A 26-year-old Osbournby man has been cycling for seven months across Europe and Asia on the adventure of a lifetime.
Nick Thomson, 26, is not a big cycling enthusiast but he decided to give up his job and home in London, set off on two wheels and see where his adventure would take him.
Nick is writing a blog as he goes at www.cyclingelsewhere.com. After more than seven months on the road, he is well on his way to reaching China. He does not have a final destination in mind, but does want to travel to Australia and New Zealand.
While in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan, Nick contacted the Journal. He explained why he suddenly took off on two wheels.
He said: “I did a bike tour with my dad about 10 years ago and it was the first time I learned that it’s possible to travel very long distances on a bicycle. During that trip my mind was full of far-off destinations that it would be amazing to cycle to if I ever had the time. But instead I went to uni, got a job, and forgot about such silly things. But 10 years after that trip this idea came back to me in a job interview. An unlikely time and place, I know, but at that moment I saw a lifestyle I didn’t really want spiralling out in front of me, during which the chances of being able to drop everything and do something silly like attempting to cycle around the world on a bike would get slimmer. One year later I locked myself out of my old house and cycled off towards Dover without doing a single minute’s worth of training beforehand.”
Nick says he has come across countless people doing the same thing as himself. He has met people from all backgrounds, many of whom, surprisingly, still have jobs waiting for them at home, sand some who have even taken their families with them.
He said: “A great example is a German couple in their mid-60s I met in Uzbekistan. They are cycling around the world for three months at a time so they aren’t away from their families for too long and can continue in their jobs for the remaining nine months. The point is that the possibility of going on a trip like this certainly shouldn’t be reserved to the young and uncommitted.”
Nick has had to tackle some harsh environments, but they can also be the most impressive. “The Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan was the most stunning and harsh environment I have ever been to,” he said. “Beautiful scenery but not much oxygen, relentless headwinds, and freezing night-time temperatures. It felt like a real adventure and I really had to convince my parents beforehand that cycling 4,000m along the Afghan border was a completely normal thing to do.
“For the people, it has to be Turkey. Everyone was so friendly and the hospitality is by far the warmest I have ever received; almost every night I was invited to someone’s house before I could even put my tent up.
“Crossing the Karakum Desert in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan was by far the hardest part of this trip. With temperatures of 45 degrees in the shade, I could only ride across a featureless landscape on a relentlessly bad road in the early morning and late evenings. The rest of the time I’d hide from the heat in whatever shade I could find; usually in some concrete storm drain underneath the road. No one lives there and water sources were spaced out around 70km (40miles) apart – meaning I had to carry at least 20 litres of water at a time. However, the night sky and feeling of complete isolation almost compensated for all the difficulty.”
Despite the difficulties of the trip, reading Nick’s blog you get the impression he doesn’t want to stop.
He told the Journal: “This bike ride has an indefinite timeline to it. I’ll keep going until I run out money, run out of sanity, or find somewhere worthwhile to stop. I don’t intend to try and cycle around the world as quickly as possible and return to my old life. If an opportunity to live in another country for a while comes up, whether it’s a proper job or a work exchange programme like Help X or WorkAway, I’ll definitely take it. In the medium term, however, I will be cycling to Australia and New Zealand where I will work for a while to replenish my bank account before further adventures in Africa or Latin America.”
For a man who did little cycling, except a commute to his work at a marketing firm, and got up one day to set off around the world without any training, Nick seems to have made the right decision as he enjoys a breathtaking journey around the globe.