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April 27th 2010
Published: April 27th 2010
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Been There, Done That & Got The T-Shirt (Hoodie)Been There, Done That & Got The T-Shirt (Hoodie)Been There, Done That & Got The T-Shirt (Hoodie)

From Cape Reinga to Bluff - Searching for the Meaning of Life.
"Behind us lay the whole of America and everything I had previously known about life... We had finally found a magic land at the end of the road and we never had dreamed the extent of the magic."
Jack Kerouac - On the Road

The Meaning of Life

Jack may have found his “magic” in the 1950s classic On the Road, but I’m still searching for mine after 5,500k on The Beast of Burden. That’s not to say it’s been a fruitless journey, I’ve found out quite a bit about myself.

It's All About Me

For example, I’ve learnt that I can be quite chatty, and the natural reserve I have when meeting strangers is often replaced now by a more outgoing manner. I even initiate conversation. It may seem a strange thing to learn and develop at the age of nearly 60, but it’s true.

As I think I’ve said before, I’ve also confirmed that I’m happy with my own company too, especially knowing if the s… really hits the fan my partner Judy is only a text or an email away in this age of instant communication.


Tock - The Clicking Clock

I’ve also learnt that time is precious, and that when cycling there aren’t enough minutes in the day to oil the Beast’s chain and floss my teeth. So early on I made a conscious decision, the Beast would come first. My teeth would be left to become an issue between me and my dentist.

And as the months have ticked by I’ve become increasingly aware of how little time is left, a point made by Martin Hawes in his excellent book Twenty Good Summers. Written after he‘d turned 50, Hawes stresses the value of making every summer count.

The Pain and the Pleasure

I’ve leant how much I enjoy hard physical exercise. Where 30 kilometres a day seemed a challenge at first, now I can breeze through 70 to 120 and leap off the bike feeling almost as fresh as when I started.

The challenge now will be to find a way to maintain the level of fitness I’ve achieved, once I’m back behind a desk.

But as for Kerouac’s “magic” or the meaning of life, I’m still struggling to find it. As I grunted my
Hillsides of Wild ThymeHillsides of Wild ThymeHillsides of Wild Thyme

We didn't discover the Meaning of Life, but whole hillsides were covered with wild thyme which gave off a heavy scent as we trampled it with our boots.
way up hills and raced down them, there was no sudden realization, no moment when the world suddenly made sense.

Once Upon A Time....

The meaning of life eludes me in much the same way as the cartoon character Bogor many years ago in The Listener.Burton Silver’s woodsman was explaining to his friend the hedgehog that once the meaning of life was written in the night sky but over the years the writing had faded, until all that was left were the stars which were the dots on the letter “i” and the full stops at the end of sentences. So all Bogor knew about the meaning of life was that it had a lot of full stops and the letter "i" in it.

I find myself with no more grasp on the meaning of life than Bogor. But now my bike ride is over I have realized one more thing. I don’t have to oil the Beast’s chain every day. And I guess that means I can resume flossing my teeth.

More Reading

In Twizel, as Judy and I finished a holiday together, we met a Canadian woman called Retta who's been riding her bike through England, Ireland and Wales, then places that included China, Mongolia, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. Her blog is fun ad well worth reading - not so much for its insights into cycling but for Retta's entertaining take on her life on the road. It can be found at:

Additional photos below
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Favourite Reads of the TripFavourite Reads of the Trip
Favourite Reads of the Trip

1. Cloudstreet, by Tim Winton. 2. Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. 3. The Age of the Warrior - Selected Writings, by Robert Fisk. 4. The Beach, Alex Garland.

28th April 2010

And you went to Twizel? Jealous! Also LOVE the personalised hoody - I want one!!

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