A lifelong dream
Adventurer & Photographer 

Stephen Peel

To circumnavigate the world on a bicycle

This page is dedicated to answering questions that people have asked, relating to all aspects of this adventure, and some of them I have asked myself.

Image by Stephen Peel

Questions and Answers

Why?
It is something I have always thought about doing, but have never been in the position to until now. We all have dreams but they usually remain just that. I am ready now to live that dream as I may never get another chance. It's the same when asking a mountain climber why they climb mountains, knowing there is such a huge chance of not making it back alive. It's just either in us or it isn't, and if it is, we are prepared to take the risks.
Are you not worried something will happen to you?

Of course I think about it, but at the same time, I also feel (foolishly maybe) that I am unbreakable and that I will return. I have been through so many things and near death experiences, but I am still here. If I thought there was a really high chance I might not return and that I could die doing this, well to be honest, I would still set off. After all, there is also a chance I will return. Every adventurer and explorer understands this risk, but they still do it. It is who they are, and nothing will change that. I would rather die trying living a dream, than just ending up in a care home wondering if things could have been different.


My main concern is that there is a chance I might leave my daughters without a father. That is my biggest concern. That said, I could lose my life or end up in a bad way here. Not following my dreams could bring me to an early grave on its ownMy daughters have told me they are behind me on whatever it is that I want to do. They know this is who I am and they understand the risks I take and why I take them, they know I am a wild thing at heart.


My wife was worried I might not return from the Amazon, more because I attract accidents and took risks like no other. My daughters were not even teens at the time. She drew the line at me going to the Congo though and that was understandable as at the time war was going on there. Fear is a healthy sense to have, and maybe all that bravado will go out of the window on my first nights wild camping when I am surrounded by wolves or bears.  In fact, I will likely shi# myself on the first howl.


The biggest hurdle I have to get over, is Situational Anxiety with regard to being on the road next to traffic. This was a result of an RTA in which I was run over by an articulated lorry doing 50mph, and just to talk about it is a problem. If am ever going to get round the world on a bike, I will have to deal with this the best way I can, and I will document my feelings in the hope it may help others. I am hitting this mental state head on to beat it.
Do you not think you are too old to be doing something like this?
Fu#k off! :)      But I do know what you mean. I suppose there are so many young people doing this sort of thing after university or before they settle down to normal life, or with a lot to fall back on if all fails, and you hear about those more than us silver tops giving up everything to live their dreams. But there are also a lot of people cycling around the world at this very moment, who are much older than I am and some in their 70s and 80s and older. I might look a bit out of place in a hostel, but so what.
What about wild animals?
If I can catch them I will cook them or wear them :) ! Wild (inedible) animals are a consideration of course, and out of all the big animals, I think I have given bears the most thought. Expressionless, big, flesh eating critters that they are. At the same time I haven't heard of many cyclists being killed by them.


It's the small things I don't like mostly. The biting things. But there is one creature that sends a shiver up my spine, it is horrid, nasty, ugly, and if you stand in front of one and move around it, it follows you, it turns around with you watching your every move. This creature was never one of God's Creatures. The Earwig! Seriously, this is the thing that I do no like the most.
Are there any countries you will avoid?
Yes, countries with war and ethnic tension going on at that time. Countries that literally hate anyone other than their own. Hey, why give them the pleasure of my company :) I will just go around those countries, I am in no rush.
Can you really do this?
Yes, I can do this. Once I actually start pedaling on that very fist day, I will know that I will want to see it through. I want to see it through now, obviously. Of course, there is always the chance that something will make me have to stop and turn back, or even not get as far as setting off in the first place, but I am counting on this not happening, but it might, and I am aware of that. 


It might even be that I get a week or two into the cycle, and find I haven't the mental strength to continue or that I hate it or have an accident. When I am sat on that bike, about to start my first mile, I will know that at that time, I have everything in place that will allow me to complete it,. it is then just up to me.

Why can't you settle?
I don't know to be honest. I have wondered that very question, so many times, and I still can't come up with an answer I am happy with. It is in all of us to want to be on the move and to experience new and interesting things. Some of us have to just keep on moving and working to do that, while others choose a more stable and quiet way of life. As you can tell by my answer, I really haven't a clue. 
Are you not scared of dying alone?
We ALL die alone and it isn't something I think about, much. If you mean out in the wild on my adventure, then I don't like the idea, obviously.
Is it you're round?
No!
While preparing for this, how far have you cycled in one day?
The most I have cycled in one day is just 30 miles, and I got through 4 Lion Bars. I know, that's no distance at all really. Not when I might be wanting to cycle more than 50 miles each and every day, and even up to 100 miles in a day. 
How long will it take?
Hard to say, maybe a couple of years, maybe much longer. I am not planning to beat a record or cycle through places without having time to see them, I am going to enjoy this, and if that means staying in some places for while, then so be it. I will not be in a rush. It isn't about me saying to myself that I have cycled completely round the world, this is something I have dreamed of doing, it's my biggest adventure yet, and I am going to take as long as I like.

Have you ever been to a place and thought how nice it would be to spend more time there, well that's how this is going to be. If I cycle into a lovely town, or lovely beach resort or stunning area with amazing people or views, then I may just stay for a bit. Like I said, I am in no rush.
Won't people just think you are running away?
If you mean running away from responsibilities like bills, mortgages, finance, work, ordinary mundane life, then that's not quite true. I am taking time out and won't be away from these things forever, but I wish I was. I am going on an adventure, doing something I have always wanted to do. And besides, why should I care what the people who think negatively feel, I care about the people who think positive of me. 
Where are my ladders?
 You will get them back!
Just because it's a lifelong dream, is it really worth risking your life over? 
The answer is in the question!
What bike are you going to use?

Take a look at this world cyclists bike. You can hardly see it under all his stuff. The bike has to be tough, really tough. It has to withstand all kinds of road and off-road surfaces, and all sorts of weather.


It has be easy to work on, a steel frame so it can be welded easily. It has to be able to take my weight and half that weight again in gear. Well over 100 extra pounds of stuff.


A bike like that doesn't come cheap, and I am expecting to be shelling out a couple of grand easily on the bike and equipment. Don't forget, this will be like my motor home. All my transport, accommodation, and supplies, will all be with me at all times.


The bikes I have in mind are:


Thorn Cycles

Steel-framed, Rohloff equiped eXp, a full-on expedition bike which comes with a £2,899+ price tag.

The derailleur equipped Nomad, a less full-on, but equally capable tourer, is a more manageable £1,200. A large proportion of British long distance tourers, have used Nomads and have been delighted with the bikes. Thorn also has an outstanding reputation for supporting their customers, at home and while they are on tour.
First choice up to now!
Koga World Traveller


"The real Koga Classic with its fabulously assembled steel frame and elegantly slim tubing. Developed for long distance touring with full luggage. Quality in every detail with a complete Shimano Deore XT group and the ergonomical KOGA Atalanta handlebar" Sounds good to me, although £1800!

But included it all that you see in the pic to the right. Not bad at all and I love the handle bars.

Surly - Disc Trucker

Disc Trucker enjoys a reputation as one of the best riding and most value-packed touring bikes out there. It’s been around long enough to be tested in the real world, in all kinds of places, with all kinds of loads on all kinds of roads. It has to be the bike I find other long distance cyclist use more than any other, at least in the blogs I have found. By the time it has been adjusted and equipped the way I want it, it will cost more than £2000.
Tout Terrain

Germany's Tout Terrain produce some innovative designs with integral rear racks. As well as the racks, the bikes have some interesting features such as asymmetric forks, to take account of the disc brakes, and a handlebar stop to prevent over-rotation. The Silk road is available from £1,300 for the derailleur version and £1,900 if fitted with a Rohloff.

Second choice up to now! But really think it will move to first. 

Surly Pugsley


"A bike that could be ridden where other bikes simply faltered"

Says enough to me, and as I am in no rush, and love exploring, this bike is looking really good. If anyone has other ideas, let me know. Around £1500 plus kit.




More Q & A
Which country are you looking forward to the most, and why?
I am looking forward to East Asia and the countries such as Thailand and Vietnam the most. 
  Do you believe in learning by your mistakes?
I believe I learn by my mistakes, we all do. None of us would have ever made it out of nappies if we hadn't. That said, some of us should still be in nappies!
Don't you not think its a bit selfish to just take off?
It isn't selfish of me! For example, my daughters understand me and also have their own lives to plan and enjoy. My family have their own lives too and I wouldn't want to make either my family or my daughters feel guilty or forgo their dreams just because of me! It would be selfish of others to not want me to do what I want to do. But they are not selfish, they are supportive, and we love each other dearly and respect each others needs and wishes.

One day my daughters may venture out of the country and live their lives elsewhere, and there is no way that I would want them to stay behind because of me. And they probably wouldn't anyway :) and that's cool, I get that.
You haven't done more than 8 miles on the road in one day due to Situational Anxiety, how are you going to do 20,000 and more on a world cycle ?

I know, this is my biggest issue. I feel that my working through this may help others to believe they can deal with their own anxieties. Situational Anxiety comes in many forms, but with regard to me, I am a nervous wreck when next to traffic, and more so when next to a big wagon.

Being knocked down by an articulated lorry on the motorway will do that to a person, and the thoughts I have about how lucky I was to live, and the flash backs I have of that night haunt me. This is where the PSTD come in that I suffer from. I receive medications and therapy with regard to both issues and this has helped a lot, but it is ultimately down to me to break free, and to live a healthy minded life.

So I really have no choice, it was one of the big reasons why I have to do this, why I have to give it everything I have to get myself on the road to fighting my fears. I hate the traffic right now, and have even just ordered a bike rack for my car so I can drive my bike to a secure cycle path that runs for 10’s of miles along our coast. I know, I know, I need to do more road miles, and I will, I have to.

 Will you be cycling through winter in some countries?
Yes, but I doubt it will be in countries that are shoulder deep in snow, I don't like the cold and will plan my ride to work with the best weather, even if it is the hottest weather. In the USA for instance, if it is winter when I cross, I will change my route to cover the Southern States where it is warmer. Although I would rather not because I have been to all the Southern States and I want to see places new.
  What health issues do you have?
Due to the RTA, I have a severely damaged lower back, right shoulder, ribs, middle back, elbow, nerve damage to my right side, but appart from that I'm not so bad. Cycling is much better for m spine that walking, and I just get on with it, simple as that really.