The above words have been said to me twice this last week and I think I should respond and maybe expand upon what my whole trip is about and why it has become such a big deal to get started, albeit with very little planning.
But first I want to address this whole ‘no idea’ notion. It’s true I haven’t toured the world on a bicycle before, but I do have many years experience of cycling in different countries and have done ultra lightweight trips (both supported and unsupported) and the carry everything with you type of trips.
I’m very much a spontaneous person and I remember in 2004 when the daughter of a good friend needed funds to help her pay for a trip out to Peru working for Tearfund, a christian aid charity. I decided there and then I would do ‘some kind’ of a challenge to help raise the necessary funds and chose to ride from Leeds (my place of work at the time) to Paris and back. No big deal, except I chose to do it in only 4 days, because otherwise it was just another ride.
It rained for the whole 4 days, I carried my meager kit in a small bum bag and learned a lot about what was possible without any kind of planning at all. I raised just short of £1,000. More importantly, I got hooked on cycling for a cause other than my own selfish needs.
So next up I wanted something even more challenging, guess that’s just my nature. In 2005 I managed to get onto a pretty special team training to ride Lands End to John O’Groats in just 5 days, again for another third world charity. It was aptly named The Race Against Time and was certainly more than just another charity ride. We weren’t doing the short route either, ours was almost 1,000 miles, so an average distance of 200 miles each day. But what made this trip challenging for me was that I had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and was going through treatment at the time we were doing the training.
I remember leading one particular training ride where after my brachytherapy I was unable to sit on my saddle at all, so I rode the 100+ miles all out of saddle despite the protests of my training colleagues – I can be very stubborn when I want to be!
The cancer did however eventually force me to slow down and I took up training other riders to ride the kind of events I so loved myself, mainly UK Sportives and European events such as The Etape du Tour, Paris-Roubaix and The Marmot. This was a special period for me, because I was giving something back to a sport I loved with a passion. I didn’t just learn about coaching either, I studied nutrition and learned how to take a bike apart to the very last nut and bolt and put it back together again, a skill which has been invaluable.
Over the years my cycling has encompassed many genres, from short sprints on the track to multiple days without rest in the saddle. What has been the constant throughout is the feeling of freedom I get from riding a bike – you only get out what you put in.
So why have I chosen to ride around the world? Well not to ‘run away’ as some have suggested, although I can see it may look like that. I’ve always tried to be considerate and put others before myself, to the detriment of my own health at times; my late wife died not even knowing of my own illness because I wanted to focus on her needs and not mine. I’ve fought a long and hard battle for more years than I can remember and now has come the time to say ‘enough’. There is only so much pain and hurt a person should be asked to endure.
I’m doing this ride for me this time and the lack of planning is purely down to the fact that I want to go now, before circumstances make it unlikely I would leave at all.
And that just leaves the question: what do you all think, am I someone with no idea?