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 🙂
Here is a map showing where I spent each night during my 29,600 km bicycle ride between Australia and France. Most points are precise; however, some locations (particularly those in towns) are indicative only (i.e. the points show the town I stayed in as opposed to exactly where I found accommodation).
I was first inspired to go cycle touring in 2010 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 backpacking through the Balkans on my two-year, post-university journey, my own plans for a cycle trip slowly evolved. I decided 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.
In these two weeks I rode across South Carolina and Georgia and learned 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 spent what little remained of my money on an adventure in Central America before returning to Australia to subject myself to a career. Despite landing a dream job, I couldn’t help cast my memory back to my failed bike trip. Maybe I should think about trying again? As I began to think about it seriously, I wondered: 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? It wasn’t long before 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 I’d thought it, 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 save some money, then ride out of my driveway and chase the horizon until one day it would lead me home.