Distance no object

The other day I met a man – a cyclist just like me –
Who told me of the goal he’d set himself. An odyssey
Not undertaken lightly, nor done easily (or soon):
His one small step, and giant leap? To cycle to the moon.

Not literally, to my regret; but the miles accumulated
Between Earth and its satellite. And he had calculated
He’d hit the quarter-million mark when he reached eighty-five
At his current rate of progress (and if he was still alive).

And in return I told him of my own more modest ride:
A circumnavigation never venturing outside
The limits of my county; endless loops joined in a chain
Each one beginning at my door and circling back again.

Preposterous? Pointless? Well, perhaps: but in these quests we find
Some purpose, peace and agency; light heart and easy mind.
And bless the bike for giving us the means and will to say
It might not make much sense; but hey, let’s do it anyway!

The man in question is the wonderful Dr Mark Williamson, co-founder and director of Action for Happiness, fellow cyclist and all-round good guy. We ‘met’ for the first time last week via Zoom to talk about cycling, books (written and prospective) cycling, mental health, work, cycling, personal goals, families and future plans. We might have mentioned cycling, too.

Mark’s a serious bike-rider and has done all kinds of amazing stuff; and in the course of conversation, he casually mentioned he’s working towards a lifetime target of cycling the distance from Earth to the Moon (384,400 km or 238,855 miles)*. How could I not write a poem about that? And more broadly, I’ve found having goals, even entirely arbitrary ones that make no sense to anyone else, can be very helpful for my own state of mind. Bon courage, Mark!

*My rather inadequate response was that I’m rapidly closing in on riding my e-bike the equivalent of once round the world (a mere 40,075 km or 24,901 miles) – all from and to my own front door and without ever leaving Sussex!


2 thoughts on “Distance no object

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