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Europe & The Near East 2007

Departure Time

Finally, after months of planning, paperwork and 25-hour days, we’ve left on our epic journey round the globe! We’ll be posting regular updates on this blog, as well as making video podcasts available throughout the journey. Make sure you subscribe to the blog or check back often to see how we’re doing!

None of us have any experience of cycle touring before, so this is really going to test our mental and physical endurance.

Goodbye for now…

Categories
Europe & The Near East 2007

Help!

It’s 20 days ’til the date I’ve told everyone I know (and plenty I don’t) that I’m going to leave on to cycle round the world — is this the part where the nerves are meant to kick in? I guess it would be weird if not, since the furthest end-to-end distance I’ve ever cycled was 140 miles, and I’ve never been outside the UK on a bike, or travelled to any country further East than Austria.

Right now, I have occasional bouts of incredible excitement — for the experience promises to be nothing if not life-changing — intersected with irrational bouts of terror! If I camp in the Romanian mountains, will wolves be feasting upon my inert form by sunrise? Will the fact that I haven’t got maps for 90% of the world, or in fact any real route other than a tentative list of countries, really matter? Will I have found everything on my list of ‘things I haven’t got’ by the 17th of June? Do I really need to take 5 chains? Will it rain on the day I leave?

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Europe & The Near East 2007

Progress

It’s all gone a bit mental. 1 month ago I was negotiating a sponsorship deal. Today I have a bin-liner full of camping gear next to me, a fully-built-up bike and trailer in the garage with shiny new Magura brakes and forks freshly fitted to it, a sack of cycling clothes from ProBikeKit.com, and have just got off the phone to the WWF in Geneva about sponsorship ideas, including full bike sponsorship from Kona. I was also on the phone to the film production company for about half an hour discussing what direction to take the podcast in and potential ideas for a title sequence and first episode. I can’t believe how much seems to be happening all at once. I’m also coming to grips with the idea of actually leaving, now that the date is less than 6 weeks away. I’m getting occasional glimpses of the enormity of what I’m attempting but I know that the shock of the first few days is going to be intense and traumatic. This makes me excited, but also terrified. Am I ready to live in a tent for longer than I spent at university? Probably not. In fact, definitely not.

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Europe & The Near East 2007

Did Something Stupid

This weekend, I voluntarily pitched myself from a small metal cage, mounted at the head, so to speak, of a massive erection.

It was a singular act of spontaneity. I had not woken up that particular morning with an unexpected yearning to experience the delightful sensation of a gravity-assisted plummet. Nor had I pulled up at the NEC that lunchtime in search of a means to appease a deep-seated craving for the pleasures of high-velocity flesh-concrete fusion. No, by all accounts it was just another day, and I was thinking no further ahead than my sandwich fillings. Smoked ham or stilton? Chutney or pickle?

Fate, however, is inexorable, as a fictional Bernard Cornwell character might slip onto the end of a particularly poignant sentence. That day, it was fate that caused the crumbling remains of the fortune cookie to reveal a biscuity surprise — I had won a bungee jump! As quick as lightning I was fast-tracked through to the signing of a dubiously-vague disclaimer, upon which I left my excited, sweaty mark, and ushered in the direction of the exit with directions floating round my head in a most misdirecting fashion.

And so it was that I found myself with my toes hanging over the edge of the doorway, looking out of a wildly-swinging, wind-buffeted cage and into — well, nothing. There were people far below me, I knew that much. The big green tarpaulin looked decidedly smaller than it had on the ground. And the man with the kitchen-roll had definitely hidden his absorbent proffering from view. I remember looking down on the roof of the NEC. “I’m letting go in three… two…” said the other chap in the cage, who I now noticed was receding upwards at an alarming rate. I had already fallen a hundred feet before I realised, then I was flailing through the air, limbs gyrating, great globules of phlegm spurting at random passers-by.

I wish I had been an observer at this point. As my limp form was lowered gingerly to the ground, occasional spasms showing that I was still in fact one of the living, the crowd became silent. There were no words from any of the onlookers as I shed harness and collected bag and coat. They had just witnessed something rather unpleasant happening to a fellow human being.

“Was it painful?” enquired a girl timidly. I exited the compound, briskly replied and made for the nearest patch of grass.

“…you weren’t supposed to say that…”

Categories
Europe & The Near East 2007

Ride Earth

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been putting together a website for the Ride Earth project, in which I aim to mountain bike round the world. More information at ride-earth.org.uk.