Across Continents

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Cycling companions

Someone who gets other people killed. Indulging in romantic notions, carefree dalliances at the expense of others. Those innocently duped into rescuing them when the situation gets sticky, plans go awry. I stared at my coffee, willing it to cool so I might finish it and leave.

I’d met with a prospective cycling companion in downtown Anchorage. Committed to no more than a coffee. That much I’d been especially clear about, although I’d soon begun to doubt if the other party had quite grasped this. Flighty I thought. Travelling to Alaska on what appeared to be a whim. More klaxon than alarm bells.

I couldn’t quite bring myself to walk away immediately. For one thing, that’d be very rude. And I was unsure how the person might react. Badly. Very badly was a real possibility. For, intrigued as I might be as to her past, I deliberately avoided the subject. Sensing demons. No desire to inadvertently open Pandora’s Box.

I suggested she might be better taking a ferry from Alaska, a more sensible option given her lack of experience of the sort out conditions we’d likely encounter. Her quick rebuff, that it was pretty much pavement all the way to Seattle, only made me all the more nervous.

Somewhat reluctantly, I chose a more direct approach to attempt to dissuade her from doing anything foolish. Bit blunt, but doubtful all the same if anything I said would really register. Explaining I would be leaving in a few days, and could not afford to delay in the slightest. I was ready and she was not. No bicycle. No kit. Things, I added, I’d spent weeks, if not months, putting together. And Alaska was not the place to cut one’s teeth.

Exasperated, I’d eventually managed to draw the conversation to a satisfactory conclusion. An amicable parting. Wished her luck and prayed she’d see sense. Secretly hoping she’d not find someone else who might more easily pander to her whims. And end up far worse for his or her troubles.

It wasn’t her lack of experience that had troubled me. For I’d met a couple of relatively novice long-haul cyclists in the last few months, either of whom it’d be a pleasure to travel with. After all, I’d been one myself not so long ago. What’d impressed me about them both was their preparedness, the research they’d done and training they’d undertaken. Mentally prepared, committed, you knew straight away they would succeed.



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