Monday, 8 July 2013

Lightning and the dancing lake.

Some people say life is a roller coaster, Forest Gump's mum reckoned it was like a box of chocolates. I have come to think that life is very much like riding a rickety old tricycle, with bad breaks and dodgy gears 5000km across the continent. Sometimes the hills are long and slow and it feels like they will never end, on occasions they are so steep you find yourself grinding to a stop, you stare upwards and think to yourself I just can't go on any more... But then there are times when the miles seem to roll past you effortlessly, with the sun on your back and a gentle breeze in your face, every corner hides new wonders waiting just for you. 

There have been times in the last few weeks when every part of me yearned to be home and to call off this stupid adventure. Times when I felt more lost and alone than I ever have before. To be honest there have been moments when I have wanted to throw out everything I believe in, even the very reasons for making this trip turned to grey confusion. Why am I here? Why am I doing this? Have I got this all terribly wrong?
I asked myself and my God. 

Perhaps it was in answer to these questions that the events of the last few days unfolded... 

I had stayed the night with a lovely Czech couple called David and Petra, they had showed me round their beautiful little town, fed me stawberry dumplings (which were supprisinly good) and took me for a beer in a cosy pub by the river. I made my first real show on the streets that night. Only 20 or so people stood to watch (and half of them were friends of David and Petra's) but all the same it felt great to finally be doing what I set out to do, especially after the disaster that was Prague. 
I set out in the afternoon the next day. After 10km I received a text from David saying I had left my socks on their washing line. Great I thought to myself. It's amasing the silly things that rattle you when your tired. It didn't feel any hotter than the day before but for some reason no matter how much I drank my mouth felt dry and by body ached. The hills went up and up and my tricycle creaked and cracked at every pedal. A great blackness came over me as thought about the mountains that lay ahead. These are only hills, I thought to myself. There is no way I can do this.
God what is this all about? This isn't an adventure. I'm just tired, alone and in the middle of nowhere. This isn't what I thought it would be. I don't know why I'm doing this anymore.... But I can't go home... Not now. 
I'm not sure if it was pride, determination, hope or faith that kept me going. But I reached the top of that hill and many more after that. In the evening I camped out beside a small lake in the middle of the forest. I set up my tent, made a quick swim, then tucked myself under the canopy I had made. As the skies turned grey and lightning lit the sky, the rain poured down drumming on the sides my tent and made the whole lake dance with splashes and ripples. I sat with my whiskey in one hand cigar in the other thinking about the day. It had been hard, hot and and my body ached even still. But as looked out to the red, black sky, the dark pines and the dancing lake i smiled to myself and decided. Right now in this moment there is no place I would rather be.

The next day I packed up and rode a few miles to the nearest town and decided to stop for some breakfast (although by that time it was nearly lunch) and after the second coffee I thought to myself. This place is really busy I should really stay and make a show. It was more an act of defiance than anything else. I had promised myself that I would stop counting miles and worrying about how far I got each day. So I slipped on my baggy trousers (as for some reason it feels not quite right to make a fire show in cycling shorts) soaked my sticks and started the music... "Ladies and gentleman, my name is Josh, I am cycling from England to Macidonia. And I would like to make you a little show..." In the bright sunlight I danced and twirled, dripping with sweat and laughing at myself thinking this is obsured. A little ripple of applause came from the restraunts and a man sat on the bench beside me. After a few numbers and once I was completely out of breath I got out some of my juggling toys and invited the children to come and have a go. I didn't really know what expect but before long the street was full of children and families spinning plates, juggling and making fun. I made another show after that and this time everyone sat around me to watch. Laughing and applauding sometimes in the right places... 

It was nearly 3pm by the time I had finnished my 'breakfast' stop, and I decided I would make the most of the cool (ish) afternoon and make my way to the border and into Austria to the little town of Drossendorf. 

"Drossendorf? Why did you come here?" The guy said as we spoke over the gate. The truth was I was hoping to find a busy little tourist town where I could make a show and was quite disheartened as I cycled through the quiet streets of this sleepy but very pretty little town. But as I looked behind him at the bright red and yellow stripes of the circus tent I smiled and thought to myself, It was no accident I found this place.

I am beginning to learn that life is full of so many opportunities and adventures and it is so easy to let them pass us by. Yes it is much more convenient and if we want to keep to our timetables then its best we don't bother.
But it is also easy to push open the door,  to stop and look for a moment, to chat over the fence, to share lunch with a stranger in the park. 

I stayed at the circus that night, and most of the next day, made a show for the kids, chatted with some wonderful people around the fire, shared stories, cups of tea, and slept in a circus wagon. 
All because I stopped and said hello over the fence... 

I still ask myself. why am i doing this? What's this all about? But moments like these make think there's something to it. And even if not it a heck of a lot of fun. So this my new agenda. Grab hold of every day, say yes, say Hello. Watch, listen, look around, eat cake, drink tea, and do a bit of cycling in between...

Oh I made to Vienna by the way. Enjoying a bit of relaxing time and been fixing up some of the more rickety parts of by bike. Strangely I'm off camping for a couple of days tomorrow with some friends I have made here. Probably will hit the road again at the weekend...

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