– The adventures of a solo round the world cyclist –

My bike ride

So many times during my journey I would be lying in my tent at night looking at a map of the world on my phone and dreamily tracing the route I was hoping to take the next day, the next week…month…year. In the early days of the adventure, the idea of actually riding the route I traced was unimaginable. But then, day by day, the length of the line I had ridden would grow and the length of the line I had left to go would get smaller. The dream came true. Now I have a pretty nice map to look at 🙂

Check it out on my Route page!

My bike ride

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The End

And that, my friends, is how you ride a bicycle for 29,600km through 28 countries and keep a daily diary along the way. Arriving home marks the end of this adventure. Thank you for being along for the ride. I hope you enjoyed reading about it. Hopefully one day in the future I’ll have another grand adventure to write about. In fact, I’ll make sure of it!

At the end of my first day on the bike in Australia – 32km completed

A world away on my second last day on the bike – 29,484km completed
(the last selfie I took)

(NB: I’m still going to be posting photos on instagram and publishing more videos)

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Day 1011 (France Day 10) / Day 1012 (Home)

Thanks to my preparation, I faced a cruisy morning as I completed my packing in readiness for my taxi ride and flight home. I had been worried about getting my bike down five storeys of a spiral staircase, but it turned out to be easy – I just stood below it and directed it around as gravity did all the work. The taxi driver was a nice guy and when I told him about falling for an Italian girl and rushing to London to have dinner with her, he played an Italian song about a girl who misses a guy who moved away. He told me to send it to her.

The doors at which I was dropped off at the airport were right next to my check in counter, so I didn’t have to travel very far with my laden trolley. I was one of the first ones in line too and got served relatively quickly. I was a little depressed to learn that despite sending a couple of packages home already, I was 10kg overweight. My prepared hand luggage weighed 11kg, when it should only be 7kg, and the rest weighed about 38kg when it should only be 32kg. The guy serving me brushed over the fact that my hand luggage was over, but couldn’t really let me off the other 6kg. I cringed as I was told the overweight fee is a huge 408 euro. I couldn’t help doing the maths, working out that if I had sent the 6kg my mail, then I would have saved myself at least AU$400, and if I had sent the full 10kg home, I would have saved myself about AU$300. Oh well. Luggage sorted, I went upstairs and proceeded through security without issues. Near my gate I hunkered down on some seats for a nap. About 45 minutes before boarding I had some very ordinary McDonalds.

As luck would have it, I think I scored the best seat that economy offers. I was in the emergency area so had more leg room than I needed. Not only this, but my leg space opened into a walkthrough area, so I could get up and move around without having to disturb anyone. Unfortunately, not having a seat directly in front of me meant I had no TV screen. I decided to wait until the plane was settled in the air before asking if they had a handheld tablet I could use to access the amazing entertainment services that Emirates offers. It was while waiting that I looked around properly and noticed that others in the area already had a little screen. Lo and behold I discovered that I did indeed have one, I just had to fold it up from beside my seat. Perfect!

In Dubai airport, I got a bit of a shock when I showed my boarding pass to a guy in order to access my gate, but was alerted to the fact that my seat was on “standby” and I would have to see the agent to secure a boarding pass. I immediately thought that maybe my ticket wasn’t guaranteed. I prepared myself to put up a polite fight as at no point had I been told my ticket was on standby. At the agent’s desk I handed my boarding pass over and waited for their response. “You have been upgraded”, I was told. “To what?” I asked. “Business class”. “You’re kidding!”. “No, it looks like economy is full so we have no choice but to bump you up to business class”. So followed an incredibly pleasant ride home from Dubai to Perth. After settling in to my seat, I asked a stewardess if she could explain how business class works. Another passenger across the aisle was also happy to hear this as she too had been upgraded from an economy seat. Once in the air I got a shock when I was asked if I wanted a mattress. Seriously, a mattress?! I don’t think I have ever drunk alcohol on a plane before (my go-to drink is lemonade), but I decided I had to enjoy at least one. I went to the bar and got a Bloody Mary. In between a couple of movies, I enjoyed sleeping completely horizontally with a full pillow, blanket and mattress. Heaven!

It was 6pm and 34 degrees when I landed in Perth. Incredibly, I passed through immigration and customs in less than ten minutes. I didn’t even have to wait for my bags – being oversized and labelled as fragile, my gear had priority service and was dropped off personally as I approached the belt. Customs didn’t bat an eyelid about the fact I had a bike with me. All of a sudden I was walking out and being greeted by my mum, dad and sister.

Waiting for the taxi

Accommodation Home
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 29,600km
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Day 1010 (France Day 9)

After a couple of hours sleep, I rose to get myself to London City Airport in time for my flight back to Paris, where I landed at Orly Airport. It has only really occurred to me now that my London trip involved four different airports! I got back home mid-morning and resisted the urge to sleep through the day. Instead, I got onto finalising my packing as much as practical. By late afternoon I was done and found myself in a tired daze feeling a little down about the idea of going home, and depressed about sitting in a flat all by myself on my last night in Paris. A spark of energy got me up and outside. I used the metro ticket that Etienne left me for a last little adventure: a trip to the Eiffel Tower. How could I leave Paris without standing before this incredibly beautiful structure? It was dark when I got there, so it was lit up beautifully. I spent some time getting some footage that will probably form the beginning and end of a movie I want to make about the bike trip. I couldn’t resist buying an overpriced souvenir – a small snow globe with the Eiffel Tower inside – to mark the moment as the end of my journey.

Packing

Accommodation Apartment
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 29,600km
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Day 1009 (France Day 8 / London overnight)

Her: ‘Why are you visiting England?’
Me: ‘As a tourist’.

‘For one night?’
‘Yes’.

‘Why are you only staying one night?’
‘To take a girl out to dinner, but I have to return to Paris tomorrow to fly home to Australia’.

‘How long have you known this girl?’
‘Two weeks’.

‘Did you meet her on the internet?’
‘No, I met her in Italy.’

‘Have you booked your flight out?’
‘Yes, I have my boarding pass here’.

‘Can I see it?’

She points at 0840 time.
I sigh and nod.

‘Well, I hope she turns out to be someone special’.
‘Haha yeah me too. Most expensive date ever.’

‘Haha, good luck’.

Thus went my conversation at London Heathrow’s immigration post. Yes, I have flown to London so I can spend a few more hours with the Italian girl I have mentioned. We had dinner at an Indian restaurant and we never stopped talking. It stressed my heart to say bye and I was stuck for words as we pulled away from a final hug and I had to walk away.

Most of the day had been spent getting to that moment. A walk to the train station, a train ride to the airport, a flight to London, a journey on the underground to a hotel and another to meet up at Angel station. Before leaving home I continued packing my bicycle box and cleaning the flat. Tomorrow I have to wake up early to return to the airport and get back to Paris.

Last minute trip

Accommodation $ Hotel
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 29,600km
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Day 1008 (France Day 7)

I have just had a very lovely afternoon and night out with two of the most beautiful people I’ve met. Thank you Etienne and Mathilde for travelling into Paris to see me before I travel home. It was a very nice reminder that I have made some amazing friends during this journey, people who I want to know for the rest of my life. I first met Etienne and Mathilde in Pamir Lodge on the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan. I caught up with them again at Vero’s house in Dushanbe. And now for a third time in Paris. At first I met with Etienne. We had some food before enjoying a beer. It was while drinking that I received the surprise that Mathilde had come too. They travelled separately as they both finished work at different times. We had another drink before going in search of a photo exhibition about Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. A long stroll then took us to a nice restaurant for dinner. Too soon we had to part ways again. Much of our conversation was about the challenge of adapting to a life after a long bicycle journey like ours. Having also cycled to Europe from Asia, Etienne and Mathilde are finding it hard to settle back into a work routine.

I had spent the morning cleaning my bike and beginning to pack it into a box. Before catching up with Etienne I posted 12kg of luggage home and printed my flight reservations. Unfortunately, I left the printed documents in Mathilde’s bag so I will have to print some more tomorrow.

Comrades

Accommodation Apartment
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 29,600km
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Day 1007 (France Day 6)

I got up at a reasonable time and set about doing some laundry and finding some bicycle boxes. Washed laundry in hand, I was directed to a bike shop where I was told I could purchase bike boxes for 5 euros each. I was also told they would pack up my bicycle at a cost of 50 euros. I declined this offer but accepted the bicycle boxes. In the end the bike shop owner decided to give me the boxes for free. As I struggled to carry the cardboard and laundry away from the bike shop, I passed a van into which men were loading cardboard boxes and Styrofoam packing material. They let me pilfer some of the foam, which I will use to protect the more sensitive parts of the bike. I then faced the challenge of getting home. I knew it would be absolute torture to carry everything home as I could hardly manage it for five metres at a time. I began a search for a taxi that was fruitless for a frustrating period of time. The bulk of the cardboard was hard enough to manage by itself, but the weather decided to throw in the added challenge of huge gusts of wind. I was pushed around as the cardboard boxes acted as huge sails. It also rained for the second time in the morning. Sets of rain clouds would pass through, leaving only short periods of clear, blue sky in between.

After a very frustrating wait, a taxi finally accepted me and my cargo. The driver’s name was Ibrahim and he said I’d have to pay an extra 4 euro for carrying my luggage. I agreed, happy to have found a ride. As I sent a message in the car, I could see Ibrahim straining to see what language I was writing in. I decided to satisfy his curiosity and introduce myself properly, explaining why I was in Paris and why I had the cardboard. This sparked an exuberant conversation, aided by Google translate. Ibrahim was excited to have a world cyclist on board and said I would feature in his book about the weird and wonderful people he has met while driving his taxi (hopefully I’ll be one of the latter). On our arrival at home, Ibrahim refused any payment for the ride.

I dumped the stuff in the flat before heading out to do some grocery shopping and buy some packing tape. Back at home I proceeded to continue dismantling my bike, cleaning my pannier bags and dividing my gear into piles – one of things that will go in the bike box, one of things I want to carry as hand luggage, and one of things I will need to send home by courier. Dinner was an unsatisfying fast food meal from the around the corner – fish burger, chips and coke.

Yesterday in Lyon

Accommodation Apartment
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 29,600km
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Day 1006 (France Day 5)

I don’t mean to show off, but my life honestly couldn’t get any better right now. Six years ago I dreamed of cycling around the world. For three years I saved money working as a zoologist, which is what I’d always wanted to be since I can remember. In 2015 I rolled out of my parent’s driveway and started pedalling. Since then I have covered over 29,600km through 28 countries between Australia and France, having the most unimaginably amazing experiences along the way. I am in Paris for the next five nights, living in a one-bedroom apartment that I have all to myself, courtesy of a friend I met on the road. On Monday I’ll fly home to another beautiful city, where I will be met by the best family a guy could ever ask for, not to mention some pretty awesome friends. Five days later I get to stand among my extended family and watch my sister get married to a great guy. Then I get to wake up and ask myself – what’s next?

What a day! I met Arthur at 10.30am. This is a guy I met for just five minutes while crossing paths on the road in Greece. He took me on a walking tour of Lyon, showing me a city he clearly loves. I was treated to lunch at his favourite restaurant, where we were joined by his mum. On parting, his mum gave me a block of chocolate.

Walking back to the hostel where I’d stored my stuff, I stopped off at Lidl to get some food supplies. Bike packed, I raced to the train station, where I organised my ticket for a train to Paris. I received some help from a kind lady when I struggled to my bike into the carriage. Then I was coasting along on a train. The five-hour journey went smoothly. A friendly guy helped me get my stuff out onto the platform.

On finding out that I can’t take a bicycle on the metro, I had a thrilling ride through the night to reach north Paris, where I was handed keys to a one-bedroom apartment by Arthur’s brother-in-law (to be?) Alex. Twenty minutes later and I had finished lugging my stuff to the fifth floor of an apartment building, letting myself into my very own Parisian home. I cooked a pasta meal for dinner before having a shower. It’s now after 2am.

Day 1007E

With my Lyon hosts yesterday

Accommodation Apartment
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 29,600km
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Day 1005 (France Day 4)

As I packed my bike outside my hotel, some New Year’s partygoers were still celebrating in a bar across the street. Having gone to bed at 10pm, I felt well rested and ready to ride through the first day of the new year. I ate as much as I could at breakfast, knowing I probably won’t find any open supermarkets in the day. The ride out of Grenoble was beautiful, especially on the cycle paths along the Isere River. The Alps loomed in stunning fashion. Away from the river, I pushed through various short climbs as I crossed a rolling landscape through farmland and quaint villages. When I passed a big yellow M, I couldn’t resist. I think it’s the first McDonald’s I have had since Azerbaijan. This almost got me through the day – I had to stop towards the end for a final energy boost. In the mid-afternoon the wind started to pick up as the sky darkened, and it rained lightly. Luckily, the strong wind came from behind.

Once again I was impressed by the cycle paths as I easily navigated my way to my hostel choice in Lyon. I not only found it to be open, but bustling with attractive energy as a heap of travellers moved about or lazed about nursing hangovers. The hostel is really well set up. I began to meet some nice people, many of whom had just moved to Lyon for work or study. I chatted to a nice girl from Sydney and a guy from Morocco/Italy for a while before getting super hungry. I cooked a dinner using what I had left – canned pasta and beans with bread. Then I went for a walk and found a little supermarket open, where I bought some fruit, one beer and coke. I consumed these as a form of dessert, then got ready for bed. In my dorm are three Brazilians who just arrived for a law internship.

My last day on the bike!

Accommodation $ Backpacker Hostel
Distance ridden today 115.72km
Average cycling speed 18.6kph
Total distance ridden 29,600km
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Day 1004 (France Day 3)

My last day of the year has been pretty special. Riding through the French Alps from Briancon to Grenoble was a pretty magical experience. I’ve never before been up close with such spectacular snowy mountains before. The climb out of Briancon wasn’t too challenging and I was really able to relax and enjoy it. Stopping to take photos and videos broke up the exertion so it didn’t take too much of a toll. The descent was thrilling, and not in an entirely good way. A lot of the road was covered in ice and snow. My brakes are at the end of their life and so on such a slippery surface they were simply not powerful enough to stop me. The worst parts were when I was on clean bitumen, when I would actually accelerate despite having my brakes on full lock. If I wanted to slow down I had to plant my left foot down and ride over the snowy/icy sections. It was fun in a way, but it was also pretty scary. Luckily, I didn’t really have a reason to slow down, other than the fact that the faster I am moving when I fall, the harder it will hurt. I basically rode the road like a roller coaster the whole way down.

Somehow I never stacked it and made it through in one piece. Eventually, the snow cleared from the road completely and the road began to level out, meaning I could belt along at a fast pace. I had reached Col du Lautare at 1.30pm after 30km. By 5.30pm, I had ridden a further 87km. Getting into Grenoble was a breeze, thanks to well set up bike paths. In fact, I think Grenoble is the most bike-friendly city in which I have ever been. I made my way to a hostel, which I promptly discovered was closed for the winter. Hostelworld suggested the other hostels in the city were similarly closed or full. With it being dark, and being pretty exhausted from the day, I decided to just find the nearest hotel. After settling in, I went out for some food and found it in a Vietnamese restaurant down the road. It has been so long since I have had Asian cuisine. It was very good! I gorged myself on three meals, including five spring rolls, beef pho and sautéed vegetables. Having returned to my hotel, I have just watched the final episode of American Horror Story Season 5. It’s 10pm and I plan on going to bed so that I may be ready for another big day on the bike tomorrow.

Bit different from where I started!

Accommodation $ Hotel
Distance ridden today 117.79km
Average cycling speed 18.4kph
Total distance ridden 29,484km
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