Many of my ‘Challenges & Adventures’ from this year have been large undertakings which require a lot of planning, training and dedication. Although reflecting on these projects is profoundly rewarding, it doesn’t take much to notice that these were largely based on endurance rather than enjoyment. Of course enjoyment has also been a factor, but in the moment its hard to enjoy something that really tests and pushes your body and minds capabilities whilst battling everything that mother nature has to throw at you.
I felt it was time to take things back to basics, so within five minutes had thought up a plan for a microadventure! The plan was to cycle the perimeter of Cannock Chase, a beautiful AONB near to where I live. The trip would take two days and best of all, it would include my best friend and partner in crime Wolfred, my one year old Jack Russell & Shi Tzu cross.
Wolfred has his own pet carrier which attaches to my handlebars and secures him inside using a harness, he has used it countless times and absolutely loves it. The route was around 53 miles long and would see us tackle not only main roads and country lanes, but also see us journey off the beaten track. Our bags were packed and the bicycle was checked over the night before, so as soon as morning hit we were on the road. Our first stop was at McDonald’s less than a mile from our starting point, this wasn’t because we were already exhausted; it was to put something to the test. I have often wondered if they would serve me through a drive thru’ on a fully loaded bicycle. We soon queued up and it didnt take long for people to try and take sneaky photographs; honestly you would think these people had never seen a dog on the front of a bicycle before! It turns out the sensors on the McDonalds drive thru’ lanes only pick up larger vehicles, we progressed with the queue to the first window and placed our order; I was told that due to health and saftety, bicycles cannot use the drive thru’ however once Wolfie had pulled a cute face they were putty in his paws, and so our order was placed. If there is one noticeable thing riding with Wolfie has taught me, its this… People will never get tired of comparing you to a scene in a certain 1982 movie!
Towards the end of our first day of cycling we stopped for coffee and set up what was to be our home for the night. In Scotland you can legally camp pretty much anywhere within reason, however England and Wales are not as relaxed with their wild camping laws so for this very reason I prefer to keep my camp hidden as much as possible, this method is sometimes referred to as ‘stealth camping’. I very rarely use a tent when camping, I’m not entirely sure of the real reason but I’m sure it has something to do with my background in bushcraft and survival. For this night we slept under my British Army basha, see if you can spot our camp in the photograph below.
The menu for the night was lamb and vegetable pate for Wolfie and Mediterranean tuna salad for myself, the portable radio was tuned to my favourite station and the night felt like it could not get any better. Small adventures like this never fail to humble me, they keep me grounded and bonded to that in which I so truly love. As the night quickly drew in, the inevitable mischievous sounds of the woodland soon kicked in, as each tree branch creaked in the gentle wind and squirrels scattered through the nearby leaves, an alert Wolfie offered his unconvincing howls into the moonlight. After each show of his ‘masculinity’ he soon got back in bed and tucked himself into his favourite Spiderman blanket and pillow.
It was now the next morning, after a great nights sleep I was eager to cook breakfast and continue with our goal of cycling the perimeter of Cannock Chase. The second task of the day was to pack away our camp and tidy the nearby area; leaving only footprints and taking only memories. We cycled at a gentle pace and were back home by mid-afternoon. Tiny escapes like these are great for the soul! It is experiences like these which play a major contribution in truly knowing myself; who I am and where I want to be.