Chasing Lines by James McLaren [Guest Post]
The alarm goes off in my hotel room in Ufa. Better get used to that. I’ve had my day of getting ready so here we go, all the planning and training is done, it’s real, it’s right here in front of me. Clothes on, eat snacks and get breakfast. Bike and kit all ready, it’s time to wheel it out into the elevator of my nice hotel room. I come out the elevator into the reception, head to toe in Lycra, with the bike by my side, to a bemused security guard and receptionist. I check out and wheel out the hotel to find grey skies.
Rolling down the road, I put my leg over the saddle and head down the very steep hill to the station where, annoyingly I know I’ll have to head right back up in just a minute. But it’s not raining and the wind doesn’t seem too bad. Any cyclist will know that wind can be the bane of your existence, and over the next month I will become a human weather vane!
I get down to the train station aiming to start around 8 am, not too early, but at a set time. I stop with my bike outside the station, take photos and videos, and turn on my GPS tracker device all for the Guinness World Record evidence. There aren’t many people around, but I still get a few funny looks. I guess they wouldn’t be thinking, I know, he must be cycling to Portugal.
I give the GPS a few minutes to make sure it’s sending its signal, and then with a very intense in-over-my-head feeling, I anxiously put the first pedal down and begin. Straight away, it feels better, like I knew it would. Crossing town, I immediately go the wrong way down an estate of some very official-looking city hall-type buildings. I get the feeling that I’m heading the wrong way when the street cleaners stop working and watch me go past. I can just tell that they’re thinking: he’s lost. I smile at them as I pedal back past and onto the right road. Down a long hill and onto a busy road, then over a big river to leave Ufa, I’m finally going out into Russia….
Adventure of a Lifetime
My first attempt at anything so big I am feeling the weight of in over my head. I decided to take on this adventure of a lifetime. Being 29 and approaching that point of my life where if I didn’t go now I never would. After all the small trips saving up leave when I could, I dropped out of the career chasing for the moment and went for something that seemed more than I could chew.
With my helmet mirror taped on, my alloy bike covered with old bike bottles and knee wrapped in physio tape I was heading alone out of Ufa, Russia aiming to cycle 6292km to Cabo da Roca in Portugal. The aim was breaking the Guinness world record for fastest cycle across Europe. Not the most sensible thing to do I guess but what turned out to be a roller-coaster of a ride from start to finish.
In Chasing Lines I write not just of the single trip, but stories from past experiences that gave me the tools to attempt something so big. Whether it be crossing the Andes mountains alone, to getting through the 9-5 job, or adapting to the changes of life.
My aim was to show you truly don’t need to be a professional at something to give it a go. You don’t have to have all the right tools and there is no perfect moment to wait for to attempt a goal. There is no sign that will tell you this is what you should do or when to do it, you just have to try and keep moving.