“Sometimes it’s a little better to travel than to arrive”
– ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ – Robert M Pirsig”
I arrived back home last night after a challenging weekend on the road visiting our Dutch God’s Squad brothers, and as is usually my way I wanted to write a little to help process my thoughts. So here is a little Chautauqua of our journey. Please forgive any mistakes and poor writing, I have some sleep to catch-up on….
Thursday night was a full house at our place with 5 of the God’s Squad UK guys staying over (and I’m by far the smallest!). Maximum respect to one of the brothers who travelled all the way down from Scotland, Squad life is not for the faint of heart or travel-shy. Instead of doing the sensible thing and going to bed early to prepare for the long ride we stayed up sharing stories, struggles and life together. These are the important moments, and sleep comes second.
We started out from my house in Hertfordshire on Friday morning, after a good feed. The roar of motorcycles sang through our village as we left with a few friends waving us on as we made our way to the open road. As we made our way to the Channel Tunnel the weather was good, the roads were clear and it seemed the perfect beginning to a long ride. We arrived at the terminal with plenty of time to spare and went though the lengthy check-process. At this stage many jokes were made about all the signs in the terminal saying “travel to France in just 35 minutes” as we waited to board. How little did we know…
We finally boarded the train, the roar of Harleys and Triumphs reverberating through the carriages, and dismounted. Within a few minutes all hell broke loose. The emergency alarm interuppted our joyful revelry and we were treated to a chemical shower from below (Since then many remarks have been made like ‘first shower I’ve had this week…). A small vapour leak on someone’s fuel hose had tripped the emergency system on the train, and we quickly evacuated to another carriage. This would have been drama enough, but an hour later when we were eventually on another train ready to go…. It happened again. Safe to say I’ll think twice before getting the train again.
Eventually we disembarked the train, still at the station, and were treated to a free ferry ticket. Back on the bikes we made haste for Dover and boarded the first ferry. This was quite an emotional moment for me, the white cliffs and the familiar sights, sounds and smells of the port brought back happy memories of crossing the channel with my family as a child. It seems a little ludicrous but I counted all this as a blessing. I’ve wanted to take the ferry crossing for a long time, the sea is a special place for me. Taking the time to reflect alone on the deck and watching the sun go down over the waves was an important punctuation in a weekend of busyness.
The weather was not looking so good when we arrived in France, but by the time we were half way through Belgium it had become a storm of Biblical proportions. Riding towards the most violent fork-lightning I have ever seen provoked some feelings of dread. Then came the rain. Soaked, cold, and weary we battled on, stopping every 100 miles for fuel. Then came the fog. At one point we lost half the pack (including the only one with a satnav) but eventually caught up again.
Eventually we arrived at our destination by about 3am Dutch Time. 17 hours of the toughest riding I’ve ever known. But ours was a hero’s welcome.
Life on the Road
I consider it a real privilege to live this life, to meet such special people and go to places many others can’t go. Life on the road is hard, you have to face inner demons and the combination of personalities is rarely easy. We are all broken men and women, each on a journey of redemption, and living in community with broken people brings struggles. But no matter how dysfunctional at times, we are a family, part of God’s family.
Life on the road is good, but most of all God is good.
Dedicated to those who gave so much to blaze the trail ahead of us.