I get asked a number of questions about my travels so I thought I would put the answers to some of them here.
Why are you doing this trip?
Basically I was bored and tried to figure out what I enjoyed doing the most. I came up with travelling and sport – I decided not to join the men’s professional tennis circuit and went with cycle touring instead.
You must really love cycling?
No, I like cycling but it certainly is not a lifelong passion. This tour has made me appreciate it more and when I get back I am planning to continue riding.
Don’t you get lonely?
Sometimes, for the first few months no, as there were lots of new people to meet. As I enter areas where there are less English speaking people I miss having someone to talk to.
Isn’t it dangerous?
I would say it is no more dangerous than other forms of travelling. I’ve had my bicycle pump stolen and a couple of accidents but I have suffered no injuries cycling and have never felt deliberately threatened by other people. That said some of the conditions I have ridden through have been quite tough and if I had been unlucky or differently prepared might have turned sour.
Where do you sleep?
Anywhere I can: campsites, couchsurfing and warmshowers hosts, hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs, ships, cafes, the side of the road, petrol stations, friends and farms.
You must be a great bicycle mechanic now?
Definitely not, I live in permanent fear that something major will go wrong on my bicycle that I cannot fix. Luckily every time something has gone wrong I have been able to get to a mechanic to fix it. This remains true after a year of touring and while I am fairly confident with simple stuff to keep the bike running that is about as far as it goes.
What is the most amazing thing you have seen so far?
The kindness and generosity of the people who have helped me on my way – that and the mountains of Kyrgyzstan.
How far do you ride each day?
That really depends. As a rule of thumb I try and ride 100km or more every day – the distance will vary with the gradient, quality of road, weather and how far I actually need to go.
Have you fallen off?
Yes quite a few times, mainly on ice but also in China when someone pulled in front of me and I had to slam on the brakes very hard.
How much gear do you have?
Too much, altogether it probably weighs about 35kg in winter and 30kg in summer though I have been working hard recently on getting lower and probably am at about 25kg now depending on how much food I am carrying.
How long will your trip be?
As long as it takes, or as long as I have enough money or until I get bored.
You must be really fit now?
I don’t feel any fitter than when I was back home. I did a lot of varied exercise there now I just ride a bicycle all day, so while my cycling endurance is probably up I don’t feel like I could run very far and I certainly cannot climb very well any more.
Questions from locals, some stranger than others
What is your name?
Where are you from?
Are you married?
Why aren’t you married?
How old are you?
Do you have any children?
Not that I know of.
Why don’t you use a motorbike
Sometimes I wonder myself but basically because it would be too easy.
Are you alone?
Isn’t it cold?
If you are asking that question then probably yes.
Isn’t it hot?
How much did your bike cost?
The lowest number I can get away with or a gift the value of which I do not know.
What is your job?
Cycling, OK you mean what was my job? Working in a bank.
How much do you/did you earn?
Nothing or more than I deserved.
What are you doing all the way out here on your own?
Can I have your bicycle?
Can I buy your bicycle?
It seems unlikely.
Your mother and father are in England?
Would you like some vodka?
If it is breakfast time, lunchtime, in the middle of nowhere with a long cycle the next day then probably no.
Can we have a photo?
Probably, as long as you aren’t asking in the middle of the road, in the heat of the afternoon sun or when I am in the middle of a tough climb.