I really was starting off from scratch. I am no great cyclist and I have had little experience in my past. So to suggest I could get anywhere near organising and completing this bike adventure around the world alone would be laughable. Indeed I don’t care to remember just how many times I was laughed at when I suggested I was embarking on this trip to friends and family. I think the most positive response came on the day I left and waved goodbye with the words, ”see you back here in a week”. Yet, the credit is not with the man who points out where the doer of deeds could have them better!
What I wanted to achieve on this journey was to have the chance to test myself. And to prove to myself and to spend time alone with myself. But the journey also became about trying to inspire normal people, just like me. To show they could achieve things beyond their limits and confronted the fact that time will wait for no man!
So in April 2018 I set off from Madrid with my trusted cube bike, a few spare inners, a tool kit, one change of clothes and a lot of water and food. My plan for circumnavigating the world by bike, was to cover 18,000 miles. Passing through two antipodal points, only move in one direction and cover on average 130 miles a day.
My route took me through Spain hitting the coast near Barcelona and sticking along the coast (where it was harder to get lost). Next through France down the western side of Italy crossing over at Salerno and hitting the eastern coast at Bari. I then followed the eastern coast all the way up to Slovenia and then along the coast of Croatia, Bosnia and Greece. At Athens I crossed over to Cesme on the ferry and then followed the Turkish coast northwards to Istanbul.
Having roughly met my daily mileage target I realised in Istanbul that trying to catch direct flights from each country from which I needed to cross seas was going to be too expensive. Consequently, I decided at this point that although I still wanted this to be a physical challenge, I would no longer put the added pressure on myself to the women’s record for circumnavigating the globe on a bike. But rather use this a chance to see how far my body and mind could go.
From Turkey I flew to India and cycled from Mumbai to Chennai. This was by far the toughest leg of my around the world mission by bike. Cycling as a lone woman in India was daunting at times ad I was constantly harassed by motorcyclists trying to grab me. The weather hit well over 40 degrees some days and the traffic was completely unpredictable! It felt quite surreal to be swerving out of the way of random cows on motorways. I had quite a bad accident just outside Chennai where I was smashed off my bike by a motorcyclist. I was left injured and still clipped into my pedals in the middle of a motorway!
I have to admit I was glad to have survived India and flew from there to Perth. Perth felt so clean and peaceful in comparison to Chennai. I left Perth and cycled on the only tarmac road to Katherine, Darwin. Although the road trains never failed to make my heart jump every time they passed, the Australian road were incredible. Despite being hit by a constant headwind, I relished my time on the remote roads. I passed a roadhouse every couple of days to restock on water and food and camping out in the endless expanse. I was also flabbergasted at the extent of the Australian’s kindness. It almost became annoying how many people stopped to offer food and water when they passed me on the road! From Katherine I cycled to Three Ways (near Alice Springs) before hitching a lift to Brisbane to catch a flight to Seattle. Unfortunately, after a couple of days cycling in America I ran out of funds. This meant I had to accept flying home, returning to the real world and finding myself another job was my only option.
At the time, I felt devastated that my trip had finished prematurely and that I had failed in mission of going around the world by bike. Yet for what it is worth, with the safe distance of time, I learnt more from this adventure than I did during my three years at university. In fact, I cannot now quite comprehend how I achieved it. My body felt shattered in day one. To think I must have cycled through all the saddle sores, boredom, rough sleeping, cold, heat, muscle aches and tiredness. This was achieved on pure adrenaline and determination to finish what I had started. On my bike, pedaling and pedaling, every hour, every day, I started to imagine I was timekeeping to some primal rhythm.
For six months of my life, my existence became about one thing, mileage. And the simplicity meant I could fill those miles with all the beautiful scenes and infinite skies we are blessed with. After all. ”what is this life, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare”. It’s hard to pinpoint the most special moments. Sleeping under uninterrupted stars in Western Australia. Spending nearly every day in Italy washing off the dirt and sweat in the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic seas. Or realising the extent of the kindness of certain Kind-hearted people that took time out of their busy schedules to help my every single day. I hope my attempt at this adventure persuades others to go do those things they’re always thought not achievable. Because, it serves no one to think small. I have been raising money for The George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust who work tirelessly in East Africa to keep wildlife safe in the wild. They are currently undertaking a wild dog breeding project to increase the dangerously low numbers left in the wild. They also have ongoing black rhino protection schemes against ruthless poachers.