A couple of years ago I had a big idea. I felt compelled to realise that idea, and it quickly consumed my life. One of the side effects was that I stopped writing this blog. Suddenly all my time and energy was being channelled into something new which had very little to do with cycle touring. This wasn’t planned, but it happened anyway. Circumstances dictated it.
I’ve had mixed feelings about this. For many years my blog was the focal point for my creativity, my means of contributing to society, and the source of a large portion of my income. On the other hand, I’ve never seen life as a steady-state endeavour. Progress and change and the continual renewal of ideas seem to either follow me or pull me along. So in a way it felt natural to leave this blog behind. I didn’t even notice when the 10-year anniversary of the departure of Ride Earth – my first big transcontinental trip – ticked over on the 17th of June last year.
But this wasn’t just a blog, was it? It became a community project, built around a shared, romantic notion of exploration by bicycle and all the many topics that spiral outwards from that simple concept. As time went on, the proportions and the focus swung towards the contributors, the riders, the shared ideals and the debates, and the blogger became a guide.
Hence my mixed feelings. Is my disappearance having the unintentional effect of disbanding that community? Of course the words and ideas are still here, but what’s a museum without a curator? Judging by the contents of my inbox, I could easily fill these pages with paid advertorials disguised as guest posts for the sake of having new content, but wouldn’t that undermine the personal and nonpartisan foundation on which it’s all been built?
Anyway. This is all a long-winded way of getting to the point, which is that my ‘big idea’ has grown wings and is learning to fly, leaving space for me to drift once again towards the two-wheeled life I used to know. There are huge parts of the world I have never been to; times are constantly changing; the allure of discovery for its own sake has never diminished; and I feel it’s about time I let the winds of travel take me somewhere new again.
So the bike has been dragged from the basement, the panniers patched up, and a mental map of potential adventures is once again beginning to form. Because I can, and because it makes me feel alive. And with a return to the bike – and I can feel this tangibly – is coming a return to writing about it.
On a more selfless note, I was wrong about that ‘big idea’ having nothing to do with cycle touring. Working on the hiking trail in the Caucasus has shown me how I can marry the love of bicycle travel with an intimate knowledge of one small corner of the world to create opportunities for other riders. I can see this blog evolving in that direction too.
These aren’t New Year’s Resolutions. I’m not promising anything, making public commitments to create false accountability, or anything like that. I’ve only ever done this out of love, and if that’s not enough of a motivator, I probably shouldn’t be here.
But most of all, it’s just nice to be back.