Hello. Iím considering a solo round-the-world bicycle tour. Just like everyone else.
It's an idea that's been with me for a long time but months, then years, pass and things don't happen.
Iíd like to use this thread to discuss my initial thoughts on the idea and get feedback and ideas from everyone. If I were to go through with it Iíd be looking at a departure date maybe in February next year.
Iíd be 26 (and a half) years old at the prospective time of departure. I realise this could mean not returning until Iím in my 30ís, which is somewhat concerning. Iíll have lost a lot of hair, grandparents will probably have died, parents retiredÖ a lot changes in that time.
I finished university in 2008 and havenít really managed to integrate myself into society in a normal way. A year ago I started my current job, and if I wanted to I could probably stay here for several more years. But thereís no progression available and itís unlikely to lead to a ďbetterĒ job elsewhere later on. I earn £15,000 (before tax) so itís nothing great.
I have one or two (literally) friends whom I see often and whom I might ďmissĒ while on the road. I wouldnít mind being away from my family. I expect theyíd want to fly out for a holiday with me somewhere along my route, anyway.
As it may affect how Iím regarded by strangers in different places: Iím white (and pale skinned), 6ft tall and of a medium build. Iím fairly quiet and retiring, unsociable in fact. But polite and confident, though not particularly persuasive or forceful.
If I donít do something unusual like cycling around the world then Iíll probably buy a house around here and continue in my current job and just see what happens. Iím actually quite an easily settled person and if I had enough money Iíd honestly just get a house in the countryside somewhere and live out the rest of my days in peaceÖ
Iíve never done any long multi-week tours before. My longest one-day ride was well over 200km, self-supported on a loaded touring bike with zero training in mid-winter and while slightly ill. That was five years ago, though. Since then Iíve worked as a cycle courier and these days I just commute a few miles my bike and have occasional 10-20mile rides as transport when I need to go somewhere. At the kind of pace I would be keeping, I feel completely confident that I could physically manage the cycling of a very long tour.
If things move forward and I get a bike and equipment then I'll probably do a short tour like LEJOG/JOGLE to try things out.
Not much. I have minimal foreign-language abilities, just a little bit of French and very basic Mandarin. I spent a month in China when I was 19, moving around by public transport and hitch-hiking. That was fine, I managed alright Ė just improvising the whole way. At that age you just do things and donít think about potential problems, itís good.
I have about £13,000 in savings. This figure could increase or decrease by several thousand pounds before I depart, depending on whether I end up saving hard or spending a lot on other pursuits before I leave. I do have a few other rather expensive hobbies that I was preparing to spend about £3000 on recently, but I might put that off now. Most could be resumed when I get back, but they are things that benefit greatly from youthfulness and already Iím above an ideal age to perform well in them. So I might try to do a lot now, before I set off.
Iíd be leaving from Greenwich, London. Obviously the details have yet to be worked out but my main options are something like:
1) Go a lot of the way East into Asia, then down to Australia and NZ, over to the USA and back.
2) Go all of the way East, across to Alaska, down to Argentina, across to South Africa and back up to Europe.
The latter is the really big respectable route. Itís ďaround the worldĒ vs. just ďround the worldĒ, if you see what I mean. But the extra commitment of time is concerning. I have some reservations about what life would be like for me when I returned after 4 years. Iíd be starting from scratch in my early 30ís, ten years later than everyone else, and would probably move back in with my parents and take some minimum-wage job for a few months before giving up and stepping in front of a train.
I would need to purchase a bike to use. I used to ride a lovely old Dawes Galaxy for touring and day trips but that is unserviceable now and wouldnít be suitable anyway. From my initial research Iím leaning towards a Thorn Sherpa, which seems to be a consistently popular choice. A lot would depend on how much of my route is spent in what sort of areas. But I suppose one can change components around quite easily at the start of each leg Ė for example in Europe and North America I could make things as roady and fast as possible, and toughen up for the Chinese countryside.
I mostly ride old racing bikes, usually 23mm tyres and obviously 700c or 27", and all very lightweight. Iím concerned that after that a Sherpa with 2Ē tyres will feel like a bit of a tank and seem like slow going. Can anyone comment on how speedy a bike like that can be made, when necessary? For example if I want to zip along good roads in the USA, what are the narrowest tyres I could install?
I should also note that a winter commuting bike would be very useful this season and in years to come. My current skinny old '80s racer is going to get absolutely wrecked in a few month's time from all the rain and salt on the road. So if something I chose
I would be funding the bike purchase from the sum I mentioned above.
At this stage I canít really see why people need 120 litres of panniers, plus a bar bag, tent on the rack and water on the frame. Thatís a lot of stuff. It would be great if I could avoid front panniers, but we shall see. Iíll get some good water-proof panniers, I donít know much about whatís available today so Iíll look into it.
Iíd be taking a tent and sleeping bag, as well as basic cooking equipment. Probably. Thatís something I need to think about. Iím quite happy eating dry/raw/cold stuff for the majority of the time, and just a few cooked meals per week (in a restaurant) would be alright. Again it depends where I end up going and how cheaply I want to do it. Cooking equipment adds a great deal of weight that perhaps I will choose to do without.
That's all for now. I'll post more in due course (or maybe never!). Please reply with anything you'd like to say.