Blogger profile: these places in between

In a new series of guest bloggers for the London Cycling Campaign, we join Cherry Fitzsimmons as she cycles from California to Argentina. Here, she tells us a bit more about herself and her life before this new adventure.

In May 2013 I packed up my life in my beloved Hackney, with the aim of cycling from California to Argentina. I don't even know how many thousand miles that is, or if my body or my savings will get me there, but this is a blog about the journey, and all those places in between.

Having cycled the length, various widths and diagonals and other criss-cross routes of Britain, with friends, lovers, brothers, and even my mum and dad; and also having given Europe a good go, it was time for a new adventure.

I'd lived in London for 4 and a half years, being a member of London Cycling Campaign the whole time. I worked in the NHS as a children's occupational therapist in various healthcare settings across the city. Most recently I had a job working at the Centre for Child Development and Disability in Hackney, the borough which I also call home.

I first came to London with my bike on a train and my panniers stuffed with all my most important belongings; and I still consider discovering the city by bike was one of my most exciting adventures. My experiences of living in London, and more specifically Hackney would have been entirely different if I had not been able to choose my own direction, to stop and discover; it is something that builds friendships and creates stronger bonds between existing friends, and I think this one of the main reasons that cycling had such a defining impact on my time in London. (I could write so much more here if you wanted me to).

This adventure begun with day dreams sat on the bus on rainy days when I couldn't cycle to work, reading tales of other people's adventures. Or of doing my daily bike commute, and just dreaming of keeping going. At weekends I would catch a train with friends to somewhere rural and cycle in loop, the sense of peace and perspective was something I longed to fill my days with. Sometimes when I was at work I would pull out these books and tell people that this was my plan, to set off on a bike adventure. It was something I had been speaking about for years, but I am not sure if I truly believed it would happen, let alone if other people did.

Years of plotting and saving led me to the point when I realised that this may not just be a pipe dream, that I could make it happen if I wanted; there was definitely a time when I switched my thinking, and aimed to make this a reality. The most important thing was to find someone who wanted to do this trip as much as I did. There were people at various points in planning who showed some interest, but it was getting close to the point when I was ready to go and I didn't have anyone to go with. I met Leah on a cycle touring website called 'Crazy Guy on a Bike'. I placed a classified ad with my plan, and waited to see if there was anyone else out there who wanted to do the same. Leah and I got chatting, we seemed to have similar interests and perspectives. Importantly we have similar levels of Spanish and technical expertise, I liked the idea of learning with someone, rather than having to lead or be led. She lived in New York and we had similar experiences of living and cycling in cities. Since then we had been speaking all the time, I booked my flight to California and we began setting our plan in motion. Throughout the whole of winter I spent my evenings researching kit, reading blogs, and making plans to pack up my current life.

As the trip grew nearer people kept asking if I was excited; I felt too chaotic with the present day stuff of tying up my life in London, my job, my flat, spending time with people to look ahead into the future and with that sense of excitement that had first led me to this point. Once I was in California and facing my bike south I would know that the adventure was beginning.

I feel as though I am someone who has to try harder than other people not to screw up in day to day life. I often speak before I think, or it takes me a while to connect the dots, I am usually late (for trains, for work, for appointments, for everything) and although I am 28 years old I feel as foolish as my 17 year old self. When I’m riding its different though, it's simple, unlike most other things about being grown up. Don't get me wrong, sometimes I am foolish on my bike- I might eat too much chocolate and end up feeling sick, or get lost and end up dragging my bike across ditches, railway lines and bramble bushes before I am ready to admit we should turn back - but the difference is that I believe in my own power on my bike, it never feels like an effort, despite the physical demands. I ride my bike because I can, because I feel like I am free, that I am flying, that I am me.

We’ll be catching up with Cherry during her adventurous journey. She's blogging about the ride here www.theseplacesinbetween.wordpress.com and her email is cherryfitzsimmons@gmail.com if you’d like to get in touch or have any questions. She's also posted a detailed kit list!

Are you blogging about cycling in the city or would like to write articles for London Cycling Campaign, please send an email to info@lcc.org.uk

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