The Puzzle

Finding a cycle partner of the road is like a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces have to fit. Each person is made up of pieces who’s shape is determined by the places they want to visit, their pace, time, are they a faffers? a to-doer? or a dilly daddler? the route, the budget, picky eaters, fitness, personal hygiene, or are they just bloody annoying? These pieces have to fit together with yours forming the image that you set out to create. After all you are going to be living in each others pockets its like a mini marriage and it is never good too have one of convenience so get the right pieces at the start. Now you can squeeze the bits together but eventually if its not quite the right fit, bits will start to pop out of the puzzle.

Matthew the Australian cycling lawyer and I were not the right in enough of our pieces and for me it was clear from the on set. Personality wise, which is one of the biggest and most important attributes he was great but for me the most important piece is pace and obviously route is the other biggest. So we parted ways after just a few short hours saying we would follow each others trip online both knowing full well that neither of use would “keep in touch.”

I still cant get over the fact that most cyclists that I’ve met aren’t washing at the end of each day. Its a piece of the puzzle which just doesn’t seem to fit! I cant relax in the evening until I’ve pitched camp, set dinner cooking and had a thorough wash, even Tom who brushes his teeth less than most canines takes him self off for a daily bird bath in the evenings.

Mine and Tom’s puzzle has perhaps gotten damp, the edges are frayed and can no longer be squeezed together, for our journey together is reaching its end. We part ways in Azerbaijan, a keystone piece no longer fits and can not be massaged into place for although our route continues along the same path I have miles to make for my clock is ticking and he doesn’t even own a watch.

The nature of my trip is a touch tougher than most tourers would enjoy. You never really know what someone is like to undertake a expedition with until they are tired, wet and hungry. Can they still function on at the point of fatigue? Lots of people become a touch confused and clumsy reverting to a infant like state of communication and motor function. Do they get catty when they are cold and wet? Some might even turn in to a child, getting defensive over nothing or even parroting what you say like a child. Their pieces may not be made of tough enough stuff. Whilst some people grit their teeth and get on with the job or just stoically plod on in complaint-less silence, these are the pieces which you can fit together with for the long and hall. Ninety five percent of the time this trip isn’t much bother, boredom is the biggest obstacle but its in that five percent that you discover if you puzzle is complete.

Over time people change and their trip that they imagined back on the comfortable sofa at home with a cup of tea trip evolves. It is influenced by the people you meet along the way and the unknown places that you catch wind of which pull you in a different direction. And you may find yourself aligned with new people or down a different path to your long term partner. The imagined picture changes.

Touring team members are all to a certain degree both parasitic and symbiotic. The dream team would be in harmony all taking equal to what they given. The nightmare scenario would be to partner up with a full blown parasite. ‘1’ being symbiont and ‘10’ being parasite we all fall somewhere within the scale. I hope that I am closer to one than to ten, the lower the better. If you think that there is no parasite it is probably because you can only see him when you look in the mirror. The individuals position on the scale will vary day to day but essentially you want a partner with a low P-Value. It might be the case that a person has a high P-Value day to day but is multi-lingual and can do the talking in a tricky spot or find a good hotel for the night thus decreasing their average score. Or they might simply make coffee in the mornings which makes up for them taking the last biscuit. Get to high a score and the pieces fall apart, its all part of the puzzle.

Perhaps its my pieces that are the awkward shape and being solo isn’t a choice but a necessity I will just have to get the job done in the style of stoic silence (I’m on my own so I have no one to talk to).

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