Realisation sinks in

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Day 3

One thing I need you all to know: I’m not doing this to prove anything to anyone but myself!

So here I am at my second campsite for the night – a small patch of woodland just outside Neville. It’s supposed to have been a wonderful day yesterday – lots of sun!
Skating since 9am was really tough. It’s the backpack! It’s double the effort to push up so I’ve not got pain in the shoulders as well as my legs and hip. This I can cope with though. Skating 50k around London is so easy! I can just keep pushing with a huge smile on my face and I’ve just realised why I enjoy it so much – because at the end of the day, no matter how far I go, I have my lovely home to retreat to. Now, I really don’t.

I called it a day at 7pm yesterday. Camped wild for the second night in a patch of woodland just off the D55 a few miles south of Neville. Ok, it wasn’t as scary as I thought but fuck, it was so cold again! Dropping to 8c at about 3am. Every layer on! Still only getting 10 mins sleep every couple of hours.

13 hrs later and I’m still in my tent, hiding from the cold and rain. The weather forecast for today is bloody awful! The rain lets up in an hour (apparently) and then its blustery winds and more rain in the afternoon. Wtf!!! It’s supposed to be SUMMER!! I’m not prepared for this. My body is coping well with skating with a 20lb backpack but if I skate in the rain one more time I’m going to fall seriously ill.

Mentally, it’s tough on my own. Not knowing where I’m going to be at the end of the day or if I’m going to be experiencing another sleepless night of shivering in the rain when I’ve finished a hard days skating is sole destroying.

I’m not sure about today at all! Day 3 might be spent off the road if I can find somewhere warm and dry to try and get some kind of appetite back. I must eat! But I still feel sick :( Sort it out Michael!


  1. Just came to your blog from a Facebook link from my daughter (who does distance trips with Skate to Escape). I really hope you managed to stay dry and get some sleep last night. Make sure you eat properly or you will soon run out of energy and won’t be able to sustain those kind of daily distances for long. It must be really hard on your own with nobody to get you through the tough days. Wishing you luck, good roads and better weather and always remember “skate to skate again” so get on a bus or train or get a lift if your feeling ill or injured as there’s no pleasure in pushing on dangerous roads or in crazy headwinds when you don’t have to, as you say you’re not trying to prove anything to anyone. Keep blogging. Good luck and safe skating :-)

  2. Michael, this poem was written about the Camino Pilgrimage…

    The Camino

    When we started, we did not know – exactly – why we were doing it
    We had lives which were – more or less – satisfactory
    We had friends known much of our lives
    We had children – changed from chrysalis to butterflies
    We had things:
    things like machines
    things like music
    things like pictures
    things like shelves full of books
    things like money and pensions and security
    We did not have one thing – and maybe that was why we started

    When we started, we put one foot in front of the other
    We still did not know – precisely – why we were doing it
    The miles passed – many of them pleasantly
    Our feet blistered and were slow to heal
    Our ankles turned on loose stones
    The rain beat its way through our clothes
    The cold chilled the marrow of our bones
    Some nights, refuge was hard to find
    Some days, miles of hot dust had no fountains

    When the first few of many long days had passed
    We found – without words – that we no longer walked together
    That together we spoke in our own tongues –
    and often of things we had left behind where we began
    That together we shut out new experience with the wall of our togetherness
    That alone we spoke in other tongues and of our common experience
    That alone we were open – open with interest and curiosity.
    Often we met – with gladness – at the end of the day
    To know our paths went on together was enough

    When we got to the cathedral we sat down
    We saw – through the eyes of those long before us
    The blinding faith, the crucial thirst for salvation
    The tower slowly closing off the sky
    And we counted our blessings – several hundred of them
    Starting with the kindness of ordinary people on the way
    And with the warmth of other travellers on the road
    Travellers not at all like us – not in age, not in origin, not in interests
    But warm across all these distancings
    And ending with the friendship and love
    We had left behind where we began.

    When we got to the sea at the end of the world
    We sat down on the beach at sunset
    We knew why we had done it
    To know our lives less important than just one grain of sand
    To know that we did not need the things we had left behind us
    To know the we would nevertheless return to them
    To know that we needed to be where we belonged
    To know that kindness and friendship and love is all one needs
    To know that we did not – after all – have to make this long journey to find this out
    To know that – for us – it certainly helped

    written near Sanguesa, Navarra, September 2003


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