I was reminded today of an amazing journey, one that took place around 23 years ago. But it still seems like yesterday and it is a journey which was a game changer…I just didn’t know it at the time.
Sometimes those moments in life where we think we have it all are lost quickly. Trashed in a nano-second by a negative comment, or by a desire to acquire something we thought was important but wasn’t, a new job or maybe a bad day. How many times has that happened to you?
So here is what my reminder was. I was asked by Tim Goldby of the Bicycle Channel to supply some photos, if I could, of my time in Denmark which I had mentioned to him. Tim has been making a small film about Wheel Women for his Bicycle Channel short film series (check it out via Twitter, https://twitter.com/tbc_tv), and during the course of filming Tim asked me if I had always been a bike rider.
So I related the story of when I had a bit of a turning point in my riding, and my life (I just didn’t now it at the time). Yep, around 23 years ago I was a backpacker in Denmark and having a wild time. I had plenty of Danish friends and I always remember my first night there – it was 10pm at night, balmy and warm, the sun was still shining and David Bowie was playing in a stadium nearby…my sister, freinds Anne and Jean and I drank wine and sang along to “…put on your red shoes and dance!”
It was also a time in my life when I didn’t really know what the hell I wanted to do with my life. I had a pretty good job, a nice apartment to live in and was earning a nice wage. It seemed life was just work, get paid, spend, and repeat again next week, and party a little as well. It didn’t really occur to me that it wasn’t exactly the most fulfilling experience.
Until of course I got to Denmark and experienced ‘that day’. I will never forget it. My friend Anne had lent me an old black bike which I still remember squeaked like mad and was a little dodgy on the brakes. My sister and all my friends were working at the time, so while I waited for them to finish their daily grind I was instructed to use the bike and explore.
I had never done anything like that before. I’d always had someone to show me the way, or someone to travel with. But not this time – I was on my own. So, armed with a map and a piece of paper with my sister’s phone number, I was assured I wouldn’t get lost…I set out to explore.
I ended up taking the old black bike from Copenhagen to Klampenborg via the coast road. The purpose of the route was to try to get to Dyrhavn and the Eremitage Castle. It was a pretty direct route and it wasn’t too hard for me to find my way, especially since I was a novice. But when I entered the gates of Dyrehavn I didn’t know everything would change.
It was like I had just entered fairyland. The deer were grazing, there was a golden glow among the birch trees and off in the distance I could see this amazing castle atop a hill. This was straight out of a story book! This stuff didn’t really exist, surely – it seemed so unreal.
But it did exist and I had a magical afternoon exploring. When it was time to return to the safety of my sister’s care I again took the coast route back to Copenhagen. This, in my memory was the ride of my life! Walkman on (yes, we’re talking about the old cassette playing Sony Walkman), tail wind, magic land seen, done, conquered, wind in my hair and sun on my face etc etc…yes, the magic of the bike! Lost in a land I didn’t know and lost in the revery of freedom on a bike!
I still remember that day as a real game changer for me. This was freedom. But I’ve never been able to explain that feeling to others, until now. And I was reminded of this when one of my good friends told me the other day as we all headed home in the rain on our bikes, she ‘felt like a kid again’, riding in the rain was so much fun…isn’t that just what it’s all about?
Finding the fun again, feeling the freedom, forgetting the negative comments, seeing what is possible and doing the things we never thought we would! Bike riding does that to you and every time I get out there with our gorgeous bunch of ladies I get that sense of fun again. In the years past since that ride, how the hell did I forget that?
Maybe a career and a bunch of other stuff blinded me all those years in between, but I’ve always had a desire deep down to be able to replicate that feeling. It’s taken a long time to find it again…but I guess it was worth the wait. Bike riding has changed my life and I have met so many amazing people – what is it about people who ride bikes? Why are they all so damn FABULOUS! If only I took note of that 23 years ago and stayed on that path!
…and yes, these are the photos that Tim the film maker asked for and why it reminded me of that amazing time.
Thanks to my friends in DK – Anne, Jean, Henrik, Charlotte, Erik and Inge.