I hope this is going to be an interesting adventure to revisit the ride, day by day, one year on.
One immediate shock looking back at the blog was to realise that I didn’t actually manage to start it until I was over the border into Spain. Some things fade with the vagaries of memory, others feel very clear. I’ve always had what seem to very different storage for different sensory modes and experiences, so some visual experiences seem to store and be recallable with great clarity, though not always to be recallable to order, and it can be odd what prompts assist recall. Since the ride I’ve had this phenomenon of “positive anti-traumatic flashbacks”. I think I’ve had them much of my adult life but perhaps been too busy or active with other things to notice. What happens is that I’ll get a flashback image of something, almost always good, though sometimes it’ll be of a more difficult time, a slog up the mountain of O Cebrero heading into the cloud with gearing too high for my legs and the load. Oddly, it happens mostly if I’m doing different, boring exercise (the last five or more years I’ve tried to do some exercise daily: anything to keep fit enough to do more long rides).
By contrast, remembering names was never my strong suit and has become much worse in recent years and I think it’s related to that, and my very different storage systems for the visual as opposed to the written, that I really had forgotten that the site stuttered into existence early(ish) in the ride, but that the blog was so much later.
Enough navel gazing! What do I remember? Well certainly a lot of excitement but also a definite frisson of anxiety as I headed out the door and onto the South London roads. I know it had taken me hours longer than planned for me to feel that I had everything I really needed properly aboard Toto … who wasn’t Toto back then. Even then I was pretty sure some of the deliberations about what I really needed, about what was unnecessary weight and what was vital, were probably more about putting off the precise moment of departure than any make or break decisions. I remember well that it was a damp day, not unlike today, though it never poured as it did here this evening.
Off I went and gradually hit a good enough rhythm. However, there were some early warning fights with Google maps. I remember a spectacular one where she took me into a tiny dead end off a side street above a bit of motorway (M25?) or a very busy dual carriage way. That was particularly surreal though fairly easy to resolve with a bit of common sense. I remember a bit of panic in the early evening as I realised I had no chance of making it to Canterbury, let alone doing the cathedral and getting on the ferry and away. (That had gone as a realistic prospect by the time I belatedly left home in all honesty.)
I did a bit of a dog’s hind leg off the sensible route to Canterbury in order to find a camp site that had space. I remember that the owner seemed grumpy and unwelcoming but his daughter was compensatorily friendly. The site had no mains power so my ‘phone, garmin and tablet were doomed to die on me the next day. The site was up a nasty, steep little hill from the pub which was the only option to find now rather badly needed calories. I know that the food was very much “UK pub so-so” but it was meat and two veg and a couple of beers so it ticked carbohydrates, fats and protein and certainly ticked calories. Probably even ticked precautionary analgesia though not, I suspect, many vitamins.
The publican, his wife the cook, and the student who was doing her holiday job there behind the bar were all friendly and a relief compared to some rather smug, public school sounding teenagers (including some Americans?) who seemed to be doing some falconry related training near by who left mid evening. I remember good chats with both the publican and student: about their pasts and their plans for the future. By now I am sure he must have moved on to a different pub (in Ryde?), much more where he’d always want to be, as I remember it. I think he had the purchase of that pub (tenancy?) and the sale of the one we were in fixed. She wasn’t sure where she was going but was clear that that village location, where she’d lived for some years before going to university, wasn’t a long term option, now she had seen the lights of the city. Where was she at university? Lost that. She was reading psychology at least as part of her degree and was interested to hear a bit about clinical work.
Funny what you remember and what you don’t. Or let’s be honest, that should be, “funny what I remember and what I don’t”.
Enough. Oddly both reassuring, but also a bit disturbing, to resurrect this. Tomorrow was another day, if you see what I mean, and it was warmer and … but that’s for tomorrow!