Yep! After dreaming about doing it for so long, I have finally got around to giving it a go. I say giving it a go rather than doing it because the task I have set myself could easily take at least ten years and, well, I can’t predict what’s going to happen tomorrow, let alone in the next ten years of my life. Nonetheless, getting to know this planet of ours by cycling around it is my current ambition and thus at this present moment I am somewhere in the world on my beautiful blue bicycle, giving it my best shot.
Hi. My name is Mark Gresser. I grew up in the suburb of Glen Forrest in the Perth hills, Western Australia. After graduating from La Salle College I took a year off from study, working full time at Nandos in Midland and ending the year with a month-long trip to Thailand. I couldn’t wait to go travelling again, but I was keen to complete my education first. I spent the next four years at Murdoch University completing a double major in Biological Sciences and Conservation and Wildlife Biology with a minor in Animal Biology, graduating with First Class Honours and a Vice Chancellor’s Commendation for Academic Excellence for placing in the top two percent of students across the university (hard work does pay off). While at university, and for six months after, I earned money wrapping countless copies of The West Australian in that pesky plastic wrap, delivering these and magazines through the night to businesses across the Swan Valley.
With some savings behind me, I slung a backpack over my shoulders and ran away overseas, first stop: Europe. It would be twenty-two months before I returned home to knock on my parents’ door, the weight of my backpack replaced with a nagging need to apply myself to my professional interests. After three weeks I had secured a job as a zoologist with the Perth-grown environmental consultancy Outback Ecology Services, which was soon to become integrated with the global engineering firm MWH. I instantly became part of an amazing team under excellent leadership, and so began an incredible three years exploring remote parts of Western Australia in search of threatened animals and their habitat as part of Australia’s Environmental Impact Assessment process. While absolutely loving my work environment and appreciating the chance to understand more about the environmental protection systems in place within (and notably absent from) my home country, I developed a growing desire to get back out into the rest of the world, this time with one most sustainable forms of transport available: the bicycle.
I was first inspired to go cycle touring when I was hiking in Macedonia and seemingly out of nowhere a bike laden with a guy and his luggage casually rolled past. I never knew travelling on a bicycle to be an option before then and I was instantly enthralled. How free must it feel to get around under your own steam and schedule? As I continued travelling through the Balkans, my own plans for a cycle trip slowly evolved. I would ride across USA and into Canada where I would find work to replenish my travel funds. After running out of money backpacking in Europe and working in Wales for five months, I eventually found myself setting off from a friend’s house in Charleston on a hastily set up bike. I gave up after two weeks. This was just enough time to ride across South Carolina and Georgia and learn three important lessons: (1) a bit of training might have come in handy, (2) riding in southern USA in the middle of summer (and during a heat wave at that) is dangerously unhealthy, and (3) if I was ever to again feel like the hardy, adventurous spirit I thought I was, I would one day have to give it another go.
Following my failure, I consoled myself by spending what little remained of my money on an adventure in Central America before returning home to pursue a career in zoology. . One thing that propelled me through my first year of work was plans to visit a girl in Canada with whom I had travelled through Spain and Morocco. The visit to Canada didn’t go as imagined and I returned home a bit shattered. To keep myself motivated and positive about the future, I felt the need to have some epic plans laid out. The memory of my failed cycle tour quickly reared its head. Maybe I should think about trying again? I began to think about it seriously.
Should I return to America to conquer my unfinished business? Should I ride around Australia to get to know my own country? Or should I try it in a place I hadn’t yet been? One day a little idea sneaked into my head that would set me on a path of no return: Why not just ride around the whole world? From the moment the idea was there, no way could I consider a lesser endeavour than cycling around the planet. My future was set. I would keep working for a couple of years to develop my career status and save some money, then ride out of my driveway and chase the horizon until one day it would lead me home. Along the way I would use the trip to pursue my passions for writing, wildlife conservation, videography and art. I would attempt to turn the journey into a sustainable lifestyle that I could continue for years to come. I would present my story on a site that I would call budgieescapee.com. And no matter what happened along the way, I would have one hell of a grand adventure giving it a go!
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