I hated the world so I tried to change and deconstruct it. I did a good job. As I sit in the park I look at the wreckage and pieces around me and they breakdown further under my gaze. I can’t comprehend and fail to relate to everything around me. From the forced nature of this environment to it’s apparently happy go lucky inhabitants.
This is why I ran away and I am pleased that my return is only temporary. The metaphysical wreckage I have created still fills me with anger and hate. My analysis and deconstruction have only further distanced me from my previous surroundings. The upshot, both society and sobriety become difficult for me. I sit in uneasy surroundings and self-medicate to feel ‘normal’ within them.
The unitended positive is creativity. Good for me, perhaps not anyone else. I remember happy years. A happiness that was more numbness of being, an ostrich with my head buried deperately ignoring my feelings. Those years were barren though for the production of words, thoughts and ideas. I like thinking and I like writing. Which puts me into an odd dualism, I like being depressed. I enjoy the trainwreck I become, this character I form and act out. At least to me it is interesting, even if it makes me hard to live with. I don’t like the feeling of isolation though. Born out of ultimately selfishness and an inability to make sacrifices.
So I wrap myself in my blanket of loneliness in an effort to keep warm which is ultimately futile. Then it becomes easy to give in to hate. The percieved differences, the wish to shake people in the street. The huge chip on my shoulder. The presumptious feeling that ultimately I am right. In moments of drunkness I enter the world I wish to flee and seat myself among it. Mentally judging, ticking off the negatives. Keeping score. It becomes a list, don’t try, it won’t work for these reasons, give up now.
So then I wake up and stare in the mirror. The first few grey hairs by my ears, receding temples and alcoholic thread viens on my cheeks and nose. For all my lofty ideals, my political and philosophical posturing, I see through the mask I wear. At the true individual. The selfish person, the hollow burnt out shell, the empty vessel with no hope. At that point it is clear, transparent, obvious.
Most of all I hate myself.
Sorry for the radio silence, I’ve been busy visiting friends and trying to undo a month of sitting on the sofa.
Normal service will be resumed within the next couple of weeks. We have a PRBC bivy trip planned, there is the cycle touring festival and then I leave for northern Europe. All good food for the soul both mentally and physically.
I’m starting to climb the walls. My leg is healing well but it’s taking time and I can’t ride or run whilst it heals. Spending pretty much all day sat on the sofa with my leg elevated isn’t my idea of fun. To combat my feelings of itchy feet and take my mind off my itchy leg I’ve been looking to the future. The next chapter of my journey begins in April when I head back to Leeds for a few weeks to visit friends and tie up some loose ends.
Then at the end of April I head across to Clitheroe for the Cycle Touring Festival. I’m really excited for the event which has now sold out. Especially the opportunity to be involved as a member of the panel for the technical discussions on cycle touring equipment. I’m also looking forward to meeting other touring cyclists although I often find these sort of events challenging on a personal level. I can quite happily deal with meeting one or two new people at a time but I know I struggle in situations that mean interacting with a group of new people all at once. Time to work on being social and outgoing, I have these character traits I just struggle to use them.
After the touring festival I head back to Leeds for a couple of nights and then it’s off to Hull to catch the ferry across the North sea to the Netherlands. I have twelve weeks in which to tour before having to come back to the UK for my cousin’s wedding at the beginning of August. In a way I quite like the fact that all these weddings this year give me time limits to my trips abroad but it’s also slightly frustrating as it increases the costs in terms of ferries. From the Netherlands I intend to head north east through Germany, Denmark and Sweden. Depending on the speed I travel I’ll either end up doing an out and back route or if I find myself covering ground quickly a loop around the Baltic sea.
When I’m sat in one place and with access to a computer I also find it hard not to spend money. So far I’ve managed to limit this to a new larger tarp and some gaiters which will hopefully make wet bivying and wet riding more comfortable. I’ve offset the costs of those new items though by selling my old tarp, some spare bike parts and a chunk of the record collection I’ve amassed over the last 20 years. However almost unconsciously I still find myself ‘window shopping’ for new bikes despite not having the money, storage space or even time to ride them! It’s hard to break years of programming that encourages you to spend and buy despite knowing I don’t need any of these things.
So I’m back in the UK. I’m sad that I didn’t get to ride back through France and I’m back here two weeks early but I know it is the right choice. Much better to end my trip early and heal properly rather than jeopardise my future plans. When I returned to my parents I discovered that they had been plotting my journey on a map. Pretty rad.
My leg appears to be healing fairly well but I think I might have at least another week if not two of it being dressed regularly. It’s strange but as it heals it’s more painful. The burn essentially destroyed the nerve endings and I think that the feeling is coming back as they regrow. It’s not bad though it smarts a bit and has also started to itch but I wouldn’t say it is painful.
Please be prepared for a reduction in the number of posts over the next few weeks. Although I have lots of time on my hands I can’t ride and so probably won’t generate much in the way of ideas to write about. Feel free to suggest ways I can occupy myself. Whilst my leg heals I’m finding myself pretty much housebound which is feels very strange. Past the end of March I should be back to full strength and I have plans brewing which I will write about in the future.
Today I remembered that I forgot to write about when I was stopped by the police.
It was between Murcia and Teruel, I think when I was approaching the town of Almansa. As an aside Almansa had a big sign claiming to be ‘the town of the bicycle’, for the life of me I could not see why. They were very friendly to me in the cafe I stopped in when they found out I was cycling though. Before reaching the town though I was quite happily cycling along under a grey overcast sky hoping it wouldn’t rain when the Guardia Civil pulled up alongside me. Winding down their window the driver asked me (in Spanish obviously) where my cycle helmet was. Now before setting out on this trip I didn’t know that in Spain (and France too apparently) there is a law which says that outside of cities and towns you legally have to wear a cycle helmet. I haven’t brought a helmet with me for a number of reasons which I don’t feel I need to explain as it should be my choice.
Anyhow I politely informed the police officer that I was English and didn’t have one. Upon hearing this he looked grave and motioned to say that he would need to give me a ticket. Now although when I left the UK I had no idea about helmet laws I had been told in Valladolid that you were supposed to have one when cycling in the country. However I wasn’t about to let the police officer know that so I played ignorant and expressed my dismay asking if it was illegal in a shocked manner. This seemed to diffuse the situation somewhat and the two officers in the car informed me that it was, and in France too. They then pointed to their flourescent tops and told me that I should also be wearing a hi-viz jacket when riding in the rain. I bit my tongue slightly here and didn’t argue the point that it wasn’t actually raining. Instead I excitedly told them that I had one of those! My warmshowers host in Valladolid had insisted that he give me a hi-viz jacket and actually told me to buy a helmet in Madrid, advice which I had ignored. I’d worn the hi-viz on a handful of occasions in bad visibility and fading light.
So as we had stopped at the side of the road by this point I started to pull the hi-viz jacket out of my bag. The Guardia Civil were obviously satisfied that I was complying and without another word drove off, clearly the hi-viz was sufficient. Now I should of course take the view that the police were just looking out for my well being. However I have since spoken to a few people about this encounter who have suggested that the police were probably bored as it’s very rare to get stopped for not having a helmet. In addition although I don’t know this to be a fact the consensus is that the fine is not an on the spot one and therefore the fact I was English was probably a good enough reason for them not to write me a ticket. Will I travel with a cycle helmet in future after this incident? The answer is no, it is still my view that it should be personal choice!