Dated: 04 JUL 18
Its quarter to five in the morning and I have normally been stirred already, its summer time and even I’m not up before sunrise here; a chink of light slowly spreads through my tent illuminating the inside of my eyelids and depriving me of a few precious minutes kip before my alarm at five. Its the sun or a pultruding stone that has normally woken me prematurely.
I’m on holiday so breakfast is served in bed but its not so glamorous, gone is the fresh fruit that was so readily available in Africa. It literally consists of gruel, oats soaked over night in water with a dousing of condensed milk or jam if I’ve any left, not so delicious. One summer trip in the Swiss Alps our over night oats were soaked in milk and yogurt with apple grated and fresh fruit sprinkled on top, delicious. On days when I get the chance or remember, I buy UHT milk or apple juice but this isn’t always available. I’m so sick of cold soggy oats for breakfast! Its at this time as I’m inhaling this fuel that I may have to supress the thought of “why am I doing this again?”
So with post haste after a dissatisfying meal I break camp and carryout my morning routine before achingly getting my leg over. If the pervious day was a toughie I might have a touch of momentary dyspraxia as my leg seemingly doesn’t want to obey the instruction. Once on board the pedalling begins, slowly at first but soon the old pistons have stretched out and loosened up. With a cup of tea here and a choccy there I aim for about five hours on my bike seat before luncheon, my little legs having turned around 21,000 times, all in a mornings work.
My chief entertainment, is sadly planning my next cycle trip! I have a hole list of routes and destination that are on the imagined to tour list. Circumnavigate Iceland, Iran, Anchorage to Quebec or simply John O’groats to Lands End, I would like to do London to Paris again to. Perhaps a few friends will join me for the final leg on this trip, Paris to London; it will be in February though so its only for the brave. I do wonder if I will be ready to finish when I have to get back to reality and join you grown ups in gainful employment. Alternative trains of thought include what I would do if I win the lottery or more depressingly what I will do for work when I get back to reality (a thought that will occur with increasing frequency as I get closer to the UK, I’m open to suggestions).
Lunch can be hit and miss, depressingly far to often I sit on the concrete forecourt of an isolated petrol station, though that might not be the right word, watching the cars pulling in to get their propane tanks refuelled as I eat bagful’s of crisps and cold confectionaries. In the ex-soviets bloc, petrol isn’t guaranteed, cars often run on gas, lorries sometimes have row upon row of bright red propane tanks clinging to their undercarriage or buses display them on the roof. It seems strange to me but the cars are moving so it clearly works. In Kazakhstan where I currently find myself the food has been a surprise and the tea as well, it comes with milk, its the simple things in life that count. Unlike their neighbours the Kazaks know how to inject a bit of flavour into their food, garlic, onions and spices in a Singapore style noodle dish, would you believe it? In Uzbekistan they just threw as much dill as humanly possible at food it was always green with the stuff. But if in doubt as to the number of Michelin Stars an establishment can display I just opt for my safe food, eggs. I eat a lot of eggs.
With the lions share complete by noon on a good day I can be a touch more leisurely, a few more cups of tea, a picture or two and an audio book to blur out the last hour as it is without fail a drag in the afternoon heat. The aim of the last hour is to resupply my rations and play a spot of campsite roulette. Often the river on the map turns out to be a dry creek or a mosquito infested swamp. The hope is that you can find a nice river adjacent secluded spot with no pesky drunks, animals or insects.
Sight selected up goes the tent, in goes the sleeping bag on a sorry excuse for a roll mat. The ‘door‘ is to remained closed at all times after all I wasn’t born in a barn but more importantly I don’t want any buzzing biting visitors. Now that that’s done I do an hour of yoga to stretch myself out……not a chance there’s no stretching in my camp.
The evenings are a time for washing, eating, reading and writing – when I have the motivation that is. You cant beat a good river bathe at the end of the day, ridding my skin of the sweat and grime that clings to me. To save having to dry my towel which always seems to retain some level of damp and smell I have taken to air drying. When opportunity allows I have taken to taking a few moments in the gentle evening sun to bask as naked as the day I was born waiting for the droplets of water to evaporate; perhaps I am becoming a naturist for as I sit all pensive and such I watch the world go by, the birds fluttering and the cows staring is curious fear of the strange stranger. I have no intentions of becoming a full time naturalist, spending my summers in those weird campsites in France that shelter the quirky individuals who enjoy playing tennis, petanque or simple standing on the shore with their hands on their hips for a week before returning to clothed society and work.
Now that my cooker is no more I’ve had to settle for cold suppers or bread and cheese and perhaps a tomato or two. But when disaster strikes I have to resort to a second meal of gruel. I turn the lights out earlier than most seven year olds, if it gets to 9pm I’m shocked and hurriedly go to sleep, this cycling lark is a touch tiring and so are the early morings.
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