Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Cycling in Europe - Wrap up.

I suppose the first stage of my hopefully global cycle tour has reached a conclusion. In retrospect, It has been a fantastic journey through some simply amazing places, and most of my most vivid memories are ones that no guidebook guides you to. The tiny villages, amazing people, the freedom of having no permanent home and a truly open road only available when travelling by bicycle will be with me in my mind forever.

I can only imagine how hard it will get in the future stages as I sacrifice even more luxuries: running water! electricty! English language! but the the hardest part of the trip up until now have not been western luxuries or physical difficulty, but the mental aspect. The highs and lows of life on the road, even for a few months in such an easily accessible continent such as Europe a very strongly felt. Lots of lonliness, but also plenty of times where nothing could dampen my spirits. By far the good outweighed the bad. The summits of the hills and mountains were usually the summits of my mood and crawling into a wet sleeping bag in a leaking tent by myself for two weeks I have generally assumed as the low point.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to connect with locals when travelling, they are 3/4 of the experience itself! With some very minor exclusions, everyone I have met so far have been amazingly generous people, inviting a stranger, not to mention a hairy, grimy foriegner stranger riding a bicycle into their homes, feeding me, and giving me somewhere to stay and sending me on my way with a smile on their faces.

Now, with anticipation, I will wait until I have saved up enough money to continue, and do it all over again.

Friday, 19 October 2007

This Pikey Life

I've completed my first fortnight at Thorn, and it has been a harsh reality check sliding back into the world of the working. It's a good job, and I am being trained at what I want to do, 'Bike salesman', but work is still work!

I have been living a very gypsy life, out of a caravan, eating pot-noodles and cheese and ketchup sandwiches (See attached pic). I like my tent more. It's warmer and the rent is on par. I have spruced up the bike (Trek 520) with numerous bits and pieces, including fancy new handlebars. Time's up,

Back to work for me.

What's wrong with this Caravan? Nothing. It's tip-top.

Bristol Panorama

On the way to Bridgwater from Bristol

Park in Bristol

New Look Malik

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Crazy News

Two really cool things have happened to me recently, one is I managed to land a job at the greatest touring bike store in the world, Thorn Cycles Ltd, in Bridgwater. Really cool.

Secondly, Alastair Humphreys has kindly donated the bicycle HE used to cycle around the world to me. I was looking for the exact same model as the one he used, and half-jokingly sent him a message asking if he'd sell it. He went one better and offered it to me! Maybe this bike will see two round-the-world trips?

Saturday, 6 October 2007

London to Bath

I am going to be updating this site less frequently, but I won't abandon it completely. It takes up a lot of free time off the bike to be constantly updating this internet bizzo.

I left London after failing to find a job, so I kept riding west, this time with Gonz, a cyclist from Mexico. The English countryside has surpassed my expectations, from what I was hearing frok fellow travellers and locals it was a place of doom and gloom. Not so at all.

A beer before leaving

Cycling out of London (it went on forever)

View from our first camp (next to a highway!)

Second night's camp on a farm (with permission)

English Manor

(A) White Horse carved into the hillside

Cycling onto Bath