Thank you for all your support
I'm completely new to cycle touring and cycling is not even my hobby, so this is my first ever attempt at touring and I'm not doing bad. Not being a regular cyclist, I found it very painful and a completely alien experience, but I have adapted.
People I meet along the way can't believe it when I tell them what I'm doing. They look me up and down, then I tell them it's OK, I'm not what you would imagine a cyclist to look like, especially one taking on something so huge. I'm built like a brick-sh#thouse for starters, not like the typical racing snake you see out there clad in a vegan sausage skin :)
I'm strong, I can lift heavy things :), as a life of heavy manual labour has dictated, and good food too :), but this is completely new to me, as none of my physical strength counts here, it's completely different muscles that are now coming into play. Until the day I set out, I had never setup my tent to sleep in, never cycled with this brand new bike fully loaded with the panniers full of everything I needed, and I had also never cycled more than 30 miles in one day in my entire life.
I wanted to know, if I guy who has been in the building and construction industry all his life hands on, and without any cycle touring or cycle training, from a simple working class background, could get on a fully loaded bike and cycle around the world. I know, what a crazy idea hey :)
I have completely self-funding this adventure through working had my entire life, and I am travelling solo and unsupported. But my support comes from knowing that I have so many people behind me on this, so thank you all.
I set out on August 1 2017, and on October 4 2017 I completed the first stage of the cycle and that super tough loop I set for myself through the centre of Spain. From Warrington in Cheshire, to Barcelona, took a total of 1695 actually cycling miles - 2728km. I wanted to try to complete a circumnavigation of the Earth, meaning I would need to cover at least 18000 actually cycling miles in pretty much one direction, that's 29000km's. Any ferries, flights, trains or other forms of transport are not counted.
I also have to pass 2 points on the Earth that are opposite, so I chose Madrid as my fist point, and a little place in New Zealand as my second. I will also hedge my bets and aim for an antipodal point in Asia, and one in South America. Yes, there is a sort of science or rule to completing a true circumnavigation. Cycling around the world could mean lots of things to different people, but a circumnavigation is basically what is says.
I never imagined I would be able to do more than 60km's in a day, let alone the 107km best I did during this first stage. My little legs :) have never stopped hurting, but I have to say that the hardest part is the mental side.
Sure, it hurts to climb hills and cycle all day long, but your mind is constantly active, it doesn't go into autopilot, not with me anyway.
There are potholes, nails and sharp objects to look out for and creatures that jump out in front of you as you cycle along, paying attention to what the traffic is doing, pushing yourself hard, the loneliness, the wonders you see and experience, the nice and some no so nice people you meet, the concerns, hoping to find a place to sleep and eat, where to get good drinking water, and all the while thinking of loved ones back home.
Yes, as a solo cycle tourer, I would have to say that the physical side is maybe around the 30-40% if that, and the rest is simply mental :)
What adds to the adventure to me, is that I don't have a planned cycle route, other than I'm going East. I only have target cities or points in mind.
For example: I knew I wanted to reach Madrid, so I first thought that maybe I could cycle to Bilbao and come around to Madrid from a more popular route with less hills and mountains, but no, not me :), once I reached San Sebastian, I looked toward the hills and mountains I could see in the distance, and decided that I'm going that way, and so I did. My first attempt had me cycling for about 7 hours, only to find every route through I tried, was blocked for road works or something else, and I ended up just 1km from San Sebastian :), but I wasn't having any of it, and continued another way through those first hills and finally broke through that late evening.
Basque Country and the biggest hills and mountains I had seen thus far, then wilderness for days on end, only then to be confronted by the biggest mountains yet which were boarding the north side of Madrid. There is nothing at all flat about Spain.
Taking each day as it comes, not knowing where I am sleeping, eating, or what is in front of me, is real adventure to me. There has been times where I have had to drag my bike into the bushes to wild camp because there was nothing else. I have had to ask people who were outside their homes if I could please have water because my bottle were empty with no shop in sight, and never once have I been refused, and instead I have been given the coldest water to fill my bottles by the kindest people.
I have put my bike into a secure storage facility here in Barcelona, as I have to return to the UK for medical reasons, and while I'm there I will be getting kitted out with all new winter clothing and sleeping bag for the winter months which are ahead of me. I will be back to collect my bike well before the end of this month all being well - October - to continue on.
Thank you to all those who I have met along the way, who have kindly donated to my chosen charity JUMP.
So the BLUE line is complete, and the PURPLE line is the next leg.
So stay tuned :))
Please donate anything you can, to this truly great little charity.
Many thanks to you all.
Official Website: http://www.stephenpeel.co.uk/