Valley of the Cold
The other night, sheltering from a blizzard in Reykjavik’s youth hostel, I ran into the only other cyclist I’ve met on this trip – a cheerful Bahraini entrepreneur called Yassir, who made it his New Year’s resolution to travel more, happened to watch The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, and booked a passage to Iceland the very next day. He turned up on the east coast with a backpack and a brand new bike, having never seen snow in his life, and with no idea what he was letting himself in for. His holiday didn’t seem to have gone quite to plan (predictably, he covered more miles on buses than he did on his bike), but if nothing else, he appreciated the break it had given him from running his own business (he’s just sold one, and is about to launch another), which he said had taken up almost every waking hour of the last six months.
I knew what he meant. We compared notes on the joys and pitfalls of self-employment – neither of us would have it any other way, but we both confessed to a lack of work/life balance. I don’t even feel this term really applies to me – most of what I do (riding bikes and writing stuff) is ‘life’ rather than ‘work’, and it seems merely coincidence (and luck) that I get paid for enough of it that I don’t need to do anything else. There never comes a point in the day, or weekend, where I decide I’m going to stop doing work and get on with the rest of my life, because I don’t really have much of a life outside bikes and writing. Even when I go to the pub, it’s usually to talk about bikes or books with one of my equally unoriginal friends.
I’ve no real complaints about this state of affairs – I am constantly and gleefully grateful to have somehow stumbled into a life where I get to do almost entirely as I please, all the time. But it does make taking a break more difficult than just booking my annual leave and getting on a plane to Majorca. Talking to Yassir about how I’ve spent my last two weeks, I realized that my most reliable escape route lies in finding loopholes in my ‘normal life’, into which I can disappear. And in Iceland, I managed to disappear very effectively.
Carry on reading about my adventure.