This - The Adventure Begins - page is a diary of the days leading up to the actually cycle. It's the ups and downs and all my preparations. I will be using my social media to update daily as I go, then adding those posts to my website diaries as and when I get the chance, as updating a website can be much more time consuming than a social media page.
A Life Less Ordinary
Through hard work in the building industry, I have been able to travel all over the world experiencing amazing things, with some things you would find very hard to believe, and some things I am lucky to have survived :)
As a result, I have befriended some wonderful people from all walks of life, cultures, race, gender, religion, you name it. Just like everyone else, I have made some really good decisions in
life, and or course some really pretty bad ones, but being a father of the two most wonderful daughters is amazing, and I am so very lucky and proud.
I am not fooling myself with regard to how hard this cycle will be, but I'm loving the thought of it and have never let anything stop me from doing what I have set my mind on, or at the very least giving it my best shot. I have also never been more excited about an adventure before as I am with this one.
It really is hard to imagine, that I could actually be on this adventure for many years. I am not beholden to anyone, so if I decide I have had enough at any point, that I want something else or want to go in a completely different direction or want to spend a long time in any one place, I will do it.
Expect no airs and graces or bullshit. Expect honesty, adventure, plenty of highs and lows, tears, pain (hopefully not too much pain :) ), excitement, a smile from ear to ear, and even a little humour. I love photography, so will be taking some really great shots and uploading them to my social media platforms, so look out for them.
I also hope to video in 4k on DSLR and GoPro5, with the intention of making a video on return and small YouTube video's while on the roadI hope to also write a book, but here I go, getting ahead of myself :) I have to at least start cycling first :)
Trust your own instinct. Your mistakes might as well be your own,instead of someone else’s
October 28 2016
October 28 2016
Nov 11 16, I spent the first week of November glued to the TV with the US elections, even going without sleep for two days watching it :), but in between those days I managed to still get plenty of things completed.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Everything is still right on schedule and I am working hard to keep it that way. I have to admit to wondering at times whether I am over thinking how much organisation and planning is involved or needed, and how much head space I really need to give it.
I’m not a young adult who can just leave from my parents house for 3 to 6 years and go back to it at the end of all this without a care in the world.
When I was younger I really didn’t worry about the consequences of doing anything, I would just get up and go and do pretty much whatever I wanted and when. I could disappear over the horizon until I felt I had my adventure fix.
Those days are long gone :) I have to make sure I have a plan in place for when I return or if I have to return prematurely due to accident or a family issue.
My emotions will likely be on some crazy roller-coaster for some time, but I am loving the thought of all of it and feel very privileged as a working class guy, to have worked hard enough to give myself the choice and opportunity to be able to do this.
No man is worth his salt who is not ready at all times to risk his well-being, to risk his body, to risk his life in a great cause
Mid Feb, and I'm getting pretty excited about how things are going to schedule. I have just the kitchen in this house to complete, followed by a little general maintenance outside and the planting of some flowers, and I will be ready to call in the estate agents and contact the storage company.
My daughter phoned me the other day because she couldn't get out of her flat due to the lock braking, and of course I was around there like a shot with a car full of tools. It made me think how being close by can be handy for the girls, and the thought of not being around, kind of upset me on my way back home.
Its funny how you change emotionally once you have children, and look at things in such different ways. At the same time, I know they will be just fine, and if anything major does happen (god forbid) I will return as quickly as I can, but things will be cool, I just know it.
Early March, The estate agents have been in, and I was very surprised to find the valuation was much higher than I expected, enough of an increase over my expectations, to cover the cost of all my equipment including my bike, and including any other travel costs that won't include cycling. This is a real bonus.
The house went on the market yesterday, and I have 3 viewings lined up already. Let's hope it sells quickly. My plans are still on track to leave during this summer and head East through France, Spain, Italy, and Greece.
March 11, House went on the market yesterday, with the first booking at 10am offered full asking price. I'm thrilled of course, but my arse has just gone :) It's on now, it is finally here. It's thrilling, crazy, and just around the corner. I now have about 6 weeks in which to get sorted and everything into storage. Once that's done, I will be staying with my sister in Llandudno North Wales for around 6 weeks in order to get my bike and equipment together.
A rough estimate of the date I will be setting out on the cycle, will be June 1st. Which is 2 months ahead of schedule, and pretty amazing really that I get to cycle through our European summer. It's all go now, no more sitting idly by the TV watching the crap - which I will no doubt miss - for hours on end.
March 18, This morning, I'm going through insurance companies online to find a good price for my cycle tour, and WOW, what a nightmare! Talk about rip'offs. The cheapest I have found thus far is World Nomads at just over £600 for 1 year on their cycle touring insurance for the European leg of the tour, and get this, it doesn't cover independent cycle touring? You have to be part of an arranged tour under the leadership of a qualified professional. I will add more soon about this.
March 21, I took a drive with my youngest daughter Chloe up to Leeds to CycleSense, a bike shop that deals with Koga bikes. It was an 80 mile drive out but worth it. Dave - the owner - checked out my requirements and based on my height and size, we worked out what we felt would be the best bike for me.
The Koga Worldtraveler Signature has quite a large frame in forest green. Trouble is, after we talked through the specs and the pros and cons of the Rohloff 14 speed hub and Gates belt drive, I came away feeling confident I had the right bike at £4100. But, when I actually got home after my daughter and I went for lunch, I started to really think about the fact that for what appears roughly £1500 extra over a Deore XT setup, I started to question whether or not the hub would be a good idea.
Don't get me wrong, there would be no question if all I was doing was taking off for a few weeks or months every now and then on a cycle tour somewhere, where I could just call my trip short if I was having a few problems with the bike, get home and get it sorted. But because I am planning to be away for years, passing through some countries with really tight visa restrictions, and with calling my trip short and returning home not an option, I'm rethinking the idea of the hub and belt.
Also, it turns out that according to Dave, the hub is only under warranty for 2 years, meaning if it goes pear shaped 2 years into my cycle, I'm screwed and will have to fork out another grand or more for a new hub. Fixing punctures and taking the wheel on and off is a concern to me too, as I like cycling along the coast and have had as many as 3 punctures in one day due to shards of seashells going through the tires on my Giant Escape 2. The thought of having to tension and mess around with the belt on the hub every day - if I'm unlucky - would spoil my fun, and I'm told sand a grit and seashells could shred a belt or send it out.
You can't carry a spare belt either in a pannier, as they come in the position they are meant to be fitted in, as you can't bend or twist or fold a belt. And so, if I were to just be taking the odd tour from time to time, I wouldn't have to think like this, but to be away for what could be many years, its far too greater risk.
The bike also comes with disk breaks, and I'm no longer happy about that either and will likely replace them with just simple cantilever breaks. The bike will be ordered once this house has completed and not before.
It is better to risk starving to death then surrender. If you give up on your dreams, what’s left?
April 1, Went for a lovely sunny cycling on my GIANT Escape 2 along the canal, and only reached 6 miles before stopping and chatting to a lovely fellow named Colin. After a long chat and a few things in common, we set off cycling in different directions. A few minutes later while I was sat at the side of the road trying to fix a puncture :/, Colin came cycling up, invited me back to his place to meet his lovely wife and to throw my bike in the back of his car to drive me back, as my puncture kit needed ditching.
The world is full of nice and helpful people, especially so when you are a cyclist I have found. When I was younger and cycling, I would appear exhausted and would be offered drinks and food from complete strangers, but while on foot at times with no bike, I have not met with the same goodwill. The people are the same good people no doubt about it, but I really have noticed that people feel less threatened and more eager to help a cyclist than someone with a backpack. Another great reason to cycle instead of walk :)
April 4, And wow! As I type this I am looking out of the window in my little - sold - bungalow in Cheshire. It's windy and threatening to rain. Its still not quite light.
I have just had waves of what I could best describe as butterflies through my chest. It's such a weird feeling. I'm sat on a comfy big settee, with the news going on in the background on my 55" 4k Android TV, the heating set to a nice 15c, and I'm about to set out on for however many years, living in a tent for most part, no more big TV, no more comfy big chair, no more window for that matter, and in extreme weathers we just don't get here in the UK.
I have had these feelings before, and it's only natural I guess, given what I am about to do. All that time I have dreamed of doing this but never thought more than just one of our many dreams, but the last few years where it has been on my mind more than at any other time in my life, now I realize it is entirely possible, and these last few months where I have realized it is actually happening. It is truly Amazing.
April 6, I had planned to take the DJI Mavic Pro Drone, but...
I had high hopes of taking a DJI Mavic Pro Drone around with me, but sadly, after doing tonnes of research, it’s looking like this will be far too difficult, especially with regard to the way I am travelling anyway, because so many of the countries I will be travelling through have tough restrictions and laws, with hard to get permit requirements and other factors, and some countries won't let you in with one regardless.
To take a drone would mean my somehow posting it ahead to different places that allow drones more freely. But without having an address to actually post it to, and not even knowing if it would make it through customs, could be simply throwing a lot of money away, and getting myself into trouble at the same time, with possibly added fines and fees to cover on top of a confiscated drone.
Due to the growing popularity of drones right now, many countries are having no choice but to make restrictions. Too many accidents are being reported, drones in flight paths, or flying over sensitive military and other areas, and I suppose I can understand it, but I’m still disappointed.
I don’t see any other way around it, the drone idea will have to go. But, I will spend that money on maybe a really great macro or other lens. Or gimbal for the GoPro 5. And, I will have more room in my panniers for other items. Still sad though.
Route I have been giving some real thought to
So how am I doing?
October 30 2017
I estimated it would take about 71 days to reach Montpellier, but it actually took 76 days. If I hadn't taken 9 days off to enjoy Madrid, or 10 days off to return to the UK on medical grounds from Barcelona, it would have only taken me 57 days.
November 1 2017
Back in the UK for big bike repairs. I'm pretty upset about it to be honest, but hey, its all part of the adventure. I will not be returning to the road now until Feb/March.
I hope the bike issue is sorted without too much trouble, and I will just enjoy being warm here in the UK for winter, catch up with my daughters too and spend Christmas with loved ones, then back to the road. I might take on some bicycle repair classes too while I'm doing nothing but going to the gym. See you all in the Spring.
April 11, And today I secured my storage completely. I also spent the day on the phone to loads of insurance companies, in an attempt to find cover for a solo cycle tourist with pre-existing conditions, who is not planning on returning back to the UK until mission complete.
Wow, what a job it was too. All but one I found allowed you to take out another policy without having to return back to the UK. And although the cover is basic, it covers me if anything happens to me as a result anything unrelated to a pre-existing issue. More on that in my blog section.
New Sony Walkman mp3 player birthday present has been loaded to the now 80gb of memory. I've loaded albums I haven't listened to in forever, but no doubt will be glad I loaded them now, maybe :)
Back to packing today and expecting more boxes to arrive later.
April 25, and I'm a bit disappointed at the moment. It will be 7 weeks this coming Saturday that an offer was put on my house, and after my constant calling the solicitors and estate agents. Things appear to be getting drawn out :/
My leaving day is now looking like it is delayed from 1 August to mid September. Any later than that and I will have to plan my route differently in order to follow the warm weather, as I really can't stand the cold. It could mean flying from Manchester England to Miami Florida, and cycling down through the keys and over to Cuba and across to Mexico, then down through South America. I really wanted to cycle East though, but hey, there is still a chance yet.
May 10, I have today chosen JUMP Children's Charity as the charity I will be supporting on this adventure. It's a truly wonderful charity which you can read about on the page I have dedicated. JUMP Children's Charity
May 19, Contracts on house were exchanged today, and I have already started moving my things into storage. Removals firm coming in a few days to get the bigger items. Tomorrow I find out the rough delivery date of the new KOGA Worldtraveller. Date of house completion is the June 1, just 13 days from now.
May 20, KOGA Delivery date is estimated to be July 14, which I am a bit disappointed about to be honest, as I was hoping to get a good few weeks of riding on it before setting off, especially having never used panniers and a fully loaded bike before. But still, at least things are still on target. Still, 8 weeks is a long time from order to delivery, and something others thinking of getting a KOGA like mine in a hurry should be aware of.
May 26, After the recent bombing of all those innocent children in Manchester, I was extremely saddened, like most people. I was born in Manchester and currently only live a few miles from there. My daughters had contacted on the day of the bombing, so I knew they were not at the concert that night.
I have lost all faith in government, not that I ever had much anyway. It should never be about just moving on and getting used to living with terror and showing that we will not be fazed, as our government states, it should be about fighting against it and removing anyone related to it.
June 2, Yesterday, everything went through and the house sale finalised.
Sony a7rii mirrorless camera has been ordered and should arrive next week, along with the Sony FE 55mm F1.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* Prime Lens. Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS lens (much smaller and lighter than the f/2.8, and cheaper) both E-mount.
I have installed a countdown to setting out clock on the homepage, to give me yet another target and to just remind me of how far I have come and how much longer I have left. It maybe that I can't quite keep to that exact date and time on the clock, but I'm hoping to or at least pretty close.
June 11, and I'm loving the new Sony a7rii and lenses. I also purchased the GoPro Hero 5 Black the other day, which I will also need to get used to before I set off. It's the uploading and creating of video's that are causing me a few probs at the moment, and finding the right software is so difficult, but no doubt I will have it all sorted.
I am now looking at the best sat nav for my adventure, and up to now, the Garmin 820 is looking like a safe bet, and yet another thing I need to learn how to use before I go :)
June 17, camera equipment all sorted now, and it wasn't so easy. For anyone who has cycle toured in the past who still has all the gear and has experience with cycle touring, it would all be pretty straight forward no doubt, but for me, someone who has never been cycle touring at all, and had no camping equipment or any gear for camping, it has been quite an ordeal. Not horrible, but just like having a full time job preparing.
The bike was fairly easy really, and you would think camera equipment would be too, considering my experience, but even that has been a little bit of a pain. OK, so I buy the camera I feel will be right for the cycle, then I start working on a travel tripod that is light, extra batteries, ways of charging the batteries on the move, ways to pack and carry the right leads and accessories, and then there is the GoPro Hero 5, and I need a chesty, tripod, handle, extra batteries, memory cards in both SD and Micro SD, an external SSD to store everything from the SD cards, cables, packing, oh and editing software installed on my laptop, which was another load of work.
My tent arrived the other day, after months of trying to figure out the right one, then I purchased an extra ground sheet and I just had to have the Gear Shed attachment to put my bike in.
I'm not doing all this from home, I'm doing it from other peoples homes, because I no longer have a home until I return, and all my stuff is in storage. The scale of this is huge, with so many other things I'm trying to sort, related to the cycle, but soon the time for preparation will be over, because in just over a month I will be setting out, and what I have neglected to prepare for will just have to be sorted as I go.
But don't get me wrong, I am fully aware of just how fortunate I am to be in this situation and able to do all this.
Here is the tent. MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 Person 3 Season and Gear Shed attachment. I have made this little 4K video, and that's my old but trusty GIANT Escape 2 XL in there:
July 4, I hit 100 Subscribers on my YouTube Channel today, which although doesn't sound like much, it means an awful lot to me.
To date, I have nearly 9000 followers across my Social Media platforms, and I haven't even left yet :). Over the next 3 years of the cycle, I expect this to reach 100k or more, and I just want to say thank you.
It's important to me because I like to know people are interested in what I'm doing. OK, so not every follower is, as we all know that some followers follow so they are followed back, and have no interest at all in what you do, but, an awful lot of you are genuinely interest, and that's whats important to me.
There are people following who are thinking of doing something similar and want to see how I get on, maybe learn a few good tips, or even what not to do :).
There are those that are interested in my photography and wanting to see what I can capture in places they have dreamed of travelling.
There are friends, cyber friends, and family, who don't really have much of an interested in this sort of thing, but are cheering me on.
Whatever the real interest, I really hope you enjoy my adventure.
July 13, Been back to the shop and had the latest version of Igaro D1 V5 USB adaptor with 2 ports fitted. Bit of a tied on sort of thing was my first reaction, but then after talking with Marc in the shop, I find out it is quite a complex and not so easy to fit contraption, as a part of it goes inside the frame above the forks. Cost £160 fitted, so not cheap, but could get me out of a scrape or two, which will have been worth the investment.
Got home and tested it, and will write about it over the next few days.
July 15, I have been using Google+ since long before I have used Facebook, and it has been great for my photography and meeting new cyber friends. Well, not only cyber friends, but since I started talking about this cycle a long time ago, I have now made friendly contacts all over the world, with many offering to host me and buy me a beer if I'm ever in their own countries. Which of course is great.
Last year I was contacted by Google in the US, and they asked me to be a part of their Create Community, which I obviously accepted and I'm thrilled about. It's a group of less than 700 people up to now, who share their hobbies, interests, professions, with others who are interested throughout the Google+ Community of over a 100m active users.
They were also kind enough to Verify my profile with a little tick mark, and Verified my YouTube account too, making me a YouTube Verified Partner. It was really nice to feel my work and assistance on G+ had been recognised.
I was again surprised last night, when my Cycling Around the World Collection was chosen to be featured on the Google+ Create Collection. I just couldn't work out why all of a sudden I was getting about 50 followers to my Collection every hour, but then I was tagged by Google+ and spotted it.
So yes, I'm shouting it from the roof tops because I'm chuffed :), it's a real honour and I'm loving it right now.
Just a couple of weeks to go now before I set out, and I'm glad to be taking so many supporters along with me.
Here is the post Google were so kind to share with the community with my own Collection: Google+ Create
July 19, Just 12 days to go, and believe it or not there is still a lot to do. My bike is now in storage until the day before I set out, just so that I can work on packing each of the Ortlieb pannier bags and getting everything else in order.
There are 2 bags over the front wheel which will contain my camera equipment in one side, medication, fist aid pack, toiletries, and bike maintenance and repair items in the other side.
There is a 49ltr Rack-Pack which sits on the rear rack. This contains all my camping equipment.
The two larger pannier bags which are attached to either side of the rear wheel, will hold clothing and my laptop.
The handlebar bag will contain things I need during the day, like my phone, cables, papers, snacks, walkman, and other bits and bobs.
I have tried to balance the weight the best I can. Although the front pannier bags are smaller than the rear, they will hold the heavier equipment. The weight will still be mostly on the rear wheel, but over all it should be more balanced.
The bike, all the kit, and me, will weigh in at around 430lb, which is a huge amount of weight. It will no doubt take months for my legs to get used to pushing this amount up hills and for long hours each day in different weather conditions. But it's like anything, the more you do, the easier it gets, usually :)
I will be staying at my mums on the night before I leave, as she would like to spend a few hours with me before I set out, bless her cotton socks. The next morning I plan to leave at around 5am while the roads are quiet, so I can get used to the weight and balance of the bike on the roads.
Within just 4 miles, I will encounter my first hill. Not a massively steep hill at all, but a hill non the less. About a mile in length, that's all. But this will be the first time I will have tackled a hill on a loaded bike. I may even end up getting off and pushing, but hopefully not :) I have purposely done very little in training, as I want to know if it is possible for someone who hasn't cycled toured before or who isn't a regular cyclist, to actually circumnavigate the globe on the first time touring.
My first campsite is roughly 30 miles away. Not a massive distance, but more than enough I feel for my first day, as I would like to spend time setting up my camping equipment, getting cleaned up, and recording my first journal entry.
July 24, This could very well be my last comment on this "The Adventure Begins" page, as I now have limited internet to edit from desktop.
I am mostly now using my phone's data until I set off, and then using wifi or via a cable whenever I can find a source on my travels. I'm already getting withdrawal from not having 50mb Broadband. Unable to download movies or anything for that matter.
Oh well, the 2 things I thought I might feel the most "pain" with losing, was my Broadband, and water from my tap. Water is something we can get everywhere I know, but getting fresh clean treated water is not always that easy to come by in some countries, and bottled water is not always from billion year old mountain streams!
But, I'm getting pretty excited now, with just 7 days to go. It is flying by.