if you want to write, get your writer's head on. If you want to take pictures get your photographers head on. Effort spent in being able to quickly and efficiently get the 'right head on' for the task is effort well spent. When you have the right head on you see endless possibilities in that area...feeling barren is a sure sign you are approaching something with the wrong head on. One way to get the right head on is to leap in head first with no thought of quality, only reacting to every creative impulse however weak, never saying 'no' to any idea. This naturally becomes refined once you get the right head on. Taking a break when you'd normally work is another way, so is travel; but these methods have thier own dangers in terms of providing opportunities to bunk off and consume rather than produce. The key, I suppose, is in planned use of breaks and travel.
Next bikewalk I decided to tackle the network of holloways in this area. These are deep runnels, shallow canyons if you like, carved by millennia of carts, horses and people trudging up and down their overshadowed depths. Some are fifty feet deep, but average around 20-30 feet, worn through the very soft sandstone. Some you can get a small 4x4 up, and the churned surface shows this. Many you can bike down but to cycle up is a nightmare slog through mud and loose gravel- perfect bikewalk country! If you didn't read the previous post bikewalking is walking with a bike modified with an extendable handlebar so you can push the bike very easily. The bar retracts in when you want to ride.
The mud would be very slippy if you were simply walking, but the bike works as a support or walking aid; brakes on the bike grips better than any walking pole.
There is lots of carving into the soft sandy walls, so soft that even deep carvings don't last more than a few years. There are also a few niches and mini-caves- here's one that has been turned into a shrine for travelers...
I headed up more hills, walking all the way. Finally I got to go downhill at last, with mud in the brakes it was a fast ride.
Thalassa, thalassa I get a glimpse of the sea. Now I was able to ride downhill back to town, along roads that were idyllic to freewheel along but would have been a drag to walk.
A good while ago my good pal desert photographer Richard Head showed me the picture above. It's from the Ho Chi Minh trail during the Vietnam war. Using bicycles, thousands of kilos of supplies were transported down narrow trails in the jungle. Because it wasn't a road it was hard to see from the air. If the Americans bombed one section the bike pushers just found another narrow trail.
The key thing is the stick poked into the end of the handlebars. It means you can push the bike while walking upright and without getting your shins barked by the pedles. It allows a bicycle to become a real beast of burden.
If you've ever ridden with a load on the bike you'll know what a pain it is to walk it. In fact its a pain to walk with any bike. You have to lean over and stand slightly twisted. You have to watch out for the peddles, but they always get you eventually. By extending the handlebars that all changes. Now you can walk the bike very easily, even with a big load on the bike. I decided to make an extendable bar that you could slide in out of sight when you wanted to ride. Then it would be possible to have the best of both worlds. You could ride when the going was easy and walk easily when it wasn't.
The bar I attached is from a brush extender- aluminium, strong enough, with an inner pole that extends out.
After fixing it with cable ties I sawed off the ends.
Here is the bike with the bar extended.
You stand behind that and walk. It's actually easier than walking as you have something to lean on and add balance- useful when pushing through mud on my own Ho Chi Minh trail:
The great thing is that such terrain- awkward to ride up is a pleasure, kind of, to walk up. Here is the bike with the bar retracted when things got worse (better really, more fun) later on:
I envisage having a quickly releasable set of panniers on the back making it possible to tackle any trail and carry camping gear at the same time. I once walked the GR10 along the length of the Pyrenees and there was only one twenty foot section along a narrow cliffside path that I'd be nervous taking a mountain bike along. You could find a way round that section or rope up to be safe. Mountains are possible and so are deserts- carrying 20 litres of water on the bike make a five day desert trip a doable proposition- you push/walk over sand and ride along the gravel bits. The important thing to emphasise is that this is NOTHING like your old irritating experience of walking a bike. This is enjoyable, easy and comfortable.
Arthur Deikman had a great exercise called 'I quit'. It takes just ten minutes. You take ten minutes off from life to say 'i quit, I just quit' to every sugestion or thought or impulse or flash of guilt or idea that comes in to your mind. If you start to question the game remind yourself it is only for ten mniutes- BUT FOR THOSE TEN MINUTES you quit. The purpose is to free yourself from self imposed burdens, including pain, emotional turmoil and other elements of windblown mind trash, useful perhaps in another context but not here, not all blowing around.
Another good one for when you feel weighed down is 'do what you like right now'. For one day- yes an entire day you can manage that- you do EXACTLY what you want to do. Now you may think you do this already pretty much but my guess is most of the time you are running to keep up with things you have already set running. You are in fact doing exactly what you wanted to do last week except its now. Every time you write a list you are making yourself do a present urge sometime in the future. Of course this is just 'life', but for one day you don't do it. Do what you want to do right now. See what happens, how it feels.
As a matter of fact I am doing it as I write this.
Recently I've been trying to 'sell' people on a new idea for the town in which I live. It's interesting to discover the people who get it straightaway, those who are mildly interested and those whose first instinct is to oppose. It reminded me that being a person who sees an opportunity in every difficulty is a posture worth nurturing; the opposite, seeing the difficult in every opportunity is the default setting of the culture, requiring no work to acquire...
I remember being at a management 'training' session in the Spanish hills when someone mooted the possibility of restructuring the company in order to hit some insanely optimistic sales forecasts. "Oh no," wailed the older, wiser financial chief, "Not more structure, anything but that!"
People love tinkering with structures and ignoring the people in the structures. In fact I suspect one is either a structure person or a people person. Good people can make any structure, however crap, work. Bad people in the best structure will fail.
People pay vast sums to management experts to restructure companies- ie. find hidden value and sell it off; over work people who were previously happy and now will be stressed...because the result improves the bottom line it attracts the robot-vampires in the world...
Actually worrying about structure should be way down the list. Buzz is far more important. If there is a buzz, a distinct energy about a person or project good things will probably happen. A buzz is infectious, it is the obvious evidence of energy somewhere. I include everything here from superficial hysteria and hype to a genuine enthusiasm about something valuable and useful.
Go where the energy is.