What Am I Doing On _MY_ Clunkerbike, Though?
I'm sick of waiting to die. I'm 61, I have congestive heart failure (diagnosed 2 years ago after a heart attack that "would have killed [me] if [I] weren't a cyclist":my doc said) and insulin managed diabetes (adult diagnosis but hey, my endocrinologist has just declared me a Type 1, at 61!), so I've been feeling pretty damned brittle for the last 2 and a bit years. I have been finding myself getting a bit paniced on the bike when I can't handle a short, uncategorised climb, say Brighton Rd from Inkerman to Alma. I have literally been acting like I'm waiting to die. Then I snapped.
"Fuck this shit!" I screamed, "Didn't I once write a song with a chorus that is literally, I want to live forever, or die trying?!" How was this cardio-anxiety any sort of "Gallant Attempt at Immortality"? (<- Soundcloud Link)
My response has been to hatch, as "Baldrick" would put it, a cunning plan. I have come up with setting myself a challenge, training for it, then doing it. Ironically, the first one I decided to do didn't even involve a bicycle! However, bicycle rides will also figure in my ShinyHappyRainbows WackyWeekendAdventures, as will building a small dinghy and paddling an inflatable sit-on-top kayak from Brighton to Frankston, along the beaches of Port Phillip Bay.
As adventuring goes, I've never had the resources (or courage?) to do stuff like Pamir Hwy or sail solo around the world or climb Everest. I've been a "weekend warrior." I grew up in Launceston, Tasmania, and as a teen, I'd hike about the Cataract Gorge, free climb it in places (alone!), I'd nick off out into the Tamar Valley, or out into the Midlands, on whatever crapola bike I had at the time. Later on in life I got into mountain biking in a way we today call "bikepacking", nothing more than my 1996 Giant ATX-970, a backpack, some baked beans, a rain coat and one of those mylar foil sleeping bags.
In 2015, I did my first big overseas trip, Vietnam, on a bike I built from a rescued classic 90s frameset. I intended to bike the whole way from Hanoi, got worried about the time I had available, had to abandon the bike at Ninh Binh for the bus (couldn't get it transported, never visit Vietnam during Tet), bought a new one in Da Lat after several bus rides, then rode from Da Lat to Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon on the nastiest kid's US$120 mountain bike - having so much fun at every stage. Later that year, I rode from Melbourne to Sydney, raising money for children's cancers research. (That's me on my 2015 Giant ATX, at the start of day one. ->)
So, bragging aside, I kind of want to keep having my "weekend warrior" fun, or die trying to. Even if that last clause is all too real. And that's why WackyWeekendAdventures. Why the f*** not?!
So why am I blogging these adventures over at shinyhappyrainbows instead of here? It's adventure as art, simple as that. It's also not specifically about cycling, it's about getting out of my bicycle comfort zone.
Part of the challenge with making a series of adventures for entertainment is constant creativity. Yes, entertainment, mine and yours. I could just do them, but this kind of weekend warrior shit has kept me sane through some bloody dark times, and feeling your mortality is dark. I'm doing these things for me, but I want to inspire you. So what if you can't afford to climb Everest? Go climb a local peak. One you can catch a train to, or near, at least. Make a weekend of it. Read about my training, failures and triumphs, then think about what you could do. Adventure isn't about climbing a tourist highway like Everest, and that's what that mountain has become, adventure is realising there's a local place that's a challenge, that you haven't seen, walked, ridden, sailed or climbed.
I'm looking for modes that are itches left unscratched, that are not my comfort zone. I'm looking for adventures where I have to "retool" to do them. Paddle an inflatable kayak down Port Phillip Bay's shore from Brighton to Frankston over 2 days. It's stupid. I have a blow-up kayak, but I've used it maybe twice. Or the desire to build a sailing dinghy - my dad and I wanted to build a Mirror dinghy when I was 12. Mum wanted the phone. (Actually needed it because her mum was developing dementia, and mum needed to stay in touch with all the professionals.) So that's an itch unscratched, then I'm gunna sail it right across Port Phillip Bay to Geelong. So it's the "art of adventure." Not touring on my cheap, entry level bikes, that are just as bloody good as any Surly at 6x the price BTW. Yer, I pulled the pin, I pulled the Fing PIN! (lol)
I may youtube this stuff, too, but I'm not sure my gear's up to it. I'll let you know, here, there and everywhere it's appropriate to scratch itches in public. So follow along here, if you dare, and PLEASE keep me posted about your weekend warrior dreams, plans or actual expeditions in the comments on the comments below relevant posts.