I’ve been on the road for three weeks now and I’m currently sitting in the Kettle Black cafe in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. So far I’ve cycled 1,280 kilometers out of my 1,800 kilometer target so that’s only 520 kilometers to go!
It’s been a really amazing three weeks so far with plenty of ups and downs. But not just the usual ups and downs I’d associate with normal, daily life. I’ve been really down and I’ve also experienced moments of pure freedom and bliss. On day 15 however, I began to hit a slump and for the next three days I was forced to go toe-to-toe with my body and my mind. After having a three day break from cycling in order to ghost-write an e-book (more on this later), I cycled hard for three days through the hilly terrain of New Brunswick. On my first day back on the bike I pushed past the 80 kilometer mark and then I hit over 100 kilometers on both of the following days. I had put in a 100 kilometer day before on my way to Quebec city but I didn’t realise that the terrain of New Brunswick had some merciless hills awaiting me.
I had been quite content being alone up to that point but on that first day back on the bike I experienced an extreme sense of loneliness which I hadn’t felt before. I left the house in St Flavie where I’d been staying and made it to Lac-du-Saumon where I planned to put up my tent for the night. It was a nice evening and I strolled down to watch a serene view of the lake when I arrived. I sat and waited until the sun began to set so I could pitch my temporary home without being confronted by passers-by saying I couldn’t camp there.
As I sat on a bench, gazing out at the lake, a wave of loneliness came sweeping over me. It’s hard to pinpoint what triggered it but it hit me suddenly and unexpectedly. Maybe it had been an emotion that was trying to express itself for a while. As I sat there alone, with nothing to do but wait for the sun to creep under the horizon, it took the complete absence of thought as its opportune moment to burst out. It hit me right in the stomach and I was too mentally and physically exhausted to fight it or push it out of my mind. It was a harsh truth that wasn’t going to rest until it was listened to. I knew I had to sit there and endure the pain of it. I had no TV to turn on to pull me out of my reality. So I decided to sit down with the loneliness. I tried to listen to it so I could empathise and understand what it needed. I knew it held some of the answers I was looking for.
I sat and listened and it told me that I was missing my family back home. No matter where I travel, Ireland always has a strong grasp of my heartstrings. I often feel it tugging at me to return and reunite with friends and family I have there. At the same time, however, I often feel a push in the other direction. Life tells me to keep travelling and keep exploring. Time pushes me to see what’s out there while I’m still young. While I was in Quebec city I met up with my friend Ivan who described the dilemma well to me:
“We all have roots and wings. Our roots urge us to stay in one place, find a partner, have kids and build a life. But our wings push us to keep flying, keep exploring and never touch the ground for too long.”