One year ago today, Laura and I wheeled our bikes nervously to Hampton Court Palace in matching JDRF charity t-shirts to be waved off by friends and family at the start line of what we hoped would be a journey to Australia.
Last Friday, after 363 days and 9,698 miles, we rounded the corner onto the Melbourne Esplanade to be waved in by my brother and sister-in-law having pedalled across Europe, the Middle East, India and South East Asia.
That we have cycled from England to Australia feels absurd. Of course, there have been planes and buses too and a quick glance at our map reveals that our line is far from unbroken. Similarly, we are hardly the first people to have done such a trip, not even the first this year, nor the fastest or any other such accolade.
But none of that takes away from the fact that we have ridden our bikes nearly every day for the last year and clocked up 15,600km through 23 different countries. I am sure that any other couple given two bicycles and a year off work would do the same, this is nothing special about us, but there is definitely something special about the experiences we’ve had and the opportunities we’ve been given and I feel very lucky for it.
Anyway, read on for some numbers from the trip, our highs and lows, and what happens next…
The Trip in Numbers
Distance traveled: 9,698 miles (15,607km)
– average daily distance when cycling: 42.1 miles
– average daily distance for whole trip: 26.6 miles
– longest distance in one day: 81 miles
Days on the road: 363
– of which cycling: 245
– nights spent in our tent: 93
– nights of ‘acts of kindness’: 48
– of which in first 4,000 miles with old tyres: 10
– of which in last 6,000 miles with puncture-proof tyres: 1 (a vertically embedded staple)
Number of crashes: 5
– of which Tim: 4
– of which involving other vehicles: 0
Longest period without showering: 7 days (France, still)
– of which without washing:3 days
– longest period without washing: 6 days (Turkey – may have managed a wipe down with wet wipes)
Number of times other road users have shouted at us: 2
– of which cyclists: 2
– of which angry Australian road cyclists: 2
Amount raised for JDRF: £966.50 (Click here to donate and help us reach our £1,500 target)
- Crossing the Alps and finding it much easier than expected.
- Being welcomed into an Indian village for the night (and I mean welcomed by the whole village).
- Accidentally finding ourselves in the middle of an anti-American protest in Iran, being welcomed to the country and given sweets by participants.
- Soaking in thermal baths in Korea and Japan.
- The excellent ferry between Korea and Japan.
- Soaking in thermal baths on the excellent ferry between Korea and Japan.
- Having a shampoo-advert-quality Malaysian waterfall all to ourselves.
- Arriving into warm, shiny Dubai off the boat from Iran after three months of wild winter.
- The first time we were invited in by complete strangers, a wonderful family in Albania.
- Being welcomed like heroes with unlimited free food at a Turkish kebab restaurant after summiting our last high winter pass.
- Getting flagged down during a thunderstorm to be offered accommodation and dinner by a Japanese chef.
- Sleeping in a disabled toilet (definitely not a lowlight, it was warm, dry and ensuite).
Favourite video, Laura: Crossing the Alps
Favourite photo album, Laura: Vietnam
Favourite video, Tim: Korea, Japan, Utopia
Favourite photo album, Tim: India
- Watching my husband crash his bike in front of me at 37mph.
- Having a pan of boiling water tipped over my leg in our second week – I still have the scars.
- Struggling up repeated steep short hills on the Black Sea coast in Turkey. Give me a mountain, any day.
- Being smacked in the chest by a passing motorcyclist in India.
- Struggling to think of ‘lows’ to put on this list which Tim is making me do.
- Being hospitalised for repeated food poisoning in India.
- Lying awake night after night in South East Asia wondering: “Will I ever stop sweating?”
- Spending an hour negotiating hard for a “hotel room” which looked like a prison, had rat droppings on the bed and a rat on the bed.
- Having to barricade our tent against a rabid guard dog and cut-throat gypsies.
Despite all the show-boating, we’re not done yet. We have a month or so based in Melbourne staying with family and visiting friends. After that we fly to Wellington for a quick dash across the North Island to Auckland and a flight to San Francisco.
In October and November we will be cycling across the southern United States from San Diego to the Florida coast, flying home in time for Christmas.
But for now, it’s sleeping, eating and watching TV…