So that was Africa.
Grey tarmac on a sunny afternoon, an aeroplane on a runway. And this plane will take us back to England, covering the miles we pedalled in two months in less than seven hours.
And we’re flying high above our tyre tracks, too high to see what we saw, too fast to think what we thought. Too many clouds over our eyes. The skyway versus the highway. Two wings versus two wheels. No contest.
No contest indeed. The bicycle wins every time.
The open road and the mountain climbs. The plains of Spain and the coastal breeze. Moroccan goats in rubbish bins and ferocious dogs in the hills. That thief in Laayoune and the kids with bricks. Baobab and toubab in Senegal, the Bangul ferry and the happy birthday, the smiling coast of the Gambia and Medina Salaam. WYCE and the bikes and the compound. RIP Charlie. Radio Syd’s Guesthouse and Banjul beach. This was an adventure. And the bicycle was the vehicle for that adventure.
This plane is transport. Faux friendliness and functionality coated in plastic and speckled carpet. Trolley dollys and delays. There’s no delay on a bicycle. There’s no such thing as a late arrival. You roll in, you roll out, no boarding card, no duty free.
The plane refuels in Las Palmas. On the bicycle we refueled in Portsmouth, Santander, Llanes, Ariondas, Casablanca, Agadir, Dakhla, Nouakchott, Thies, Brikama and every nook, every cranny inbetween with a corner shop selling crisps, nuts, chocolate, pasta, fruit. Four pistons in flip-flops and crocs, moving parts coated in olive oil. The engines cooled with orange juice.
The aeroplane sells you the dream on arrival. The bicycle is the dream on departure.
It seems it’s time for the dream to depart.