So, I’ve made the decision to cycle around the world on a Brompton. But why?
A long, world cycle trip, is a seemingly unattainable dream I’ve had for a few years since I started reading travel biographies in Ottakars bookshop in Carlisle, and happened to stumble upon Anne Mustoe‘s “A Bike Ride”. Since then I’ve also looked on with great envy and interest as others, like Nic and Sedef, the “Nuts on Bents,” have completed similar journeys. But it wasn’t until a few weeks ago and the realisation of where various paths in my life are going (or not going as the case may be), and a few specific other events, that the impossible dream suddenly looked very possible indeed with a bit of planning.
In June of this year I graduated with an upper-second class honours degree in Human Geography and Third World Studies, a degree that is very interesting and intellectually stimulating and which I have enjoyed immensely, but one that opens very few employment paths, and none that I am particularly interested in. So I got a job for a temp agency earning decent enough money on a year contract. At the same time I moved into a new shared house and signed a year contract. While moving I was appalled at how many possessions I had accumulated over the past three years of my degree, to the point that I ended up needing to rent a van to move all of my “stuff”! This came as a big shock. Although I happily admit I like the comforts of life, I’d never realised, until the clear light of having to move them all across London, quite how many items I’ve accumulated. I didn’t like thinking of myself as someone that reliant on the material things in life, and I wanted to change my ways.
A few weeks later it was time for the London Bikeathon – 26 miles on a bike from Royal Hospital Chelsea, through central London, to Thames Barrier park and back again. I participate as much for the enjoyable atmosphere as for the charity cause, and again this year I cycled the extra distance between my house and the start/end point, making for a total of 45 miles cycled that day. Normally I would do such an event on my older bike, a Trek hybrid that I have put thin road tyres on, which conventional thinking says is much more suitable for a longer ride. But it was stolen from my brothers flat just weeks earlier leaving me with no choice but to participate riding my new Brompton, an S6L in deep blue (James says it’s as blue as my “Tory soul”). I was expecting to be much more tired than normal after that distance on a folding, but I wasn’t. In fact I felt fine, as if I could go on cycling the same distance again.
I realised then that with a trailer for luggage it was perfect for touring, especially since its fold-ability meant any uncyclable parts became much easier (a flight over Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan for example). Then I looked in my calendar. I have a dentist appointment in September and my graduation ceremony in December, and literally nothing else. So the factors coming together are: my only long term commitments both ending simultaneously a year from now; a want to get away from my material lifestyle; for the first time the ability to earn and save enough money; and the realisation that I could complete it on my Brompton.
So I’ve set a date approximately a year in the future, Sunday the 27th July 2008, and started planning.