This piece was written by me in July 2014. I was unsure of my capabilities and in doubt. Sometimes you need the hard times to be able to push through and cherish your accomplishments when everything has fallen into place. By now I have cycled onwards and finished our journey to Nepal and even added a few kilometers by cycling back through Europe from Istanbul to the Netherlands. Read the original here on www.twistingspokes.com.
The thing that is keeping me back most on this trip is my mind… It is hard to say but my mind is really screwed up sometimes. The last three days have been the hardest days for me on this trip. I was almost ready to call it quits. My mental battle of bicycle touring, how did it get so far?
Martin, my partner, and I always thought that the first weeks on the bicycle would be the hardest for me. I was not fit, struggling with a winter dip and I don’t like the cold. We were going to cycle through the Alps in winter, so it was going to be cold. And although those first weeks were really hard they have been beaten by my mind and body over the last few days.
Not only the cold is tough for my body, the heat is almost worse… After pooping my guts out in Mardin and while being on the bicycle, we decided to stop in a hotel in the hottest city of Turkey. Not the best idea, it was too hot. I then took my first hitchhike after breaking down after 10 km and we stayed in Sirnak for two nights. My body was not really ill but I was still going to the toilet and it was really hard for me to eat anything. When leaving Sirnak my body was not strong, there were mountains coming, my mind had grown fond of the idea of hitch hiking and my head crashed.
Martin is used to me having breakdowns now and again. I have never seen myself as being a very physical active girl or woman and the trust in myself is therefor fragile. On good days I really believe that I can do this. On bad days I really can not believe that I can do this. Martin believes in me and my capabilities and tries to ensure me that I can trust myself to bicycle up a mountain. My trust has let me down a few times and I decided that it is better for me to hitch hike again instead of digging deep and finding the trust in me.
It is hard to explain what happens when my mind crashes. I just get a total meltdown and panic attack on the bicycle. It is hard to breathe, which is essential while cycling uphill. I cry. My mind can only think: ‘this is not what I enjoy, this is not what I want and I can’t do this’. Over and over again. In 42 degrees, with trucks honking in my ears, sweet dripping in my eyes until they sting it is hard to see why I am doing this. Sometimes I can get out of this vicious circle by singing and focusing or looking at the view around me. Sometimes I am stuck.
When I sing to myself to get into focus and get up the mountain I usually sing this over and over again (by Tina Dico):
Sometimes the fastest way to get there is to go slow
And sometimes if you wanna hold on you got to let go
I’m gonna close my eyes, and count to ten
I’m gonna close my eyes and when I open them again
Everything will make sense to me then
At the moment I am trying to re-find my mental elasticity and power. What the hell, I have cycled all the way to the south east of Turkey (minus 3 mountains which I hitch hiked)! I can be proud of myself for doing this and I can do this. Martin and I have talked a lot over the last few days and luckily he has been very open to what is going on in my mind. It is also not reassuring for him and the conversations are very heavily loaded but it is good to share feelings and thoughts.
As it is now my body is feeling better (I think the low energy was the instigator of the whole battle), I am enjoying the travel experience in Hakkari in the very south east of Turkey, it is interesting here, and my mind is digging deep to find my pure motivation and thoughts on this life journey and bicycle touring. Before we reach Iran we have one more mountain to cross. The highest pass until now. I am determined to cycle up as slowly as necessary and hope I can find the strength and courage to tell myself that it is hard, but that it is okay and we will get there as long as we work together and trust in ourselves.