Hello! We’re Adrian and James, welcome to Really Big Bike Ride.
Tales from two wheels.
This blog is all about taking on a challenge, experimenting with a different way of living and experiencing life to its full. Expect bikes, hikes and things that we like. And tea. Lots of tea.
A bit about James (the main contributor to the blog)
I’ve a dangerous habit of saying yes. Always have had. My first foray into adventurous journeys was with my mates Mark and Gus. Out on our bikes one day, killing time during the summer holidays, Mark suggested we cycle to his mums’ shop, 12 miles away in the next town. Certain that we’d be welcomed as heroes, Gus and I excitedly said yes. We arrived at Marks’ mums shop beaming with our achievement, waiting eagerly for a few biscuits or a piece of cake. Alarmingly, Mark was promptly scolded, bundled into the back of his mums’ car, and instructed never to pull a stunt like that again. Gus and I were on our own. No map, no food, no nothing. We made it home after dark, stealthily crept into our houses, hoping to pretend we’d never left the village. We didn’t see much of Mark after that.
Way back in 2008 as the financial crisis hit the news, on the day the Lehman Brothers bank collapsed, I handed in my notice at the local newspaper where I was selling advertising space, gave up my company car and fuel card, monthly salary and penthouse apartment to join my old friend Tom at his web design agency. I’d done it again. Saying yes had got me into a new and interesting situation. We weathered the storm for three tough years; we learned a bunch of stuff, did a lot of fun things, and created some fantastic websites; we rarely earned enough to pay ourselves. It was time for a change. My old mate Ade had just about had his fill of cuts at the Environment Agency and suggested we go on a long holiday. We’d been doing a bit of cycle touring around the UK and we quite enjoyed it; the sense of freedom on the open road, wild camping in unusual places, country pubs; we were hooked.
As I wrapped up my business commitments with Tom, Ade and I planned our first big trip – a Grand Tour of Europe. A long distance cycling challenge to raise funds for bikes to Africa charity, Re~Cycle. We completed our 20 Countries In 100 Days challenge successfully, created this blog and raised a couple of grand for Re~Cycle into the bargain. Saying yes was beginning to feel good. I returned to the UK broke but happy. The rejuvenating effects of a great adventure had restored my confidence and washed away the disappointment of business failure. I met a woman, moved to London and fell into another sales role. Saying yes was easy for me. I spent the next three years persuading others to say yes to marketing software. I was rather good at it. Materially, I had it all; a great relationship, a successful career, a red sports car, but something wasn’t quite right. The ten-day trips that Ade and I were making weren’t enough, I wanted a bigger fix. I longed to be free of stuff and things. I craved the simple life. Rosie wanted a house and a baby. I offered a tent and a bike. It was time to leave. I would make this next adventure alone.
In May 2015, I attended the Cycle Touring Festival, to pick up last minute information for my first solo adventure. The energy and enthusiasm of the people there was overwhelming. These were yes people. As ballots were counted in the general election, I sailed the Channel to Rotterdam. I was headed East in search of people, places and a different perspective. I set off for Istanbul on my overloaded bike, arriving 70 days later, where I said yes to my friend in Vietnam and so flew to Hanoi. A new plan to travel overland back to the UK was born. Taking in the best of South East Asia and the big Buddhist culture shock, travelling back in time crossing Burma into the wild North East of India which led to the big spiritual experience travelling all India and Nepal, finishing off with the big nature and wilderness survival crossing Central Asia and the High Pamirs, ending rather neatly in Tbilisi, Georgia before a final shimmy across Eastern Europe.
I’m now here in the UK, trying to figure out how to live. I’ve begun speaking in schools about the trip, inspiring the next generation to take risks and live a healthy, fulfilling life. I’m still writing here on the blog occasionally and I may write a book. One step at a time. I’m a friendly kinda guy, if you have any questions, fancy a brew or would like or book a talk, please complete the form below.