From literally before I started my cycling journey “down” New Zealand, people have asked “Why?” The first time, it was Canadian Ben at the hostel in Kaitaia. I was silenced, I simply couldn’t answer the question. Since then I’ve pieced together nonsense answers to this repeated question and not felt any attachment to what I hear myself uttering. Yes I’m here to see friends, to put off “real life”, and to take on the cycling challenge, but really it’s something else, something I couldn’t put my finger on until now. I knew the real answer would come at some point.
The reason I started cycle touring at all came from a moment of inspiration. An evening I spent with the children of Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, which became an unending support of the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians. This organisation and the incredible work they do for the health and dignity of Palestinians living under oppressive occupation and as refugees is nothing more than inspirational and a huge motivation for me in other physical challenges I have set myself to date. After meeting Dr Swee Ang at Parliament in London a few months back, she suggested I contact the children of Shatila. She kindly passed them a letter from me, thanking them for their hospitality and their unending courage and hope in their plight. Their strength of community, their kindness and innocence is unlike any other I have experienced. In just being and carrying on, they give me inspiration to be strong in my journeys, but also to spread awareness of their situation.
This cycle through New Zealand however is not one that I have advertised as a charity ride as such. It was to build on my cycle touring after my ride from London to Jerusalem in 2016. It was to continue the goal of seeing and travelling the world by bike. In my opinion it’s the best way 😉
So then, what’s my reason, why New Zealand? Well, if you have ever heard the term “wonderlust” then you’re getting warmer, if you haven’t then look it up in the urban dictionary. I’ve certainly heard it numerous times in the adventure world. I always thought, yeah whatevs, that’s not me, I’m different. I just want the challenge. Well truth of the matter is, I just had a moment. After cycling Arthur’s Pass today through New Zealand’s South Island Alps, I took myself on a walk up a mountain side to the Devil’s Punchbowl waterfall. Watching the cascade of clear alpine water from high above, being surrounded by the snow capped mountains, my answer came. Yes I was in wonder of nature, but BIG nature, and when I’m not travelling hands up I have wonderlust.
A couple of years ago I truly learnt about humanity, the real meaning. That “I” actually in reality means “we” and we means everything and everyone around us. We are undeniably connected, whether you want to conclude this from a religious point of view, or from a scientific one. For me, being out here in the awe and wonder of the mountains, the sea, the wildlife, the volcanoes, mother nature’s earthquakes (haha a bird just shat right next to me), this is me living as part of humanity. I guess we can do that in any way we please, for me it’s to see the world and to ride it. Ok seriously, this bird is trying to eat my camelbak and climb onto the iPad. I’m pretty sure I didn’t smear it with food remnants and it’s not even one of the renowned Kea.
Some say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, here though, it is simply undeniable and it’s everywhere (errr apart from in the cities, London and the U.K. has one up there). Aaaaaaaah a Kea is on the attack!!!!!