Dreams Postponed – the Bike Trip is Off

Farewell and Welcome World, and all too soon, Welcome Home balloons at Wychcroft

Ah well. It was worth the planning and the effort. But in the event, I’m not going to do the Great-2012-Bike-Trip-Of-A-Lifetime to Moscow and Hanoi.

So instead of images from the road to Moscow and then from Beijing to Hanoi, let me illustrate this blog entry first (left) with the lovely balloons from Meg and Jeff that first saw me off and then, rather too soon, welcomed me home, followed below (gallery at the end of the blog) by pictures from a most restorative 10 days just concluded on our lovely canal boat the Molly May.

Why the final decision not to go ahead, even with a bit of a delay?

I’ll spare you the boring health details, but as I had finally to acknowledge on a slow, slow potter with Sue around the canals north of Warwick, my arthritic neck and nerves are in no state to allow me to cycle 5000 miles – and sadly, for the moment anyway, probably not even 50 (although I might give a short ride a go in the coming weeks).

Molly May at dusk with the woodburner pumping out the smoke and the heat

You can’t choose how you grow old, especially as someone who’s bashed journalistic keyboards all his life in unhealthy sitting positions, and survived a nasty head-banging bicycle accident 15 years ago.

And arthritis of this kind is much more common than I had realised.

I’d hoped the nerves would settle, and they didn’t, and I’m of course sad to have to let this dream go, nurtured over something like a quarter century since I encountered my first serious long-distance cyclist,

Who are you? British cyclist atop the Karakoram Highway, May 1986.

a Brit of course, travelling across the Karakoram Highway from China into Pakistan in 1986.

(Who were you? I never got your name.)

But as my dear friend Fee Rojas in Germany commented, there are plans for which the implementation is less important than the making.

Even though it won’t now happen, at least this year and indeed to be realistic probably ever, I’m glad to have invested so much time and money and enthusiasm in the trip.

Ducks on the lookout on Oxford Canal.

It was a big wrench, for me as well as for my clients, to shut my psychotherapy practice for six months.

But knocked out of action anyway, it’s now easier to admit to myself how sitting in one position for hours on end every week (and yes, I overdid those hours) working through stories of personal distress also takes its physical toll on the listener.

Sue feeding marauding ducks, just alighted aboard Molly May.

(How often have I cautioned journalists whom I’ve trained in trauma awareness about the vicarious, secondary impact of the work they do on their own emotional wellbeing. Psychotherapist, heal thyself…)

I’m glad too how this project has connected out to so many friends, supporters and fellow enthusiasts for crazy ideas. It’s been enormously worth it.

(It’s also given me time at last to learn, reasonably confidently, my favourite piece of guitar, Angelina by Tommy Emmanuel, though I wish I could play it as fluently as he does.)

So, with heartfelt thanks to all those who contributed financially to the good causes I was supporting, I’m now going to close down my charity-giving websites, and ask for the funds already in there (very nearly £2000, which is AMAZING) to be distributed to the Rory Peck Trust, to HAP UK and to the Cantores choir.

An early spring English sky and landscape.

I’ll see my lovely wife Sue – as much of a crazy enthusiast in her way as I am – off next month on a 10-week volunteering trip to India and Vietnam (organised by the International Volunteer HQ for which my daughter Katharine now works in New Zealand), and then I’ll take things easy for a few weeks at home in the glorious Cotswolds.

In June after our delightful house-exchangers/sitters Peter and Celia have arrived from New Plymouth, the very same town in NZ where Kat lives (what a coincidence), I’ll head off to Scotland for a month of retreat, meditation and gentle healing work at the Findhorn Foundation.

And then, health permitting (which it should), at the beginning of August it’s out to Hanoi, burning the last of my old climate-busting Air Miles for a business class airline seat to join Sue as originally planned for the final two month part of our shared round-the-world dream, backpacking and campervanning in Indochina, New Zealand and West Coast USA.

Now what could this refer to? Spied under a bridge near Ayhno Wharf.

Yes, no bike, and home in October to resume EMDR therapy work, perhaps at a more gentle pace.

Molly and Maggie May. As one canal wag commented as he pottered past, “Molly May, but Sally Would.”

Rotten luck, bad news and a disappointment. But there’s so much that’s so very good. Including you, lovely person that you are, with thanks for reading this far.

10 responses to “Dreams Postponed – the Bike Trip is Off”

  1. Don’t worry, Mark. There are loads of other dreams out there, all waiting to be pursued. If only we had more time! All the best, and keep dreaming. Chris and Linda xx


  2. Thanks C&L – you’re right, of course, and perhaps the neck will settle with time. Would be great, as before heading off to the great cycle rack in the sky, it would be good to do another mega-trip…. Keep in touch. X


  3. Heyyy and well-come home indeed. Sad sad to hear your journey is off, and yes, at any age, getting older means some dreams and plans don’t come into fruition, and the choices we make on our weird and wonderful life paths dictate what happens around the next bend. At the same time as sharing your disappointment, some of us may be quite happy you are back in the country, I am! 🙂 Your plans sound great, especially Findhorn. I look forward to the next chapter, come what molly may. Vx


  4. Thanks Viola. Yes, upsides as well as downsides. With luck plenty of healing opportunities at Findhorn. See you soon and love the comment about Molly may. Sarah would, apparently… xx


  5. Dear Mark,

    I am so sorry to read of this above and only hope that the physical and emotional have further restoration and nurturing at those places you mention. As difficult as this is I am a great believer in the universe presenting what we need at various times. I look forward to hearing what adventures or further insights emerge over the next six months. Go well my friend and I send healing thoughts across the waters from oz. what date will you be in nz? I will be working there in August. Would be great to catch up. Warmest to you and Sue. Cait


  6. Hiya Mark;
    what a bummer! Was looking forward to sharing your adventure vicariously. I’m sure you’ll enjoy your break anyway; sounds like you’ll still go to some great places. Love the photos too.
    I must get your advice some time too; been planning a bike and barge trip to France with friends for my 60th next year.
    warm regards Peter


  7. Thanks Peter and Cait for the lovely messages. Things really could be worse – and more than happy to share thoughts about bikes and barges. And Cait, we’ll be in NZ Sept 2 to 20… So unlikely to overlap, but let me know if otherwise. And Oz is in the diary for second half of 2014, definitely (honestly, finally, sans bike) coming to Melbourne to see you…. XX


  8. Tomorrow is another day -GWTW! Glad you’re home safe. Enjoy Findhorn and all it can offer. As one door closes another one opens. Best wishes from Arisaig.


  9. Hi Mark, but sorry to hear about the reasons for the postponement of the great trip. Bummer. But as someone else said, life is what happens when you are planning for something else. And something else will turn up. And NZ is relatively close to Oz!
    Am sending you a longer bilateral message, but in the meantime, as you know, Maggy May but Sue did!


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