myself to get to my destination. That’s what makes me happy, so I’m keen to pursue that in whatever form it takes.
Like all good journeys, the end is just the beginning of a new adventure. Currently I’m heading north a further 250km to the Bay of Islands, then I fly back to Australia. The next tour will be in Europe, something along the lines of solo cycle Berlin to Budapest (three weeks), train Budapest to Istanbul (36 hours), cycle with Leo Istanbul to Zurich (6 weeks), solo cycle Zurich to Berlin (4 weeks). I can’t wait to get home to sit on the floor with a bunch of maps and go nuts with some Excel spreadsheets. It’s too exciting.