You may have read my post few months ago about my plans to buy a bike when I got back to the UK and spend 3 months cycling around Europe. Well, plans change, and usually get scrapped, but sometimes they grow into something altogether unexpected. Now I’m planning to do something that I never would have imagined myself doing.
I’m going to cycle around the world.
I was doing some planning for the Europe trip and I stumbled across the blog of a guy named Tom who had travelled around the world by bike. His trip sounded amazing but what grabbed me was the price tag of his nine and a half month round-the-world journey. It was pretty much the same as my euro-trip budget.
Despite this, I decided to forget about the world trip idea. I’ve never cycled more than a day. Europe was going to be challenging enough, let alone getting around the globe. I’m not even sure I own a bike right now, my younger brother has a habit of getting them lost or stolen. I focused on Europe, but the trip didn’t feel as whole and exciting as it had, and I realised that there wasn’t all that much in Europe I wanted to see or do.
I did a little more surfing and found that a world tour was not only possible, but it was possible for me to do. As with most things all I really need is the time and the money. Having only recently(ish) finished uni, I can justify the time if I had the money. All I had to do was save and start planning.
I know I don’t have a huge amount of time so my route has to be fairly direct around the world. Others have done more complete tours over four to seven years. That’s time, money and dedication that I simply don’t have. A year is plenty of time but the limit excluded many countries from the list, Africa, South America and Australia are out, as well as most of Indonesia and Canada. Things like war and conflict also make other countries less appealing, and I was disappointed to cross Pakistan off the list. I want to do the trip by bike as much as possible, so that excluded countries that I’d have to fly in or out of, annoyingly, this included India, a country I was hoping to revisit.
After some serious googling and having watched “The Long Way Round”, I had my basic route set, made up of four sections, or legs. Europe, the Middle East, China and the USA.
My first leg will take me on a route similar, but much shorter, than the one I had originally planned to take. Starting at my home in London, I’ll head over to France and then go south to the Alps to meet my university Canoe Club on their annual trip. After few days with AUCC I’ll head further south to Italy and begin my journey east. I’ll pass through Italy, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Macedonia and Greece before getting to Turkey, the final destination of the first leg of my journey.
The Middle East
This is the bit I’m most looking to but I’m guessing it’s the part that will give my mum the most reason to worry. I’ll start by saying that my research has convinced me that nowhere on earth is as bad as the media can make it sound and the vast majority of people aren’t walking around looking to attack anyone from the west. My route through the Middle East will take me from Turkey, across Iran, and into Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan. I’ll spend most of this leg in Iran, only spending between five days to two weeks in each of the ‘Stan’s.
From Kyrgyzstan I’ll cross the border into China. This is the part of my trips at I’m least looking forward to as it starts with about two months of cycling through nothingness with only truckers for company. Truckers who famously don’t mind where they go to the toilet. Dodging through these land mines isn’t my idea of a good time so I’m looking for alternative routes, possibly through Mongolia, though Mongolia doesn’t really have roads. Eastern China, which is more populated and developed, and the Tibetan plateau to the south should be more interesting, but I have to get to them first. My final destination in China will be Beijing.
I’ll take my first non-bike journey in a plane from Beijing to the west coast of America. When I started planning I was looking forward to this part least, but the more I think about it the more excited I’m getting about the prospect of cycling coast to coast across the states, a huge journey on its own. I’ll be landing in San Francisco and making my way east along the southern states of California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico (where I’m hoping to meet some friends from India), Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and finally Orlando airport in Florida for my flight back to Europe.
From Florida I’ll either travel to England and finish my journey by cycling back to my house, or I’ll fly to Portugal and cycle up through Spain and France to get back to England. I’m not sure yet, but that point I might be ready to cut my bike into tiny pieces and never lay eyes on it again, or I might find the drive to cycle the last few weeks.
I expect the trip to take less than a year, but I’m yet to calculate roughly how long it will take. My main concern right now is saving money. When I get home from Korea my main occupation will be running around sorting out visas and equipment, including a bike. Throughout all of this though, the main challenge will be convincing my mum that this is a good idea.
James Vs World