Travelling alone for such a long time makes you realise how important friends and family are to you. Often, on long straight roads, or long steep climbs, or even exciting fast downhills, where I should be focusing on not hitting stray dogs, my thoughts stray, like the dogs, to friends, some that I would love to be sharing this experience with, some that I haven't heard from for a very long time, some that I've shared recent memories with, and many that I'm really missing. And then, when I'm unable to make contact with even my closest family and friends, like now when wifi and Internet is rubbish, or blocked, and over the next couple of months, travelling through Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran, it can be pretty lonely.......
Sure, I'm meeting lots of new friends. From the shouts of excitement from locals as I cycle past, it's pretty obvious that at least 100 people a day want to be my newest friend. And I'm meeting many other travellers, who are having similar adventures and experiences to me, and some of them will be long time friends, and I'm gathering many Facebook friends, and once again, some of them will become and remain long term acquaintances and friends, but still, there are times I feel lonely, and far away from "friends and family".
This trip has had some amazing outcomes however. I've touched base with longtime separated friends, as they've heard, somehow, of my Adventure. This week I heard from Ian "Pongo" Atkins, an excitable Pommie film maker whom I haven't heard from in twenty years.....wonderful, (perhaps via John "Arctic Adventurer"Wright). I've spoken to good friend Keith Munro, after 20 plus years.....amazing. I corresponded with ex pupil and star athlete, Aaron Jeffs for the first time since 1986.....fantastic, and I'm really hoping they will not be the last.
I've thought about fantastic experiences I've had in the past, with people like Karen and Tim Davidson, Ross and Jenni Stewart, Murray and Selina Green, Barry Brown, Phillip Belk, William McPhail, Greg Tong, Steve Clarke, and I wonder where they are, what they're doing, and are they well, and happy?
I'm thrilled to know that friends from my past are watching my progress, willing me on, praying for my safety and in so many ways, supporting my adventure. Thank you Verdon Kelliher, Sara Boyd, Sumo, Jaron, Dave, Katie, Matt, Sean and Hillary, Mandy, Ray Edwards, and all you other past pupils, and work colleagues, employees, and employers. I often wonder what my friends at Hiking NZ, First Training, and the Boyle are up to, while I'm battling against a head wind or the incredible heat. Would I rather be with you, working? Sometimes.....but not often.
Mostly, I miss my Hanmer Springs friends. The daily "rut" of normal life. My Test of Time buddies, my rugby watching buddies, my Amuri Players friends, my fellow St John volunteers, the unsolicited waves and toots from fellow villagers, the "Hi Grum"s from the school kids, the reckless mountain bike dashes through the forest with my cycling buddies. Yep, I'm on a big adventure, but 15 months out, I'm missing you all.
So I've got lots to look forward to as I continue my adventure. In particular I'm very much looking forward to seeing Sara and Scott in Denver, Bill and Jackie in Nathrop, and Annie and Royton in San Diego. Believe me, the thought of seeing you all is, at times, a fantastic motivation. I'm also very much looking forward to Juliet's next visit, in February, in Albania. Only 8000km to go. And friends, I am looking forward, to cycling up the hill into Hanmer Springs, only 23,000km, and twelve months to cycle. Until then, stay in touch. You probably don't realise just how important your comments at the foot of my blog means. It means I'm not alone, and that is incredibly reassuring, because it's a big old world out here.