Take one couple – Great mates, married 36 years, children grown and independent, stable employment, health ok, but there are rumblings: Why aren’t we happy – There must be more to life than working, eating, drinking and thinking about the future, or dreaming of ‘one day’.!!!
This was us in 2010! We were coasting along, regretting some bad decisions made over the past few years and although enjoying all the travelling and camaraderie of friends made after buying a Suzuki 109 motorbike, it just wasn’t enough…..Maybe we were just ready for a MID LIFE CRISIS!!!
I guess it all came to a head when I lost my job! Went to work on a Tuesday as usual and by 3.15 that afternoon the company had closed! No notice! No pay! And No job!
A bit scary but it really made us look at what was important to us. Physically we were overweight but ok – everything still worked but maybe a bit slower and creakier than it used to be. Mentally – well that’s always been debatable ( ask our kids) but we thought we were ok! So what was the answer?
IT WAS SO OBVIOUS !!!!!!
Take a couple of bicycles, add some camping gear and other stuff and go to the
. Check out our history, then across to the continent and explore UK Europe and after that if we are still enjoying it – well there are a lot of countries out there to explore!!!!
I had originally suggested backpacking for a few months, but then Dave was the one to mention bicycles! It was right out of left field but made us both stop and think. I did find another job, and Dave was still working but we both were more focused on the fact that we wanted more, and this was a way of getting what we wanted, that made sense, was cheap, and achievable.
So the Die was cast! First of all we went out and bought ourselves a couple of bicycles. As neither of us had ridden since we were kids we thought that we had better see if –
1. We could still ride.
2. We liked riding.
3. We could cover a few kilometers without dying of exhaustion.
4. We could traverse small basic hills.
All of the above were answered with a resounding YES and so it was time for some research. What did we do before the internet??? Our nights and weekends were then spent trawling cycling sites and blogs to read as much as we could about cycle touring.
What a surprise! To find out how many people travel like this, and we gladly joined a website called ‘warm showers’ that caters for travelling cyclists. We have since received calls from German, American, Taiwanese, Aussies, and French travelers. Its so good to be able to offer them a shower, meal and bed for the night which they really appreciate, and in return we have the opportunity to learn so much from them in preparation for our own travels. Dave has also been able to help do a few running repairs, and at last contact with one traveler – his remade bike stand was still operational 2 months after creating.
There is another agenda here though – building up Karma and some contacts for when we venture into their corners of the world. We have already been offered accommodation in several places around the globe from this and our involvement on other sites, and we have ascertained that cyclists seem to be a very friendly group of people.
OK – Now we have made the decision, Its time to decide on what to ride? Many nights were spent by Dave, pouring over specifications, recommendations, performance, endurance, and price! I am so glad that he was the one to do all that research. He finally narrowed it down to one bike – a Surly Long Haul Trucker! What a name!!! A well respected mid range priced bike that we could travel confidently with. To buy one here in
was a bit prohibitive and from what we read about, most people did change a few things on the standard bikes once they bought them. So to keep it short and not boring - - the result was we bought the frames, and all the preferred components over the internet from the Australia at a much reduced price than we could have bought them here in Aus. ( sorry Aussie dealers!!) UK
Dave and Stu (our Bike mechanic) built the bikes together so Dave knows them from the ground up and will hopefully save us having to get other people to do any work on our travels. If Dave was not so versatile and able to put his hand to most things, I don’t think I would be quite as confident embarking on such a venture.
With Hand built wheels (by Stu) and some modifications by Dave which I will go into in a later blog we were ready to get cycle fit!
The kids have been very supportive of our intentions and since we made this decision they have made sure that our birthday and Christmas gifts have been suitable. I’m not sure how many mums get a ‘Swiss army knife’ from their son for their 55th birthday, but I thought it was terrific. The fact that they are all great people, successful in their lives and happy with their partners, makes it just so much easier to be away for whatever time it will be.
I’m sure there are some – well heaps that will think us insane to embark on a journey such as this but – hey! Life is short, money is not the focus of life – hell we have never had much of this but we've always been pretty happy! And you have to use what you have before you loose it. This is the reason we have decided to take this challenge! We don’t have enough to retire on (according to the experts) but we don’t want to work ourselves into the grave trying to accumulate the ‘balance’ required to see us through comfortably until we die. We will probably have to look for work again when we finally get back but ce la vie.
If you are interested enough to continue this journey with us, we will be more than happy to oblige. We intend to keep some sort of journal from here on and will welcome anyone who wants to encourage, or just read along with our trials and tribulations. We are not totally ignorant of the fact that there will be times when we will question our decision – especially on the wet, cold and windy days and nights, but we will always be thinking that a bad day on the road will be 1000 times better than a good day in the hum drum of life as it is. Whatever else we will be doing – we will be living!!!!