The Pied Piper

Myself and brother have a normally brotherly relationship where by we see one another a hand full of times each year, festive occasions and what not. So when he flies out to join me for the stretch from San Francisco to San Diego in what will be the longest period of time we have spent together since we were children its bound to be a shock to the system especially when living in one another’s pockets cycle touring. We are similar in some respects, we both have beards for one, but very different in many.

This trip is my baby, I’ve been in a routine for the past seven or so month and have gotten things just the way I like them. Challenge one for me, getting to grips with the fact that every day doesn’t have to be a long one; Challenge two, relax and enjoy coffee breaks and extended luncheons, they are acceptable in the new routine. For we have around two weeks to do just seven hundred miles; a normal weeks work.

So cycling with ones brother I am quickly reminded that I like to ride alone. I’m the one who invited him so cant complain that he is here and nor can I expect him to ride at my pace. He works in an office, I’ve been cycling for six or so months who do you think will win in a race? So problem number three, expectation management.

His personnel admin, that’s administration of ones belonging and self, is questionable. Rather than just removing what he neds to get through the night and replace what he isnt using his entire bag erupts and for some logic only be known to himself he then decants it all into a spare bag he has in his pannier, his over night bag if you will. And once on the bike it seems that there is always something dangling from his rear, a rope, strap or something; or he looses a “securely” secured item, sun cream and a box of delicious dates just to name a few. I’m now on my lonesome in Mexico, bliss, and my sun cream that was half full, having been eked out for god knows how long, is only capable of squirting out hard won dregs. Sun cream is expensive, why George had to apply it so liberally I don’t know.

When I first did a cycle tour it was the end of uni and a few friends and I cycled to Rome, George reminds me of a certain member of the group who always had something falling of the back or “oh wait, I just need a quick wee,” five minutes after a lengthy break.

The first thing George says to me is that he isnt sure if the wheels he has are up to the job, the rims are on their last legs. Me if that were the case, would have bought new ones before flying them across the world. Low and behold day two on the road and his rear wheel, loaded with kit, cracks rendering it no longer a wheel but a worthless piece of metal.

George is a ambler, I say amble opposed to dawdler for undoubtedly he has a purpose. If he were a walker he would stroll along stopping to smell the roses or admire a passing bird. Me I stride, roses all smell the same and we’ve got pigeons at home. We both reach the same destination just at a different pace.

I can see George’s eyes roll each morning as he looks at me sat ready to go, his melee of items strewn in a “organised” sprawl. Chilled people cant understand why us normals want to get going. They don’t understand what the “hurry” is to get going, there is no hurry but some time today would be preferable. It always falls to the norm to slow down for an inherent ambler will never speed up.

At least if I were cycling with a women there would be the potential of a reward for my patience or at least a good bottom to look at occasionally. But what’s the reward of cycling with ones brother? Brotherly bonding…no…brotherly love…..I cant get the right wording.

Whistling…..I call him Pied Piper. You can hear him coming for ever whistling. As he ambles along it is like he is whistling the tune to Georgie Porgy Land. Its constant, it boils blood and as with the children in the tale of the revengeful Pied Piper I run away at its sound. I have come to the conclusion that he is a compulsive whistler or its a for of tourettes. Sometimes the breaks in between mouthfuls, are peppered with a few notes, which is impressive with a full mouth. It’s that or he is just doing it to piss me off.

Being brothers does have its advantages though, often with friends there seems to be a need to fill every comfortable silence as if they are a void that needs filling, but as sibling you can cycle in silence or separate for a few hours of peace and quiet. And in the evening it is rather pleasant sat round a camp fire reading one’s book with silent company.

In all fairness the dubious personnel admin improved as we got into he swing of things. I never came round to the excessively leisurely pace but that is the bonus of being brothers you don’t feel bag riding separately. It has been a good few weeks, despite the minor blips, who knows we might do another tour together later down the line. But my George enforced leisurely days are at an end now for I am back to the daily grind, I’ve got to pick up the pace, with a little over four months left and ten thousand miles to go I’ve got my work cut out.

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