The day the idea of a long bike ride was born

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeijing 2007, they were busy building the Bird´s Nest Stadium and my daughter Emma and I were busy trying to get into Tibet. We were staying in a hostal in one of the few hutongs (old neighbourhoods) saved from the bulldozers which were cleaning up the city in preparation for the Olympic games.

In the hostal I met Fritz, a retired German, heading back home after cycling round the world.

We sat in the hostal´s courtyard and chatted well into the night. Fritz told me about his children and grand children; he told me about wild camping in the Australian outback; he told me about the thousands of kilometres he had ridden, about scary moments, the beautiful places he had seen and the kind people he had met. We also talked about his forthcoming 70th birthday, about aging and what it meant for him. I felt inspired by his stories and that night I found it hard to go to sleep.

In the small of the night, I thought about the time when I crossed the Pyrenees from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic on my own in 2002, carrying everything I needed in my rucksack.  In those 47 days up in the mountains I experienced absolute joy and freedom. I thought about how I loved the company of my friends and family who met me occasionally to stay a few days with me. How good the encounters with other walkers in the mountain huts at the end of a day were, and how great it was that at any time I  could look at the map and decide to go down a valley to a glacier lake, have a dip in its waters and let the sun dry me out.

But most of all, how much I loved the long days on my own. There and then, I decided that one day I would take to the road on my bike, and like Fritz explore the world.

Next week it will be the day.


The Farewell Party has come and gone and I’m nearly ready!!!

Sign of a good party the night before!!
In full flow!

Last Saturday I had the chance to say farewell to may of my friends. It was pretty wonderful to see so many of the people that matter to me gathered in my house. Friends that I hadn’t seen for a while and friends that go back a long way.

Great people,  loads to eat and plenty of beverages are the perfect ingredients for a great party and I did enjoy myself enormously.

The first port of call on entry to the house had to be admiring the bike! She looked absolutely gorgeous, all dressed up with her panniers…I think I’m in love!!

The evening spilled over to brunch the following day. A perfect chance to test IMG_4990my selfie stick (yes, I am taking one – no shame I know!!)

Other than having a serious bout of butterflies in my stomach I’m nearly ready. Well nearly…the travel insurance bit is proving a bit tricky but it will get done.