The Line We Rode in Four Countries

The Line We Rode in Four Countries

The sands of England, Holland, Belgium and France touched our wheels as we crossed the English Channel twice and rode a 400 mile line between natural and built landscapes.

There is a pulse that runs through this line connecting all life. It is a braid of energy churning with desires; the wish to protect “nature” even as we humans pop chips from plastic wrappers and ride the ferries polluting waters full of beloved creatures.

We pulled our toes back from foamy waves brought forth from massive sea vessels making their way along the North Sea coast. They seemed close enough to swim to, but who would dare enter such waters under the puff of roaring engines?

“It’s like Manhattan on the coast,” were the most memorable words we heard from a Dutchman describing the seashore of Belgium.

There indeed, the line was striking. Formidable buildings stretched as far as the eye could see on the left while expansive beaches stretched on the right. In between the two we rode, hugged by two sides of the same coin. Our human nature reflects itself in the salt water running through the very veined hands that build concrete jungles.

Cycling through these landscapes we often feel caught between two worlds, but the appearance of separateness is an illusion. The two worlds are one. It’s only human behaviour which has created the dichotomy of “otherness” when it comes to nature. We are nature.

Sometimes, when staring at the monstrosity of cargo ships, it’s easy to say we are not of this world. Why do we destroy the very thing that nourishes us?

The answer to this question is a puzzle of thousands of years, but putting the pieces together weaves the way forward. We have learned what not to do, even as we continue doing it.

“It’s like being trapped in a golden cage,” our friendly Warm Showers host said one evening as we sat around the table, savouring the delicious meal he cooked. The comforts of his apartment come with a contract and high cost.

We want security so we join the traffic, accepting stress as norm and numbing the dysfunction of society with alcohol, caffeine and other dopamine hits. A week-long holiday to “get away from it all” and recharge just enough to keep on going.

Churning with desires unfulfilled; the line carries us from one box to the next, from car to office to house to car again. We swallow pills to cure depressions caused by the very system making those pills.

Times are changing. People are waking up and we want out of the golden cage.

This is a beautiful time to be alive. Full of limitless potential, we humans are clever animals who know how to pick locks. We hold the keys to transform the golden cage into a golden age. To wake up from our collective stupor and see the convenience for what it is. An illusion. A house of cards.

We no longer believe it’s possible to live your best life within the current lines of society, which limit us to a strict set of rules. The lines have to be re-drawn, re-built, and re-grown.

Most of what we saw riding our loop around some of the most wealthy countries of the world was deep anxiety and disguised poverty. Cars speed on, oblivious of their sound pollution, while ports are flooded with industrial sprawl and struggling people. Pubs overflow with alcohol-numbed crowds and beaches too are clogged with holiday homes. We must have cycled by a thousand dog companions keeping their humans somewhat comforted in all this madness. Dodging dog poo is a daily game.

What we saw was loneliness etched in the lines of curious faces, who turned to us with shy greetings.

What we heard was longing in the voices of those who said, “I envy what you’re doing.”

“If I had the time and money, I could do it too.”

This is the line most people traverse in the world today. Pay-check to pay-check, the line between getting the bills payed and food on the table is thin for most.

Meanwhile we forget the miracle of living; we are made of stardust, hurdling through a magnificent universe with a 1 in 10^2,685,000 chance of even being alive (or to keep it simple, basically ZERO chance).

Our current lifestyle is not a long-term solution. We know it’s not feasible for everyone to get on a bicycle and wild camp in hidden places. Our bikes are simply the vessel forward, leading us through this transition from dependency to self-sufficiency.

We too face many questions, but what we have in abundance is trust. We trust our decision to forge a new way forward.

We trust the nature of our bodies, so part of the Earth and yearning for fresh air and clean food. We trust the deep intuition singing from our hearts when we lay in our tent surrounded by heavy rainfall. We trust the inherent goodness of the human spirit, even as it often seems weighed down by trauma and sorrow.

Endless contrast filled our senses on this 8 day journey.

🦌 A herd of deer running from the M25 motorway roaring behind them.
🦊 Fox pups fighting over a baby rabbit on paved road.
🛣️ Dune grass dancing beneath the eerie illumination of street lamps.
🌪️ Sand tornadoes blowing on wide commercial promenades.
🦢 Swans stretching wings along a horizon dotted with unearthly wind turbines.
🦭 A seal bobbing alongside massive concrete beach.
🥀 Industrial stench gracing delicate rose blossoms.
🌳 Trees rising with electric poles.
⛴️ White cliffs drowning in the asphalt of a ferry terminal.
🍔 McDonald’s packaging lining hedge growth.

We rode the line between them all, taking note, perceiving from our bicycles a built-up world overripe with yearning. The young are restless and the old weary.

In between the two, we cycle the line, moving from blueprint to greenprint.