On The Starting Line

Almost exactly 20 years ago, I rolled off on a shiny new mountain bike from my home near Bristol with a small daysack on my back. I was heading north – up most of the length of England to the Lake District, then across to the east and my Grandad’s place in the North Yorkshire Moors. It was a long way; four days up the country, a bit of mountain biking in the Lakes, and then another three days across the hills in the North. My first staging post was a friend of mine in Worcester, about 60 miles up the road.

A Long Time Ago etc etc

A Long Time Ago etc etc

Last Tuesday there was a whiff of deja-vu in the air (not especially pleasant up close). I was heading north again. I was rolling up to Worcester again to stay with the same friend for the first night again. But there were differences. Subtle differences, to be sure, but definitely differences. I was 20 years older. My ageing knees and ankles were protesting again after being dragged screaming out of semi-retirement a few weeks previously. I had significantly less hair on my head, and slightly more bulk around my middle. I was carrying 25 kilos of bags, making every incline feel like a brick wall. And I was heading to Yorkshire to watch the Tour de France. Which was brilliant, by the way.

But probably the biggest difference was that the 200-mile, three-day ride north with all those bags, and the punishing ride which followed last Friday along the hard part of Stage 2 of Le Tour were just a warm-up. This Sunday (appropriately enough, the 13th) I’m starting off to ride around the world.


Quite big, the world, isn’t it? And I wasn’t even (that) drunk when I decided to do it.

Everything I Own!

Everything I Own!

So here I am. A couple of days before lift-off on the trip of a lifetime. Hopefully. My entire cycle-touring experience (apart from a return trip to London a month ago) fits neatly into two paragraphs above. But it’s just a gentle 80ish miles from Greenwich to Portsmouth for the ferry to France. Can’t be that hard; I’ve got all day, I’ve had a rest, and there are no huge hills involved. And then it’s properly on. France, Spain, Portugal, Canada, USA, Mexico, etc, etc.

Maybe 30 to 40,000 miles. Maybe two years, maybe three-plus. Bit vague on that sort of thing.

Home sold, car sold. Furniture, electricals and books given away. Pretty much everything I own fits on a bicycle. That’s an interesting place to be.

Excited. Nervous. Stressed. Not even close to packed.

Sure it’ll all be fine. Won’t it?

Erm… Gulp, again. Here we go…




  1. Good to hear the early days are going well! I’m sure Neil said something about your experiences watching Le Tour back in the day…with nothing to eat on Bastille day!

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