I'm not leaving the country, I'm only going for three nights, I'm not entering any form of unknown wilderness, I'm not going to be alone, but I'm still the most nervous I have ever been about a holiday. Its that type of anticipation that flits between excitement and nervousness so fast that you can do nothing but frantically smile or want to fall asleep.
Cycling 60 miles a day is nerve wracking for me. It might not sound much but that's six hours of solid pedaling for three days. When it was going to be in the sun, at least I could counteract the fear of sweat and pain with superb tanning potential. Predicted wind, rain, snow and hail is less appealing. Is it really true that I once thought this was going to be a holiday? How wrong I was. The constantly fascinating unpredictability of English weather has deemed this journey an adventure. And what better adventure is there to have? Traveling across ones own homeland with no engine or music to distract us from the sounds and smells of our ancient countryside, no speed with which to bypass hidden humble villages and no sat nav to replace thought and contemplation with efficiency. All this in tandem with my lover... literally.
The bicycle made for two is something that, until a couple of months ago, I would have left in a world of 1930s parades and musicals. Suddenly a tandem is a rather dominant part of my world. In fact for the next three days, it will be my world.
Laughter and bewilderment is the reaction you receive from most people when you tell them you have bought a tandem. People can't quite decide whether its a bit cool, in an edgy and alternative way, or completely nauseating, in a "lashings of ginger beer" way. Very similar, in fact, to the reaction I would expect to receive if I told people I was getting married. And so the metaphor begins...
"Who goes on the front?"
"Who does all the work?"
"Whose idea was this?"
"Has it created any arguments?"
Are the most commonly asked questions, as if the answer will somehow define mine and Nick's roles, personalities and sexual prowess. Nick goes at the front, he has total control of gears, direction, steering and stopping. I go at the back, I have total control of nothing but can chose to make Nick's life more or less painful, especially on big hills. In tandem speak Nick is the captain and I am the 'Rear Admiral' or the 'Stoker', both of which I think translate into 'smaller person looking at the bigger persons rear with lots of hidden control'. We are both secretly smug about our roles, which is the first hurdle over.
Now all we need to do is add 3 days, 250 miles, numb hands and toes and very sore bottoms into the mix for the first big test of many to come.