The Spoked Traveller | Melanie Chambers
Trails and advice cycling around the world as solo female cyclist and adventurer
mountain bike, adventure travel, cycling travel, bike tours, outdoor, solo travel, female mountain biking, badass female cycling, female travellers, women travel, adventurous
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Author: Melanie Chambers

The big race is tomorrow. I'm fine, really. I have talked myself out of the 'I want to vomit,' feeling.  Actually, I'm just thinking of the post-ride beer. That, and a giant chocolate chunk cookie from La Gourmand coffee shop--it's more chocolate than cookie. Hey, don't judge. Everyone has their motivation. Actually, the motivation certainly goes deeper than a cookie. Just to bring you up to speed, I did the pre-ride yesterday: it's two laps of a 6.8 kilometre loop full of twists and turns, burms and fast straight-aways. Only two big hills and it's not a technical course. So, back to the motivation.

This seems to be a theme with me. What is home? Frig, I dunno. It certainly isn't a place with four walls. But it was odd returning to London this weekend, a place that should be home if you consider time a prerequisite for home: I lived here from 1993 until 2014. Certainly the longest I have ever lived anywhere. But, I have to qualify this. I went away every summer. This weekend I drove back to London from my current home in Toronto. As I drove to my mom's after my trail run through one of my favourite parks, Komoka, which hugs the Thames River and then shoots up the valley, I got back in the car and then as I'm blindly driving, since I know every street, store, corner and tree so well, I missed the turn off.

So, I bought a road bike, which as a mountain biker, means a huge cultural, emotional and physical shift for me. To fully immerse myself in this change, I joined a bike group and last weekend I went on my first road bike trip: 75 kilometres from my apartment in downtown Toronto to the burbs of Oakville. Meeting at a coffee shop at 8:30am, I wasn't surprised by the other riders: all the men were wearing  team jerseys, talking about bike components and their pitiful sluggish shape, this being the first group ride of the summer.

So, my friends, recently I blogged about treating Toronto like a far-away place and explore what that means--treat it like a completely new place, which it really is for me. I lived here in 2000 as a student but I went back to London to hang out with a boyfriend almost every weekend. I never explored Toronto. Then, a really magical thing happened: I recently found a kindred spirit who also wants to re-discover her backyard, but her backyard is in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

When I'm away, I become someone else. Instinct and spontaneity return. Without the stress of work, without the familiarity locking me into habits and patterns, I listen to my gut, which means, I also take risks. I become more, well, more me! I eat at restaurants alone and I don't care if people stare-- they're staring more from the fact the blond hair and fair skin scream, 'I'm not a local!' Especially in Indonesia last year when I had locals take pictures of me.