Highs and lows

Two people yesterday separately asked me the same question, it was ‘what was the low point of the journey?’ and I couldn’t think of what it might be. Now though I’ve had a little time I remember. I was up in Yorkshire coming down off the peaks and I was heading for Sheffield. There was a Sustrans route that took me off a road and onto a path and then onto a steep (very rocky) path, I had to carry my (very heavy) bicycle over each boulder. There was a bend up ahead on the path about 20m, so I thought maybe that was it, then there was another 20m run and another bend, by this time I realised I was committed to the route. A fell runner went by fairly astonished to see me and my bicycle. It went on and on and took me about an hour and a half to carry the bike over maybe half a mile. Enough time to see the fell runner on the way down again. By this time I had been riding on hills for about 8 hours, and so I was pretty exhausted at the top of the path. If there was some kind of ironman involving cycling and fell running (but carrying a printing press) this would be it.

After another 10 miles of riding I was pretty much done. I was outside a pub with a room and would have stayed there if it wasn’t for being committed to getting to Sheffield that night to see my friend Nick Wright at his scissor factory the next morning. So I managed to track down a large taxi in the next village and wrangle the bike and me and the press in and ride the last 15 miles into Sheffield. I remember being fairly terrified at the speed of the taxi and fairly convinced that had I not called him anyhow he would surely have flattened me somewhere on this road with his crazy driving.

Well that was my low point, being half way up a fell runners track in the peak district. 

On the other hand, and a question, no-one yet has asked, ‘what was the high point?’. Well, I think I had a few each day, and they were often being somewhere each day fairly brilliant and it could be in the middle of Birmingham on a canal towpath, or somewhere in the Highlands of Scotland, being alone on a mountainside. It was always connected to a feeling of wellbeing. The other thing was meeting people, some I knew and some I didn’t. Sometimes it would be a fleeting moment like a bloke with a dog in a village and a brief conversation or it could be spending the day with folk I hadn’t seen in eight years: either way I felt a big lift and loved spending time short and long with good people.

I’m on the train now the sea on my left the lowlands of the Scottish borders to my right. I feel very calm and relaxed and still a little isolated from life, and on the other very happy to be heading back to family and friends and getting on with life and thinking about the things planned for the next days and weeks.