Beyond the brick wall

I asked Wikipedia for a definition of adventure and this is the opening sentence.

“An adventure is an exciting or unusual experience. It may also be a bold, usually risky undertaking, with an uncertain outcome.”

The uncertain outcome is the bit that really caught my attention and it’s the same thing that is on my mind as I start to write this blog post. I am just a little bit nervous about where it might take me.


Dark clouds approaching

In the early hours of last Friday morning Gill rode slap bang into a brick wall. Luckily she wasn’t on her bike at the time. The wall, of course, was metaphorical but the impact wasn’t and since we are inseparable on this journey of ours I hit the same wall moments later. Ever since we have been trying to make sense of what happened, what is happening and where we go from here.

We had a bit of a wobble a few weeks ago as recorded here and although I seem to have bounced back from it, it has now become obvious that Gill has battled on for another four hundred miles without ever having fully recovered. She is mentally and physically exhausted and I can’t help but feel responsible for not recognising what was staring me in the face and failing to do anything about it. However, this isn’t about blame, Gill doesn’t hold me responsible at all. This is about understanding what happened, dealing with the consequences and finding a way of keeping our dream alive in a way that works for both of us.

Since making it known that we couldn’t carry on any longer without either a break or a complete change of plan we have been overwhelmed by the messages of support, encouragement and awe at what we have achieved. Reading some of them has had us both holding back the tears at times and they have made us feel very lucky indeed to have such great friends and family all around us. Thank you.

So why did we get into this situation? After all we haven’t been doing anything that we haven’t done before, just more of it for longer. We have talked with lots of people over the last few days and they have helped us to understand what may have gone wrong. We almost certainly haven’t recognised that on such a long trip regular breaks of more than just a day are probably essential. For us that is of course. We understand that everybody is different. It has also been pointed out that since I am probably a bit stronger physically than Gill she will have been pushing herself much closer to her limits than I have almost all the time. Unless you are very lucky indeed two people sharing a physical challenge will always have to compensate for different abilities and we probably haven’t managed that very well.

Slogging up yet another Dorset hill.

Slogging up yet another Dorset hill.

There are other more obvious factors such as the exceptionally hot weather and those never ending hills of Dorset, Devon and Cornwall but whatever the causes, subtle or obvious, the fact is that for now at least we have blown it and we need to regroup and recharge.

Most people that undertake long journeys such as this face a crisis of one form or another at some point and we knew that we would be no exception. We considered the possibility of illness, accidents or perhaps a family crisis that would bring our journey to a halt and might involve a major change of plan but I have to confess that I never saw this coming. An uncertain outcome indeed.

So let’s get happy and positive. We have learned masses from this experience both about ourselves and our relationship. We are absolutely determined that we will find a way to complete the adventure, uncertain outcomes and all. Gill might not ride the rest of the way this year, maybe we both might not. The favourite idea at the moment is to get hold of a vehicle and for Gill to shadow me while I ride the rest of the coast. It’s very much ‘our’ trip and we are determined to find a way of continuing the adventure together now or at some future date. We have had an incredibly rewarding four months so far, largely as a result of all the amazing people we have met and the outstanding hospitality they have shown us. We’ve seen spectacular scenery and marvelled at wildlife and nature as one season has progressed to the next. Sunsets  have moved us, mountains have humbled us and rain and cold at times have frightened us but it has all been good.

Dramatic Cornish cliffs. Lizard Point

Dramatic Cornish cliffs. Lizard Point

Glorious sunsets

Glorious sunsets

Dramatic mountains

Dramatic mountains

It has been an experience of a life time and it isn’t over yet. For now we are relaxing at my sister’s in Taunton and pondering the next stage of what has become not just a life changing experience but a life enhancing one too.

I’m looking forward to the next thousand miles, whenever and however we do it.


14 thoughts on “Beyond the brick wall

  1. Hi guys,

    I think an adventure is about learning things and on that score neither of you have done nothing wrong at all. It has been a huge succes.

    If I had started a trip like yours with my partner, I would be ending it with my partner, or not at all. If I were you I would put it all aside until next summer and go out and complete it together during the summer holidays. You have done the hard bit and having Gill finishing in a vehicle is not the way it should end.

    The weather is like Autumn now and not much fun to ride in. As long as you go back to the point where you left off and get yourselves home, the job is still done.

    I wish you both a long rest and a succesful ending to this ride.


    • Thanks Steve. Nothing is decided yet and even if Gill does take to a car it doesn’t preclude riding the last section together next year. We are very much together on this and will do what we BOTH feel is right for us. Success is now beyond doubt. 😉

  2. Hi
    I thought you were around Lizard Point where I could have helped. I have a van and doing similar thing with bike. I could have put Gill’s bike on the back with mine and we could have shadowed you.

    My thoughts are with you both. Taunton is not far from where I started from.

    Take care of each other 🙂

    • That is such a shame Kathy. Thank you for your kind words and good luck with your own trip. I hope you can learn from some of our mistake and don’t push yourself too hard. All the best. Keep in touch. G&T

  3. My wife and I cycle-camp on our tandem which allows us each to put into the cycling effort what we can. As the male rider and the stronger of the two of us, you soon realise the difference between you – and differences there are as you’ve discovered.

    Earlier this year we hit problems on a long trip through France, Switzerland and Germany and only 700 miles into a 1400 mile trip it was our decision to both call it a day (how else on a tandem). However, if we’d been on solo bikes I would not have done as you are considering, i.e. one cycling and the other following in a car. Why not you may ask? Well, our journey, was the journey that it was because we did things together – shared the daily effort, weather, views and all those other experiences, something that for us would not have been possible with one in a car. You’ve achieved so much which I’m sure you’ll celebrate and deservedly so – I don’t envy you your thoughts at this difficult time!

    • It is difficult Alan but whatever we decide it won’t be my decision it will be ours. It’s a partnership and will remain so whatever we do.

  4. So sorry you have called it a day for now. My husband and I have done cycle touring together for over 30 years, and I think your comments about Gill having to work harder and getting more tired trying to keep up ring true. One thing I have learned is that I have to go at my own speed and pace, which is much slower than my husband’s. I am also rubbish at climbing hills and walk up most of them. He has to wait for me. I know that at times this is hard and frustrating for him, but if I tried to keep up with him I would burn myself out and then the cycle touring wouldn’t work at all. He takes a book or MP3 player to read or listen to whilst waiting for me! It also takes a lot of discipline from me not to chase after him! Another idea for you is to finish the tour but in sections. We have been making our way around the coast in stages over holidays and long weekends since 2010 and have now done about 75%. I hope you work it out, and whatever you decide to do will be right for you. It is only yourselves you need to please! Best wishes,

    • Thanks Christine. We have worked out a similar routine over the years but no matter how patient the stronger rider the pressure will always be on the weaker one. I have been the weaker rider myself in other circumstances so I do get it. Maybe the four of us should tour together. 😉

  5. Good luck to you both, take a well deserved break. Amazed that looking at your map you’ve come so far! No wonder your both tired. Relax take care and whatever happens you have both made some serious cash for charities and had a life enhancing experience that the rest of us could only dream of. X

  6. Often I haven had the words to comment on your blogs. Today is no exception. Sit in on spot and just write stuff 🙂 the wold is a better place for your well written. Inspirational stuff.
    Other than that enjoy each other’s company however you get there and we will see you soon x

    • Thanks Sue, you are always very complimentary and it is very much appreciated. Looking at the pictures of Freck just recently makes me realise how I miss people back home. The messages on here and on Facebook really help to keep us in touch. I’m looking forward to getting home now but there’s another 1000 miles to deal with first. x

  7. Hello you two ,I’ve just come back from walking George on the beach & central beach is full of bikes ,there all going to blackpool as it’s the night you can ride the lights with no traffic ,the weather is very kind to night for a change .glad you are having a break with your Christine ,Taunton is a lovely part of the world ,John is back home Friday we have booked a week off work , lots of love ,take care cu soon xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx more kisses than normal x Pat ,John George xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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