The Travelling What?
In South Africa, a slang (and somewhat derogatory) Afrikaans word for a man significantly older than yourself is “ouballie”, which is pronounced “oh – bully”, with “bully” to rhyme with “Scully”.
Obviously, there was a rather excellent band, called The Travelling Wilburys. Given that I’m South African, like the music of The Travelling Wilburys, am now “of a certain age” (or ancient, if you asked my 18yo daughter!) and that cycle touring is a form of travelling, I’ve decided to form an informal group, called The Travelling Ouballies.
Informal, as in there’s no membership exam, and no membership badge. What is required for you to join The Travelling Ouballies is for you to join me on some multi-day bike ride. So far, the only person who qualifies as a member (other than myself, obviously) is my mate Dom, who cycled the Grand Union Canal with me. (whether he’d want the title is a different story!)
Now for the fine print: Ouballie literally translates as “old balls”. I don’t particularly care how old (or young) you are, nor if you’re male of female – if you want to become a member, and have joined me on a ride, you agree to the name. After all (read this next sentence in your best grumpy old-man voice) I can’t be ruining a great name just to fit in with you young whipper-snappers or wimmin! (For the avoidance of doubt, I’ve absolutely nothing against young people or women).
An enduring characteristic of Travelling Ouballie rides will be that they are leisurely, multi-day rides. They will inevitably involving camping. Oh, and occasionally either overstaying in a pub, or visiting too many pubs. It may at times include swimming (apparently, even involuntary swimming, along the Grand Union Canal, if you asked Dom) but skinny-dipping, if done at all, will be entirely voluntary!
There is a time and place for riding head-down, as fast as you can go, but that’s called racing. Travelling Ouballie rides are a form of cycle touring, and cycle touring is best done slowly, stopping often and taking many photos.
I don’t particularly care what bike you’ll be riding, and as long as you can maintain the speed and distance on it, you’d even be welcome to join us if riding a penny farthing. In fact, if you owned one (and could ride it) joining us on your penny farthing would be encouraged!
The next Travelling Ouballie ride will be along the Kennet and Avon Canal route, over a leisurely three days. We’ll be wild-camping, but if you’re not into wild-camping, you’d be welcome to join us, even if only for part of the way.
Wild-camping has some drawbacks, so I tend to not advertise potential spots beforehand, as I’d really rather avoid the risk of receiving a visit in the middle of the night from someone who thought they’d try and help themselves to my bike.
Wild-camping is generally fine to do (yes, even in England, where many people will wrongly try and tell you it’s illegal) but I do suggest you read my post about security while touring – it really does contain some good advice.
Travelling Ouballie rides will mainly be open-invitation rides, but if you decide to join in, it’s expected that you’ll do so on the basis of what’s outlined above.