The way we were

by tkos on August 14, 2012

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I had some holidays to use and no plans to use them with. I walked into a bicycle shop on Thursday. “I’m here on an impulse, so I don’t know if I’ll use it a lot, so I’d like a bicycle at the bottom end of the range, something to get me from A to B, but something that could handle some distance…”. I got kitted out with a pretty basic hybrid bike, some racks and a water bottle. On Sunday I started cycling towards Dover. I had an idea as to where I was going but I hadn’t told anybody, just in case I didn’t get there. It was the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and Germany was in the same group as Australia. So I thought it might be an idea to cycle to Bremen in northern Germany to watch it in a pub and enjoy a stein as well.

The only person that knew was Kimmi. We had become closer friends whilst working together at TigerTiger, but she did not get moved when i did. I remember a day when we were both sitting in one of the bars in TigerTiger, feeling tired and defeated by the workload. We were discussing how much work we were putting in compared to Abacus and the hours we were clocking up. We had no life. She looked me directly in the eye and said “You’re the closest thing I’ve got to a best friend….”. Then she stared blankly at the wall and thought to herself for a quiet moment before blurting out “……and that’s so sad!!”.

For the first time since we had known each other, we worked in different places. She had some holidays as well and flew to Paris to see some friends, claiming that she might meet me in Germany if I made it, whilst I set off by myself. I hadn’t ridden a bicycle since I was a kid. I had absolutely no idea about how far it was I was going. If I got a puncture, i would have been in trouble. No GPS, no training, no idea. It was perfect for me. From a life of structure, routine, meetings and crowded people, I used my holidays for some good quality time with me. Some time to get my head around where I had been for the last 34 years and where I was going for the next. I loved the idea that I did not know how far I was going to cycle each day, where I would end up and where I would stay that night. It just didn’t matter. Nothing really mattered and I never felt more free. Just me and my new bike, cycling as little or as far as I wanted to.

About five days in I got a text from Kimmi. It looked like she had found a ticket to Germany and wanted to come and meet me for my arrival. She was so proud of my epic journey. At least that’s what she thought it was, a huge physical feat of human endurance and fitness. I suppose it was an epic journey, but for my mind, it was never a daunting long way, it was about self analysis, spirit and adventure.

Best friends, travel partners, flat mates, soul mates

Kimmi and I had become close since working together at TigerTiger. I lived near Tower Bridge and she lived in Croydon, so sometimes she would come back to my flat and spend the night. I’m sure people probably talked but the idea of us being together was so ridiculous that we would just laugh. We are just so different and had now known each other for over two years. She was more like a younger sister to me. Passionate, full of life, a little wild, untamed, frustrating and beautiful. And to her I’m sure I was always more of an older brother. Protective, cautious, calculated, wise and maybe a little boring. That’s why I think she was so proud. For her, the idea of me doing a trip to Germany by bicycle, by myself, was completely out of character. It represented a lust for life. A passion for freedom and a yearning to break the mould.

It took me nine days to cycle from London to Germany. Not nine days of hard gruelling hills, sweat, blood and tears. It was more like nine days of beautiful scenery, birds singing, bees buzzing and sun shining. I arrived the day England played USA in the opening round of the world cup. I sat in a pub by the corner of the hotel we’d agreed to meet. ‘Pint?’ I text Kimmi. I sat at the bar with my Bitberger and a smile. It was a great feeling of accomplishment but I couldn’t help the excitement of seeing Kimmi. That’s a bit weird, I thought, never been excited to see her before. Nah, it’s probably nothing, just a bit of a buzz, a bit of confused adrenaline. I was just excited regardless, nothing to do with my best mate, my lil’ sis!

She burst through the door, eyes beaming and smile from ear to ear! She was so happy for me! She hugged me like a long lost friend and I squeezed her tight. It was great to see her! “Tell me! Tell me! tell me all about it!” she exclaimed. Over the next couple of beers I recounted stories of sleeping under the stars without a tent, cycling past wild horses and waking up not too far away from some wild boars. But none of this compared to seeing her walk through the door and her feeling so proud of me. “London to Germany in nine days. I think I could have gone further and come back to meet you” I said. “I wonder how far I could really go. There was a part of me that thought, I’ve got my passport with me, what if I just don’t come back…..”.

And then I said the sentence that would change the course of my life.  “I think I could cycle all the way home to Australia”. Kimmi looked a little stunned and her jaw dropped. “Would you like to come with me?” I asked. It took her all of two seconds to answer. “Yes”. We stared at each other, both with minds racing of the excitement and prospect of this adventure. We both beamed, having not felt this alive for longer than we care to remember.

It was truly an amazing feeling. Then we kissed. Which weirdly, did not feel that weird after all…


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