Summary:The Usual Suspects

This is a roundup of some of the most common questions that people ask me – no particular order, and many of them have probably been answered elsewhere in my blog. I’ll put in what I can think of now, and add to it later.

  • Why? It was a good way to see the world, to travel at my own pace, at a relatively low cost. It was a great way to experience people and places, seeing more than just the Lonely Planet-approved tourist sites.
  • Are you mad? I don’t think so. But then perhaps I’m not the best judge of that.
  • But wasn’t it hard? The body is an amazing thing, and it can adapt. At first it was tough, riding 100km was a very long day, and I’d sleep for 10 hours minimum, and eat a huge amount. But later on, 100km was just a normal sort of day, and I didn’t feel tired after doing it. I could ride for 100km, then just eat and sleep more or less normally.
  • Or had your perception of normality shifted? Highly likely.
  • Surely it was hard sometimes though? Yes, at times it was tough, struggling into a headwind, through thick traffic on rough roads, in 40°+, with water supplies looking a very long way away. But that’s only one part of it. The good times outweighed the bad by a long way.
  • Is it easy to get back into normal life? Ask yourself. It takes a while to get back into the swing of things. Life on the bike is so simple, the “real world” is more complicated.
  • Where did you sleep? Anywhere and everywhere. Hotels, backpackers, camping, sometimes in a tent, sometimes just under the stars. Under bridges, in ditches, abandoned buildings, forests, all sorts. Sometimes I’d go to a restaurant, eat dinner, then sleep on the table afterwards.
  • How did you cross the water? For some reason this is one that many, many people want to know. I got a ferry from Dover to Calais, a ferry across the Bosphorus in Istanbul, and then it was overland all the way to Singapore. I then caught a plane to Darwin, and another plane from Melbourne to Auckland.
  • How did you pay for it/How much did it cost? I haven’t worked out exactly how much it cost, but it wasn’t that much – probably a fair bit less than you spent on your last car (South Africans excluded). I worked as a contractor in the UK for a little while before leaving, and that was fairly lucrative. But it is a cheap way to live, especially in Asia.
  • Wasn’t it dangerous/where were the most dangerous places? Central Asia was probably the roughest area, and it wasn’t just me – many others I met had problems there. But overall, no, I never really felt it was dangerous. Perhaps just a slightly elevated risk compared to living a domestic life and dying of boredom I suppose
  • How far would you go in a day? It varied between 20km and 269km. But I would use 100km as my planning target, and it roughly worked out at that. Roughly 100km/day, 500km/week. It would depend on what was around – some days you might do 80km and find a nice place, other days you might need to do 140km to find a nice place.
  • Are you going to write a book?/You should write a book. Hmmm. I’ll think about it. But probably not.
  • How did you handle all that time on your own? Wasn’t it hard being by yourself for so long? Well, at times that can be difficult to deal with. You miss your family, friends, ex-girlfriends…but I am lucky in that I am comfortable with my own company. I had thought maybe I was a loner, but someone else pointed out that I enjoy being with other people, I just don’t feel I always have to be with them.

J’Accuse!

Speedo in sleep mode

Just look at that speedo – a picture tells a thousand words. That speedo only goes to sleep mode if it doesn’t get used for two weeks – and it’s been a long time since I’ve done any serious riding on my tourer. No riding has also meant I haven’t felt like posting anything here, stretching the patience of you, dear reader.

For much has happened, and yet it is mostly of a domestic nature, and not exactly the sort the of thing that compares with riding across continents. I now have a permanent place to live (first time in over 18 months), a job, and the beginnings of a regular life. Perhaps it’s hard to understand if you have a regular life, but I’ve been struggling a bit with doing the routine thing. I’m not saying it’s bad, and one part of me is happy about knowing where I’ll be sleeping each night, but the feet do get itchy.

Perhaps it’s that I now have to fit into a routine that works around others. On the road, your needs are simple, and you can do whatever you please. Feel tired? Stop. Hungry? Eat. Had enough? Look for a place to camp, and stop. Raining? Stay in bed. Work of course means regular hours – it’s terribly inconvenient that way. Perhaps part of it is that I have friends in many different parts of the world now, and haven’t really established social networks here yet.

But I have made a commitment to staying in one place for at least 12 months, and so I shall. Being on the road is a good thing, and a place I want to be, but there are other times when you’re glad to be home, and close to your family. My father has recently been unwell, and it is times like these that you feel distance. Being only two hours drive down the road is a hell of a lot easier than being in the middle of China. Of course, one of the dirty little secrets of the world of the modern traveller is that you are never really more than 48 hours away from home, but that distance can still seem a very, very long way.

Over the last few months, I’ve met many people who’ve followed my trip, or heard about it from friends, and there are many questions. Some of them come up often, and I really do need to try and put them together in a summary post – I promise I’ll get onto it by the middle of next week.

There hasn’t been much touring riding going on over the last few months – it’s been mainly mountain biking, and not enough of it. Completely different style, on a light bike, throwing the bike around tight trails, getting covered in mud. Lots of fun, especially on the huge array of trails at Woodhill. I’m going to have to arrange some touring around New Zealand though – all the European cyclists seem to think it’s amazing here. Personally I think NZ drivers are too aggressive to make it a fully enjoyable experience, but I’ll give it a go over summer – it looks like the rain has finally stopped!