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How I became a world cyclist

Hi, I’m Dan.
Before setting off to cycle the world, I lived in the in Derbyshire, United Kingdom.
I used to spend my days working at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester, where I did research on energy, emissions and transport. I have previously had ‘mini-careers’ as a local government pollution control officer and as a corporate recruitment consultant. Along the way I have somehow obtained a degree in philosophy, a masters degree in environmental science and, believe or not, a PhD in environmental engineering. Over-educated and under-stimulated, my ignorance of the day to day concerns of most of the other human beings living on the planet prompted me to leave my comfortable bubble of security and predictability and see first hand what’s really going on out there.

My plan is to travel relatively slowly, by bicycle mostly, while being fairly self-sufficient – camping most of the time to stay within my small budget. If I can stay longer in interesting places / with interesting people, then so much the better to learn about those countries.

"dan calverley" "self propelling particle"


  • For one thing, I just like the sound of the syllables – I am a sucker for alliteration! It also has a double-meaning for me. For the first part, I am travelling by bicycle, therefore self-propelled.
    But ‘self-propelling particle’ theory is also a scientific explanation of how organisms move en masse, travelling in large groups as one without colliding into each other. It is a mathematical branch of biology that models how animals such as herring shoal together or starlings flock or locusts swarm. Any ‘autonomous biological unit’ is a ‘self-propelling particle’, be it a blue whale, an ant or a motorcyclist in donwtown Hanoi. This appealed to my nerdy, scientific side. It also captures some of what I hoped to gain from this trip – namely, how do other people live around the world, often in much greater proximity to each other than I am used, and what would it be like to join in that great tide of humanity on the move, as an autonomous self-propelling particle?