If this trip has taught me anything
1. When in doubt, stop and eat something.
2. If it can leak, it will leak. Always eat the whole chocolate bar. Keep your toothbrush away from your sunscreen.
3. You’ll never regret carrying more teabags than you think you need. Ditto puncture patches.
4. Everybody has their own style of cycle touring, to each their own. Don’t be one of those people who says you can’t be doing it right if you ride more or less than they do each day.
5. My most valued possessions: Kindle, bike, tent – in that order. If the tent breaks I ride to a hotel and read the Kindle. If the bike breaks I stay in the tent and read the Kindle. If the Kindle breaks I cry.
6. It is definitely not “all downhill from there”. Car drivers have no effing clue.
7. No matter how bad the weather, there will come a time when you would swap back to it in an instant. Really.
8. Likewise, there really are no good old, golden days. They are happening now, even if it seems like a nightmare at the time.
9. Never make any big decision when you’re tired, hungry, lonely, cold, or in the middle of the night (thanks to Al Humphreys for this one).
10. In the tent, ‘If it flies, it dies’. Mosquitoes in the air, sandflies on a surface. Kill them all! How lucky I am to come from a country where mosquitoes are not a problem.
11. If you think you can ride up it, then you probably can. If you think you probably can’t, you won’t even try.
12. Someone will always tell you that you’ve missed the best part. i.e. the place they come from, or where they went on their holiday. “Come back when you’re not in such a hurry”. Aaargh, shut up! Do you think I can go everywhere?! Do you think I care?
13. This really is just a holiday, despite all protests to the contrary. It’s never as hard as it seems at the time. It’s tempting to pretend to be doing something heroic, until you meet a nine year old girl who’s just done the same thing without whinging the whole way. You make it as hard as you want it to be and you can always go home. I am incredibly privileged to be doing this.
14. Don’t be so quick to form a judgement about people – it’s almost always wrong. The grumpy, menacing looking chap who approaches my campsite is actually bringing me some apples. The ratty old chef makes the best food I’ve had in months and sits proudly watching me scoff. Give people the benefit of the doubt.
15. Countries and places are also apt to confound expectations. The expensive tourist draw that you get up in the middle of the night to see at sunrise – ‘meh’. The random encounter with an old woman at a side of the road drinks stall, makes you smile inwardly for the rest of your life. Keep expectations low and travel without prejudice.
16. Know your weaknesses. Accept how you are and work with the grain. I will probably always bite off more than I can chew. Over-reaching is just part of my personality it seems. Carry food for n+1 days, have an escape route.
17. On the other hand, people will tell you all kinds of things are impossible. Ignore them.
18. Everything does not happen for a reason, but it’s a very good mindset to cultivate. Let it happen, be open to possibilities. It will make more sense later.
19. Always ride defensively, but remember that is expressed differently in different driving cultures.
20. Very few people appreciate the nutritional needs of long distance cyclists, including many actual long distance cyclists. Biscuits for breakfast? Salad for dinner? Er, no.
21. Acquaintanceships develop into friendships surprisingly quickly when you’re travelling. Saying goodbye will rip your heart out. But half an hour down the road and all is right with the world again… until next time.
4 July 2017 @ 21:52
Hello Dan! We’re the french family you met in Indian Himalaya (Keylong, summer 2016), with 3 children! We are VERY happy to read your website! And your last post is so relevant, so humoristic! During our bicycle trips, we felt the same things…
Have a good trip around tne world Dan 🙂
See you in the Alps or somewhere else.
The TSAGA : Titouan, Seb, Ariane, Gaspard, Adélie
27 June 2017 @ 19:41
No10 relevant to anyone in a tent. Great reads Dan. Cheers for my vicarious travels 🙂
27 June 2017 @ 09:22
Good life advice. It’s taken me 53 years to learn number 14.
27 June 2017 @ 08:52
Well done Dan for perservering – I hope you have some good music to listen too as well!