From eight wheels to two

image

Left and right of me cars were racing by, going 80 kilometers per hour across the grey asfalt. I clearly picked the wrong road. Sitting in the grass in the hot afternoon sun, I took out my roadmap. Damn. Did I really take the wrong road again? The road leading up to this t-junction was pretty dangerous and it wasn’t going to look any better. What to do? I was musing, thinking about what would be my next step. Go back? This wouldn’t help at all and would bring me back to Mitchell. Or should I just say, Fuck it, and go down this road. It is not that far. The tractor that raced past me, was going at the speed of burned potatoes and I knew for sure he wasn’t planning on burning them any further. In these kind of situations a boy on his skates, carrying a backpack of 20 kilo’s shouldn’t be in such a place in the first place. I decided to walk down the roadside. It didn’t take long before I had to find my way through a thick bush of nettles and prickly thorns, so this plan also backfired. There I was, standing in the midst of those nettles alongside this hazardous and far too busy road…. In the end I got a ride to the next village, but this was a nice example of the risk of travelling through England on skates. I knew it was going to be difficult, but I didn’t know it was going to be this straining.

 

image

After I left Land’s End, I was slowly fumbling my way eastwards. It really felt like this, I was fumbling. But I kept going. It was then when I met my first downhill experience. The roads in Cornwall have a very specific kind of roadside. They are called “Cornish Hedges” and are stone walls, overgrown with blackberries and nettles. While I was going downhill, cars were passing me by at high-speed and I was going faster and faster. I tried to slow down, but it didn’t really seem to work. The only option I had was to drop myself and take a good close-up look at those famous hedges. From this moment on I decided to walk downhill. 

image

16 Kilometers was the max and it seemed a good idea to go to Penzance Backpackers hostel and enjoy one of their comfortable beds. Most of the time the next morning you start all fresh again, but I just lost all spirit. Being confronted with those steep downhill roads I got scared. I really got scared. Fear to get hurt. Going downhill was very difficult and while I definitely tried, each time I ended up at the side of the road. Whether there was grass or not, when I was going too fast, a controlled drop was the best way to go. And there I was, lying at the roadside again, when a car stopped. The window rolled down and a young man with a scruffy hat asked if I was ok. And if I wanted a glass of water. What? A glass of water? Do they always have a glass of water at hand? Do they drive around the country offering people glasses of water? I laid down for a while and suddenly realized I took the wrong road. I ended up walking back.

image

It isn’t easy. Almost half the day I spend walking, solely because I just don’t want to end up in a hedge again going downhill. But also because I can’t manage to skate uphill. When I walk I notice I’m enjoying myself. No ankle-pains (which makes me instable on my skates), and going downhill isn’t something to be scared of. The quality of the roads don’t matter anymore, so I don’t have to focus 200% only to go forward and not hit any traffic.

image

Each day I notice I spend more and more time walking. When I’m on my skates my posture changes.No more music. Protection on. Corners of the mouth automatically go downwards and a big frown takes form on my forehead. And the fun time is over. Ignore the ankle pains. Trying to make mileage and be safe. Most of the time I can go on for about 2 or 3 hours after which I’m happy again to walk on my two trustworthy feet. This isn’t going to work. I’m going too slow and I’m not enjoying myself. I have to think of a new plan.  I’m going to walk and skate where I can. The midst of England is reasonably flat and the roads are better. But for now I have to make up for the loss of the last couple of days. Otherwise I won’t reach Scotland within 4 weeks. Should I get a bike to get some speed? Or should I walk 50 kilometers a day on my rundown sneakers? At night, when I’m lying in my tent staring at the meadows, this is what I’m thinking about. And about maintaining my integrity. Will I stick to the plan at all cost, or will I adjust and reach my goal in an alternate way? Sometimes you don’t have to choose and things just happen. 

image

After skating uphill for a while, I sat down in the shade of a wall. Across the street there was a restaurant with a little pub, where a too fat and loud Englishman in a mobility scooter was chattering constantly. After I caught my breath I stood up, when suddenly a lady approached me and said: “He, didn’t I see you in Penzance? We saw you working your way up a hill!”. After a short talk she asked me where I was going to sleep. I told her I was going to sleep in my tent, somewhere in a meadow. Before I knew it, I was invited to spend the night at her place and after having seven leagues in my boots, I was welcomed with a kings meal of salmon, potatoes and salade. Soon we got talking about my adventure and that I was thinking about getting me a bike. “Hey Marc, we have a bike for him, right? The orange one just standing there. Lets have a look!”

image

And there I was, the next morning, tinkering on “Wesley the Kraken”. Did I really just get a bike? Totally out of the blue? I was in total disbelieve. These people who I didn’t know, take me into their house, feed me and even give me a bike! Is there a choice to be made or do I follow the two-wheeled flow. I’m really convinced I should follow the flow. I accept the bike and gonna make sure I’ll be in Edinburgh within 4 weeks, just in time to meet up with Adventure Henk to travel through Scotland together. He will go on his longboard and I will probably go on my skates. No more Cornish Hedges, less traffic and good roads. Travelling downhill will still be exciting but is something to worry about later on.

Meanwhile I found the time and space to go on with my journey in a relaxed way. A way where I’m not constantly scared to end up underneath a car or to break something while going downhill. I can focus on the stories now, the myths and the legends. I don’t know for how long ‘Wesley the Kraken’ will accompany me during my journey, but despite the rain I still have the feeling this is going to be one awesome adventure through some rough lands.

image

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “From eight wheels to two

  1. I’m glad to read you’re still enjoying yourself 🙂
    And it’s definitely not cheating to switch to the bike. If all the fun was gone from the experience and it was just pain and fear, there wasn’t much point in going on on foot/skate. Have fun on the bike while it last, I’m sure it’ll make going back to the skates all the more fun after the break you’re having from them.

    • Thanks for the support allysse, it kinda felt like cheating but it seems im having fun again, and thats quite important! I have sent my skates back, so cycling it is and maybe some waking in the end!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s