In the months before my mother passed away from terminal illness in 2021, my bicycle became an unlikely companion. Plugged into a playlist of thumping tunes, I would lose myself in the rhythm of the ride, each pedal stroke taking me further away from the overwhelming demands of caregiving and the palpable sense of impending loss.
At her funeral, my uncle revealed that my mum had confessed to feeling guilty about being a constant burden to my father and me, and that she found solace in knowing that my new cycling hobby gave me a breath of freedom.
This knowledge left me torn. I stopped cycling for a while, weighed down by my guilt at realising that she had always sensed my need for a respite from my responsibilities – and, indirectly, from her – yet never held it against me.
When I later resumed riding occasionally, I never again experienced that feeling of liberation I used to have – until I went on an impromptu bikepacking trip around Jeju Island, South Korea, in September this year.
THE ROAD TO (SELF) FORGIVENESS
With mostly flat terrain, gentle slopes and a manageable distance, Jeju Island is the perfect launchpad for bikepacking newbies who may not be accustomed to long rides and challenging climbs, said my more experienced travel buddy, who once did a solo bikepacking trip in Taiwan.