Looking back, we English chaps have a colourful history of exploration — epic journeys into the unknown, breaking new ground, new methods, new records. One of the current generation following in the footsteps of Livingstone, Shackleton, Fiennes et al is a young Yorkshire lad called Alastair Humphreys, who I first heard about when I was preparing for this trip back in 2006. Alastair spent over four years travelling by bicycle, racking up a massive 46,000 total miles, or over 10,000 miles a year, making my current total of 5000 miles in one year look a little puny in comparison. (OK, so I have had nearly six months off!)
His books are a great read, leaving you yearning to hear more of the huge variety of day-to-day experiences in over 50 countries that defined his journey but couldn’t be squeezed into the text. You can get hold of both books on his website. On days when I’ve found my spirits suffering due to being stuck in a city for so long, reading a couple of chapters is always enough to get me motivated about the prospect of continuing my journey — a prospect that is now tantalisingly close.
Tenny’s new bike is due to arrive in Tbilisi today, and if all goes well I’m having a friend bring it back here to Yerevan with him next week. I bought it for her using the proceeds from an article Andy and I wrote for Geographical magazine. I’m hoping to supplement my travelling budget with more writing projects in the future — ideas for publications that might be interested in running a series or one-off article on any aspect of the trip are welcome.
There are many inspiring reads our there, no matter what dream you need inspiration for to make real. The insurance company who sponsored our first year of travel insurance, WorldNomads, recently published a collection of travel stories and photographs, written and taken by contributors to its online travel-blogging community. It’s a lovely cross-section of tales from all over the planet to entertain and inspire, together with a diverse and beautiful collection of photographs. I’m also plugging it unashamedly because they published one of my short stories in it — the tale of arrest during a thunderstorm on the West Romanian plains back in September last year, which you can read here if you missed it the first time round! You can buy the book here if you’re interested — helping to keep me on the road a little while longer if they manage to sell enough copies to distribute the profits!
After travelling round the world by bicycle, Alastair Humphreys is now preparing to walk to the South Pole and back together with seasoned polar expeditioner Ben Saunders. Surprisingly, in this day and age where every last great journey seems to have been made, they will be the first to make the unsupported trip on foot, if successful. Keep an eye on this exciting and inspiring project here.
I’ve got lots to do in the next month, so I’d best be off — but take a few minutes out to relax and do a little reading. Check out the links I’ve posted in this article, if you have time. They’re all worth a visit.