Wednesday, April 21, 2010
GLOBAL CYCLE RIDE - WHAT'S THAT ALL ABOUT??
One afternoon in mid November 2008, I wheeled my bicycle out my front door and begun a journey of cycling around the world. When I begun out of Naas in Ireland. I could barely pedal it up the hill past the police station on the Kilcullen road. The weight of all my winter gear and the fact that I was so unconditioned to handling a bicycle with such weight on board. First night by the river in Baltinglass, second night on Currocloe beach, third night in Rosslare. By the time I met my great friend, Andy, in Wales, I felt burnt out with saddle sores and a cold. But Andy knows how to build reassurance; "not to worry mate, you're 1% into cycling around the world". As I rode across France in the winter of 2008, I refused to look at my map of the world. I would get depressed when I compared how little I'd travelled to how exhausted I felt. Dad and my brothers Paul and Eoin came out to visit me. Then Genevieve arrived for the New Year. By the time I got to Italy, I was beginning to enjoy the whole affair. Good food that just got better in Greece. I was feeling real fit now. The weather was great and the best of campsites were available everywhere. I'm happy in a museum, but with 130 museums in Athens, Greece, this was a serious overload for the senses. Next up was Turkey. There were 2 major set backs in Turkey. The neck cracking antics of the 'wanna-be-physio' and the loss of 80% of my stuff when I foolishly turned my back and should have known better. The disappointing realisation that the close of the trip was at the doorstep. But then who walks in the door, but a physiotherapist on a bicycle, with a quest to pedal around the world. A month later, I was 'back in the saddle' heading east towards Iran. I was so nervous heading in here. There's just no good news about this country. As it turned, Iran became the highlight of the entire bike ride. A country that shone like no other due to the overwhelming goodness of its people. Global media's obsession with misrepresenting this country is more than an irritation. Its a crime. Dehydration in Turkmenistan and hunger by choice (and for the good of my health in Uzbekistan). When hungry in Kyrgyzstan, I helped skin my own dinner. I carried my bike up mountains and skied with it down the other side. In China, I've been ordered out of my bed by police at a ridiculous hour. 'This hotel is unsuitable for foreigners. You must sleep in a tourist hotel'. Tibetans taught me how to dance. 'Swing your arms, Don't ye Irish swing your arms when ye dance'. I pedalled my bicycle up mountains half the height of Mt Everest and saw used oxygen canisters been thrown from tour buses by wealthy Chinese tourists as they struggled with the thin air. My legs were exhausted at this stage. But I wanted to continue travelling under my own steam, so I bought an inflatable zodiac boat. I tied the bicycle on the back of the raft and paddled down the Mekong river from the Golden Triangle to Luang Prabang in Laos. Didn't spend long in Vietnam but between Hanoi (Vietnam) and San Diego (United States), I spent a Christmas in Paradise (also known as Hawaii). Pedalled across the Mojave desert to make it to Vegas. I neither felt the thrill of winning nor the lull of losing, cause I never gambled. Mexico was bigger than I realised. When I entered, immigration said it would be impossible to cycle to Cancun. 'Its too far.'I was told. They gave me a 6 month visa. 45 days later I arrived into Cancun. Three days later I had a flight home. It was a bit of a rush towards the end. And then a volcano blew up in Iceland and I got stuck in New York City. I needed to dismantle the bike and put it in a box for the flight home. All I need to do now is cycle it from Dublin airport back home to Naas. The complete journey was 24,000KMs and it took 17 months.
Here are some movies created by Markus from Austria, whom I travelled with for 3 months in Asia.