On 20 June 2015, I cycled around a corner and found myself home after 13 months, 9202 miles, 1271 cycling hours, 19 countries, and three continents.
As I rounded the corner I wasn’t alone, I was with Dora, of course, but I had also been joined by a couple of close friends, my two brothers and my dad. They met me in the forest to share my final night and they came complete with bicycles, tents, and a distinct lack of beer.We spent the night around the camp-fire before starting the final 40 mile cycle the next morning.
Cycling along country roads, highways, and the streets of London, my thoughts were in a dizzying state. I was so close to home, so close to the end of my adventure. I had been imagining this day for months. Was I excited, upset or nervous? Was I ready to be home? Was this even real? The whole day had a dreamlike quality and the natural high of being so close rushed through me. At times I had tears rolling down my cheeks despite the smile on my face.
I had been mentally preparing myself over the past few nights. I would make myself a small fire, set up my hammock close by, and with a beer or two, lie there thinking for hours. It’s a strange feeling, knowing that such a long journey is so close to coming to an end. Living day-to-day, finding food, water, and shelter, has become so normal. Now I was heading back to a world once familiar, and now so alien. For my friends and family, little would have changed, life goes on. But for me everything would seem different, or would it? Maybe I would have no problem slipping back into my old life, maybe I’m not so different after all, I guess I was about to find out.
I was welcomed home by a group of friends and family, Mum released a breath she’d been holding for over a year and I had my photo taken before a huge world map featuring a picture of a ginger Professor Snape wearing a cycling helmet, painted by my dad. A beer soon appeared in my hand. At one point I walked into the kitchen, and by instinct open the fridge, so maybe it won’t take so long to adjust after all.
That afternoon more friends and family poured into the pub at the end of my road, some I hadn’t seen in years, and one who I last met over 15 years before! Even my Nan, whose health is not what it once was, made it to the party, escorted by a team of aunts and uncles. Later, a few of us made our way to Hootananny, a live music venue in nearby Brixton.
It’s difficult to put into words just how wonderful it was to see all these people again. This is what I had been looking forward to most, more than anything else in the world. Being reunited with these people , the people that made it so difficult to leave 13 months before. Many times while I was travelling people had told me how lucky I was to be able to take such a journey, not realising how much sacrifice was involved, and how much help I needed. I had very few things tying me to home, no house, no car, no kids. But those things that I did leave behind are the things I value most, my family and my friends, and leaving them to go on a journey such as this was no easy decision.
The party went on all night and most of the next morning, and much of what happened isn’t suitable for print, but there was dancing, short shorts, fire, yoga and a German-speaking taxi driver. I was happy to be home.
So, now what? What do you do after cycling around the world? How do you adapt to a life with a fridge and demanding expectations regarding personal hygiene? I’m still trying to work that out over two weeks later. I have some big plans for next year, but I’m not too worried about what I’ll do until then.
After all, any number of things take place, in-between dreams.
Throughout this journey I’ve been raising money for a charity called Hope for Children, who support children’s projects all over the world and in the UK. I’m hoping to raise £1000 and we are already one third of the way there. If you can then please support me by supporting them and click here to donate. Thank you