-780Km (Distance travelled)
-70 hours (Time travelled)
– 7 days (Days travelled)
-Lots (Calories burned)
Saturday, 4 September, 2021. My escapade began. Months of planning, training, blood, sweat and tears(that was just sweat looking like tears), came down to a week to face the music.
I had this very morbid idea to get on a bicycle and travel to the place I grew up in (780km away), alone with most of the things I needed for the trip all on my back. Having a mindset that enjoys a challenge as well as adventure, I chose to undertake this journey. I wanted to set a goal high enough for me to reach but also to force me to change my lifestyle slightly and force me to train extensively to have a high level of fitness.
Looking at my gear itself, there was nothing special about it. My bicycle was not even that fancy, a relatively old mountain bicycle with only shocks in the front, no disc brakes and very average tyres, although I never got a puncture so I guess they weren’t too bad. The bags I ordered didn’t even arrive in time so most of the weight was on my shoulders.
I had a trial run about 6 weeks prior to my trip to see where I was at. 240km in two days. I thought if I could comfortably do that then the rest of the trip should be a breeze. It wasn’t. At the time I was not fit enough, I chose the coldest weekend of the year, as well as the same week it was colder in 24 towns in the country than it was in something like 20 years or something ridiculous. Some of the mountains that don’t usually have snow were covered in it. I remember coming home in so much pain the next day that I could barely walk, my energy levels dwindled by the afternoon. I honestly thought I had many more months to train to ever get close to the desired fitness level. But I chose to just try anyways. When I decided to just go for it, 6 weeks later, things just didn’t hurt as much. Even though my distances were further, the pain was significantly reduced. I honestly cannot tell you why!
In retrospect, my life has changed (even though I feel no different). My head is lifted high, joy has filled my heart. What it taught me was to rely on God, He has revealed so much more to me of His character. On my very last day I was in complete frustration, I was peddling directly against a howling wind for about 5 hours of the day. That whole week of cycling was close to perfect conditions. I had less than an hour of rain the whole way, I was never too cold in the mornings and it wasn’t too often that I faced discomfort in the heat (although after almost 2 months I still have a nasty cycling pants tan!). The wind in the final day however, really caused me to feel angry and frustrated. Why now?! I screamed. What can I possibly learn from this? I know what strong winds feel like. This is not new territory for me. For a stage I honestly thought the wind vanished after I prayed for quite some time, but it was only because I was sheltered from it by a hill. After that hill it just carried on. That day revealed the worst of me. I would describe myself as generally a calm person, but that day I was not calm. I was yet again humbled. That day was strangely what I wanted to experience, for it is by difficult trials that we are changed for we overcome it with our Saviour’s grace.
Before I even decided to do this I had Isaiah 61 in my heart: The year of the Lord’s favour. To test this promise I went on this trip in faith, trusting that I would successfully get to my destination. I really felt his favour through it all: Not a single tyre burst or got a puncture. Not once did I fall off my bicycle or even get a scratch. The weather was fine for most of the trip. Every person I met showed me such great love and encouragement, I felt like a celebrity in some sense, I could really see God’s kindness through those I came across. Going at the start of spring the landscapes were very colourful. I was in awe for so long because of the sheer beauty before me.
Sometimes in life, you probably go through a time when you feel pointless. You feel as if you have achieved nothing in life, I was at that place too. Planning this trip I wanted to say upon completion that this was my greatest achievement thus far. However, on the 4th morning of my trip it was revealed to me that simply giving my life to God was the greatest thing I could ever do. That notion has allowed me to grow in ways I would never have imagined. I continually see God becoming greater and more loving each day. If it wasn’t for that one act of obedience I would probably had to figure certain things in life the hard way.
If you want to go fast: Go alone. If you want to go far: Go together.
Yes, I did go far alone technically, but it was the support from my friends and family that steered me forward and that kept me from doubting myself. Once I started realising I am not just doing this for the fun of it, but to motivate others things changed. You really do look at things differently when your backs against the wall, because you have nowhere to look but forward.
I got the question asked a lot as to why I would ever do this. While training this quote from T.S Elliot came up and it is probably the best answer: Only those who are willing to risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.