Homecoming

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As I sit writing now in a suburb of South London, I wonder if I simply dreamed the last three years of my life. Did I really cycle all the way around the world? Now I’ve returned to ‘normality’ it seems odd to think that my journey really happened. Odder still is to gaze at a map of the world and track my slow, exhausting route round the planet. Yet if I do stop for a moment and begin to recall the journey, perhaps recognizing a place name on the map, my mind is quickly flooded with glut of memories. Vivid recollections are conjured of incredible people, amazing places and great experiences. Memories so rich, they will remain with me forever and instantly bring a smile to my face and a glow of pride.

Return to Europe

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My head was swimming. Having not slept in 24 hours I was unable to think clearly. In my sleep deprived state it took a couple of hours to build my bike in Madrid’s sterile airport. With the price for a cab set at thirty Euro’s I was happy to take my time, However I was dreading the ride into the city center. The thought of rush hour in Spain’s capital made my numb brain anxious. So I was both surprised and pleased to find the city’s streets peaceful and quiet. Not for a lack of people but simply because it was so much calmer and more organised than the hectic roads of South America which I was used to.

End of the Road

End of the Road

Outside of Colombia people look puzzled if you talk about ‘La Linea’. However if you mention these two words to any Colombian a knowing look forms on their face. If you then explain you plan to cycle this road on a heavily laden bicycle, their eyes begin to bulge. The reason for this is simple; on a 30 mile stretch of road you need to climb more than 3,000 meters. On average that’s a gradient of 10% (for every 10 meters cycled you gain 1 meter in elevation).

Loco Colombia

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At long last I reached Colombia but it was with mixed emotions that I crossed my ‘final frontier’ in South America. I felt sad that my time on the continent was coming to a close. I was excited though to experience Colombia for myself after hearing amazing stories from other cyclists. Exceptional hospitality, stunning landscapes and beautiful women tended to be the gist of it. Of course this counters the widely held perception of a dangerous country full of drugs barons and insurgent guerrillas. The last time I heard contradictions this strong (between perception and reality) it was about Iran and I still regale everyone I can with tall tales from that wonderful country.

Off Like A Rocket

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I set off from Lima like a rocket. Now under a time constraint to get back to Europe for my brother’s wedding I took the flat coastal route rather than climbing over the Andean peaks of Peru. Manuel – a friend of a friend and cycling fanatic – guided me safely out of Lima after stops to visit both his sisters and his mum (all of which included photo sessions)!

Grounded

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Alex and I had no idea the dramatic changes the next days would bring – how could we. Alex had to suddenly leave South America while I was grounded for a month and a half. It is precisely these challenges that make life on the road so interesting as well as challenging.