I’ve been thinking about travelling the world by bicycle for longer than I can remember but the real impetus came when I broke up with my fiance. With no commitments and nothing except my job tying me to London I finally decided to let my flight of fancy begin turning into a reality.
All I knew was I needed a touring bike. I didn’t know much else about touring so as soon as I could, back in February 2014, I signed up to get another Ride-To-Work voucher and bought myself a shiny new Genesis Tour De Fer and then I didn’t ride it more than three times in 7 months.
I visited my old friend Gregory Chauvet, a slightly loopy Frenchman who happens to run the Bike Station in Glasgow. He gave me The Man Who Cycled The World Mark Beaumont’s book about his record-breaking circumnavigation of the globe by bicycle. He also told me I needed to start touring to get used to the bike and figure out what I needed. So I read half the book, no offence to Mark but it was, shall we say not a riveting read and my attention span is that of a gnat anyway I thank him for making me decide that breaking records is not what I’m about. I’m in it for the experience. If and when I head off I want to tell an interesting story about the places I will see and the people I meet along the way. Most importantly I want to take my time to relish this perhaps last (it’s always you last) opportunity for such an epic journey.
Fast forward a few months to July and my old friend rings me out of the blue to ask me whether I want to go on a tour. Without hesitation I said yes. He suggested Greece and then from that point we were swapping links, actually he was mainly giving me links to all the cycle blogs and lists of equipment I needed.
By the time we were about to leave we had a route sorted, I thought he had said Thessaloniki to Athens but it wasn’t until about two weeks before that I realised the plane tickets started with Athens and departed from Thessaloniki… sometimes I am a bit of an arse.
About that time I decided to spend some of the cash I’d been saving for the big trip on the items I needed for this test tour. I got my new poles for my otherwise brilliant 10-year-old tent, I got a new sleeping bag, a silk liner, a Topeak bike multitool (this was invaluable on the trip), and a bunch of other stuff that you can find on my kit page. Suffice to say I spent around £250 on kit and around another £300 during the trip. I wasn’t trying to go on a budget on this one but this was way more than I wanted to spend.
Before we left we had an argument about whether or not to actually visit Athens, his plan being to ignore big cities because they are hassle to cycle through, but he eventually relented to my great delight. I’m a classics scholar who has never seen the Parthenon so the idea of being on the doorstep of one of the most amazing sights in the ancient world and not visiting was ridiculous.
I called up my good friend Manolia who lives in Athens and we set off to stay with her for the first day and ended up staying two which was not insignificant considering it was meant to be an eight-day tour! Rather than talk about the rest of the tour I’m going to let some of the images I captured speak for themselves. keep scrolling and you see why the travel bug has bitten me again the justification for the epic tour… after experiencing Greece and the hospitality of Greek people as well as my friends it’s a no brainer.