Thursday, 11 February 2016

And now what?

Its six weeks after our return to Melbourne.  I have a place to live. Its starting to look homely.  I'm back at work and for the large part I've picked up my life where I put it on hold just before the bike tour.  This is a danger time. The big goal is achieved, even the little goals of getting settled are achieved.  I'm at a loose end and prone to speculate, "And now what?"

For months after the 2002-3 ride I was unhappy and frustrated.  I had achieved this epic thing. I had circumnavigated Australia by bike. Yet within weeks of returning to Melbourne I had returned to my pre-ride routine.  In my mind the ride had changed everything.  In my daily life it changed nothing.

Sharing the experiences of the ride proved harder than I imagined.  People were interested, but didn't empathise.  They loved the tales of mechanical problems in remote places and slightly crazy country people, but no-one really understood what I meant when I praised the daily rhythms of life on the road.  My highlights, waking to the animal noises of first light, the comfort that comes from packing up, the routine of hour upon hour in the saddle, these things meant nothing to my city friends.  Talking about my highlights typically got a "I think what you've done is a amazing achievement but I could never do it" type response.  Talking about the stuff that was important for me only highlighted how much of an outsider I had become.   I had lost the common ground with many of my friends, and gradually we drifted away.  In many ways returning to the 'real world' proved much harder than the ride itself.

I resolved the 2002-3 post ride blues by shaking my life up.  A year after the ride I returned to uni, and was training for a brand new profession.  Six months after that I had changed career, was in a new relationship and was happy again.   However, I'd lost the best part of a year to introspection, and with it the chance to create anything valuable with my writings from the road. I'm not going to make that mistake twice. 

This time I'm going roll over that sense of achievement from the completing a big ride into the next big project.   I want a create a professional blog about city making and sustainable transport.  Through that blog I will engage with important issues affecting my profession and participate in a global discussion about what makes a good city.  I take the following blogs as my inspiration:

  • Chris Loader's Charting Transport- an Australian transport and city planning blog that knows better than to bring an opinion to a data fight.
  • Daniel Bowen's Daniel Bowen dot com - A Melbourne discussion of all things public transport related.
  • Brent Toderian's Planetizen - An Vancouver based urban designer reflects on the big question 'What makes a great city?

That's it.  I've announced it to the world.  Nailed my colours to the mast.  Time to get writing.