Cycling Around the World
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In waiting…

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Two years ago I left my home in Yorkshire, England, to travel around the world by bicycle. I sold my home, my business (all my photography kit) and my car and left to see how long I could keep going, after being given ‘probably’ just twelve months to live. I spent my first Christmas Eve atop a mountain in Spain, looking down on a cold wet evening to the coast road far below and the village lights twinkling in the night. I remember I’d bought myself a large bar of chocolate to ‘open’ the next morning, on Christmas Day.
The following Christmas was spent in a hostel in Beijing, China, where they went overboard in giving us western guests a traditional Christmas Eve party. It was nice to socialise and be part of a group of travellers, but once more I spent Christmas Day alone.

If I’m lucky, this year I will not be alone. I have an invitation to join a friend for Christmas in Holland, and I hope to keep this appointment. For the first time in many years I’d like to make an effort and really celebrate this festive season.

Holland, and I catch sight of my first windmill

Holland, and I catch sight of my first windmill

Two years and I’m still travelling. There have been many times I’ve wanted to stop, because it was just too much, particularly after this latest accident and the serious injury to my shoulder. Yet I keep going, not really understanding why any more. I feel I have proved them wrong, done my trip justice and I’m ready to try living a ‘normal’ life for a while. But it’s hard, because I burned all my bridges. I didn’t expect to live this long and have no idea how much time I have left. Then I get a message like the one below, and suddenly, I know why I have to continue.

Hi Derek

I’m just a little girl, 23 years old, living in Hanoi – Vietnam. I cried when reading your story. You inspired a lot. I’m also a cancer patient, blood cancer. I overcame the bone marrow transplant in March 2014. I’m going to take part in a trip for volunteer in the next January and a quite afraid of my health but you make me decide not to scare anymore. Thank you so much!

I feel so sorry cuz don’t know you earlier but it ‘s never too late, right?

Best wishes for you!

I answered Anita in the comments section (reproduced below). But it was a timely reminder of what this trip has meant to me, and why I wanted to do it in the first place.

“Dear Anita,

I tell my story and keep this blog for this reason; to help and inspire others. I hope your health improves and you enjoy your trip, my thoughts and prayers will be with you. Be brave, but also do not worry about being scared – it is necessary sometimes to remind you of the challenges you are overcoming.

And yes Anita, it never is too late. Live each moment with joy and happiness.

Love Derek”

I’ve now left England once again, after getting myself checked out. All the results are not yet returned, but there is good news. I have got an appointment on 27th January to see an orthopaedic surgeon for my shoulder, I’m awaiting confirmation of appointments with my oncologist and urologist (results of scans etc.) and the blood tests came back negative. Of course this will mean a return to the UK, but at this moment I’m feeling positive and trying hard not to let the depression take over my life again. Here’s hoping for further positive news.

That’s it for this quick update, more soon…


M. Gaestel
Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Have a great holiday and a HEALTHY 2015.

Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Derek, you are an inspiration to us all, happy christmas chap

Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Hi Derek! Here’s to good news for you, for your test results and for greatly improved health in 2015! God is good, even though it’s not always readily visible to us and his love for us is ALL encompassing. His love surpasses any human love we have ever experienced but maybe we will never fully experience that love until we meet him face to face! Now there’s an exciting prospect! I understand depression, Derek, having been visited by the black dog on many many occasions and I know how trite some people’s encouragement can be: for example, pull yourself out of it, you’ll be all-right, snap out of it and various other simplistic things. So I won’t come out with anything trite. I will send you my heartfelt encouragement to keep a grip on whatever part of your life journey you can keep a grip on. Maybe now is the time that you are being carried along the sand, if you think back to the words of “Footprints”. Lots of love to you and God bless you in this advent season and at Christmas!

    Friday, December 5, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Hi Andrew,

    Thank you for your words of encouragement. I’m getting there, slowly, in my own way. This is the way it should be, left to find your own path into the light. Many have tried to push me along and it just doesn’t work for me. I’ve visited many churches on this journey, worshipped with many different people and cultures, and what I know is I’m still ‘seeking’ – I haven’t yet found what I’m looking for. I will step into church again this weekend, who knows where that will lead?

    Thank you for being my friend.

Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 12:45 am

Hi Derek! Roll your bike down to Lisbon. You’re welcome anytime:)

    Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Hi Hansi,

    I’ll get there, just not sure yet when! 😉

Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 3:12 am

Have a great holiday, Derek

I hope your shoulder is better


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