Those first few pedal strokes out of the city. The first of many. Not knowing which road to take or where I’ll be sleeping. The gradual evolution of a human on a push bike: my home for months, even years to come. The adaptations of a mind accustomed to alarms and traffic. Of fast breakfasts. Of a skipping heart and tense jaw. Of background noise no more. A leisurely transition, a transformation. Slowly sunrise to sunset. Air through trees. Birdsong and sleep. A starlit sky. A slow thought. The present moment: even if it holds suffering, I reach out an arm and hold on too. And on those really good moments, I hold on with both hands, until I don’t need to hold on at all. Like letting go of the handlebars. Momentum takes over. And everything is balanced.
If only temporarily. If only at random intervals. Those blissful sprinkles scattered across the trajectory of our lives are the sweetest moments of all. You never know when you’ll hit one. So keep growing. Keep learning. And keep moving.
Here’s a little summary of what I did this year cycle touring from Barcelona to Athens via Morocco…
Distance cycled: 9,910km // 6,158 miles (Total distance cycled – on map above – 24,687km // 15,340 miles)
Days on the road: 265
Best day: There were many. Probably cycling from Ronda towards Algeciras
Worst day: When I got really ill in Serbia. Also a terrible day/night in Greece (tell you about it later).
Pictures taken and not deleted: 5,312
Longest distance cycled in one day: 190km // 118 miles (which was also the terrible day in Greece *sighs*)
Shortest distance cycled: In Granada, Spain, I cycled about 3km from a home-stay to a hostel 🙂
Average speed: 18km/h (11mph). What I call…dreamy.
Punctures: 1. Yes. It finally happened. I got a puncture. It only took 20,000km of riding!
Hottest weather: Morocco, 43°C (in the shade)
Coldest weather: Serbia, -5°C in the mountains *shivers*
Biggest culture shock: Morocco. It was just insane.
Cheapest espresso: Kosovo €0.50
Most expensive espresso: Greece = €3 *faints*
Cheapest beer: Serbia = 1€/pint (also 500ml tin = €0.30 swaaaaly!)
Most expensive beer: France 6€ *slowly puts down pint, walks backwards towards door*
Cost: I’ve probably spent about 400€ a month on average. Last month for instance, I spent less than 100€ as I was volunteering at a hostel in exchange for food and accommodation. Some months I went a bit wild and others I had to buy some replacement equipment.
If 400€ a month sounds like a lot of money to you, I feel the same way. If that doesn’t sound like a lot of money to you, buy a tent, a bicycle and start cycling about.
It’s quite hard to summarise an adventure like this on a single page. When I look at the map above I think, “Wow. I did that.” I did that? And in each country, there are memories. Mainly great ones. There have been plenty of tough times too. Overall, I believe I’ve become a better person. I believe I understand something unquantifiable about life (note to self: that’s too deep for the blog). I feel like I’m helping others on the way. I dunno. I’ll write about it later when I get my head around it.
In 2017, from here in Athens I’ll be heading through Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, China and probably some other places too 🙂
Here’s some pictures from this year’s trip. You can see a lot more on the photos page or on my instagram @bikeramble.