I never imagined my first post wouldn’t be about my cycling adventures but rather about what I’ve learned from them so far…
In July 2014 I decided to take a break from my job in IT to pursue one thing that really made me happy, cycling.
Growing up I was one of those children who used to always go on a bike ride with their dad around the park on a Sunday morning but then growing up kinda got in the way; college, homework, relationships mad making a living distracted me from continuing it. Inspired by my twin brother (the two of us are fiercely competitive) – who, after graduating from university had bought his first roadbike – feeling like I didn’t want to be left behind – I decided to spend my last bit of of cash on one too. One accident that left me In hospital needing 42 stitches to my mouth, and many falls later and I’ve just completed 4,000 miles cycle touring around Europe (Caen to Gibraltar),(Dieppe to Rome) and Lands End to John O’Groats all within the space of 7 weeks.
People often say make a living to secure yourself for the future but it’s all too easy to make a living that you forget how to make a life…I thought I would summarise some of the things I’ve learned since starting out on my adventure…
1) You’re never truly alone – people are often apprehensive about going on an adventure alone however, you will meet interested – people along the way and lots of them….very welcome after 10 hours cycling alone, although I only met 2 other cycle tourers, the locals were always keen to talk
2) It’s not about the destination but the journey – the age-old cliche has been heard many times but it really is true. Each time my journey came to an end, there was always a feeling of an anticlimax, why because it never was about reaching the end but the opportunity for new experiences everyday along the way
3) There doesn’t have to be that ‘Monday feeling and no day is ever the same – cycling 100 miles everyday 14 days running means everyday is different. From cycling in 40 degrees In the south of Spain one day to cycling over 3,000 m of climbing in sub zero temperatures
4) You really can sleep anywhere – after 100 miles in a day, even a field at the side of the road can feel like a Hilton – you’ll be so tired anyway that you can fall asleep anywhere you rest your head
5) It is possible to pack your life into 20 kgs (2 panniers) – when it comes to packing you soon realise that you don’t need a wardrobe full of the latest brands or a plethora of shoes you’ve worn once…dry gear,wet weather gear, cold weather gear, a stove, helmet and a decent pair of shoes is all you really need
6) ‘Now’ is as good a time as any to take the leap – you can spend years saving for finding the ‘right time’ or just get out and enjoy life while you can…do it now before you get to old, you only live your 20s once! Oh and no amount of money you save will ever be too little or too much, just budget accordingly.
7) ‘There is no such thing as bad weather just bad equipment’ – to quote the great adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes – good equipment is a worthy investment, it may seem a pointless spend but it’ll allow you to keep going when the weather turns. If it wasn’t for a 265 pound (wind/water)proof jacket the 10 hours of driving wind and rain on The Highlands would have been hell,as it was I was as warm and dry as cycling on a summer’s
8) Pedal power is the best way to see a new country – the slow pace means you experience all of the smells, sights and sounds of the great outdoors…you experience a whole lot more cycling through at 15 mph than you do at 70 mph in a car, oh and take the back roads, motorways cut out the best scenic routes to make journeys faster and shorter
The list goes on however to bring it back to the title of this post…
7) Think of life like cycling in the dark – when I first set out on my adventure I wanted to be in before darkness however, I experienced some of the best sights whilst cycling at dusk – Sunsets over the Lake District, full moon above Ben Nevis and sunset over Lake Lochie to name but a few. What’s more is that when you cycle by headlamp you can only see the metres in front of you, never able to look too far ahead or to the peripherals, much like life…forget about the noise of day to day living,the doubters and the haters instead focus what’s in front of you, on what you really enjoy…that’s when life truly begins!
To be continued…