I’ve recently started working at C I Adventures, before this I was working in New Zealand then cycle touring around the South Island. For anyone unfamiliar with cycle touring, it’s just cycling around carrying everything you need with on the back of your bike. It’s that easy.
I had no previous experience of cycling, let alone touring, I was just enamoured by stories of travel and adventure. After speaking to people who had done similar things and reading ‘Janapar’ by Tom Allen, I decided to go for it. It probably would have been a better idea to learn more about bike maintenance before I left, and you could always do more training, but hindsight is a great thing. I went to lots of bike shops beforehand and talked to lots of people about equipment, but ultimately only you can make your own mind up about these things through testing and experience.
The hardest part (apart from some of the hills!) was actually having the confidence to say ‘Yes I can do this’. After the first day riding (mine was 32 miles and the longest ride I’d done until that day) you just keep riding. And riding. And riding. I was a COMPLETELY inexperienced cyclist before this and I’m still a total novice when it comes to mechanics, but I did it. And if I can so can you. The beauty of cycle touring is you can do as much or as little as you want that day, because you’re carrying everything you need. The least I did in one day was 15.5 miles, the most was 70. When times were particularly hard, or the hill was extra steep, I compartmentalised everything, and counted down, 300m to that tree, 1 miles until my next rest, 6 miles until my next food break, 27 miles to go to the campsite. Every pedal was a pedal closer to bed!
It is a spectacular way to see a place, you are immersed in your surroundings and fully experience it with all your senses. I found my perspective changed as well whilst I was cycling, the problems I’d had when I was living in a big city didn’t matter anymore. Instead the hardest choices of my day were cous cous or rice for dinner, and the biggest problems were all mechanical (which had I actually been bothered to learn about, I could have avoided). It was completely calming and I found after living so simply, going to sleep when it got dark for example; you have no choice when you’re camping, I felt more at peace with myself than I ever had before.
I understand that I was very lucky to have the opportunity to cycle for weeks on end, half way around the world and that this isn’t possible for everyone. But I hope that this helps everyone to get outside on some adventure, something you wouldn’t normally do, that takes you out of your comfort zone. It could be a camping weekend in the Yorkshire Dales, a walk on the Calderdale Way or even a night out under the stars on an extra warm night. Because it could just be the best thing you ever do!