Updated: Oct 10, 2019
Some final thoughts. Just over 10 years ago our eldest Danny was coming up to his 16th birthday and we offered him the choice of 'an experience or stuff'. He wisely chose the unknown experience and he ended up in Madrid watching Real v Milan in the Champions League (budget flights, a mate with season tickets and a hotel on offer as you asked). After that, all four of our children have invariably opted for experiences when offered a choice. It has not cost that much more for Michael to have joined me on this trip, but what I have gained can't be bought. Eight days away with my grown-up son sharing an experience that neither of us will forget. I can only hope he feels the same way. I encouraged him to contribute to the blog with the promise of no editing and neither of us viewed what the other has written until it was finished. I guess my point is that experiences always trump stuff. What have I gained on this ride? A back wheel to follow and someone to share the load when the going was tough. And of course the company.
What have I lost? Not much. Perhaps there were fewer interactions with strangers along the way, but that might have happened anyway in different countries and staying in different Airbnb places. After completing last year's trip I wrote and said that almost any reasonably fit club cyclist could do it if they trained for it. The hard part is the time in the saddle, not the distance or speed. I still maintain this to be true. 100km a day average is very doable at this time of year. The physical challenge is real but is well down the list of what makes it hard to do. The tougher challenges are mental and logistical I think. But you will never know what you are capable of until you try. So why not try? Last year it was easy to pinpoint the highlights and lowlights of the trip. This year not so much. There were no views to match Switzerland. No pain that matched my ride into Belgium. This actually felt like less of an adventure into the unknown, principally because it was. I knew what was coming and was ready for it. Riding alone is definitely tougher though. There are merits to both having company and going solo. I will continue to do both.
Feedback from readers I find that writing the blog in my head while riding, helps me get through the day. It also acts as a great record of the highlights and lowlights of the trip that I can look back on to prompt a failing memory. Although I write the blog throughout the year I am aware that most people over the past two years have just followed the days of a particular adventure. I am flattered that anyone else but my family is reading this, even more so by the positive feedback I have had.
But I'm also aware that not everyone who has read the blog over the past two years likes the content and has been upset or offended by the swearing, political comments or other content. I'm grateful too to those people if they have taken the time to tell me so. As all the posts are written the day of riding, on my phone when I'm tired, it's easy to make mistakes. Doubtless, you have noticed the typos and spelling mistakes and I will go back and change them. There's never been any intention to offend anyone - even Belgians. Right. You can go back to ignoring me now. Except are there any volunteers to join me for next year's Ride the Long Way Home? 😄 Oh, I almost forgot. It's Shakespeare. The link in all the titles is that they are all words, phrases and quotes from Warwickshire's greatest son.