This one is an interesting one… I had recently broken up with my (4 years + relationship) girlfriend. The previous weekend I had won a Bodybuilding competition (International Open Contest Luxembourg, U70kg), and the weekend before that I had done the Lausanne half marathon (just for the record, beating both of my cousins :P). So I was in good shape. Add to that that I was eating about 8000 kcal a day in an all-out binge after winning. Physically, I was at 2 million rpm. Mentally, I was confused. The solution? I guess you guessed.
Wednesday afternoon, the idea came to my mind. I’d cycle all the way to Edinburgh to visit Mark and Massa, and to clear my mind. And to have a good one of course! Thursday, I took by shitty bike to the bike shop to get it ready. When I picked it up, it felt much better. The only problem was that about 1 minute after picking up the bicycle, a car crashed into me. I flew a few meters, and so did the bike. The guy in the car was horrified. He thought he’d seriously fucked me up. Poor guy, I felt bad for him. I stood up. Some blood and scratches and later on I got some bruises, but nothing big. The bike was a bit worse than me. The handle bar was twisted, the pedal was broken, and the wheel a bit messed up. Lol. After all this time doing crazy stuff my first bicycle accident happens in a parking lot the day before leaving. I laughed because I found the situation absurd. I went back to the bike shop, and the guys looked a bit frightened as I had some blood and the bike didn’t look great. They were going to close soon so they just did a quick repair and see ya!
Later that afternoon, my friend came over. We had a lot of fun playing around with cream, and we cooked some tasty stuff. Then we watched some parts of Bambi the movie, and we exchanged massages She wanted me to stay in Loughborough. I wanted to spend more time with her too, but when I tell myself that I’ll do something, I do it. At 2am I still had to pick up some cycling gear from a friend’s home. I left her sleeping and left. I forgot to pick up something, so I came back to my room. She was dressing up ready to leave, so we walked together. She’s a really amazing and positive girl, and she deserved the coconut I gave her as a present. Just for the record, in case she ever reads this, before leaving and saying goodbye, I told her that I wanted a last kiss. She promised she’d give it to me. So when we had to get apart, she leaned in, and I turned my head around and left with a big big smile. I shouted at her from the distance that she’d have to give me the kiss other day!
Finally, after getting lost, I found my friend’s home, and I borrowed some kit. I got back home at about 3, and still had to plan the trip. Went to bed at around 4.30am, and woke up at about 6.30am, all psyched up and buzzing with energy. All the things that pulled me to not go just gave me more energy and drive to do it. Despite the 2h sleep, the girl, the accident, and my not very well fixed bike, I left. The only things I took with me were: a cotton bag (as it was very light and didn’t have other), passport + money + inner tube + toothbrush + a small weak plastic LED lamp that I got for free + loads of mint chocolate and a package of those crunchy oats with honey + a camera that I got lent by LOC8TE ME (I was sort of doing promotional work for them -> check my t-shirt). I had to go light, because that day I would have to cycle 240 km from Loughborough to Darlington, as I had told myself that I would get to Darlington no matter what.
The way there was fun. I was happy and as free as a fly in a field, or a squirrel in a forest. It rained, and I had some wind against me. So what. Nottingham went past. Leeds went past. I saw cows drinking from a river that had gone past some nuclear power station. I saw fields and more fields, and a massive white horse shape on a mountain hill (The sort of picture that you can see from Google maps). Had some more junk food on the way (nuggets + hamburger) and had to buy loaaaaaads more chocolate as I loved it and ate it fast.
At about 40 km from Darlington I was very very tired. No energy. The sunset came. What did I do? Well, the only thing I could do: keep going until destination! I biked in the dark for about 2 hours. My only lighting was the pathetic but useful LED lamp. Cars would always horn at the psycho on the road eg me, until a car stopped. The guy went out and told me he was really scared for me, and he gave me a reflective jacket. Awesome guy and awesome handy present! It was like a magic amulet because the cars suddenly didn’t horn at me any longer. That sucked, because I liked the adrenaline rush that it gave me, and it was as if I was in the tour the France and cars were saying come on buddy you can do it! But I guess it was the right thing to do. When I finally got to Darlington, the first place I went to was Burger King, and I filled my gut. I guess I can safely say that I also clogged my arteries. Fun times.
I asked around for a hostel or guest house, and I found it. I got my own room. I took a loooooong warm shower, and off to bed. AM came around, and so did the English breakfast, with loads of toasts with butter and jam. Off we went. I had about 220 km to go until Edinburgh, but little did I know. Day 2 was much more beautiful than Day 1. I went past lakes, amazing views, and saw the sunrise on the road. Going up north, you could look into the horizon, and see emptiness all around. I went through Northumberland National park, and I loved it. But Oh man, I thought that this would be an easy ride… but there were hills everywhere! Not like mountains, but like ups and down and up and down and repeat a million times. Also, the wind was blowing quite strongly from the north which was a cold air, and slowed me down. I was lucky I wasn’t racing against snails, because they sure would have beaten me. I went for hours and hours without seeing a restaurant. I would imagine plates full of smoking food in my mind. Finally I found a really nice one: The Gun Inn. I asked for whatever would be the most filling dish. I ate it fast. So I ordered 2 more mains, and toasts and butter and ice cream for dessert. I ate next to the lit chimney, which is a blessing when you are cold. In there, I met a 50 year old woman and her older mother. She was born in that village, but when she grew up older, the family moved away to a bigger city so that she could go to a better school and later uni. Then she worked in France and Spain, and married a Spanish man. She now lives with her family in Barcelona. Her father had recently died, and they also needed to sort some things from their old home in the village. And here they were, back into the village after 40 years. Stories like this add value to time, and make me think and wonder.
I had to keep going. I still had a lot of beautiful places to see, and some more to think about. Oh and I couldn’t stop singing this song in my head: Hello from Beyoncé. Lol. One of the most beautiful places of the trip was at the border between England and Scotland. It was on the top of a hill, and you could see far far away. So beautiful. My camera ran out of battery so I couldn’t take more pics. In a downhill, a car just came out of a path without seeing me. I had to brake really hard, and the camera flew away from my pocket. I stopped as fast as I could to pick it up, but the car behind me drove over it and broke the screen. But as I later checked, the camera still worked fine! Not the screen though. But it’s ok since I didn’t need the mirror from the screen to put make up on. What a crap joke. Next paragraph.
Night fell, and I still had about 60km to go. I had advanced really slowly cause of the winds, the hills, the soreness, the hunger. But never the less I had advanced because of the internal drive, the fun, and the nice people I met on the way and the beautiful landscapes alongside my path. I texted my friends and they told me to meet them up at Grass Market in Edinburgh at 9 pm. So I kept cycling and eating snickers and mars bars. Luckily I had the reflective thing the guy had given me because otherwise I’d be in trouble. My legs were tired, but cycling under the stars on a dark road without really seeing if you are in the middle of the road or going out of it was such a cool experience. I mean, imagine being somewhere far from everything you know, in the dark, with only a few stars up there to watch you, feeling the cool breeze of peacefulness, feeling calm and surrounded by some sort of magic. That’s how I felt. I would count the kilometres left until destination. Luckily for me, the last kilometres into Edinburgh were downhill. I got until a roundabout, which only lead to the Highway. Damn it! Apparently I missed a sign, and if I wanted to continue by the road, I’d have to do quite a detour. I wasn’t in the mood for that, so I decided to give the Highway a shot, and to pretend that I was a motorbike. That didn’t work out quite as well! But it was fun counting the cars that would honk me. 31,32,33… I finally took the exit, and followed a normal road until Edinburgh. I had no clue wtf Grass Market was. I mean I knew northerners were a bit weird but a grass market..?? Never thought of that. Whatever, I asked around and found it. I arrived there at 8.58pm. How’s that for a timing?? Grass Market was the name of a street in Edinburgh. My friends found me and we couldn’t stop smiling. We were so happy to see each other again, and I was so proud of myself. “I’m a fucking machine” I told myself. J My friends are into travelling and adventures too, and we each do crazy trips and inspire each other. I’m so lucky to have the friends I have.
In Edinburgh, we played golf in the park and I bought my own Golf clubs from a car boot sale for like 6pounds. We also broke into the Edinburgh castle in the night. (Not inside the castle but inside of the outside if that makes sense) We followed this tunnel for what seemed like ages, and saw some military vehicles in there. Next to the parking for the castle, there is a little hill with grass, and in the night the rabbits just stand outside of their holes. We threw a few stones at them since we were hungry and wanted to eat rabbit, but we weren’t very successful at it. More like a fail. Edinburgh is such a beautiful city. It is the kind of city that inspires you and makes you feel like you are living a dream. The streets have a particular smell, a bit as Guinness. It is a smell of beer. We went around the Uni, and everything was open and the mood was so chilled. People in Edinburgh are really calm and relaxed. My friend Mark is always lucky when it comes to finding things. Maybe he just senses where to look for them. That night we found an old-school big rectangular portable cassette and radio player. Fun times. On Monday morning, I took the train back to Loughborough. I entered the already started lecture room, and told the lecturer: “Sorry I just come from Edinburgh, I went there by bike this weekend”. The usual you are crazy face.