“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine. It is lethal!” – Paulo Coelho
Woah! This guy is huge!
My starting weight was the equivalent combined weight of 6 pro cyclists, including their bikes and a grapefruit. I'm the heaviest guy to ever attempt to cycle around the world, at a chunky 159 kg at the start, and 145 kg at this time (1 Feb 2018) which is a loss already of 14 kg.
But this isn't a weight loss journey, I'm really quite happy with my chunky and strong build, crafted through a lifetime in the building industry, heavy weight training, and the odd greasy spoon.
My build does of course have it's pros and cons, Me and Hills. While cycling through the centre of Spain shortly after leaving Madrid, I was followed by 2 guys in car. Looking for an ATM, I cycled down a small street and they were behind me but turned off, then appeared again and followed me for some time. I stopped pedalling, and they stopped a hundred metres behind, watching me.
I put the bike on stands and made it very clear they would be messing with the wrong guy. They got the message.
Not a cyclist
I've never cycle toured in my life, this was my first attempt at bicycle touring and as I don't often do things by half, I thought I would attempt take on the world :) I'm also not a regular cyclist.
When I told my daughters about my plans and how I was finally going to set out on this tour, they were not surprised, but did suggest I at least do a couple of days training first, but I wanted to experience this as a first-timer, so I just loaded up my new bike for the first time with all my gear, and off I cycled.
A few years ago I was carrying out a lane closure on the M6 motorway in Birmingham and as I stood on the hard-shoulder, I suddenly heard something behind me going over the rumble strip (the bumpy line that separates lane one from the hard-shoulder).
I turned, just in time to see the front of an articulated lorry strike me. The lorry had left lane one and crossed onto the hard-shoulder where I was stood. The driver of the lorry said he heard and felt the thud but thought it was just a traffic cone, he did accepted liability.
I suffered permanent spine damage, right elbow, shoulder, neck, and nerve damage to the whole of my right side. I will never be cured of the damage, but I'm extremely lucky to have survived. Having worked on the motorways for some time I am aware that it is a rare thing for someone to survive such an impact, I'm extremely lucky.
PTSD and situational anxiety are still with me, and with regard to the situational anxiety, I hope this cycle will help cure me of that, as it involves my being near lorries as a pedestrian. Being near traffic, especially big vehicles makes me understandably nervous given what I have been through, and when I feel the vibrations, hear noise or feel the wind of a passing lorry, my heart nearly beats out of my chest.
Taking on this tour, I knew I would be right next to lorries day after day on some of the worlds worst roads, but if ever I am going to get over this fear, I feel that this would be the way to do it. Up to now I am coping well, but every now and then I get a close call and I have to get off the road and gather myself before continuing on.
You might also find me on the side of hills, taking a little rest before trying to cycle up them. With the damage to my right side, I can only put so much pressure on the right pedal, so my left leg does a lot more of the work.
After the accident my employer - Carillion - dismissed me on capability grounds as a result of my injuries, with not so much of an extra weeks pay. But I'm a fighter and have always done everything for myself and my own way, and fight on I did and I'm still cracking an ear to ear smile :)
So why attempt this world cycle?
I have travelled the world throughout my life and experienced amazing things, met wonderful people, and been on some fantastic adventures, but an adventure like this was always just too huge once I had become a father. Huge because of the time it would take me away from home, my daughters and loved ones. But now as my daughters are young adults and have set out on their own life adventures, it's time to take on the big one.
But cycling? There isn't many kinds of adventures that will get you around the world under your own steam, that would take years to complete, and I have always imagined that cycling would be the perfect pace to really see the world and not just see it flash past. Walking would take a lifetime and bore me to death, and driving or flying would mean missing out on so much.
I find I'm comfortable while cycling, the seat supports my butt, the handlers support my upper body, and the pedals keep my legs turning equally, and there is very little pressure on my lower spine, until I get off and try to straighten up :)
I do worry of course that if I break down I might be in trouble regarding my disabilities, which is why I went with a very expensive (big mistake) bike by KOGA Bikes. KOGA turned out to be my biggest mistake in years, but you can read about that in my KOGA review in the link KOGA Review
I looked to what my physical future might be with my joints getting worse and I decided it was now or never, I had to go for it, and here I am, giving it my best shot and I'm not doing too bad at all :). My loved ones and friends are all behind me, and I feel very lucky. My daughters are monitoring and helping with social media.
I'm self-supported, riding solo, I'm supporting a great small local charity - JUMP Children's Charity - and I'm fully self-funding my own cycle tour. If this injured, working class father of two daughters can do this, you can too, so if you're thinking you're not fit enough, not slim enough, not experienced enough, I say rubbish, just do it. I did and I'm loving it.
JUMP Children's Charity
I'm fully self-funding my own adventure, so every penny you donate goes straight to my Just Giving page for JUMP Children's Charity. On behalf of JUMP, thank you.
A little encouragement from some well known world cyclists and adventurers
We choose to do things...not because they are easy, but because they are hard...
" Fantastic stuff, Steve.....Good luck with the preparations :)" Tom Allen. Tom has completed a lot of great adventures and cycled all over the world and has a great website.. http://tomsbiketrip.com/
" Hi Steve....One can live real cheap in China and South East Asia as well as the Philippines. Central America is also cheap and one can get away with very little. " Leana Niemand. Is a World Cyclist and is still out there after nearly 10 years, 7 continents and more than 64 countries.
" Hi Stephen, what a great adventure awaiting you. Your daughters will be very proud! Are you still needing to sell your house before you begin? I'll happily share the link on my social media sites for you if you are! Al " Alastair Humphreys. Alastair has been very helpful and I am very grateful to him. I took him up on his kind offer to advertise my previous house on his own social medial sites. He has cycled completely around the world and now motivates others. Check out his website and his adventures, he has some great books and loads of great advice.
" Hi Stephen, .... I hope you make time to start some big cycling adventures. I set out for a cycle from Cairo to Cape Town in early April. All the best. Mark. " Mark Beaumont held the Guinness World Record for cycling round the world in 2008, and has achieved many other successes too. He did amazingly on his Cairo to Cape Town cycle, and is preparing to attempt to cycle completely around the world in just 80 in 2017.
"Always remember, it's your dream : ) So...I'd listen to your daughters! " Mathew Kephnes - Nomadic Matt, has cycled the world and traveled on many other types of adventures.
"Glad to have you on the team" @Sony