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.
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.
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.
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.
As always, thanks for visiting worldbikegirl.com and being a part of the journey. WBG xxx
Ishbel, creator of World Bike Girl, has spent her life on bicycles, from road racing, to velodrome sprinting to cycling the world. She has pedalled across 20 countries solo and promotes commuting by bicycle. Much to the dismay of her friends, she is an avid wearer of socks and sandals.