Most people reading this will know the story of this adventure. In summary, I was finishing work, had signed up for the World Cycle Challenge (later cancelled), then planned a 12 month trip with complete stranger. We were aiming to ride 20,000 km over 5 continents in 12 months and I would be raising money forThe Homeless World Cup. Unfortunately, my mom then got ill so, following a second initial cancellation, the trip then changed to various five month journeys heading home between. The target to cycle 20,000km of course over 12 months remained.
John and I eventually started our ride in July 2012 and one year later we’re still going and 19, 178 km later we arrived in San Foca, Southern Italy.Our final destination in this part of our trip. We will be in South East Asia when we hit 20,000km.
I first learnt that John had never pitched a tent as we started our journey in Seattle. However, despite this minor lack of experience we were both soon experts at our daily camp routine and after 1812 km we arrived at San Francisco. This part of our trip was always intended as the easy intro as John and I got used to travelling, riding and each other. We had met only three times before that.
Despite some hot climbs we would be in Japan when the first tests really started. It was sticky, sweaty and very hilly. It took a few days before we would recognise the Japanese characters for hotel and consequently ended up stuck for accommodation on a few occasions. Food was expensive and while we did indulge we eventually become familiar with the full range of pot noodles on offer.
Following a stop over in Hong Kong we would soon be signing up for what we both would find the most physical challenge we had ever undertaken, despite running marathons and of course the miles on the bike. While Japan was hot and hilly, Nepal was mountainous and wet. Only as we ended our tour did our guide say that we were the only people he had known or known of to take touring bikes and panniers over the Thorong-la pass. Rain, cold showers, diarrhoea, painfully sore feet,precarious bridges and altitude being just some of the regular challenges we would face to this mountain pass standing at 5416m. While the usual reward for a climb is a fabulous downhill in this case it would prove even harder as we held firmly onto our bikes that were determined to reach the bottom before we would!
Two months around India followed. This was my third trip to a country that I love and that has been a big influence to me. It was great to be back and even better to be there on my bike. The opportunity to explore and travel outside key tourist areas, eat local food and really experience Indian hospitality and kindness leaving me once again with a desire to return. That was then the end to our first “stage”.
It was good to be home yet also strange to be without my cycle buddy. Soon we would join a further fifty riders as we began our journey from Cairo to Capetown. I found it very hard at times to make the adjustment from independent riding to a supported tour. Despite this we arrived in Capetown and while I enjoyed feeling free again as we headed off around the Western Cape on our own I had appreciated the support of our group and the new friends we had made. An amazing experience.
We’re in Italy as I write this. Full of reflection on the year that has been. Full still of excitement of the year that is to come. Putting off being full of nerves of what will come next.
I noted in my last blog that while this was primarily a personal journey I was also raising money for The Homeless World Cup. I hope if this journey has been inspiring or if you recognise that riding Thorong-la, the length of Africa or Alps d’huez with panniers has made you think “woah” that this may transpire into a small donation. The Homeless World Cup 2013 has just taken place in Poland. While not a big football lover myself I do love to see the difference this tournament makes. I like that it’s real. Simple ideas making a massive difference.
Surely riding 45km naked through Namibia deserves some sponsorship!!