In my head, it went something like this….Like something out of transformers the truck rose up like the worst Decepticon, ‘there’s only room for one of us on this road, Tanya, and I’m a hell of a lot bigger than you are!’ (cue, maniacal laugh).
So I made a plan to quit, and with that plan, I was able to succeed.
I had made it 300km across the country and I was stumped. Exhausted and in tears I approached a truck driver at the rest stop and asked about the stretch of state highway that lay between me and achieving my goal. In tears, I explained that in the last 23 days I had crossed the country, and I just needed to get roughly 18km down the road – did she think it was safe to cycle. I had been watching all the big truck and trailer units and I was concerned.
She rubbed my shoulder at looked at me with concern, ‘Oh, you’re really tired aren’t you, you’ve come a long way! This is the main road for trucks, it’s not safe and I wouldn’t recommend it. It gets really tight through Pigroot and is no place for cycles.”
I thought for a moment, we had an alternative route through the mountains that was closer, we could avoid Pigroot Hill. ‘What’s the next 7km like?’ I asked. To this, she replied, ‘it should be ok, it’s mostly open, with good visibility, the corners aren’t too bad.’
I thanked her and returned to the picnic table beside the road to watch the trucks trundle by. With shaking hands and a deep shaky breath, I again opened the topo map. I knew that there was a state highway as part of this route – I planned it! I just didn’t realise what it would be like – and with every fibre of my being at that moment, I did not want to cycle it. I was exhausted after over 100km already that day which had been hard-won against a headwind. My resilience was at an all-time low.
BUT, if I didn’t complete this section would it be a traverse? It seemed absurd that I had come all this way and it was a road that was stopping me!
So, I planned to quit.
As I looked at the topo, I noted first a farm, then a couple of side roads. My plan was to start the cycle, knowing that I could stop. If it felt too much, if it wasn’t safe, I could quit, but this way at least I could bring myself to try.
With heart in my throat, I hopped on my bike and turned onto SH? with a plan to quit. As each of my exit strategies passed by I felt more confident to keep going. Traffic passed, giving me heaps of room. The corners felt risky but I passed through with little traffic. The battle with hills, tight corners and headwinds that stole my hearing replacing it just with a roar in my ears made for a nervous time, and setting foot inside a roadside paddock never felt so good as it did when I reached my destination.
Without the plan to quit, I wouldn’t have succeeded. Sometimes when things are so overwhelming, giving yourself an out might actually be the perfect way to get through.