The Invalid

I’m having touring withdrawal issues. For nearly nine months, I was outdoors almost every day, staying in a new place pretty much every night, seeing the world and covering hundreds of kilometres a week on the bike.  This was good. 20141130RTW_8 Roli For nearly three weeks now, I’ve been (with the exception of a couple of days’ travelling) indoors, sitting or lying in differing levels of discomfort, getting fat, and covering maybe a couple of hundred metres a day shuffling around the house (or hospital).

It’s a bit of a shock to the system.

Now that the relief of being alive after the accident has bled off, it’s being replaced with frustration.  Being stuck in the same place with no exercise and a non-functioning arm is not working very well for me.

I met an ancient Frenchman in New Zealand who’d been on the road for five years.  He said he was just going to ride across North America before returning home and ‘stopping’.  I remember wondering how he’d be able to adjust when his trip was over.  I wondered how I would. Now I’m finding out.  It’s hard. 20141129RTW Christian No regrets, thankfully, as I gave the trip my best shot.  Having got close to covering 10,000 miles, I know that I was physically able to complete the circumnavigation.  I thoroughly confounded the unkind expectations of a few friends who thought I wouldn’t get past France.  And there was nothing I could do about the way it ended.

But I need a plan to avoid stalling.  I need to feel like things are moving forward again.  And I really need something to distract me from the tedious, gibbering nonsense of the ongoing UK general election campaign.  And daytime TV.

I need targets. So, what’s next? Well, I need to get better.  I’ve got the operation to put my shoulder back together tomorrow (Thursday).  Assuming that goes OK, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get back out on a bike within six weeks or so.  With a bit of luck, I may be able to get on a stationary trainer a couple of weeks before that.  There will be an awful lot of fitness to regain.

That gives me a few weeks to sort out Beast II.  I think it’ll be a little lighter and faster than the original Beast.  Maybe more of a Mini-Beast.  Or a Beastlet.  Mainly because I felt the Beast was probably a little overbuilt for the conditions I faced on the ride, and I can’t see myself hitting the rough dirt roads of the Andes or Alaska for a while.  I’ve found a few suitable candidates.  And most of them are actually British brands, as a little bonus.  Hopefully, I’ll have it on order fairly soon, to give me an incentive to recover quicker. 20150122RTW_23 Then I need something to do with the new bike.  My current thinking is to get myself fit enough for a sportive (semi-competitive day ride, usually between 75 and 110 miles) or a charity ride sometime in June.  And then aim to do a two or three week tour in the summer with the bags back on.  Maybe the length of the UK (Land’s End to John O’Groats – around 900 miles), or a similar distance in Europe.  It would be nice to pick something I can actually finish.  And I’ll need to work up gently to anything more energetic, I think.

So there we are; a loose plan to get back on wheels for the sake of my sanity.

Things are already looking up a bit.  After their triumph in the FA Trophy, which I reported on from Thailand, Bristol City won 6-0 last night to confirm their promotion to the second tier of English football.

So, good things are still happening.  I just need to make sure I focus on them, rather than the fact that I’m banged up at home for the next few weeks. It’ll be a good trick if I can pull it off.

Photo Credits:  Top photo – Roli Merz.  Second photo – Christian Zenker

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6 comments

  1. Hi Tim, glad to read you are recovering slowly but surely, as we say in french (‘lentement mais sûrement’). Well, you could have stopped in France, because France is a wonderful country to stop in and overall to visit…but maybe you alreadyrencontrerwhole and so diverse country. If not, it could be a very good training back on the saddle.
    Otherwise, I read in a traveler’s blog, that west Scotland is amazing and I saw pics about it. One of my next trip, surely.
    Last but not least, I read a very good book from Guy Corneau who is from Quebec. The title in french is ‘Le meilleur de soi’, maybe you can find it in english. To make your time stuck on one place a wonderful opportunity to travel inside you. Always useful ;)….

  2. All best wishes for your op, Tim. Let us know when you’re ready for visitors. I’m sure you have itchy frustrated feet and think a UK tour sounds a good idea. Is it bike or nothing? I’m enjoying walking these days. Neil too when I can drag him out.
    Cordelia

    1. Thanks, C! The idea of finishing the big trip is likely to creep up on me, I reckon. So I need to get back bike fit for when / if that grabs me again. Walking’s my lot at the moment. I can manage about ten minutes before my back and shoulder need resting…

  3. We are so happy you made it home in one piece after your accident. The goals to keep you going forward with a new bike is admirable. We have enjoyed your blog and have admired your ability to share your thoughts of a remarkable journey. You may remember our son played Rugby. You informed us of his position as a girl on the team. We spent Saturday feeding the Wisconsin Badger Rugby Club and watching them play all day for second place in the Big Ten tournament. So fun!!! Take care, Kim And Steve

    1. Hi, Kim and Steve!

      Thanks so much for the kind words. And thanks at least as much for saving me from the thunder storm the evening we met!

      I seem to be getting stronger every day (albeit from a pretty low base), and am becoming more hopeful that I’ll be back on a bike soon (at least up on rollers in the garage). I’m also hoping to keep the blog going; there’s just a chance that I might decide to go back to Thailand to finish the ride at some point…

      Keep enjoying the rugby – it’s a civilising influence 😉

      Thanks again,
      T

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