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Think I’m Brave? I’m Not. The Animals Are Going To Eat Me.

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Bicycle & Panniers

Think I’m brave?  I’m not.  The animals are going to eat me.

I love living life outdoors.  Cycling during the day; exploring new lands; acquanting myself with new cultures and choosing the most amazing scenes of nature as a back drop to my one man tent when wild camping each night.

But wild camping in foreign lands is a scary experience for me.  All is good until I get into my sleeping bag at night and lie thinking about the days experiences and wondering what will come tomorrow.  Then I hear a noise outside in the blackness and my serenity is gone replaced instead with a soaring heart rate preparing my body for fight or flight.

Most nights I lie awake scared.  Sure the sounds outside my tent are from animals which will eat me during the night.  In these last moments of life each night I think of the years I’ve lived, the mistakes I’ve made, the people I love and the ones I’ve lost.

Solo Wild Camping

When in Bosnia and Herzegovina I meet a young couple, Pablo and Ilze, who are cycling around the world also.  They are heading in the same direction towards Turkey so we set off together.

Up until this point I}ve always cycling on my own so I’ve no refernce to how it will be cycling with company.

Pablo & Ilze

Our first night wild camping together, we pitch our tents in a valley belongng to the Herzegovina hills and home to a great many wolf.

Exhausted I fall asleep quickly but I’m awakened with my tent shaking.

MY GOD!!!  THE ANIMAL OUT THERE MUST BE HUGE TO BE SHAKING THE TENT LIKE THIS!

My irrational fears skip over the fact it’s most likely a small animal brushing off the tent ropes rather than a big one shaking the tent!  I immediately become as small as I can in the middle of my wee one man tent.  This is survival instinct for that animal out there could very well bite a chunk off me by sinking its teeth through my tent walls!

“HEY! HEY! HEY!”, I shout out, managing a voice of 30% ‘I’m not letting on I’m scared’ and 70% of ‘I’m absolutely petrified’.

In next second I’m screaming, “SOMETHINGS SHAKING MY TENT!”, unable to control myself any longer.

Ilza calls out, “Pablo’s coming over to check”.

I hear Pablo’s footsteps towards my tent and with his flash-light reassures me there is nothing there.

I feel a high level of embarrassment as he explains it was probably a rabbit touching the bottom of the tents ropes.

And that was that.

Nothing was there.

If I had been on my own I would have spent the rest of the night awake, curled up into a small ball, making sure not to touch the sides of the tent because the animal was going to eat me.

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Living the DReam. Cycling Around the World. This Girl Can.

I remain fearless that night.  Even listening to the howls of the wolves does not disturb me as I drift off to sleep. Unafraid because we have a man and he has a torch!

That was the moment I realised one of the biggest differences between adventure cycling on your own and cycling with other people.  On your own you have absolute freedom with very little compromise.  Whereas compromise is a substantial component of cycling with others but in return, you do have a much greater feeling of security.

I hope time will work it’s magic and the cumulative effect of positive wild camping experiences in foreign lands will disperse my irrational fears.  Just now I’m not brave.  But fear only gets in the way of our dreams if we allow it too.  We can still suceed at our dreams and live the life we want with fear.  We just need to keep breathing and moving forward.

I’m not brave.  The animals are going to eat me.

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As always, thanks for visiting worldbikegirl.com and being a part of the journey.  WBG xxx

A Day in the Life of a Girl Cycling Around the World

Cycling through a Bosnian mine field.  It’s my second day of cycling with Pablo and Ilze from thecrazytravel.com.  Until now I’ve always cycled on my own.  So as well as cycling through land mines, having other cyclists for company is a new experience for me too.  Well into our ‘short cut’, along a narrow track of stones and rocks, we […] Click to continue reading →

Bolts of Lightening, Croatia

In all my wimp worthy nights of wild camping, lightning hitting the ground where I camp is the most scared I’ve ever been and it’s certainly the fastest I’ve ever ran. I’ve pedalled through five countries now and haven’t checked the weather forecast once.  It doesn’t matter if it’s sunshine, rain or wind, I’m out there cycling and camping just the same.  So for me it […] Click to continue reading →

A Swiss Army Knife is for Life

A Swiss army knife is for life my friends not just for the chocolate spread. Words of wisdom. It doesn’t matter how desperate you are to get the ‘Nutella’ out from the bottom of that big jar, have respect for your Swiss army knife. Ignoring reality that the chocolate is covering all of your fifty tools in your panicked animal […] Click to continue reading →

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Most people will remember cycling up the world famous Alpe d’Heuz rather differently than I do.  This is because I lost my pants on the Alpe d’Heuz with embarrassing consequences.

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Cycling around the world with my belongings packed into panniers I have little room for clothes.  This means I must give careful consideration to my washing routine.  If it’s not raining and I know I’m cycling up a mountain that day, I’ll wash my clothes in the morning.  Instead of a washing machine I wash my clothes in rivers, lakes or the sinks of public toilets.  The wet items are then hung over the back of my panniers to dry in the sun as I cycle, with a helping hand of a long fast descent.  The morning of the Alpe d’Heuz climb, I wash all my pants and as I criss cross up the 21 switch backs of the famous Tour de France climb in the French Alps, my array of colourful pants hang from the back of my bicycle.

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If I had known the road ends at the top of the Alpe d’Heuz, I would’ve hid my pannier bags at the bottom and collected them on the way back down.  In fact; I probably wouldn’t even have climbed the Alpe d’Heuz had I known it was a dead end.  But climb it I did.  There are water taps on route and I stop to fill my bottles.  As I set off again a women appears from the woods to the side of me and jogs on past me.  I bow my head in shame, choosing to focus on the road underneath me until she disappears into the distance.  Then I can look ahead of me again.

My kit weighs 35kg, my bicycle weighs 15kg and I weigh 65kg.  Pedalling that weight up a 13.8km climb to 1,860 m with an average gradient of 8.1% and a maximum gradient of 13% is tough.  And for me it is slow.  Concentrating on each minute of cycling in front of me I loose all sense of time.  Serious looking cyclists on racing bicycles cycle on by me.  There are many moments I want to quit and I don’t know what keeps me pedalling.  But I do and when I finally reach the top it’s almost spiritual.

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I sit eating lunch on a bench overlooking the 21 hair pins I’ve just climbed, enjoying the magnificence that are the Alpes.  I use this time to dry the condensation from my tent.

On the descent it’s pay back time for carbon cyclists after so many pedalling past me on the way up.  Descending had once been my speciality when road racing.  Probably because I was a sprinter and got left behind on most of the climbs, my ability to descend kept me in the race.  My descending skills coupled with my weight (the heavier you are the faster you travel downhill) makes this descent one of the fastest I’ve ever achieved.  I overtake many cyclists on the 21 switch backs and smile because they are men.

On stopping at the bottom I realise I’ve lost my pants on the descent, which had been drying from the back of my panniers. I cycle on regardless, laughing at what must be going through cyclists minds at the pairs of pants on the road.

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A few days after the Alpe d’Heuz, I still haven’t replaced my pants.  What can I say.  I’m cycling around the world but I’m lazy when it comes to leaving my bike outside and walk into a shop.  This laziness is why I eat bread so much for my dinners.  Leaving Chambery I’m wearing no pants when I suffer an embarrassing incident involving me, my skirt, a gust of wind and a lorry driver waiting in the opposite direction at a red light.  I quickly rid myself of embarrassment as I pedal on, enjoying cycling 60km of cycle paths with the Beetles tune on repeat.  The words, ‘all you need is love’, are replaced with, ‘all you need is pants’.  I spend the afternoon topping up my tan and swimming in Lake de Bourget, a place of outstanding beauty.  To explain the next consequence of loosing my pants on the Alpe d’Heuz descent I should explain that during my first days of cycling around the world I had washed my skirt and was cycling with it draped over the front panniers to dry.  I noticed too late that part of the skirt was rubbing on the tyre.  A small hole had appeared on the back but was small enough to allow me to still wear the skirt.  As the end of a day relaxing around Lake de Bourget I get into my tent and check the hole in the skirt.  FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!  IT’S HUGE!  The hole has grown into a sizeable chunk which is missing from my skirt.  Cringe worthy enough in normal circumstances, but with no pants!!!  The next day I go above my daily $5 budget and buy myself pants.

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