It’s not just the riding that takes its toll on a long tour, it’s the daily grind of packing, checking out, checking in, unpacking, eating, updating the diary or the blog; often the riding is the easy part after several weeks on the road. “Fortunately” there’s the schedule to keep one on the straight and narrow; the accommodation booked in advance, the meetings along the way, the life one normally leads waiting at the other end. It’s the schedule, or the fear of it slipping, that gets the tired limbs moving to do it all again for another day.
And in a small way that goes for those meeting up with Max along the way. I travelled over to Bedford to ride some of the way with him and ended up spending two nights on a campsite in continuous rain! Thankfully it backed off a little for the ride but it was still a pretty damp day.
Max has done this challenge before, building in rest days for recovery and presumably as possible buffers should things go pear shaped. But it’s still a long way, and a long time, for a guy whose first choice when it comes to getting around is a wheelchair, particularly his beloved iBot.
He’s no slouch on his Rohloff equipped HP Velotechnik Scorpion, in fact his wife Justine says Max is at his most mobile under his own steam when riding the trike. However, going for a ride on his own isn’t an option – that’s obvious when a Marathon Plus picks up an enormous thorn. Able to ride alone once on the trike, he’s unable to transfer from the chair to the trike or vice versa without assistance. You can imagine the hassle when faced with the ubiquitous Sustrans NCN barrier, and they’ve come across their fair share of those!
Stopping for a cuppa at Millbrook Garden Centre we chat about the project and charity Diversability – changing perceptions about disability and the language used to describe it. I find myself joining the conversation before Max has finished – the ‘normal’ gaps we use as cues to transfer the conversation baton aren’t working but it’s a hard habit to break. Even my awareness has been raised as a result of this journey!
Now I’ve recovered from my little trip, I’m happy to report that after four weeks of challenging perceptions from Aberdeen to London, Max and Justine arrived in Trafalgar Square on Friday, dry and on schedule. Very much mission accomplished I’d say, and hopefully we’ll be hearing more soon.