I had this idea. I bought a one way ticket so i’d have to turn the idea into a happening. I slapped it all together over a few months. Friends and strangers gave me dollars and sent me around the world. Now I am riding Beowolf and towing Wiglaf from town to town sharing the sing song in kiwi’s homes. I am thrilled and delighted, exhausted and disheveled, defeated and inspired. Overall……. doin damn fine.
The first ride was a genuine punch in nose. A real ankle grabber. Part of the plan was to keep distances short as I am dragging 150lbs of gear behind me. I was trying to keep it between 20-40 miles a day max. Flight was delayed 24 hours so my whole schedule got smushed on the front end in Christchurch. I refused to cancel any shows and as a result my first bike ride was over 50 miles straight into a wicked headwind with the unrelenting blue sky sun. It took me 9 hours of cycling to get from Christchurch to Ashburton with only a few breaks to cry and pump my fist at the southerly wind. As soon as I arrived I had to furiously unpack and play a show. I was blacking out in one song towards the beginning and trying to make it look like it was part of the tune, like I was just really feeling it man. Like I was in it! I placed the harmonica backwards in the spring loaded neck holder and when I went to play, it shot out with considerable force and hit a woman in the kneecap. Yikes.
Biking’s been getting better although it’s always hard. A nine hour day feels hard and a four hour day feels hard. I keep thinking it will feel easier, but it just feels hard in an increasing variety of ways. Talking to a veterinarian at one show she asked me how my taint was doing. I told her it was a sad taint. She said not to worry “You just have to season it”. After the obligatory salt and pepper joke I felt a great deal of relief. It was nice to know that many cyclists experience incessant numbness of the under-carriage. I’m happy to report after 700 kilometers I am indeed seasoned.
Sometimes people honk at me to cheer me along. I re-honk them with my Marvin. Marvin is the name of my honker horn because my cousin Marvin gave it to me. Sometimes teenagers honk at me and then flip me the bird as they pass. I give them a thumbs up. Kill em with kindness! People ask me how the traffic is. It’s a funny thing how a kind of terror can become normalized. At the beginning when I heard cars approaching I was terrified they would squash me or nick my trailer and send me careening into oncoming traffic. The trucks that pass seem too large to even acknowledge my mass if they were to hit me. I don’t think they would notice. I would be vaporized. Another bug on the windshield. I got used to this always fear. Now instead of being scared I’ll die every time a car passes I find myself pleasantly surprised I’m still alive.
Audiences have been quite wonderful. I’ve been blessed to have incredibly present and generous groups of people from 7-35. Trying to find time and space to work on the show in between gigs. It’s a challenge. There is no time in-between. I am racing from place to place, but every now and then I find a moment to do some tweaking, work on a new idea, solve a problem, make a better show. Sometimes I ‘m so tired I can’t even find the energy to go to sleep. Sometimes I’m so excited for the next day I can’t go to sleep. I’m working harder then ever before and that feels damn good. It’s a remarkable thing to be challenged so regularly. I often feel like I’m at my breaking point physically and psychologically, but then it’s another moment, another show, another day which is teaching me just how far away my breaking point is. 3 months ago I was googleing New Zealand. Tonight i’m in Invercargill at the bottom of the south island (and the world). Tomorrow Riverton. In 3 months I’ll be I’ll be at the top of the north Island. I feel very much alive.