Pivotal moments

Moving on

Moving on

It has been an interesting couple of weeks here on our personal tour of Britain. For the first time there has been serious discussion of whether or not we will complete the full circuit. I suppose it started with the recognition that we were both very tired and in need of a break but the simple solution of stopping for a week didn’t completely fix the problem and that’s when it got a lot more complicated.

After our lovely break in Brighton we both set off expecting everything to be fixed and we were quite surprised when we found that it wasn’t. OK we did have strong blustery winds to contend with and Gill’s problem with her hands hadn’t gone away but it was both shocking and a bit depressing to find that after just fifteen miles of that first day back on the road we were both really down in the dumps. We sat on a bench by the seaside and talked about the consequences of simply throwing in the towel and heading back home to Lancashire.

The Needles over troubled waters.

The Needles over troubled waters.

It was a difficult moment. Gill was teary, I was bitterly disappointed and underlying these feelings was the terrible fear of the potential damage this might all do to our relationship and our future. Looking back with a measure of perspective I can see that this was a pivotal moment and the point at which all kinds of things about this trip changed.

Time for reflection. Bosham harbour.

Time for reflection. Bosham harbour.

Before we left lots of people referred to how brave we were to give up everything and set off on such a daunting journey but we never saw it that way. For us it was anything but brave. We were simply, finally, doing something that we had wanted to do for a long time and bravery didn’t come into it. We were fulfilling a dream, not facing our fears as many people seemed to think. All that changed in those five minutes on that seaside bench. Suddenly bravery was absolutely what it was about. Facing the question of carrying on when things had become difficult or giving up and going home was about as daunting as anything gets and the more I thought about it the harder it became. Now was the time for facing our fears. We had had three months of having a good time. No work, pleasing ourselves, drifting along on a wave of happy emotions. It really hadn’t been difficult at all. Yes there were tough days of wet and cold weather. There were rubbish campsites and never ending hills but on the whole we had just been having a ball. Now, all of a sudden somebody had moved the goal posts and our endless holiday had turned into a very real test of strength and courage.

Over the next few days we stayed with friends and family and we talked the whole thing through which helped a lot.

I spent many hours unable to sleep as I wrestled with my own selfish perspective. Gill had always been enthusiastic about this project but deep down I think we both knew that it probably meant more to me than to her. I knew Gill would push herself to ensure my dream could continue but I was also aware that pushing herself to breaking point was not a solution for either of us. Something had to give.

We always talked about this experience being life changing but to be honest, up until this point I was beginning to have my doubts. I know that our lives are constantly changing in small ways, mostly so small that they aren’t even noticeable but we were expecting something a bit more spectacular. Now I am starting to understand how such a paradigm shift might come about. We are finally being tested. Really tested, in a way that will change the way we think. The way we understand ourselves and each other and the way we want to live our lives at the end of this process. It’s scary, exciting and challenging but now I know that this is what this trip is really all about.

Scary but challenging times

Scary but challenging times

As somebody posted on Facebook just this morning, “nobody changes inside their comfort zone”. We are so far outside our comfort zone right now that change is inevitable. We both think we may have turned a corner and we are both determined to finish what we started but we now understand that it isn’t a party anymore. This is when the hard work starts. This is when we find out just how much we really want this life changing experience. There is no easy way out from here. To go home would feel like a massive failure (I know, I know. It’s not really a failure but it doesn’t stop it feeling that way). Continuing is going to be tough and may test us physically and mentally. It will almost certainly reveal any weaknesses in our relationship and in ourselves. It’s dangerous but I think it has to be done.

Catching up with family helped a lot.

Catching up with family helped a lot.

We are both enormously grateful to everyone who has supported us and encouraged us so far, we really are. Don’t go away just yet. You are as much a part of this journey as we are and we need you now more than ever before.

And so to Devon and Cornwall. Something of a nemesis for us. We’ll see you on the other side.



25 thoughts on “Pivotal moments

  1. Another quality blog.
    I love these
    I wonder if writing that has helped you in your decision making?
    Whatever decision you make it will be the right one. No question.
    Either way, this is a cliffhanger 🙂 genuinely looking forward to the next episode. When the book is eventually published this will be a real page turning moment. X

  2. We know the feeling! just remember we will not be the ones that points and laugh at you “failed” attempt. Bloddy well done. As Bob said – it’s good to talk. I’m sure you make the right choice what ever that would be – hire a car, shorter ride, riding somewhere else, cutting short, holiday away, getting drunk in pizza hut etc etc. Take care of yourselves, but most of all enjoy!

  3. Loved reading this as it gave a real insight into your inner thoughts & emotions. We are behind you all the way and not ownly admire your physical efforts but also the openness in sharing your thoughts & stories. I’m sure there will be more hurdles ( and hills!!) to climb on your onward travels but I’m sure your own strength & tenacity, along with the support of so many family & friends will help you whichever decisions you make. Hope to see you soon.

  4. A message from my ‘Guru’ – Susan Jeffers
    Your relationship is as sound as a ‘pound’ it’s called unconditional love!!!

    Go, go, go and enjoy every last minute of your wonderful experience with all it’s highs and lows. xxxx

  5. “Keep going! Each step may get harder but don’t stop, the view from the top is beautiful” – I think it was Confucius, or maybe it was Nelson Mandela!

  6. Hi Guys,

    I am getting up at 4am in the morning to be at work for 5am. I wish I were in your position.

    Just take it half a day at a time. You cannot imagine how many people are behind you in this.


  7. You both have the inner strength to complete this – you know that. If our home and cheese and ham rolls have helped in some small part of your journey then we are blessed to have been a part of it. Remember nothing is set in stone – your adventure is an organic thing that changes to suit you, you don’t have to suit it! xx

  8. I know that it must be tough both mentally and physically but sometimes life is. Day to day work is tough but we do it having learned how best to cope. You two have gone so far on this epic trip with the end game now in sight. People are right, the rewards for completing your goal will remain with you for the rest of your lives. Work out how best to manage those homeward miles and those tough days and in the words of NIKE…. Just Do It. Good luck and God bless. Derek and Celia xx .

  9. Hi Tony, It’s concerned me for some time that after the North of Scotland, somehow the ‘ adventure’ diminished somewhat. You’ve still got time in your schedule. Why not alter the plan. It’s the beauty of touring. Yoi can be totally flexible. Instead of the ‘same old same old’ in the UK just becoming a drudge to finish just for the sake of it… why not get a ferry to the continernt and start the adventure afresh … and in two months you could be in Athens. … Just an idea.

  10. I know that it must be both physically and mentally tough but sometimes life is. Day to day work is tough but we do it having learned how best to cope. You two have gone so far with the end game now in your sights. People are right, the rewards for completing your epic mission will remain with you for the rest of your life. Work out how best to manage those tough days and those homeward miles and in the words of NIKE…..Just Do It. Good luck and God bless……..Derek and Celia xx

  11. Been following you all the way and loved reading your blog – you’ve done a fantastic job so far, more than most people could do and you’re not far off.
    Don’t give up ! We look forward to reading your blogs and want to read many more. Good luck
    Ruth & Mark Ross xx

  12. Good to hear from you, was getting worried when we hadn’t heard from you for a while. Just to let you know we are thinking of you with love and support.xx

  13. Just back from Florida, near Storm Bertha where all these winds originated that have been bothering you, wind is SO annoying.
    I hope your Iron levels are adequate, I know you must have nutrition covered.
    I haven’t read about your hands fiving trouble so not sure about that.
    Devon and Cornwall…….bliss, hope you have some calm bright weather to cheer you.
    Tony, I got all teary, AGAIN, talent.
    Sometimes when I have had to do something difficult I imagine it’s all for someone else who means a lot, then somehow the strength comes.
    Life is weird, eh ? x

  14. What an amazing bunch of friends we have. Thank you so much for all the encouragement and understanding. I would like to respond to each comment individually but there are just too many. We have had a great day today in the Purbeck hills and along the Dorset coast. Hard but very rewarding.

  15. Tough times are always part of travelling. It sounds like you are back on the road together.

    Take each day as it comes and if that means going home and re-grouping do so. A few days in your own bed and you could well be thinking – back to the adventure!!!

    Or you could review your adventure and decide you have taken from it what you can and it is time to re-shape what you are doing into a different adventure.

    Good luck. Thinking of you. Suzanne x

  16. hey tony & gill, don’t lose heart during these thoughtful moments! we all have them at various moments, & can appear like the proverbial swan to be gliding along serenely while the legs underneath are paddling away billy o ! you are just revealing the paddling or should I say peddling ! by sharing your thoughts. In my heart I think you will overcome this moment, Take one day at a time, stay longer at places that appeal, become a little less focused on daily mileage targets, & really focus on the fantastic achievement to date & the really good experiences you’ve both had, and there are so many as you’ve shared them with all your readers!!! 🙂 All the best from Leafy Lytham & bonny Scotland, ps we’ve had an offer on the house!

    • Great news on the house John. Fingers crossed. Thanks again to all for the positive messages. Whoever designed Dorset didn’t know much about cycling.

  17. When the going gets tough, its OK for the tough to get the train / take a day-off. What you have achieved already has been fantastic and nobody is going to beat you up if your circumnavigation is not ‘perfect’ – you are not out to set a record, but to have fun, enjoy being together and experience different aspects of the UK.
    Take care

  18. Keep at it Tony and Gill but we kind to yourselves. Many years ago, DH and I were cycling one very cold rainy Easter. I sat down and cried. DH said ” you sit here and I will ride home and get the car to fetch you.” That got my dander up and I climbed back on the bike and pedalled the 15 miles home. What changed for us was that we learned to communicate. When we had been in York earlier in the day, both of us thought about catching a train, but neither of us said a word. It would have been easier if we had but it was a great learning opportunity. BTW the next day the entire country was blanketed in snow so I’m glad we got back when we did.

  19. Well guys, I have just read Pivotal Moments and I really feel for you. I have undertaken some challenges in my life and so many times I have thought ‘Why am I doing this ?’ In your own time get back on your bikes and get back to having fun. Don’t rush it and if things turn crappy again stop and assess where you are and where you want to be. Whatever the outcome of your marvellous adventure you will in time look back and surely think, wow that was great.
    To close here’s one of Robin William’s old jokes, ‘We had gay burglars last night. They broke in and rearranged the furniture’.
    All the best, Ted.

  20. Who designed Dorset? I don’t know but I think the same person may have created Marco Pantani. At least the wind has dropped a bit. Hope you guys are coping OK with the hills and weather.

  21. Hello again Gill and Tony,
    I really feel for you and your wonderful blog brought a tear to my eye, but PLEASE don’t give up now, dig deep, the rewards will be worth it. I do know how it feels, and how one sometimes has to talk oneself through and out of the sticky times.
    Don’t underestimate the simple homesickness factor, which often kicks in around the three month mark, it will pass..
    I remember one dreadful day on a lonely trek in the Arctic, when nature was utterly vile and effort seemed futile, despair compounded by the fact that our relationship was very much in danger at the time, when Anthony grabbed me by the shoulders and said “Never give up! Just NEVER give up!” Well, I didn’t, we didn’t , and here we all still are doing crazy things at an age when we should know better.
    Bon courage!
    Love Jan

    • I’m really touched by these comments and Gill and I feel supported from afar by them. We are currently being spoiled by her family near Plymouth but tomorrow we will be on the road again and in Cornwall. Looking forward to some great coastal scenery and a pint or two of Cornish ale to wash down the pasties.

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