I’ve gone a bit quiet on this blog for the last month. I’ve been slowly working on a reflective blog on the bike trip (from London-Shanghai) but it’s taking quite awhile to get my thoughts down in a way that I am happy with. To tide this blog over I thought a little summary of my month back would be helpful for anyone wanting to take a long journey and are worried about the inevitable return. On top of that I’ve got a couple of plans in the works.
I was welcomed home to a lovely surprise party put together by my family. I’ve popped a photo above as I think everyone in the picture follows this blog! It was lovely speaking with people who’d followed the trip despite my normal choice to be a bit quiet about it.
My bike made it back safely, and by that I mean it was in just as sorry a state as it was when I gave it to the airline. Aeroflot were my carrier of choice, and for several very good reasons. Firstly for one way tickets from East Asia to Western Europe they are by far the cheapest. Shanghai to Europe was around £350 and Beijing would’ve been around £325.
On Aeroflots China-Moscow flights economy passengers get an allowance of two 23kg suitcases which is fantastic for a cyclist. This extra item is inherited onto your next leg so I got both items onto the Moscow-London Heathrow leg for free too. On top of this you can flag one of the cases as a bicycle, which basically removes the dimension restrictions, for no extra charge. You need to box the bike up which turned out to be pretty easy. I nabbed a box from a bicycle shop next to my hostel in Shanghai, asked them to remove the pedals for me then squeezed it all in with a jumbo pack of toilet paper in lieu of proper packaging.
After a week or so at home, once the visits to friends and family have begun to trail off, one main question lingers… What next? It’s tempting to scrape together your remaining funds are go off on another jaunt but it would just be delaying the inevitable point of your money running out completely, a rather unenviable position to be in (especially considering recent UK immigration policy changes which have led to me being classed as a non-resident and thus ineligible for any government support for 3 months).
Back to work was to be the best option and I’ve found a great company close to home where I’ve already started work. After a long thought I realised that what the bike trip has really left me with is an increased passion for challenges. Those who’ve been following me for a longtime will know this previously manifested by my trips to unusual destinations such as Iraq, North Korea and Somaliland.
I still intend to go on trips like those (I’ve got my eye on you Nagorno-Karabakh!) but to keep myself satisfied I need to make sure I am challenging myself in ways similar to the bike trip. I’ve got about a 100 ideas bouncing around in my head but here is what I’ve settled on so far…
Completing a 24 hour cycling event. I really enjoyed some of the endurance sections of the bike trip and, even though some of the long days were miserable at the time, riding 100-150 miles in a day is really satisfying. I want to keep working on this and train up to being able to ride for at least 24 hours in a single stint covering something like 300 miles. I’ve just ordered a new bike (details on that soon) and this weekend will find the base-level for my training by riding until exhaustion on Saturday November 8th.
If I find that these levels of endurance are possible for me I have a longer term view to enter something like the Trans Continental Race, an annual single stage 2,000mile+ bike race from West Europe to Istanbul. I’ll be blogging about my experiences with these long training sessions here and hope to do some little videos which will probably end up detailing my descent in sleep deprived delirium rather well. If you’d like to follow more of the info. on this project I’ll also be tweeting about it alot.
Walking the Thames Path. Now it’s not exactly cycling to China but I’m making good on my desire to see more of the UK. The Thames Path, from the rivers source in the Cotswolds to the sea, can be done in a week with a bit of training but myself and a friend have decided to make it a longer project breaking it up into several weekends for a few months. We’ll be heading off to Kemble for the start next weekend on November 7th so there will be a blog on the first section too. Again I’ll do some writing about any interesting bits of history along the river we find and also a bit of a guide of the logistics of breaking up the Thames Path into weekend long breaks for anyone considering doing the same.
Getting Dual Nationality. More of an adventure in paperwork but I’ve included this here as I will probably end up writing a short guide for this. I’m entitled to Irish citizenship through my late Grandfather and have several personal reasons for wanting to claim my Irish citizenship alongside my British one that I won’t go into here. More relevant to the blog is that an Irish passport, as well as having two passports, will make some travel much easier. Namely I could go back to Iran as current rules force British citizens onto guided tours!
Not as epic as the bike blogs but hopefully you readers will enjoy these new bits of content. As above I’m also tweeting more content and also sharing some stuff on my facebook page too. Cheers for following!