The Adventures of Don Duncan
It is good to stop. Take a deep breath of the thick hot air of Spain, like a tasty chunk of chorizo it assaults your senses with strength and subtlety. The sharp tang of verge-heated wild herbs overlays the dust kicked up by my horse’s hooves as we left the tarmac and came to rest on the rutted dirt of the hard shoulder. Unhurriedly I remove my gloves and jacket. As I drop them across my ‘Rocinante’s’ seat I feel a year’s worth of busy-ness and stress begin to slide from me, alongside the thin trickles of sweat that start as the great August sky of Spain settles over me.
Alone at last. After a year of fighting many armed giants and warlocks, I am at last free. Do you find biking brings inner space? I think the very act of setting off from your front door on a motorbike brings on whispers of romance and legend. You may deny it, but deep down, buried away with your childhood dreams there is an echo of the Lone Ranger, Robin Hood, Richard the Lionheart...
Do you not feel a certain elitism, a difference from those ‘others’ in their cars? Why is there so much difference between driving a car and riding a bike? Does it lie in the greater immediacy of control, the sense of far greater interaction with the physical forces propelling you? And though you may hedge the question with family and loved ones; there is an inherent level of danger. In fact, do not the whispers of fear for your safety feed your own sense of bravery? I go where others fear, I do what others won’t. Is not an essential part of the buzz, the act of beating down those foes and fears, whether imaginary or real. Last year my research trip to a Spanish desert ended in ignominious retreat and wash out.
Now in mid-August, I have ten whole days, time and weather to reach the ‘Western’ film sets of Almeria. ‘Ahora’ (now). Here. On my first day back in Spain, I feel a great release. I’ve made it, made it back here, but more than that; I have again beaten down the craven worries, been victorious over the planning and booking. ‘Ahora Mismo’, I am alone, abroad, and ahead of me stretch the great plains of La Mancha - of all Spain. Riddled with giants and errant Knights, and probably some very errant (not that I’d have anything to do with them) Ladies. I have left behind my ‘Dulcinea of Toboso’. The Lady of my thoughts, in far Aberystwyth and now, as a true knight must, I shall re-mount and carry forward my lance in search of adventure…
Somewhere in La Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman…”
Pulls his horse to a roadside stop, ground hitches her and slowly removes his helmet. Across the skyline march an army of enormous giants, each sedately wheeling their three arms in menacing gestures of defiance.