I’d like to break this down into a simple, two question quiz.
Can you ride a bicycle?
If you answered no to question 1, are you willing / able to learn to ride a bicycle?
If you answered yes to either question 1 or question 2, then yes you are capable of cycling 1,000 miles (about 1,600 km). And beyond.
A couple of months ago, I cycled 1,000 miles from England to Slovakia on an old bicycle. Lots of people emailed their appreciation and for that I am grateful. However, (if you want to) you can do it too. Here are some things that you may not have known about my bicycle journey to show how very possible it is for you.
I Had Never Even Fixed a Puncture
When I left, I knew nothing about bicycles. Whenever I had a problem in the past, I let someone else fix it. During my journey, through trial and error, I learnt to fix most parts of my bike: I repaired the brakes, adjusted the gears, replaced the cranks and pedals, fixed punctures, and replaced inner tubes by simply figuring out how to do it. Having an old bike meant that this was ‘relatively’ simple.
I Had Never Cycled More Than 4o Miles
And that was only during a charity bike ride when I was a teenager. Throughout my life I have used bikes as a practical means of transport, but that normally involved a ten minute bike ride twice a day at most. Setting off on this cycle ride was far more ambitious than anything I had ever attempted before.
I Planned Little More Than Reaching Slovakia
Except for knowing where I would take the ferry (Harwich to Hook of Holland), I knew nothing about my route. We planned it as we went, sometimes finding ourselves climbing tiny mountain paths, but despite this, we made it.
My Bicycle Cost £30 and My Panniers Were Cool-Boxes
You do not need a mountain of fancy / expensive equipment. I bought my bike from an old guy in a neighbouring village and made panniers using cheap cool boxes. This may not have been the fastest / most efficient way to cycle 1,000 miles, but it works and I wasn’t in a hurry.
I Didn’t Pay for Accommodation
Each night, we slept outside and very occasionally, in the homes of strangers (people we met on the road or through CS). To sleep outside and cook food in nature was a very freeing experience and only once did we get in trouble for doing such a thing.
I Don’t Speak Languages
We cycled through Holland, Germany, Czech Republic, and Austria before reaching Slovakia. I know nothing of these languages. Despite this, I met lovely people who made my journey more pleasant. Many of them spoke English and when they didn’t, we communicated in gestures.
My ‘Training’ Was a 200m Ride Around My Village
When the bike was semi-loaded, my mother suggested that I do a trial ride. I got on my bicycle, cycled up the road, then back down it without falling off. This was the only physical training / preparation that I did for this journey.
My Main Fuel Was Desire
Whether it’s (lack of) money, experience, or anything else, if you can ride a bike, there is nothing to stop you having your own long distance bicycle adventure. I’m not super fit, I didn’t train.. I’m just like you. And if bicycles aren’t your thing, why not walk?
Adventures are not just for ‘professionals’ so if you have a desire to do something (anything, really, anything that makes you excited), jump… get out into the world and do it. The only thing that is stopping you, is you.
If you do ‘something,’ it feels GREAT.