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Prepping to pilgrimage – our next year-long bicycle adventure

Life is good at home. We have a thriving productive garden, beautiful friends and neighbours, a magical nearby forest, daily ritual, goodly water, air, food and special country and community in our lives. But it’s time for a shake up, another really big shake up. There is so much fear encircling the world, crippling motivation and stifling spirit. We want to ride straight into that storm from this place of gentle settled sanity.

Seven years ago we rode our first big cycling adventure, and crawled up the east coast of Australia at a speed suitable and desirable for five mammals on two bicycles. Now we again have itchy pedals and a thirst for permaculture pilgrimage – to take neopeasantry to the road for a second time, to further test our resilience and embrace uncertainty, to travel in right story relationship, write a bunch of new songs, seek ways to be in service, and expand once again our foraging, fishing and hunting knowledges. This is us back then after we returned home and wrote a book about our journey:

Woody was 14 months old when we set off last time. He was 28 months old when we returned. Half his life on the back of a bike! That trip imprinted significantly on him in innumerable ways. Now he is eight. He is knowledgeable and adaptive, creative and up for anything. We adults have had timely and important bouts of pre- take off fear and anxiety, and have been busy preparing ourselves since we made the decision to journey a few months back, packing up all our various libraries at The School of Applied Neopeasantry.

So where are we going? We have no definitive plans. We are thinking we will decide on the morning we leave what direction we will travel, which will be some time in the next week. We’re going to leave on the warmest day. Yes, it is kinda crazy to be heading out in mid-winter just after solstice, which will certainly throw more than just cold water over us. We are once again ready to be slapped and trammelled, whacked and winded to feel the full force of freedom. At least we think we are…

On this trip we are taking with us many new skills and processes. Tummo or fire pranayama breathing technique for one (via Wim Hof), to help with exposure to the cold and for general disease prevention. We will also trial other breathing practices that we read about in James Nestor’s Breath: the New Science of a Lost Art, such as taping our mouths shut while riding, a hack we already use during sleep to promote nasal breathing. Hauling heavy bikes with our mouths taped is no easy thing, but we’ll give it a crack anyway.

We have had a remarkable seven years, which also brought a fair dose of familial grief. We’ve survived this time by going deep into it, by keeping our hearts open, by holding monthly fire circles in the nearby forest commons, and discovering that grief is given its full form in the company of community.

Tyson Yunkaporta recently referred to Artist as Family processes as ‘creoling’. We like this. It speaks to emergence and never arriving. Being in an ever-rearranging flow state is why we are seeking life on the road again – to intensify the processes.

At the outset of this trip we will take away with us a deeper sense of the spirit of Djaara Mother Country, and a deeper practice of being in country. Acknowledging the mothering of the worlds-of-the-world we travel in, and taking with us daily rituals to honour the land as we seek food, camping ground, water, good company and days of easy transit. A big fear is having to face the industrial food system again, so we’ve been dehydrating goat, rabbit, various vegetables, fungi and fruits to take.

All of this food from summer and autumn’s harvest has been carefully dehydrated, bottled, stored and will be packed into reclaimed ziplock bags to fill one of our ten panniers.

This really feels to us like a pilgrimage of errantry. As Jim Corbett writes, “The first decisive step into errantry is to become untamed”. We are open to the uncomfortable encounters that we will ride into, as we are open to the freedom, uncertainty and grace of the road. We will be four mammals on two bicycles this time, and each of us will have our own story to carry, along with our collective song kit.

While the last big journey focussed on extending our knowledges of food outside the locks and keys of capitalism, this one will be more about songlines, and Woody and his fiddle teacher, the talented Adam Menegazzo, worked hard to prepare a bunch of Artist as Family songs to take with us.

There has been a mountain of preparations for this journey so far, such as emptying the house of no longer required things at a garage (garden, really) sale,

taking surplus things back to the local opshops and to the tip from where many of them came,

finding, with Goathand Brad, a year-long home for our herd,

retrofitting the old tandem (Merlin) for Patrick and Woody to ride, with the expert help and generous enthusiasm of local bikesmith Eric the Red,

selling Meg’s trusty old longtail bike (farewell intrepid ten-year old friend),

to help buy herself and Zero a new freedom machine (Cosmo), which we promptly de-branded with retroreflective tape,

receiving help from legendary bicycle tourer, Mick ‘Permaculture Pedals’,

repairing old touring equipment – thanks local zip fixer, Matt,

and giving out some home-stitched, wild-shot flavour – thanks for your sewing skills Blue Wren,

lighting a fire with scratched-for dry bark tinder, wet wood and a flint and steel on a practice ride,

preparing Tree Elbow University’s house and garden for our dear friends Ruth, Tyson, Apollo and Solaris to move into, and for a French film crew to shoot an interview with us and David Holmgren at the School of Applied Neopeasantry.

So many things to put in place, handover, store, accept, cross off, reconcile, process, pull out and celebrate before we ride off in the direction of the pointy end of a feather – a feather we will fling up into the air, watch spin around and land, and then steer our rigs accordingly. Letting go like this at the very start of our journey – not being in control of the direction we will first head – will join our extensive medicine kit. This kit includes the obligatory bandages and home-made herbal salves along with singing, dancing, breathing, bicycling, cold-water plunging, rapturous-eye hunting, being together, foraging (eating origin-known food), sharing story with people we meet, and fungal medicines such as these dried-ground Turkey Tails (Trametes versicolor), which were growing on cankerous wild apple wood that we pruned in the nearby common a few years back.

We recently had a hearty chat with Morag Gamble on her podcast Sense-Making in a Changing World, where we spoke about our forthcoming travels, decolonising time and re-culturing earth-positive lifeways.

We have no idea what we’re doing, where we’re going and what will happen to life in the next year. Charles Eisenstein recently spoke about the necessary naïveté required to walk the new story. Yes naïveté, and a kind of foolish trust – to throw caution at a head wind, to deliciously flow with a tail wind, and to belong in the dovetail join of grief and praise. We hope you’ll join us in this wild ride.

Much love,

Artist as Family

49 comments

  1. Mikael V says:

    When taking leave of one another, people often say, “Take care!” But as an acting teacher often said to me, “Don’t take care–take RISKS!” Thank you for continually modelling what it means to take risks and to find joy in the journey. May this coming year bring learning, love and laughter to you all.

    1. Artist as Family says:

      Thanks Mikael, what a wise teacher you had. It’s sad to think that teachers today would probably lose their jobs for saying the same.

      1. John says:

        One powerful message I carry from my father is “Be Careful”. This was somewhat of a limiting belief for many years.

        After dancing with that message for decades I have translated it to: “Take Care so I can Take Risks”. Much healthier! (Like fixing the bike then going on the journey.)

        I wonder what my life would have been like if the message I had adopted was “Be Joyful” or “Be Free”.

  2. Maia Irell says:

    Wonderful! Zoran watched you take off on your journey and we look forward to following your adventures. Viva!

    1. Artist as Family says:

      Thanks Maia! Zoran saw us on a practice ride, fully loaded. We leave next Wednesday or so. Much love to you all xx¸

  3. Anna says:

    Go well friends! I can’t wait to hear what the grace of the road brings you. We’ll be right here, adventuring with you vicariously. xx

    1. Artist as Family says:

      Thanks Anna, we’ll be feeling your love all the way xx

  4. Ben says:

    OH! Wow! Good luck AAF!

    I will follow this adventure with interest also. Make sure you take notes and pics ready for another book. I really enjoyed the first one.

    1. Artist as Family says:

      Thanks Ben! I guess this blog will be that notation.

  5. Sieta Beckwith says:

    I’m so excited for you all and can’t wait to receive juicy, dusty, sky-filled, rain-soaked updates in my inbox… One of the best docos I’ve seen about bicycling was by a young man called Tom Allen from the UK who decided to cycle around the world… (spoiler alert: he doesn’t make it the whole way as he falls in love in Armenia which is really what the film ends up being about. Isn’t it always about love though?). Anyway, Tom says this is How To Cycle Around The World In 3 Easy Steps:
    1. Get a bike
    2. Quit your job
    3. Leave
    Once you have accomplished the above three steps, the rest will work itself out…
    So I think y’all are set! Much love!

    1. Artist as Family says:

      Thanks for your warm wishes, Sieta.

      1. Sam and Dani says:

        Sounds wonderful! If you need some homegrown veggies, goat cuddles and bike repairs we’d love to host you down here in Aldinga (Kaurna Country)

        1. Oh yay to goat cuddles, veg and bike repairs. Thanks Sam and Dani x

    2. Rose says:

      Hi Sieta, what’s the name of that documentary.
      Many thanks, Rose

  6. Afina says:

    “Early explorers neither anticipated adventures nor tried to avoid them. They just accepted them as a normal part of the increasing number of miles they logged” from The Curve of Time” by M. Wylie Blanchet. Looking forward to follow your musings in this nook of the northern part of The Netherlands. Exercise due care dear friends!

    1. Artist as Family says:

      Hello Afina! Thanks for calling in and sharing that quote. Neither anticipation nor avoidance. Loving that. AaF xx

      1. Zoe says:

        My shed is your shed, my garden is your garden, my kitchen is your kitchen. if you come Canowindra way we have much to share. Go pedal peasants go! Xxx

        1. Thanks Zoe, we’re loving that possibility…

  7. Andrew says:

    If you make it to the Fraser Coast region you are welcome at our place in Hervey Bay. We would love to host you.

    1. Thanks so much Andrew!

      1. Felicity Grosse says:

        My heart sings to hear of your next unknowns that are filled with such deep and powerful intentions.
        All blessings for the road xx

        1. Oh thanks Felicity!

  8. Chris Davy says:

    May your journey be mostly enjoyable and the luck be mostly good.
    I shall watch with interest as I too head off on a cycling journey north, but not till winter feels like spring is coming.

    1. Thanks Chris, we’re loving your language, namely “mostly.” Gotta have those hard times, eh. Travel well, we might see you on the road…

  9. Marilyn says:

    Just wished I had your courage. Safe travels

    1. Thanks Marilyn. There is no hierarchy of courage, and we’re sure you have plenty and you put it where it’s needed.

  10. Margaret Johnson says:

    Have a fabulous trip!! MnM ox

  11. Dale Willis says:

    All the best to you guys. If the wind brings you past Eden or I can help with a campsite or a workshop(I have a new one) or you need a lift, Please sing out.

    1. Thanks Dale, you’re the angel of the south coast. We hope we’ll see you and Jennie on the road again.

  12. Kelly says:

    I will be following your blog closely, as this is something I plan to do with my partner in the future in Scotland. Much love to you all and happy pedalling!

  13. Kate Beveridge says:

    Looking forward to following along. You are most welcome to camp at our place if you make it up here.

  14. Richard Perry says:

    I watched your last bicycle journey with awe and respect and will follow this one as well, with even greater amazement and hope for your deep well-being. What a gang!

    1. Thanks Richard! Much love to you xx

  15. Mel Pickering says:

    Subscribed…can’t wait to read about your travels once again. Many blessings for your journey and much gratitude to you for your commitment to life and real living and for sharing your journey, knowledge and wisdom so freely. Would love to see you on the far south coast again. AAF totally rock my socks xxx

    1. Thanks Mel, we’d love to see you again. xx

  16. Ros says:

    If you end up in South west Victoria I have warm beds for you.

    1. Thanks Ros, that’s so kind. We’ll see where the feather lands…

  17. Rose says:

    You guys are my inspiration, my teachers & my reference for how to live a more sustainable life…even if it’s from a distance.
    Enjoy the journey ahead of you. Many blessings.

  18. Penelope /michael says:

    Best wishes from Michael and Penelope Hynes.
    Ex Daylesford residents now Nsw; look us up if you come this far: Central coast

    1. Thanks you two, it would be lovely to reconnect.

  19. "PermaGrannie" says:

    Enjoy! My heart will be with you all the way.

    1. We will feel the gentle thrum of it riding with us, PermaGrannie. Thank you

  20. Denise says:

    🎼I wish you📯 find pure delight in every moment along your way!🎵🎶Happy trails to you 🌱🌳🌴🌻🦆🦎🐟🦀🐝🍎🍒🍄
    …and if you should happen to pass through adelaide ..haha..
    🚴‍♀️🚴‍♂️🚴‍♂️✨🏕this time round… 👨‍🌾 we may meet again 🎸🎷🥁🎻🎺🎬📰🤸‍♀️🤹‍♀️yea!! ☎️🚵‍♂️🚵‍♀️🚵‍♂️

  21. Helen Pappas says:

    Very interested and inspired the way you live:)

  22. Claire says:

    Look forward to the stories as they roll in… Happy Travels.

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