Hyohakusha: An introduction to our narrator... - A treadling Hyohakusha - CycleBlaze

April 24, 2017

Hyohakusha: An introduction to our narrator...

April 24, 2017

On the title of this journal:

Taken from a National Geographic article on the 17th century Haiku master Matsuo Basho:

“… in his mid 40s, Basho confided to friends that he still felt the world was too much with him… he felt the breezes from the afterlife cross his face.”

So, in the spring on 1689 Master Basho set out on a 5 month pilgrimage to places he wanted to see before he died, determined to become a Hyohakusha "" - one who moves about without direction. He observed that ‘‘Every day is a journey and every journey is home.’’

John Steinbeck once described the power of a journey: ‘‘A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.’’

This is a journal chronicling the journey of a travelling cyclist without direction.

I’ve never been very good at letting others decide my fate. Right now I’m in limbo, and have been for about a year now, waiting for a decision from the faceless bureaucrats at Australian Immigration on my application for citizenship. I’ve been living here (legally I might add) for 25 years as a New Zealand citizen. New Zealanders and Australians have always been able to travel and live freely in either country. Before the 1970s you didn’t even need a passport. So I never felt a need to “formalize” my status here with yet another citizenship (I have US and NZ citizenship as it is). But since 2001, the Australian government has become increasingly “hesitant” regarding this close relationship and have been continually tightening up and restricting the freedoms of Kiwis living here. And, seeing as I’ve been living in Perth continually since 1991, I figured it’s about time to formalise my status.

Only, it’s not as simple as saying “Ok, here I am. Let’s do it…” I’ve been going through numerous administrative hurdles for over a year now… applying, re-applying and re-re-applying and filing and refiling forms and I’m still waiting – in limbo. I’ve been strongly advised that I should stay put here while they consider my application. I'm in limbo, stuck here without direction and unable to travel until they get around to making up their minds. Problem is I’m feeling those breezes of the afterlife crossing my face; I’m 65 years old and with a bit of luck might have another five or so years of good health – good enough to travel the world by bicycle. I certainly don’t want to sit here for another 6 - 10 months waiting for the faceless ones to make up their minds. My clock is ticking, I can hear it and I can feel the chilling embrace of those cold breezes. I need to move and although my overseas travel is temporarily on hold, I can still travel Australia freely ….

I will be a treadling Hyohakusha, a cyclist without direction crossing Australia.

General Direction?

Ok, maybe I won't be a properly directionless Hyohakusha. I will be following one compass direction - due West. I’ve always wanted to cross Australia by bike. Starting in the 1970s, I’ve been back and forth, around the outside and up the middle of this country several times by car, train and plane – but I’ve never crossed the country by bike. I really should have left on this journey months ago, but life intervenes and my best laid plans have been postponed several times now. For most of the year, the winds generally blow east to west. During the winter, they change and blow west to east. It’s getting close to winter now, so if I don’t go soon, I’ll have to postpone the trip to next spring. Even so, I may still find myself riding into cold wet storm fronts on this journey.

I made a couple of aborted tries at crossing Australia before (look ‘em up if you want to, I’m not going to get into the details here). And leaving from Perth, I’d be afraid of doing that again. So, this time, like Cortez burning his boats and then his bridges behind him, this time I’m going to fly to Sydney and once there and started, I’ll have no option but to keep going til I get home – about 5,000 km of westward travel.

The Maths:

Travelling at an average of 70 km a day and cycling five days a week = 350 km a week.

That’s about 1,400 km a month.

I'll be flying to Sydney early May. At the above rate of travel, it will take me about three and a half to four months to cross the country. I would definitely be doing that last month across the Nullabor through the middle of winter, most likely headfirst into winter storms.

Hurm….. maybe I had better rethink this plan.

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