Regular readers will know that I had planned a trip by bike to Europe this year. Last year, returning from a damp stay in Périgord, Anna finally agreed that a French holiday by bike would be a good idea. Having been dangling suggestions for the same for many years, I was plainly delighted at the prospect, and even sold the Ducati to fund a serious 2-up tourer, viz. the Honda Pan-European.
Then all the crappy stuff happened earlier this year, and these plans were put on hold. We have had a talk about it all, and realistically it ain't going to happen in 2009. I have promised her a long weekend away in the caravan, somewhere fairly easy to get to, perhaps in September or October. Then today, wonderful person that she is, she suggested that I should go away on the bike myself for a while. We're at the point where she can be left unattended for a day or two, so this is feasible.
I am very lucky to be married to this person. How many wives would suggest that?
To be honest, I have had cabin fever for months now. The last holiday was a year ago, and it was a bit of a washout, although pleasant in many ways. We've had all these health issues, and I have been put down to three days a week at work, which has let to a lot of stresses and strains there as I try to keep all my plates in the air on 40% less time and 40% less money. Work has stopped being fun, and much of my free time has been spent on sites like Horizons Unlimited or reading travellers' tales in the bike comics, just daydreaming. I have also spent a lot of time fettling the XT - it has needed some work, to be sure, but at the back of my mind I have been making it fit for a journey, possibly a long one, not just my daily 25 miles to work and back.
So you might say I jumped at the suggestion. I felt a bit bad even discussing it, as the most exciting times that Anna has at the moment are hospital visits (she's on first name terms with about a hundred people there) and the occasional car trip to see the sea, and for me to swan off to Le Continong would seem to be rubbing salt into the wound. But the clincher was Anna's observation that next year at this time, it might be me sitting at home and waiting for the District Nurse to call and give me my meds. She thinks I should do it while I am able to.
Now, I am 55 and not yet a complete wreck, but the signs of ageing are there, and I am a firm believer that you should live for today, as tomorrow may never come. So I am turning over in my mind a couple of ideas; things which have been "one day ... " plans for when the time was right.
1. Ride the British coastline, all the way round, staying as close to the sea as possible. Total distance, about 3k miles, but within reasonable distance of home if I were to be needed in a hurry. I would be mainly on minor roads for this one, so the XT would be the bike of choice, and realistically I would need to allow about 10 days. Hmm... I see from this month's Bike magazine that Nick Sanders is doing exactly the same thing on a crossplane crank R1. Damn - I'll look like a copycat. Oh well, at least he admits that the R1 isn't the ideal kit for the minor roads he is on, so the XT would be perfect, and I can surely get some good tips for places to visit.
2. Ride across, and photograph, the Millau Viaduct in France. This would be a quick there-and-back-again trip of about 2k miles. At warp speeds, this would be a day there and a day back, plus two overnight ferry crossings. The Honda is the obvious tool for this option. I could spread the trip out over about a week, which would give me some quality French chilling time, which I badly need. Last summer, we spent some time with British expats in the Dordogne, and for the first time ever I seriously considered moving there for good. I love the French lifestyle, I know enough of the language not to starve, and they have all the sunshine that we don't get here in Wales.
Plus, I always lose weight when I go to France, despite all the wine and cheese and wonderful bread. The food there just suits me.
This would be the object of the trip:
Sleeping will be in a tent, whichever option I choose. My reduced income means that B&B would be unaffordable in either France or the UK, but I like camping, and if I don't leave it too long the temperatures should be bearable.
If I could find some internet access along the way, I could even blog the trip! I've never travelled alone before, at least not for a significant journey like this one, so that will be a novelty too. I'm pretty good with my own company, so I don't foresee a problem there.
Ho hum, lots of thinking to do.
If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free.