So my World Unicycle Tour is finally underway! …well, kind of. Let me explain.
The official start point of my ride was Chilthorne Domer where the charity ‘School in a Bag’ is based. It is only 10 miles away from my home so, after packing everything up the night before, I set off from our driveway towards Chilthorne. It was quite an odd moment mounting my wheel and cycling away from home knowing that this would be the last time I would be there for 2 years.
I enjoyed my quiet ride alone to the start as it gave me time to mentally prepare and collect myself for the emotions of all the goodbyes that lay ahead. I arrived at 9, one hour before everyone was set to turn up. By this time the nerves and excitement were definitely starting to build. It was now just 2 hours until I begin a journey that I had been planning for 10 months, will take me away from friends and family for 2 years and that will no doubt include times hardship and euphoria of which I have never come close to experiencing before. Saying I was nervous would have been an understatement. The truth was I was absolutely shitting myself!
The plan for when I did finally set off at 11 was for there to be a small convoy of cyclist riding with me for the first 7 or so miles, they would break away and leave me to head in the direction of Weymouth where I’ll be catching the ferry to France.
My Mum and sister arrived in their cars just after me and my Dad slightly after them on his bike. My mum had brought along a couple of egg sandwiches which I’d forgotten to pick up in the morning. At this point you may be thinking, ‘Brilliant, Ed has his food, well done mum, now he won’t go hungry at lunch time’. That’s one way to look at it, but in reality those eggy buns were to set off a chain reaction of events that would lead me to spend another night at home sitting on the sofa writing this blog post!
Ok. So let me set the scene. We have two forgotten egg sandwiches and one fully loaded unicycle with very full pannier bags. Luckily there was a couple of small egg sandwich spaces in the rear pannier between my bag of miscellaneous items and my coat. So pannier open, sandwiches packed. So far so good. The problem occurred when I proceeded to close the bag. Easy does it…easy does it… DISASTER!!! THE ZIP SPLITS!
Right. So it’s an hour before I am to set off on my around the world unicycle ride and I have a pannier bag that won’t do up. That isn’t really ideal!
As a temporary quick fix my dad and I crudely fastened the bag together with safety pins and webbing, but obviously this can’t be the long term solution, but at least I’d be be able to actually set off. I’d have to deal with a more permanent solution for the zip problem later.
Problems with the panniers aside, the actual leaving event went really well with loads of friends and family turning up (thank you if you were there, your support was really appreciated). There were even a few unicyclists riding around from the unicycle club that I’d set up in Wellington School last year. At around 10am, we all piled into the barn to watch a couple of videos (One about the work School in a Bag do and one about me plan for my trip). Afterwards Luke said a few words about the fantastic School in a Bag, my dad said a few words about me as a 5 year old (cheers Dad!) and I just said a thankyous.
After that we all went outside to take a group photo and then it was time for me to do what ultimately was what this event was all about; ride away and start my adventure! Thankfully I succeeded in mounting my wheel first time (because it really wouldn’t have been a good look if I had fallen off now would it!) and headed off down the road with a convoy of 15 or so cyclists to cheers and clapping of everyone who had come along to support. Thank you once again if you were there, it really made the event. 18,000 miles around the world here we go!
So back to the pannier issue then. Amazingly (and I can’t emphasise how amazing this is) Melanie, a friend our family who had come down to see me off, offered to replace all 4 zips on my panniers. So the plan was that after I had left, she would drive to pick up the new zips and my mum would pick me up at the pub, 7 miles away from the start point so that we could then meet with Melanie at her home to drop off the bags. She is replacing all 4 zips on the front and rear panniers with ones that that will hopefully not break apart any time soon.
As I am writing (9pm) she is continuing to work on them and I seriously can’t thank her enough for that. So thank you Melanie (and Lucy) for fixing them up for me.
So it looks as though I’ll be spending one final night at home and will leave, for a second time, tomorrow morning, but this time will be a much quieter affair with just my parents to see me off. I’ll start back at the pub where I stopped today, reach Weymouth in the afternoon and catch the ferry to St Malo on the Monday morning.
So I guess I’ve started my world ride, but what with only 7 miles under my belt and spending the night at home, I don’t feel like my adventure has properly begun. Ahh well, I guess that’s tomorrows fun.
The setting off video: