Liz and Chris, both from the UK, met in Wanaka, New Zealand in August 2005. Chris was on his second gap year and Liz was on holiday. When they first met, Chris mentioned that he would like to cycle around the world, Liz didn’t really think he was serious. Turns out he was.
Before setting off we completed some small trips around Cumbria, and cycled from John O’ Groats to Land’s End in two parts.
I guess if you had asked me what I would be doing at the age of 32 a few years ago, I’m pretty sure my answer would not have been ‘oh you know, a long distance cycle ride from NZ to the UK’.
I trained as a Graphic Designer and after 7 years working for the BBC, I now run my own business designing and building websites. I have always enjoyed being creative and working with interesting people, doing interesting things. My job means that I spend hours working away in our office (at home) sat in front of my mac. I guess what I am trying to say is that I spend a lot of time indoors, stationary so bikeabout should be a good antedote to that!
By now you are probably wondering why I have agreed to do this. Well.
I reckon if you can cycle 5 miles on a bike, then chances are you can cycle 5000. Cycling is a bit like walking really, you just push with one foot and then the other, and just keep going, in a Forrest Gump kinda way…
“That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I’d just run across the great state of Alabama. And that’s what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. “
Which makes it sound easy, but I know it’s not. For most of my life, the challenges I have faced have been mental, academic and career based, trying to be the best I can possibly be, by using my brain, being creative and working hard. I’m used to being able to put my mind to something, and using knowledge, experience and theory to figure it out. In that space, I’m used to being good at things. Over the past couple of years I have discovered that there is another type of challenge, one that requires stamina, trust, resilience, muscle memory and strength: a physical challenge. Whether it is cycling, canoeing, walking or skiing, they all require more than brain power alone!
So now I am challenging myself in a new way and it is much harder – I can’t simply apply theory or knowledge and be good at it overnight, it takes time, practice, patience and skill to do it well. This is a hard lesson to learn and involves a few tantrums and tears of frustration along the way. However, the challenge of long distance cycling, like any physical challenge, still requires mental strength, and I hope that the challenges of the last 10 years will help me now over the next 2 years.
I am looking forward to the emotional rollercoaster, the highs and the lows that make you feel really alive… pedaling up a huge, seemingly insurmountable hill for what seems like forever, thinking you won’t be able to make it, only to prove yourself wrong and get to the top… you feel ecstatic, you jump for joy…I did it, I cycled up that! And then food tastes amazing, water is heavenly, you feel tired at the end of the day in that lovely way you did as a child – ‘tired from playing’ my brother and I always say. With everything stripped back, you begin to appreciate the simple things in life again.
As a career girl, I never did the gap year, had a couple of months in Berlin but I was keen to get on. Now, perhaps slightly disillusioned with things here, I’m keen to see how others live, to learn about other cultures and other ways to be. Our western world is so caught up with consuming and money that we seem to have lost our way, and our moral compass is going slightly haywire. Yet we remain convinced that our way is the best way. Perhaps going away will make me appreciate what I have here? Perhaps seeing the children in Laos and Thailand will show me that it’s the people around you who matter, more than possessions? Most of all, I hope our adventure will help me to be a better person; to live a full life, to laugh more, give more, sing louder and worry less.
There are so many things that I want to be, learn and do. I am a dreamer who hates to rush things.
Travelling and the outdoors have been a part of my life since I can remember. I have fond memories of camping under the stars next to the Zambezi, Africa, when I was 7. When I was 13 we went back to Africa to climb Mount Kenya to Point Lenana.
After leaving school in 2000 I saved up for a 5 month trip to Peru. I spent the first half in the rainforests of the Tambopata National Reserve doing a conservation project, teaching English and Learning Spanish. The next half was spent exploring the south of Peru. During this time I did the Inca Trail unsupported and climbed Chichani, El Misti and El Mismi.
In 2003 I did a two week cycle ride through France with my great friend Chris, a few months later whilst reminiscing about the trip in the pub I decided that I wanted to cycle round the world.
In 2004 I graduated with my degree in Outdoor Studies, then set off for the South Pacific where I crewed on a sailing boat from Tahiti to the Cook Islands then flew to New Zealand where I spent 13 months working, travelling, climbing and skiing.
I returned to the UK in 2005 to be with Liz. I then spent four years working as an outdoor instructor and social care worker.
After learning about Alistair Humphries’ 4 year trip and then hearing him speak, I was determined to make my dream a reality.
The reality is here, now it’s time to go bikeabout.