I have been doing this for much of my life. There is a problem and for some reason it is far easier to skirt around it than to tackle it. Eventually, the rug that things get swept under is bulging and so the next easiest strategy, is to run away. Not meaning to portray that I can’t deal with things or to promote escapism but sometimes, a change of scenery is healthy.
The past few days are example of exactly this. Thoughts throughout the week had driven me to “venting” when I got home in the evenings…and I hate it. Instead, I have decided to blow the dust off of this site and use it as a diary to tame my scattered brain…and to share some nice photographs (and my dry sense of humour?)
I had spent much of last summer exploring the South Downs on my cross bike. Fairly familiar of the route, on Friday, I (desperately) booked train tickets to go down to Eastbourne for the evening, with a view to cycle to Brighton on my fatty the following day. One thing was on my mind; I must escape London.
The lights on the train bonked out for a few moments but the folk inseparable from their screens kept the carriage illuminated. I fell asleep in the luggage rack but was woken by a spine chilling shriek. It was a small child, looking proud of herself, opening and closing the passenger lap tables and arm rests. I could not wait to get on the downs.
In Eastbourne for 21:00, I rode to Link road and got onto the Downs. As expected, there was light rain but it was also horrendously windy. That was the extent to which I had considered and what I had thought I would be prepared for. I bivvied under some trees and initially, felt sheltered.
Saturday 01:00, things started to go wrong. I’d woken up and the top of my bag was wet. It was raining and the wind had really picked up. Not before long, my whole bag was damp and the comforting feeling of warmth provided by usually dry and lofty down had disappeared.
I decided to ride through the night, in hope that I could keep warm and that there would be a shop open before fatigue got hold. It was painful. The strong wind hand blown me off several times. Traction was sparse as tyres sat on top of the mud. I had got to Alfriston for 03:30, a sleeping town which during the day has plentiful supply of pastry delights that the body craves on a long ride. I had continued along the Downs for another 6 or so hours, eventually arriving in Brighton for gone 10:00. I had power-napped at every farm gate for the few hours up until the sun rise and completely underestimated the conditions.
A victim of my mindset, I was happy to be alive by sunrise but I also felt like a right pleb. In my hasted packing, I hadn’t really considered the full extent of what I was doing. It really was a grab and dash. Sense had given way to time saving and absence of planning. Its quite probable that would have been the difference between sleep deprivation, starvation, physical fatigue and an otherwise enjoyable ride, whilst being able to enjoy the scenery.
It wasn’t all darkness and solitude however. I perked up around sunrise, having a ‘hopeful moment’ where I’d found a nugget of untouched energy. Knowing that I was about 30mins away from a McDonalds breakfast and seeing Starlings marked a wholesome start to a beautiful morning.
For me, being back out on the hills is completely intrinsic to a healthy mindset so for the time being, I’m going to make the most of (well-planned) weekend escapes.