A maverick guide to adventurous rides
Over the years I’ve been invited on adventurous rides all over the world. I’m lucky to have friends that do interesting things with bicycles.
This is by no means a definitive guide to quitting your job and going on multi-month long-distance bike trips.
It is, however, a short story about how I quit my job (often) and said yes to adventurous rides around the world.
A dangerous habit of saying yes
I have a dangerous habit of saying yes. Always have had. My first foray into adventurous rides was with my mates Mark and Gus.
One day, out on our bikes, 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.
Tea and cake
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.
How to quit your well-paid job at the beginning of a financial crash
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.
I 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.
Happily, even during these challenging times, we learned a lot of stuff, did many fun things, and created some fantastic websites.
Sadly, though, we rarely earned enough to pay ourselves. It was time for a change.
How to say yes to adventurous rides around Europe
My old mate Ade had just about had his fill of budget 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 feeling of freedom out on the open road, wild camping in unusual places, a cheeky pint in country pubs.
It was magical and we were hooked.
As I wrapped up my business commitments with Tom, Ade and I planned our first big bike trip – an adventurous ride around Europe. A long-distance cycling challenge to raise funds for bikes to Africa charity, Re~Cycle.
20 countries in 100 days
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.
The London Life
In the spring of 2011, 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.
A bigger fix
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 a 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.
An adventurous ride around the world
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 were 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.
People, places and a different perspective
I set off for Istanbul on my overloaded bike, arriving 70 days later. On a whim, over a Skype call where I said yes to my friend in Vietnam and so flew to Hanoi to join her on an overland odyssey.
A new plan to travel overland back to the UK was born.
Far away, at the opposite end of the Eurasian continent, I traversed the best of South East Asia and experienced the big Buddhist culture shock.
A spiritual awakening by bike
As my journey progressed, I travelled back in time to Myanmar. I crossed Burma into the wilds of North East of India. Slowly, I zigzagged India up to Nepal, culminating in a spiritual awakening by bicycle.
Finally, with Ade along for the ride, I explored the big nature and wilderness of Central Asia and the High Pamirs.
Ultimately, this adventurous ride ended rather neatly in Tbilisi. I enjoyed a few weeks in Georgia before a final shimmy across Eastern Europe. The yes man had done it. A sequence of lifelong yeses had taken me around the world by bicycle.
An experiment in adventurous living
I’m now a full-time freelance and digital nomad living between India and the UK. The experiment in alternative living and adventurous rides continues…