There’s a map of the world on my bedroom wall that has slowly been covered with in post-it notes. It gives off the impression that I have prepared for this trip. In reality, those notes largely consist of good intentions and wishful thinking.
One of the notes consists of a home-made curriculum on bicycle maintenance I set for myself: each week I’d disassemble one part of my bike and then put it back together again, supposedly learning how it works in the process and would eventually allow me to assemble the bike I’m taking on this trip myself.
Instead of following this well thought out course, I popped down to Brixton Cycles last week to pick up my new, fully assembled bike armed with the ability to repair a punctured tyre and not much else. Weeks 2-12 of the course will have to be taught when necessity dictates. Until then, I’ll have to make do with gaffa tape and WD-40.
There’s another scrap of paper titled “reputable visa agencies.” It’s blank. Interpret that as you wish.
These notes pretty much demonstrate my state of preparedness for this trip: elsewhere on the map is a to-do list the size of Australia (to scale) that continues to grow in length; I haven’t cycled more than 40 miles in over 6 months; and I still haven’t planned anything that resembles a well-thought out route stretching across Europe (or even one that reaches Dover).
I’m completely complacent with this situation and this is not entirely a result of laziness. The simple truth and my excuse is that I have time. I’m in no rush to get to my destination because I don’t have one yet. I have the money, the absence of commitments, and the means of transport that can theoretically get me to the other side of the world without having to rush home for anything. I want to explore the world by bike and I think the best way to do this is to simply walk out my front door, hop on a bicycle and see what happens along the way. Everything else can just be sorted out on route: I’ll gradually get fitter and my mechanical incompetence will slowly be whittled away as I run out of gaffa tape and am forced to fix things properly.
That said, however, this doesn’t mean that I don’t have any idea of where I want to go. So here’s my first statement of intent:
I’m going to cycle to Istanbul.
Just quite how I will get there is going to be the interesting part.
P.S I promise the next blog will be about me actually doing something (kind of the opposite to the theme of this post).