Put down your phone.
Take in your surroundings.
Smell the wind.
Taste the rain.
Feel the sun that escapes the clouds.
That was the plan…
…and it worked out for the most part, it was the pain we didn’t factor in. The numbing of the brain cycling into a headwind up a hill. Thoughts reduced to a series of numbers, counting our way north. But then that pain makes it all the more beautiful when we stop, the rosy ache settles in our legs and the cold wind soothes our hot cheeks and we can feel our lungs solid and strong beneath our ribs. And you really do smell the wind, the nearly-charcoal of the peat, you taste your own sweat, the sun is a friend with a strong arm pushing your back.
Joy was found in the simplest of things because our day-to-day routine was so stripped back. It was straining against the pedals, focussing on the brow of a hill, breathing. And it made the coffee in the morning or the fire at night into events, rituals. A sip of whisky set our insides aglow and sent our minds skipping.
You can become obsessed with wave quality when travelling at high speeds, focused on one solo and deaf to the rest of the orchestra, the texture of the journey forgotten. For us surfing became a release, freedom from the dense earth on which we had been labouring.
It was cold, clear joy.
On the way back it felt down hill all the way, even climbing the mountains, we were rewarded with sunshine and clear horizons and we all slept on the ferry.
I don’t think it’s the last time we go slow and I hope to bring some of the same joys back home.
Kepa, Lee-Ann, Mike, Colin and I ended up riding around 400kms from the Isle of Skye, where we parked the van, up to the Outer Hebridean Islands (and back). We rode up some big hills through big headwinds; not Category Climb big, but when towing your boards, supplies and lives behind you in a trailer they were BIG, and real hard work.
We took in our surroundings and tasted the peat, we felt more aware, we rode around spiders crossing the road, we watched as butterflies fluttered beside us and everyone we passed said hello; even the sheep. In Stornaway, someone told us “There are no happy cyclists on Lewis” but, even as we cycled into monster headwinds that turned into the brisk offshores propelling us to the waves, there were big smiles behind the grimaces.
Curator, Rider, Photographer & Filmmaker
An experienced Basque traveler with a taste for far flung places, think Gabon, Alaska and Antartica.
An oyster loving, guitar playing musician and surfer hailing from SW France. Style in spades, a very last minute and welcome addition to the crew.
A quick footed and quick witted longboarder, hailing from Sennen who in the sake of packing light had to leave the regular ride at home.
We met Colin as we supped beers on a gas station forecourt, he took us in, bought us croissants, lent Mike a longboard and caught us a fish.