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

When I was a child, and even into my teen years, I played this mental game. I'd pretend that my house burnt down and everything in it. I'd pretend that I had nothing: gone was my sticker collection, my dolls. As a teen it was my Esprit tops or maybe that new Roots shirt I got at the Mall after working weekend shifts at Baskin Robbins. I'd try imagining what it would feel like if I truly had...only me. No stuff. Well, I find myself moving once again and this means purging stuff. As a 40-something woman, I'm playing that game again: what would it feel like without anything? And at this age, what role does stuff play in my life?

After eating at an Ethiopian restaurant with my food writing students from Western University, it was our last class, I gave a student a drive home--she lived on the way to my place. It was her last day of her undergraduate life: she had graduated. "I feel surreal," she says. "I am taking off a year, maybe two. I don't know what I want to do." This was so refreshing to hear for a few reasons. Great to those students who know what they want to do right away, you are rare, but for this girl who studied pop culture music (she also plays the fiddle on the weekends!) and writing, she wants those two years to explore, to learn, to wander.

  people This past week, right after our snow day when London got over 70 cm's, I walked downtown with my camera to take pictures; I had to get out of the house after five hours of marking student papers. I recently read, somewhere, that you should treat your home as if travelling. So, become just as curious about where you live as where you travel--become just as social and energized. I am trying. God knows, I am trying. Thankfully, what I discovered was something better than a few wintery shots and 'sights.'

Bjork would be cool even if no one was watching. This is the difference between her and Lady Gaga. A few years ago I gave a talk about Icelandic pop culture on a cruise ship of 90-year-olds for a university alumni event. Well, they weren't all 90, but you get the idea. As a single blond looking for a seat at supper time, I was very popular. Back to Bjork. Before the swan dress at the Oscar's, but not before her first album at 11-years-old (Icelandic folk songs), the woman started an all girls punk band called Spit and Snot.  This kills me. You are too cool for words.

A few weekends ago, yes, I'm only getting to this now, I went to a photography workshop hosted by Colin Field, my former editor at Mountain Life Magazine and friend. I haven't been up that way for ages. On the three hour drive to Thornbury from London, I stopped for coffee in Flesherton. Right next door, I spot a sigh: The Bicycle Cafe. Hold the phone.