A year in review: 12 months, 12 countries and 12 truths

The stunning west coast of Ireland back in August, 2014

The stunning west coast of Ireland back in August, 2014

IT was just one year ago that we were standing nervously in Brisbane’s International Airport surrounded by our equally nervous family. Crunch time had come, months of preparation had lead to this moment and while I was terrified at what lay ahead (travelling the world by bicycle) I was still starry eyed.

In my head, the years to come would be filled with relaxed trundles down flower-framed country lanes, decadent and exotic feasts in the company of warm and hospitable locals and a feeling of peace, freedom and self possession.

My worries would evaporate the minute my feet hit the peddles, my insecurities and doubts would vanish as life on the road turned me into a tough but worldly traveller and life would be bountiful in action-packed experiences. It’s now 12 months later and like all good fantasies mine was about as close to the truth as a politician’s election promises.

I can count the number of flat, flower laced country paths on one hand (likewise with the decadent feasts thanks to our pitiful budget), I’m just as full of doubts as I was one year ago and so far action-packed experiences have all been of the exceedingly wet, steep and windy kind. We’ve slogged our way up never-ending mountains, worn every layer of clothing in our possession while huddled in the tent on a freezing winter’s night in Germany and day dreamed about home and family far more than we’re willing to admit.

We’ve pushed our bodies harder than ever before and all with a big fat frown on our faces while swearing like drunken sailors and wishing fervently for a cup of hot, strong tea and a warm bed. But despite a tough, tough slog it’s one year in and yep, we’re still loving it. We might have sworn our way up every steep climb from Scotland to Greece but at the top we’ve privately smiled and felt ridiculously chuffed at our achievements.

Making friends!

Making friends!

We’ve spent more than a handful of days stretched out on sun drenched beaches or tucked up in a warm bed thanks to a kind stranger. We can count the number of times we’ve gotten up earlier than 7am (the average is 8am) and while it’s minute, we’ve become just a little more relaxed, a little less stressed and a fair bit happier.

Ocean views from a wild camp spot in Ireland

Ocean views from a wild camp spot in Ireland

So here it is: our 12 hard truths from 12 months

Hardest moment: There’s been many, but for Sarah, it was scaling the first of three passes through the High Atlas Mountains (knowing there was still two to go). For Scott it was the 80km leg from Lucern to Interlaken in Switzerland including scaling the Brunig Pass. And for both of us there’s random days when we just think we can’t go on, our legs are burning and no matter the terrain, it’s a bloody battle.

Best moment: For both Sarah and Scott – reaching the third and final pass of the High Atlas Mountains and knowing it was downhill from there! Meeting new friends, receiving hospitality off random strangers and just all days off come a close second.

Reaching the top of the first epic 2200 pass

Reaching the top of the first epic 2200 pass

Favourite meals: For both, chicken couscous in Tangier, Napoli pizza in Naples, savoury crepes in Paris, a full English breakfast with fried toast in Bath, England (Scott), a Greek meze platter in Athens.

Favourite places: London (England), Edinburgh (Scotland), Galway – and the whole west coast (Ireland), Tuscany (Italy), Florence (Italy), Rome (Italy), Seville (Spain), Barcelona (Spain) and the Sahara Desert (Morocco).

Least favourite places: Newport (Wales), Reading (England), Naples (Italy)

Biggest day cycled: 115km (Spain, coast road between Barcelona and Valencia)

The seaside road from Barcelona to Valencia

The seaside road from Barcelona to Valencia

Smallest day cycled: 20km (don’t ask)

Scariest moment: Cycling through Naples, being chased by dogs and stone throwing children in Morocco.

Sarah cycling into a small village full of excitable children in the High Atlas Mountains

Sarah cycling into a small village full of excitable children in the High Atlas Mountains

Most random wild camping location: Military compound, in-between Marrakech and Demnate in Morocco.

Wild camping on a rocky beach on the west coast of Ireland

Wild camping on a rocky beach on the west coast of Ireland

Highest altitude cycled: 2200 metres (High Atlas Mountains, Morocco)

Best stack (Sarah): Flying down the first pass of the High Atlas she took her eyes off the road to check out the scenery and hit a rock the size of her head causing her to fly over the handle bars.

Best stack (Scott): Cycling on a slippery road in Holland he attempted to jump a gutter and slid out, managing to land on his feet.

5 Responses to “A year in review: 12 months, 12 countries and 12 truths”

  1. You guys rock! Twelve months gone. Looking forward to your great blogs for the next 12months.
    You wouldn’t believe how excited I get when I open up my emails and your blog appears.
    Travel safely.
    Debbie

  2. Thanks so much for the nice words Debbie! Hopefully it will be an exciting 12 months ahead too on the road to Canada!

  3. You guys are awesome. Congratulations on an amazing, exciting year—love the posts, LOVE the Morocco video, and love the year-in-review. In no small part thanks to your inspiration, I’m currently planning a bike ride across Japan this October—any chance y’all will be in the area?

    Happy and safe cycling on the next leg of your journey!

    Lots of love from here in the States,
    Jay, the American you once spent a few days with in Doolin, Ireland 🙂

  4. JAY!! Wow it’s amazing to hear from you! How’s the Tiny House going? Are you still barefoot jogging to work? That’s great news about the Japan trip – I hope it’s not too cold then! Are you doing it solo? I don’t know how close we’ll be to Japan then (maybe somewhere in the Stans) but i guess that’s not too far away 😉 Anyway we’re still holding you to your promise for joining us for a leg or two in the US!
    Lots of love and good luck with your amazing adventure
    Sarah and Scott

  5. Hey! The tiny house is still doing great, and barefoot jogging is still happening, well, some of the time (the pavement gets hot during these summer months!).

    As for that bike trip of my own, I ended up pushing Japan back to next spring (when it’ll be a little warmer and brighter) and am now planning New Zealand in January—from the very north to the very south. My girlfriend may join for the first half of it, so I suppose it’ll be a good mix of solo and non-solo. Any recommendations for down that-aways?

    But yes, yes—looking forward to catching y’all at some point in the States and joining you for a bit of the west, too! Until then, keep writing, keeping pedaling, and keep having the time of your lives! Best of luck on this next leg.

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