In this series of blog posts, I will record and share some stories of a rather long bicycle ride of 40,100 kilometres through 60 countries.
This post is a shortish introduction detailing some facts and figures and how I have structured the large task of compiling so many stories.
Some of the accounts you can read in this series are of things that were meant to be a little bit of fun but turned out to be shockingly bad. Some are sad stories that turned out to be funny (in hindsight at least). Many are just things that happen on a tour, the kindness of strangers, the thrill of the ride. Some are of times when I was desperate, others are accounts of diamond moments.
I want to do this partly because I do think that some of these stories might entertain you. They may seem far-fetched and hard to believe, but are true nonetheless, as I recall them. Mainly I just want to put them into writing. Memories of these things will always pop-up in my mind's eye, but this document is immortal, so will forever be a place I visit as a bank of fond memories, even when I'm losing my marbles.
People keep telling me that I should write a book one day, and I immediately wonder- Why?
Because when people suggest this, my mind goes naturally to producing something that would be practical, but what useful advice do I have for people who like to explore? I am not sure that I would be a respectable source of information for the intrigued anyway, so i’ve decided to keep it simple and just write about random happenings, as these are the things that people have most enjoyed hearing about.
It’s been 18 years since my first tour (as an adult), and as I have mentioned in other blog posts, the world has changed a lot in that time. With only a few thousand kilometres left, the journey will be completed next year having pedalled more than 40,100km on tour, which is the circumference of our planet at its widest, so it's actually slightly rugby ball shaped (see this post).
This process of reflection, and my current location in the west of Canada, mean that I am already starting to feel nostalgic. It’s certainly been an investment to put it mildly, and a large part of my life. Indeed longer tours become a way of life, or a lifestyle. I wonder whether touring is now an obsession? I guess I'll know soon enough. But for this circumnavigation at least, it is definitely something I know I need to complete, to get out of my system and be content for the rest of my life.
Over the course of my adult life so far, I visited 72 countries. In 12 of these, for whatever reason, I didn't get on a saddle, so the memories I will share in this series of posts will be from 60 countries.
It’s difficult to find a commonly accepted definition of a country, nation, territory. Borders, or political boundaries have been fluid in some regions, and as I’ve mentioned in a previous post LINK ; countries are rather arbitrary in times of change.
For me, it has become more about the land and less about the country I happen to be in. People and cultures blend, the earth ebbs and flows from pastures to desert, mountains to jungle, back down to the ocean.
As I come towards the end of this 40,100km ride around our world, it is the knowledge of what the earth looks like, at 4-D ground level, that will stay with me as one nice whole visual bubble of information, made up of millions of data points and pedal strokes.
Note: Because of changing political and economic geography around the world, I have recorded what happened and where, as it was then. So some references may seem outdated, and so they will likely remain. This was pertinent in the cases of Tibet, Mongolia, Kosovo, Macau, Hong Kong, Armenia & Nagorno-Karabakh, Myanmar etc...
I decided that the best way to organise these memories is not on a timeline, which I could have called the ‘Chamois Cream Chronicles’, but rather in a typically teacher like alphabetical order, which I am yet to decide a name for. Alphabetcycles maybe?
I have written about something from each of these countries, and will work through the alphabet one country at a time. So the first blogpost will be about Albania.
Below is a list of the countries i’ve cycled, and HERE IS A LINK to an interactive map of the screenshot above that I’ve created, locating each country and therefore story with a numbered pin in the order I’ll write. I do hope you enjoy reading about them all:
The full list of countries visited can be found here: LINK