A spurt of competitive events as a triathlete encouraged me to go on a couple of cycle tours a few years ago. This reminded me that longer distances were possible and fun. My only previous tour was forty years ago as a teenager travelling somewhere around southern England. I rode a bike with three speed Sturmey Archer gears and stayed in youth hostels.
I enjoy travelling under my own steam or using the power of nature. For several years, I worked on sail training ships exploring remote anchorages on the West Coast of Scotland, and busier places around the UK and Europe. I have crossed the Atlantic Ocean twice and sailed across the notoriously rough Bay of Biscay more times than is good for me. Backpacking around the Scottish hills is a favourite pastime of mine. I like the freedom, the slower pace of life and the closer connection to the great outdoors.
I no longer think these cycle tours are quite as bonkers as when we first set out and I am becoming more of an equal partner in their planning and execution. Leaving Europe is challenging, though the allure of the Rockies, the Andes, and Argentinian steak may be too strong to resist. I also have a long held wish to visit New Zealand, so she might get me to the other side of the planet eventually.
I am the driving (riding?) force for our adventures. To be fair, I did offer to sail with Jerry rather than cycle but he thought he could go sailing further into his dotage, so cycling it is!
I grew up on a bicycle as this was the main means of getting about used by my rather large family of six kids. My mum often looked much like a mother duck cycling down the road with all her ducklings following behind. As teenagers, my two elder sisters and I would load up our bikes with kit and set off on cycle tours across the UK. Almost every trip involved a bit of off roading or carrying of bikes over locked gates or across rivers. We had great fun and learnt to be self reliant and adventurous.
Since my time as an Outward Bound tutor back in the 1990s, I have loved camping. My tent is my home and everything becomes okay once it is pitched and I am safely inside – whatever the day has been like.
It is the speed of travel that really appeals to me about cycle touring. I get to see, smell, and hear the countryside I pass through. I know how the weather is changing all the time. Even a headwind blows differently from moment to moment. I have always had a long held ambition to circumnavigate the globe and, to me, cycling seems the perfect way to accomplish this whilst also experiencing the landscape and cultures. I am struggling to get Jerry out of Europe, though we did manage a day in Morocco on our last tour that went down well, so I still hold hope that we will visit other continents soon.