This post is heavily based on the assumption I will reach Sydney; without such a belief, I probably wouldn’t. As William Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you are right.”
For most people, arriving in Sydney marks the end of a long journey: a chance to finally stretch the legs after being crammed on a tight plane for the past 22 hours, and for the privilege (and a quirk of time zones), you’ll even lose a day in the process!
When I arrive in Sydney however, it will be an entirely different story. It will mark the fulfilment of my dream, and possibly the conclusion of my entire cycling venture. I’ll have been on the road for over a year, heading ever in the direction of this one metropolis. Three entire continents will have passed under my wheels. And I can’t help but wonder: Will I be the same person as I am today?
We are all a product of our experiences, defined and shaped by what we’ve done, who we’ve met, where we’ve been, and those lessons which are learnt along the way, and rightly so. For me, in one short year, I will have passed through many new and different countries, indulging first hand in fresh and varied cultures, far from the tourist trail, meeting people from all walks of life. My privileged eyes will have witnessed wonders most people will unfortunately never get a chance to view. Surely such experiences will mould you into a more worldly, cultured person. Many people has described the cycle to me as ‘life-changing’, which itself recognises that it will have a profound effect on me.
But, while I will no doubt have learnt more about the world itself, ever questioning what I’m seeing with the curious eyes of a child, I’ll also have learnt important things about myself; what I’m capable of, what I (don’t) like, what motivates me, and so on. With plenty of thinking time in the saddle for introspection, and being challenged with contentious global matters, from poverty to the environment, I expect to ascertain where I stand and reach my own conclusions and solutions to such confronting questions.
The other aspect is wondering how I will feel as I stand there? Of the many emotions I’ll be feeling, I definitely expect a strong sense of achievement; what once (read: still at the time of writing) felt so absurdly and madly insurmountable, has been achieved. The seemingly impossible rendered possible. I’ll be delighted and proud to have overcome the challenges and succeeded.
However, I don’t anticipate all the emotions necessarily being so positive. I can picture myself, getting off the bike one final time, standing in the beautiful, serene harbour, and gazing at the wildly unique opera house, and despite the achievement, it feels a little anti-climatic. It’s cliché I know, but the months of riding leading up to that moment will not have been even remotely about the destination. Sydney will merely be the next in a long list of new places which I’m witnessing for the first time. There’s nothing particularly special about the city itself which makes it stand out beyond any of the other areas I’ve passed through. This city, randomly fixated on, and simultaneously so significant, and insignificant in my world cycle will be unable to ever live up to the pedestal it has been placed upon.
Combined with being an anti-climax, the success of the cycle may also feel like a loss of purpose. Since my second year of University, way back when I first heard about these international country-crossing adventurers on bikes, the seed was planted, and since then, the tour has occupied an ever-constant presence on my mind. It’s been my dream, my target, my biggest objective. It is such a large, undertaking that I’ve not had much opportunity to look beyond it. Questions as to what I’ll do next are met with confusion. My focus has intently been on the how-to’s of actually reaching that point.
But one day, I’ll arrive at that point. I’ll have hit the ocean, and I’m about as far from home as I could be, the road appearing to have reached its end, and I’m finally facing that question; what next? I don’t know, and for now I’ll ignore that question. I’ll gaze at the opera house and to the lights across the harbour a while longer, content in the fact I got here. I made it. I’ll revel in that achievement, savouring the effort in every pedal stroke that carried me, and reminisce about the experiences and the people that marked the road. I will remember the person I was a year ago, back when everything was merely a dream. And finally, I’ll turn to the blank future, and wonder, clueless as to what it holds in store. The dreaming can start once again.
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometime it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you – it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart and on your body. You take something with you… Hopefully you leave something good behind.” Anthony Bourdain.
You may have seen I’m leaving on the 24th May 2015, at 10am from Herne Bay seafront. Feel free to come along to the send-off!
As usual, any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!