Friday, 17 July 2009

pot of gold

Not every day is sunny and dry, yet with the right conditions even the most depressing rain cloud can produce a phenomena so beautiful you can not do it justice with camera or ink. The tiny complexities that mean you have to reference your life's experiences to fully describe.

All the tones of grey from a workday commute in London, split in two by the colours of the tour de france.

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Life, like the weather can produce special moments, created from a concoction of individually everyday activities. Such was my weekend away.

Having had my cycling restricted by Sydney's traffic for months, not to mention my adventures being mostly restricted to the confines of the inner west. It was time to create a rainbow. Adding an extra day to my weekend my trip started with a long yet strangely interesting 6.5 hour drive. I have made this drive countless time, but still this time something was different.

Passing through these areas in February, the grass was burnt, the sun was parching the earth and heat haze distorted the horizon. Now, with rain having fallen the hills are covered in a carpet of green from valley floor to hilltop. The transformation amazing. The depression that clouded your drive 6 months prior, can lift to see that there may still be a chance for the people who rely on the land for their livelihood.

By leaving early and stopping for breaks to appreciate the clean country air, the length of the journey seemed to whir by like on fast forward. Even the roadworks which are so frustrating, lent time to view the passing countryside at a much more leisurely pace. The bypass around Coolac making the tiny town much more appealing – and much less a RBT station.

I am sure that just being away from the hustle and bustle of the city made my overly hot pie and 7/10 coffee taste so much better. Reassuringly the other travelers look up from the paper and giving a friendly nod as I head back to the car. Letting me know I was back in the country.

It' not the big things that make a difference.

Dropping off the freeway back into Albury there was no beeping, no pedestrians running in front of cars, no one shaking a tin or trying to wash my windscreen, and no backed up traffic. Dropping past the house I was able to say hi to the dogs, go wash the car, get a carpark out the front of the shop I wanted to visit and meander through the streets. Until I was once again parked out the front of where I was staying.

It is always the little things.

Unpacking into the bedroom the only thing on my mind was getting back out into the air and onto the bike. Unlike in Sydney my ride started the moment I mounted the bike. In the confusion that makes up Sydney's traffic the pace rises and falls as you move from traffic light to traffic light. In Albury you can ride for hours rarely encountering a sign harsher than the quite friendly, GIVE WAY.

The traffic is local and considerate, the roads maintained and taxi's never dive across your line to pick up their next fare.

On my weekend weapon of choice I charged off the asphalt onto the gravel and dirt. Immediately noting that I had lost all of my handling skills by being restricted to the concrete jungle. My confidence waned until I had run the same short section a couple of times, remembering that my mountain bike was made to be punished.

Over the two days I managed to ride almost six hours. Even though at times my lungs burned and my legs ached, it was always exhilarating when I crested a climb, left contact with the ground or caught the front wheel as it skittered across the loose gravel. My rides were made up of tiny achievements. Things I had achieved before, but hadn't for a long time.

Sometimes it's the little things that reconfirm who you are and what you are capable of.

When you are pushing yourself, challenging your limits and making the most of the opportunities you have, that is when you are rewarded. Whether by a clear view up the Kiewa Valley to a snow capped mountain range, or a great chat with a inspirational 70+ year old runner who managed to be an age buster at the Nail Can Hill Run many times, even meeting up with old friends to roll around amazing single track. Rewards don't have to be trophies, money, fame or friends. If that comes as a result of doing what you enjoy most it is just a bonus.

The rainbow is the reward.

The people you surround yourself with should inspire you, and you should inspire them. These people are the ones you go out of your way to see, the ones who even when catch ups are year apart you can sit around with a coffee, or beer and be as if nothing had ever changed. Using references from shared experiences to bring life to stories and spreading a rainbow through the conversation. And every time you stand up to leave you can't wait until the next time you can sit down together again. These were the people who I made the trip for and will again.

It is the small things.

When time is limited and you have little to share and yet they come. Mum and Dad, who upon hearing I would be within 2 hours drive of home sprung to the bat mobile to share lunch for a few hours. And you know they would drive all that way even if it was just for a hug and half an hour of chatting over a dry biscuit and a weak tea. Then they bundle back into the car and they do the traditional parent wave until out of sight.

Just because you take it for granted doesn't mean it isn't special.

Then the stay ends, but the journey continues. Usually back to you point of origin. But it should not be about what you are leaving behind, or what you are returning to. It should be about what you can take back with you, and what you can appreciate on the way.

Remember it's the small things.

The usually daunting 6.5 hours back again is split up but also much more relaxed. Having left the frantic pace of the city behind only 2 days prior I was surprised to find myself taking a less direct route. Venturing away from the path of least resistance. Tracking via Wagga and a few back roads, my progress was punctuated by tiny towns, the type you miss on the freeway. Farmers worked the land, dogs hung their heads over the edge of ute trays and flocks of cockatoos dotted the landscape. Never while driving in Sydney can you glance away from the road without fear of a nose to tail accident, but here if you don't take time to swivel your eyes away from the blurring white line you may as well be on George street.

And from the six and a half hours back to Sydney I don't remember the kilometers or time. But vividly I remember:
• the bright green hills and brilliant blue sky around Oura
• the black calf strolling away from the herd and across the road in front of me
• the drover who was shading his eyes with a broad akubra
• stopping on a bridge across the Murrumbidgee
• the familiar look of the lady serving at bullocky bill's
• a Ford Falcon, who after barreling past down a hill was caught by the highway patrol
• skydivers plummeting downward toward the road while the plane dived out of the sky to land as they touched down
• that one of the skydivers was wearing a wetsuit and flippers
• four children were on top of a massive wall of dirt throwing clods at each other
• wishing they would hurry up and get to number one in the Triple J hottest 100 of all time before i got home.

It is the small things that run the tour de france through a grey London workday commute.





2 comments:

kate said...

hey i loved this post. one of my favorite ones i've ever read :) it nearly brought a little tear to my eye and made me miss my home and friends in the country. thanks for making me stop and count my bless and remember the little things :)

Rhys said...

thanks kate. i just enjoyed putting something on 'paper', i haven't done a travel update since getting back from europe. it helps me remember my experiences :)