Frequently Asked Questions

How many countries have you been through?

So far, twenty-one. (Wales, England, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, China, South Korea, Japan.)

Isn’t it dangerous?

Not really. At least, not significantly more dangerous than your life or anyone else’s. Certainly not more dangerous than being a bike messenger in Central London, which is what I did before.

Do you get scared?

Sometimes, but not often. And usually of things like weather and failure, rather than people.

Are you alone?

Yes. Unless I happen to coincide with another cyclist who’s going the same way, but that rarely happens for longer than a few days.

What do you do if you get a puncture?

I fix it. It’s really not difficult.

What do your parents think?

I was a bit worried they’d react badly, but they’re both delighted. My mother because I’ve supplied her with enough gossip to last a lifetime, and my father because he gets to geek out over my mileages, route, whereabouts, daily average speed, etc.

How are you paying for this?

I worked very hard in several jobs for the two years before I left, and was also lucky enough to get an insurance payout for a minor road traffic accident a few years ago. Contrary to what some people have suspected, I am not funded by my parents, or the UK government.

Are you going to write a book about it?

Yes. No. Maybe. Isn’t this blog enough? It’s already longer than a book.

3 Comments

  1. Posted March 13, 2013 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Aha, you answered my question at the end! I’m a commissioning editor of travel writing books for Summersdale and although I don’t live in London and didn’t make it to the Night of Adventure, I saw the photos on Facebook, clicked through to your website and was intrigued! Love the style of writing on your blog. If you want to talk books, do drop me a line. Alternatively if you want to review any of our books on your blog – e.g. Ellie Bennett’s Mud Sweat and Gears – we’d be happy to send a copy…
    Very best wishes,
    Jen

  2. Chantelle
    Posted April 7, 2014 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Okay so I know that you have answered the question on the DANGER factor but was there ever a time in your journey when you thought “Okay . I am in danger”?
    And one last question, did you physically train very hard ?

    • Posted April 7, 2014 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      There were a couple of times. One was when I decided to take a bus rather than cycling through Indus Kohistan in Pakistan. I’d spent so much time talking (and often joking) about the possibility that I’d be kidnapped – this was the first time that I realized there was actually a decent chance that it might happen, and thought about what it might involve. My journalist friend said ‘you do know that most people who get kidnapped get killed, don’t you?’, and I felt a physical chill rise in my chest. Luckily this moment occurred in his comfortable living room in Islamabad, with plenty of time to change my plans and book a bus ticket.

      The other one was just a moment, on a deserted road in Qinghai Province, China. I was swerving across the road to see if the cluster of industrial buildings to my left might include a cold drinks shop (it didn’t), suddenly heard a loud horn, and a car whizzed past at about 100mph, missing me by millimetres. I had checked before I turned, but probably not very well, and the car was going so fast that it wouldn’t even have been visible until a second before it passed me.

      There were other moments, like cycling through the rush hour motorway traffic on the way into Istanbul and through the snowdrifts and blizzards in Akita Province, Japan, but my previous job seems to have given me quite a high tolerance of things like that, so I didn’t really feel scared.

      And I didn’t really train at all – working as a courier (i.e. 5 days of fast urban cycling per week) meant that that was one of the few things I didn’t have to worry about!

      (If you’re planning a trip yourself, I wouldn’t worry too much about serious training, unless you have ambitious plans to cover a lot of distance in a short time. Lots of people I know trained on the road; started slowly, covered small distances, and worked up to longer days as their fitness improved. The most important thing is to make sure you’re comfortable with your set-up and equipment before you leave – it’s easy to strengthen your legs on the road, but much harder hanging around in a strange town with an expiring visa, waiting for deliveries and dealing with customs, when you realize that your saddle’s too painful to go any further and have to get hold of a new one. Or having to backtrack hundreds of miles to find a particular tool, like I did once.)

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