Fear, I think, is one of the greatest obstacles to doing ‘stuff’ in life; fear of what might happen, or what people might think for example, whether it’s changing jobs, trying something new, or disappearing off for a bike ride “somewhere else”…. There has always been a little bit of fear in me before heading off on a bicycle to remote, high places for weeks, or months at a home. I don’t think it would be normal to not feel that. I’ve always been able to rationalise it away however, and in this context ‘rationalise’ usually just means an “it’ll probably be fine” shrug of the shoulders and simply slinging a leg over my bike; the fear always evaporates with the first pedal stroke. I should probably note at this point that an understanding of the risks is always present so I’m never reckless. Two years ago in Peru I would not have expected pneumonia, mild as it was, to have had the long lasting impact that it did. Before Christmas last year I thought it was behind me at last so booked a flight back to the Andes… and then in January I caught bronchitis. I’m still dealing with the consequences in the form of a persistent chesty cough and aggravated asthma five months later.
Consequently for the last couple of months the annoying little voice that says “what if things aren’t alright this time” has been gnawing at me, and it bothers me that it’s happening, and I fear that if I do not nip it in the bud it could become somewhat paralysing. That second fear is the stronger, and finding myself unable to accept that my ‘high altitude career’ as such is over, then it seems the only thing to do is face the fear, again, and keep my fingers crossed. My chest has been slowly improving over the last few weeks so I’m hopeful that with perhaps a gentler start to a journey than I’m used to.. well, what passes for gentle in the Peruvian Andes that I might be OK, especially with a bag of inhalers in my luggage a’la Chris Froome… With that in mind then this past weekend was a perfect opportunity for a gear shakedown, so I grabbed a two-wheeled mate and headed up to Dartmoor for couple of days.
I’d plotted a route of about 120km that essentially did an anti-clockwise lap of the moor in a particularly wandering fashion. It’s not always possible to know what it is rideable and what is not from a map, so we were treated to a terrific upper body workout too as loaded bikes were hiked and carried an additional few km over boulders and through particularly steep scrub. It was good fun.
As usual… pictures: