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What's it all about?

Monday, February 24, 2014

When I began my journey way back in November 2012, I had something of an agenda which is much different than today. I spoke about ‘finding myself’ in my About Me page and knew I had very real issues, both emotionally and physically. My hope was that as the trip progressed, I would find some kind of solace from the past and become a better person. Truly, I needed to learn to like myself before I could be of any benefit to either society, or anyone unfortunate enough to try and understand me. Love, well how could I ask for love if I couldn’t even love myself?

This trip has been an incredibly difficult journey for me, of which I have described the physical aspects pretty well in my blog, but only shown brief glimpses of the real battle that was going on. Initially I didn’t even mention my cancer or the real illness – my depression. Believing I had to concentrate fully on the cycling and engage people with how fascinating this aspect was, that became my main focus when writing the blog. Yes the cycling is what most people want to hear about, so why bother with anything else?

As I have travelled I have opened up, talking for the first time about many things I have never discussed before. Not even my closest friends knew about many of the demons I was desperately trying to exorcise. But truth is my demons, inner strengths and physical battles have actually guided me through life and made me into the strong character I am today. Yes I have moments of weakness just like everyone else, then I use one of the blackest episodes in my life to give me hope, saying to myself “if I can come to terms with this, then what else can harm me.” If you think this is all a bit dramatic, then consider this: it was not until my friend Ruth told me to go for Christian counselling (following my attempt at suicide over the death of my wife) that I learned about my childhood. I had virtually no memories from before the age of 14 as my mind had blotted them out. The counselling exposed them, but that’s another very painful story for another time. How many people could cope with that at the age of 53?

So why am I writing all this, why tear up the picture of a strong man doing incredible things that undoubtedly many of you have built of me?

Because I HAVE changed. I have become a more complete person. I’m no longer the selfish guy who left England on November 13th 2012. Not only do I now share my story, I share everything I can. My goal now is to give something back. In fact it’s become much more than a goal, it’s become a burning passion. Yes I have cancer, yes I’m pretty certain it’s going to kill me, no I don’t want this to be what people remember me for – a man fighting bravely against a hidden and deadly disease. I’m not brave at all, I’m almost pissing myself with fear.

I want others to know this, not put me up on a pedestal to be admired. So no more pretending. I’m going to tell it like it really is, speak out about what I’m really going through. The physical pain is easy for me to deal with, as since I was a child I have always had a very high pain threshold, but what it’s doing to my mind, well that is the real battle. Speaking out I hope will not only help me, but the hundreds of people who now message me. As my journey continues this is really what will inspire me to finish it, to reach the end.

But wait, there’s more. I have absolutely no idea how much longer God will allow me to wander on this earth. I have tried to make my peace with him. Do you know the only thing I have ever asked him for? to take me instead of Caroline, my late wife. I now ask him for something else, because for the first time in my life I truly believe I will be able to accept it and not corrupt it. And now I am being selfish, because what I want is for myself, to prove I’m deserving of it, capable of nurturing it.

I want to know love one last time.

19 Comments
Monday, February 24, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Derek, if you want to lead you burning passion to give people something back you have to be strong for it. I wish a power, health and positive energy for you to keep you way.
I like that you in peace with yourself and with whole this world.

Good luck.

Chris McEnnerney
Monday, February 24, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Wow, Derek, that’s a powerful piece of writing. I am in awe of your honesty. I do hope God grants you your wish. Safe – and serene – travels.

    Monday, February 24, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    Chris, if I’m to keep going then I need to have an income of sorts. I see writing as a possible way of doing this.
    When I reach Canada & the USA I intend using the media to get my message out there. If they think I can write, it can only help.

Karl Stone
Monday, February 24, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Derek, that is amazing !! Wonderfully written and it takes true courage and clarity of mind to reveal these things about yourself. I will continue to hold you up in prayer, and hope that having come to terms with yourself you will find the love you seek. Remember “…There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear …..” (1 John 4:18). love Karl

    Monday, February 24, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Thank you Karl, you are a true friend.
    I wandered so far from the path, walked so long in darkness, I never thought I would see the light again. But he is always there.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 12:14 am

Derek,

You’ve gone to the right Guy! God knows, understands and loves you dearly. It encourages me–a tough guy in my own right–to see writing like yours. Hang in there, brother.

Dan

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Derek I have only stumbled on your story today and you have already given something back to me, Inspiration in bucketfuls. I followed Jane Tomlinson’s story, she was a powerful force for good. You will be too. Have you read Free Country, by George Mahood? It’s the story of two guys who walked/cycled from Lands End to John O’Groats without spending a penny. (It’s very funny) I’m sure you can achieve your goal in Canada and America. My wife and I will be raising funds for a good friend who also fought cancer for seven years with an amazingly positive attitude, your story made me think of her. Good luck and please keep blogging.

    Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 4:58 am

    Hi Gill & Tony,

    Not read the book, but promise you I will (I love to download kindle books and at £1.99 it’s a cert!). I’m fairly confident by the time I get there I’ll be OK in Canada & America as I’m already getting the local media people wanting to interview me – I’m going to do a blog article about this (media interest) soon. I’m also being donated the odd cup of coffee (well the equivalent of) and this is really helping me now that I’m stuck in Hanoi. Good luck with your own fund raising and thanks so much for your support.

Maggie Gaestel
Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 4:34 am

Derek, your stories and photos are so impressive. You need to put them in a book for inspiration and for others to see. It may not sound like much but some of your fans are with you every time you push that pedal down. We feel it too. Keep up your strength and faith. God is with you.
Maggie Gaestel .

    Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 5:03 am

    Maggie, I am still working on my book. I am also working on a two volume photo book (with stories of the pictures) which will be completed when I leave SE Asia, more details about this soon.

    Your support (along with the many others) means more to me than you know and this is the reason I’ll keep on.

Abbi
Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 8:23 pm

Hi Derek,
We met in Tbilisi in the Why Not? hostel and shared a couple of meals together. Just wishing you the best as your journey evolves.
Take care,
Abbi

Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Great blog; amazing journey and a real inspiration to others.
Your words in this post have resonated in me since you posted them. It is good that you feel changed since travelling and come to terms with a few personal devils… and have reached a better place.
I think travelling does that, especially taking the ‘long’ and often difficult road of solo cycle touring.. Love and peace to you.

ted edwards
Sunday, March 2, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Wow Derek what you have written is very moving and I am just so glad that you are now feeling so positive. Whether you believe in a Higher Power as one of my relatives does who is trying stop drinking alcohol or God I truly believe that either one is there to assist us through those difficult times.
Enjoy your future travels and I sincerely hope that travelling will improve both your physical and mental health.
Regards

Ted

Namjun
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 12:58 am

thank you ! ( a Vietnam friend )

Lena
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 1:57 am

Hi,

I read about you just now and i decide to leave a message on your page. I’m from Ho chi minh, Vietnam. I dont know whether it’s too late to hear about you as it’s March 5 today and they wrote that you’re here from Feb, i am not sure that you are still in Vietnam, if yes we can meet and i will show you some places, it’s very nice to know you. Here is my email lena201418@yahoo.com.vn. Thank you very much for coming Halong Bay, that’s a wonderful place in Vietnam !

Regards,
Lena

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 5:25 am

    Hi Lena,

    I’m still very much in Vietnam! I plan to ride the Ho Chi Minh Trail down to the city but don’t yet know my schedule. I will keep in touch.

    Kind regards,
    Derek

Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 7:08 am

“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) You will find your strength to love and be loved only through Christ. Praying for you. Excited for the next steps in your adventure. See you in America!

    Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 7:08 am

    P.S. Do yourself a favor and don’t reply to my comment. :)

Nguyen Quoc Tuan
Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Hi Derek. I am Tuan and I am a Halong Bike Club member. If you still in Halong, our club very glad to meet you. I hope heering you soon.

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