Bike tours make for a great interlude between any chapters in your life, open roads, fresh air, endless thinking time and physical exertion let you clear your mind and cleanse your body at the same time. I haven’t always been an avid cyclist, my love for cycling was born out of a desire to find a means of travel that was more engaging than your typical flight->coach->hotel type trip. A trip where the journey is the destination. A few years ago I happened upon the idea of a bike ride across the USA, I had never been on a bike tour before and had never ridden more than 20 miles in a single day. It was the unknown that appealed to me, traversing a continent rolling west with a new face and a fresh landscape around each corner. I had to learn quickly and after some harsh lessons and incredible hospitality I found myself growing in confidence day by day. 73 days later I had ridden 4,500 miles across the country and was changed to the core. I felt an immense calmness, self-belief and ultimate patience with the world. Primo Levi summed the vulnerability and the raw emotion of putting yourself out against the elements perfectly:
…the sea’s only gifts are harsh blows and, occasionally, the chance to feel strong. Now, I don’t know much about the sea, but I do know that that’s the way it is here. And I also know how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong, to measure yourself at least once, to find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions, facing blind, deaf stone alone, with nothing to help you but your own hands and your own head.
Several years later I have found myself looking for a change of lifestyle and a new challenge. I had considered working in another country in the past, but I think of doing a lot of things without actually acting upon most of them. One of my best friends Matthew Eley found himself in the same position and we pretty quickly came to the decision to go and work in Australia for a year. Opposite side of the world seems like a big jump, but the main factors for the choice were the ability to obtain a 12 month work visa, english speaking country and hot weather. Here comes the bike tour interlude…I had wanted to do a bike tour of Europe for a while, whilst Eal was keen on a bike trip of the USA after reading about my previous escapade.
So almost overnight after a few beers we had decided to go on a 3-4 month bike tour of Europe and the USA before heading to Oz to take up a work visa which has been applied and granted. This then expanded further as we felt bad for leaving out New Zealand before landing in Oz, so the bike tour had swelled to around 5 months. Split across 3 sections, doorstep to Lisbon, Portugal. Boston, USA to San Fran, USA and finally New Zealand north to south island. Its a long time to be on the road, a life without borders, keys and so far outside the comfort zone you wont even know what the comfort zone is. I’m ready to measure myself again and head off into the world the best way I know how, on a loaded touring bike!
Several people have asked me if this is a charity ride, it is not. This is a self financed lifestyle choice. If you feel compelled to donate some money to something I’m sure there are tons of people doing lots of things in there spare time for various causes popping up on your facebook feed, all I would ask is the next time you see a charity moustache growing or a sponsored marathon give some money to those guys instead.