My name is Paul. I like to get about a bit on bikes. So much so I have spent several years self supported cycling around the globe.. maybe twice that distance, finding my way to many wonderful places in exotic countries. I have developed a love and affection for India, the Far East and the Himalayas in particular.
I worked at Addenbrookes Neurosurgical Unit and the Cambridge Nuffield Hospital as an anaesthetics technician. Research provided a satisfying sideline to the mundanity of endless hours spent in operating theatres. Much of the rest of the time was spent juggling children together with my neonatal critical care inclined wife in a ‘revolving door’ lifestyle. As dedicated health care workers we had little time for much else.
I was ‘fortunate’ to be given the opportunity to scale down my work commitments. In 2012 I was knocked off my bike close to my home in Cambridge and suffered a head injury. It knocked me for six. The offending vehicle and driver disappeared without trace. I was left unconcious, bleeding and with a minor skull fracture. I spent three months recovering and bounced back with little to show for the event. It did produce some issues and certainly knocked the stuffing out of me. No matter. I am fine. It was somewhat ironic given the nature of my work. This event, in part, led to an early retirement from hospital work. Now things are different. Cycling long distances in exotic and remote locations is a little more fun. And hell too. I think serious self supported ‘hard core’ touring cyclists need to be a little off their rockers. But in a very nice way.
My first decent touring bike was a deep blue 1980’s Dawes Galaxy. It was bought second hand via eBay and lavished attention on it. In return it took me a long way. It was a good introduction to self supported touring. It used huge chain rings and my legs became like tree trunks.
I certainly put ‘ol’ faithful’ to good use:
From the (mothballed) blog archive:
‘This Summer I have chosen to take an old ‘classic’ Dawes Galaxy touring bicycle and ride from Le Havre to Marseilles in France. In doing so I hope to raise funds via sponsorship for the Mercy Ships charity and the 14th Cambridge Scouts group. All funds raised will be going to these good causes.
The anticipated distance is approx. 1000km and I plan, all going well, to return with my bike by train.
Many thanks to family, friends and work colleagues for your support and interest in my mini adventure! ‘ March 2011
The total cycled in France (2011) was closer to 1500km. The fundraising was an extra. I raised around £800. Not a lot by some standards but very much appreciated by the recipients. It was a very good practice run for more extensive touring. Broken spokes, cracked rear rack and a dodgy pedal crank were testing highlights of that trip.
Spring 2012. Head injury from cycling accident in Cambridge. Damn. #skull/orbit. 3+ months to recover.
Summer 2012. Cycled from the Netherlands to Sweden and extensively in Denmark. Discovered vollkornbrot and that Denmark exists in a gale..
I had my eye set on destinations further afield and that autumn bought a Surly Long Haul Trucker steel touring bicycle (new!!) with 26″ wheels..
2013. The big trip! Sri Lanka, India, Ladakh and Nepal ahead. Gulp…
Did it! YEAH!
2014. Still alive.. and Morocco’s Atlas range in my sights. Happy Valley? Yes please.
And did that too!
Fjords on the cards?
Norway was shelved; dealing with family affairs.
2015. The next biggie? SE Asia..
Okay did that too.. although not cycled as extensively (in the furnace) as I would have liked. Covered a nice chunk of Viet Nam, Laos and Thailand. Side trips to Myanmar and Cambodia. Bucket list stuff.
The bike suffered a fair bit of wear and tear. It was refitted with lots of new bits.
Having been unable to hop across to South India from Sri Lanka as I had hoped, it remained ‘unfinished business’. In a fit of spontaneity I returned in the latter part of 2015 to cycle Karnataka and Kerala via Tamil Nadu. Good stuff. Great people.
Cycling the Leh – Manali road in in Ladakh, India was amazing and one of the best travel experiences so far. So had earmarked the Pamir Highway with its similar landscape as a ‘must do’. But by all accounts, and once the red tape and expense has been dealt with, the route has become a busy, somewhat over exploited, option. Sounds a bit naff in between the good bits.. dunno really.
How about South America in 2016?
but, and despite the allure and extensive planning, I did not catch my February flight to Quito in Ecuador. It didn’t intuitively feel right and the timing was off.
Instead I returned to Kathmandu ; took a month to explore the Annapurna circuit and a little time off. Meanwhile Ecuador suffered a massive earthquake
The ‘Roof of the world?
From Dushanbe to Murghab and back via the Wakhan Valley.
Tajikistan and the Pamir Highway was great. Better than expected. Although it was touch and go at times with bad weather and freezing temperatures.
Apologies for the incomplete blog entries for that trip. Kerala too..
I still would like to visit Norway and Iceland.
On a bit of a whim the Outer Hebrides and Skye provided an interesting diversion.
The bike has, once again, been updated and working well.
A return to Asia and the Himalayas; from Laos to Thailand and Nepal to India.
Overland across the Mekong and then high into the Himalayas. Then into Northern India; Spiti Valley and Zanskar.
That was fun. Well.. mostly fun. The bike was great despite almost losing it into a river ravine. It was possibly the most arduous trip yet. I was quite ill and became skeletal. I also suffered a knee injury. Yet it was bloody fantastic. The ‘ultimate trip’ came to mind many times..
Somewhat sadly that last trip resulted in a potentially serious and scary health issue.
I returned to Nepal in autumn 2019 and suffered a further setback with a climbing accident in Mustang.
Everything is on hold for 2020 as COVID-19 sweeps the globe.
Apologies for the lack of updates and unfinished trip entries.
Wherever you are, riding high or riding low, across distant lands or maybe just cycling to the shops I wish you fun.
Enjoy the ride.
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I noted, with some disappointment, that content was taken from my blog and used on a commercial website. That is not on really. Please do not do that. If you have a burning desire to use any content please get in contact first.
This is a noncommercial educational blog. As a ‘free’ hosted site WordPress.com reserve the right to display occasional advertising to viewers. Apologies for that. This is beyond my control and has absolutely no benefits to me as the content provider.
Edit: I forked out for the dotcom thingy and got my own domain.. wooo.
Hopefully no more ads to spoil the view for the moment. 🙂
Wow! I am seriously in awe – the roads out of Leh were bad enough by car, let alone bicycle. I take my hat off to you!
Now following your blog with interest…
It seems like I am following your own travel blog with my bike.. it may take a little while tho. Great stuff. Thanks Derek.
Totally happy for you – Go for it man!
Hi Paul not seen you on Facebook for a while. Hope everything is ok.