Have bike, will travel

Tomorrow I’ll begin something new, something I’ve been dreaming about starting for several years now. I will load a bicycle up with all the gear I need to live and start cycling down my old familiar road, then onto new unknown destinations. I have no idea if I’ll enjoy this way of travel, but I know seeing a new horizon everyday is something that makes me happy beyond words.

I’m probably not the ideal candidate for a long bike ride, I’m a total idiot when it comes to the mechanics and I’m pretty pants at reading a map. When I get my first puncture I’ll probably have a mild panic, but hopefully my ineptitude and incredible ability to get lost will endear me to people I meet wherever I go. And I guess that’s what this trip is all about, getting closer to everyday people you would miss by taking a bus/train/plane. Some of my greatest and most rewarding travelling moments are chance meetings with lovely people in the middle of nowhere. I believe 99.9% of people in this world are kind, interesting and hospitable and I want to meet as many of those as I can.

The Route

Planning isn’t my forte, but I want to stay with people as much as possible so there must be an element of looking forward. I’m a big fan of Couch Surfing but staying a single night with a host can often be seen as rude. Thankfully there’s a hospitality website (www.warmshowers.com) that caters specifically for bike tourers and with a bit of planning I hope to make use of it.

This isn’t the route I’m thinking of, but it’s not far off and everyone loves a map. Iran is the country that really gets me excited on this trip so I know I want to make it that far. Visas and motivation permitting I’ll continue onto the ‘Stans and further but who knows.

Why am I doing this?!

For me, travel is no longer about moving from one backpacker hostel to a German bakery to jumping on an organised tour (great as it is). There should be elements of uncertainty and at times, a level of discomfort. Over the past few years I’ve seen and learnt so much and the way I travel has evolved, changing the method of getting from A to B seems like a natural progression.

I’m going to miss my family, friends and one very special person. I know they all worry and I sometimes wish, for their sake, I didn’t have this addiction to see and experience new parts of the world. But this is my life and right now I can’t imagine living it any other way.

As I write this I’m feeling under-prepared, apprehensive and a little bit scared but all these emotions are outweighed by excitement (I think). I might turn back home at Cambridge, trade my bike for a backpack or become the most evangelical bike tourer there is…. only time will tell. It’s going to be quite a ride.

I’ll finish this nonsense with one of my favourite quotes, this always gets me in the mood for adventure.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain


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