“So have you got a plan?”

I’ve been asked this question countless times since I handed in my notice to leave the Army. The standard stock answer from an Army Officer goes something like, “Yes, I am going into project management” or “I’m looking at going into consultancy”.

When I’m asked this question and reply that I am planning to travel for a year I usually receive further interrogation. Travelling isn’t really a job and what they really wanted to know is what am I planning to do as a career after the Army.

When I say that I’m planning to go on a bike ride for a year, I usually receive a puzzled expression followed by:

“Mate, that’s awesome!”, “I wish I could do that”, “have you got a bike yet?” or “is your Mrs OK with that?”

Is she OK with that? She’s handed in her notice as well!”

Miltary life has been amazing, but it’s time to regain some freedom.

If you would have told me on our wedding day that in 5 years time we will be quitting our jobs to go on a year-long cycle tour I would never have believed you.

I’ve always been the impulsive, sometimes irrational and often the unpredictable one. Lucia is the sensible, more considered side of our relationship. So when she agreed that it was a good idea for us to both hand in our notices to our employers, sell most of our possessions and travel by bicycle for a year, I was excited, amazed but also cautious.

I thought she must have gone mad!

For the last few years, I’ve not stopped talking about my dream of heading off on an “epic” cycle journey. To the point where I feel like this is my purpose in life, to live without self-imposed limitations that society seeming places on us all. Lucia has bought into this dream and is now preparing for her first ever cycle tour.

A friend recently asked me, “are you scared of quitting your job and doing this?”

I replied, “I’m scared of not doing this. I’m scared of getting to 80 and looking back at my life and thinking, I wish…”

Over the last 5 years, we have spent months apart due to military deployments and exercises. We’ve been moved from Cyprus to the UK and back to Cyprus. By leaving the Army, I am taking back some control of my life and giving us the option of doing whatever we wish.

Quitting my job is the scariest thing I’ve done in my life. To leave the warm embrace of job security, a big fat pension at 40, 38 days leave a year and a decent salary wasn’t the easiest decision I’ve made. By quitting my job I am taking a bet on my self. I’m betting that I will have a better quality of life outside the Army and whatever happens I will have made the right choice.

So where are we going?

On the 5th September 2018, we will be flying from the UK to Singapore with our bicycles and panniers. The first part of the journey can then be broken down into 3 legs:

  • Leg 1 – Cycle from Singapore onto Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and China.
  • Leg 2 – Flight from Shanghai in China to Korea and cycle from Seoul to Busan on the south coast.
  • Leg 3 – Fukuoka to Tokyo in Japan.

Distance and hills

Below is a rough map with the estimated distance and elevation for leg one.

The first leg is 6,900km with a total climb of 22,500 metres. It will be a welcome introduction to cycle touring for Lucia as the first 3000km will be pretty flat until we finally reach the Laos/Vietnam border. This will be a fantastic introduction to cycle touring.

The route will inevitably change from this plan. We want to be flexible and feel free to take up new opportunities and recommendations along the way. The distance for Korea should be about 600km and Japan will be about 1500km, bringing the total estimate for the distance of this first part of the adventure to about 9000km (5592 miles).

The challenges on the road ahead

We are sure to encounter plenty of challenges over the next 12 months. The biggest challenge I foresee will be working together as a team. After 5 years of marriage, we have spent plenty of time together but we have also got used to spending time apart. It’s not unusual for me to head off on a solo adventure or be deployed for months at a time with work. It’s easy to be angry, annoyed or tired when you are alone. I just get on with it. When you are travelling with somebody else you have to be more aware of your mood and how the other person feels.

But this is the part that I am looking forward to the most. Creating memories and sharing my dream trip with the person I love the most.

Our plan is to spend a year on the road but this is flexible to the point where the only thing we have booked is an outbound flight from London to Singapore. We have plans to extend the trip to the USA and Europe if all goes well. We will keep going until either the money runs out or we just don’t want to travel anymore.

Proposed route through the USA, from West to East.

Proposed final leg in Europe.

Will you be seeking sponsorship?

We have decided to completely self-fund the expedition and won’t be seeking any sponsorship, bursaries or grants for a number of reasons, the main ones being:

  • If somebody gives us something, they will almost certainly want something back in return (publicity, articles or attention). I don’t want to be beholden to anybody (other than to each other). Having spent the last 12 years in the Army, I understand that my freedom to do what I want is more valuable than some free kit.
  • We are fortunate enough to be able to save to self-fund the trip. Therefore I don’t feel comfortable applying for grants that would be better off in somebody else’s pocket.
  • There is no pressure to make the expedition into something bigger than it is. We are not solving any of the world’s problems by going on a long bike ride. We are unashamedly doing this for ourselves.

That said, if a company were to offer us free touring bikes or equipment that will be useful for the journey with absolutely no strings attached, we would likely say yes (we’re buying new bikes in a couple of weeks so they better be quick). A friend recently gave me his old GoPro Hero 2 to use on the trip as I was talking to him about how I am planning to film the journey and will be creating a YouTube Vlog to document the travels. This was an awesome gesture and was really appreciated but we won’t be actively asking for free stuff.

The thing is we don’t “need” any new equipment. There are things we would like and things we could purchase to make life easier and more comfortable but there is a balance to be had. There is something to be said about somebody who turns up with “all the gear but no idea”.

How are we funding the expedition?

Whenever I read posts like this, one of the first things I think is, “How do they afford to do that?”. In our case, there is no rich parents or a trust fund in the background. We have no corporate sponsors of grants. We are funding this through savings from work.

Here is a breakdown of how we have saved enough money to do this trip.

  • Eliminate all debt (that includes any car finance, loans and credit cards).
  • Spend less than you earn.

It’s that simple. Our outgoings are incredibly low which allows us to save most of our income. Embracing minimalism has allowed us to reduce our outgoings and place an emphasis on the things that add the most value to us.

I have been in a privileged position that I have had a fairly well-paid job (by UK standards) that’s salaried so I can plan my expenses and savings in advance. Lucia also earns a solid salary as a teacher and private tutors in her spare time. We are not planning to work whilst on the journey so we will need to budget and live frugally.

We will go into more detail of our finances for the cycle tour in a future post

Are you doing this for charity?

Not at this moment in time and we have no real plans to. In the past, I have done challenges and adventures for charities. This often gives the challenge added purpose and meaning. Charities are always looking for ways to raise money and awareness so by giving people the opportunity to donate, I have felt that I am doing some good in the world.

The downside of raising money for a charity is that it adds pressure to the trip. What if we were to fail, get injured or decide to quit?

I also feel that many people bolt a charity onto an adventure to justify doing it. We are not in that boat and require no justification from anybody to do the trip.

This adventure will not be ticking off any of the three F’s; being the first, furthest and fastest. We will be travelling slow and will be looking to enjoy it as much as possible. I’m sure there will be tough moments but the aim isn’t to thrash ourselves around the world.

We are not completely discounting raising money for a charity but at this moment in time, we haven’t found a charity that we feel would fit with our aims.

So why have you created a blog if you’re not raising money for charity or looking for sponsorship?

We both love writing and want to create a lasting memory of our journey on this blog. All the way from handing in our notices, selling our stuff, starting the adventure and its eventual conclusion. We hope to connect with people that have a shared passion for cycle touring and travelling simply. This blog will be a place for our writing, photographs and any video content that we produce.

Hopefully, this blog will inspire you to live your dreams before it’s too late (by the way, it’s never too late!) I’ve been inspired by the likes of Alistair Humphries, Stephen Fabes and Tom Allen before me. Cycling touring is nothing new, we will just be doing it in our own way.

This bike ride is just the start of many adventures to come as Adam & Lu, Cycling Two. If after reading this, you are inspired to go on your own cycle tour, I will be chuffed to bits.

12 comments

Tammy Holmes

Adam & Lu. How absolutely fantastic! And why not, you’re young & the world is literally your oyster. Go for it guys & enjoy!! I wish you well & sending my love. xxx

Thank you Tammy! We are looking forward to completely making the most of this time in our lives and this opportunity we have! Thank you for your support and I hope you’re well. Lucia xxx

Am so so so jealous, sounds amazing, living the dream wow I want to come to lol x x

Thanks Ange! I’m sure it won’t always be a dream – especially when I haven’t showered for over a week and I’m sharing a tent with mosquitos and who-knows-what-other creepy crawlies!!

Wow! I am so jealous! What an amazing experience this will be! Lifelong memories that can never be taken away! I totally understand your thirst and desire to explore and travel. Having recently cycled Vietnam to Cambodia it has made me appreciate the simpler things in life,
. Seeing people with next to nothing materialistically and yet happy and enjoying time being outside and being with family and friends is priceless and helps you put western life into perspective. We have everything and yet we want for more … a world of consumerism where new cars, smart houses and Putting what we have on social media is the norm! You will gain so much from this experience and, as you say, you will never regret it.

Time you can never pay back but debts you can … so go for it!

Thanks Jo! Sincerely looking forward to the experience we will have, although as each week passes and we get closer to September the nerves are creeping in! But I am confident that the submersion in the local cultures and life will, as you say, put our western life into perspective. Taking each day as it comes and living in the moment!

Amber Averre

Good luck to both of you and I shall look forward to reading about your adventures!

When I left the Army I cycled across the USA with the Mrs. We both had no idea what we were doing and had never done any touring. Best thing I ever did. When we finished we didn’t want to stop.
Good luck mate and if you want any advice (limited as it may be!) and a free place to crash in the USA then feel free to hit me up.

Thanks for the offer Liam. It looks like your living the dream in the States. We were inspired by your trip and we wanted to go and do something similar. If we do eventually get there I’ll be hitting you up for sure. Would be brilliant to catch up.

Elizabeth O’Connor

Fantastic, my 1 month cycle in Greece turned into a 3 1/2 year trip through 29 countries. It’s hard to stop once you get going!

Amazing! I loved hearing about your journey. Hope you’re having a great time in Spain.

Grandma and Paul

God bless you both.As I said before,look after each other.Live,love,and laugh together.Take care.Love you both to the moon and back xxxxx

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