I’ve been thinking about this for the past 6 weeks in Istanbul. After so much thinking I’ve come to the very difficult decision to postpone the trip. I’ve been “travelling” for 3 months now. Except I’ve spent half of the trip so far in Istanbul trying to arrange my onward journey. There are many reasons to postpone, but the main one is that I don’t want to continue the trip how it is. It turns out I was/am woefully under prepared. I had no travelling experience and no cycle touring experience. I read a few books, bought some stuff, and jumped on a bike trusting that “it’ll all work out”. Turns out it’s not that easy.
I figure it makes sense to abandon this attempt and call it a training run. It was starting to take far too much time and therefore money to salvage it. As winter approaches, time is money, as the more time I take, the more money I have to spend on warm clothes to get through eastern Turkey as it gets increasingly cold.
Here in Istanbul I was going through the preparations for continuing the journey, and actively hoping I’d be held up. I hoped Iran would refuse me a visa, that would give me an excuse to quit. I hoped India would refuse. Why was I hoping to not be approved for visas? Surely a traveller should hope and wish and prey that visas are granted. That is the only way they can continue. I was hoping to be refused. To eventually have so many roadblocks that I literally couldn’t continue. That way I could return home with a story of how it wasn’t me that failed, but the situation that made it impossible.
I wanted to quit, but only if I had a good excuse to save face to people back at home.
I was no longer doing the trip because I wanted to, but because I wanted to live up to other peoples expectations. I’m a stubborn person, and I like to prove a point. But to be unhappy for the next year or longer because I want to prove a point or because I was ashamed of returning home, that’s no way to live. Then came the revellation that, so what if people think I failed? James, my brother, honestly didn’t think I’d get past Dover. I proved him wrong many times over!
How many people can claim to have cycled from London to Istanbul? How many have done it on a Brompton folding bike? How many of either group left with no experience whatsoever of cycle touring?
I think I’ve achieved something, even if it wasn’t my original plan. Many grand schemes have failed for many reasons. Mine was for two reasons: lack of experience; and the plan being too ridiculously grand. Five years cycling around the world with no real experience of travelling outside Europe and US and no experience of cycle touring! I was kidding myself!
But this trip has given me some experience. I have made mistakes. I have learnt a lot. The seven weeks from London to Istanbul have given me valuable knowledge of how to travel. In future I will put more planning into possible routes. I will put more thought into the equipment I choose. I will be stronger in the knowledge of what it takes to cycle long distance. I won’t make the same mistakes again.
However, I want to stress this is a postponement. Sometime in the future I will continue and go for a second attempt, I just don’t know when. But when I do, the date will be published here, and until then I will update the blog with planning for the second attempt, which will of course still be on a Brompton folding bike. Smallwheelsbigworld is not dead!
Don’t be discouraged by a failure. It can be a positive experience. Failure is, in a sense, the highway to success, inasmuch as every discovery of what is false leads us to seek earnestly after what is true, and every fresh experience points out some form of error which we shall afterwards carefully avoid. John Keats.