2024 June A thousand miles away. Cycling North America

Leaving dinner near the Flatiron building I’m spotted by an alcohol fuelled, bare chested, black guy festooned in thick necklaces and far too many crosses to be religious. Did I mention the only garment he was wearing was a tight pair of black leather boxer shorts… He serenades me with a pitch perfect rendition of Elton John’s “Your song.” At first I’m bewildered yet surprisingly I begin singing along with him as we drift along the street. It’s my New York moment, and when we finish he holds out a paper bag for a donation. I give him some dollars which is not my norm. He is wiping himself down with a small sweaty towel. I can see him spending those dollars on another drink the minute I turn for home. What made me sing that duet on the busy street? Boy we nailed it and I’d only had one glass of wine.

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2023 November Bumbling along the Buddhist belt.

Just when I thought that Hoi An had sold its soul to tourism I jumped on a rickety single speed hotel bike and over calculated both the distance and the strength of the sun in riding to the coast. Within minutes of summiting the flimsy, clackety clack motorbike bridge the tourist blare faded. Suddenly it was stooping farmers, waving children and smiles from rural people uninterested in my foreign currency. Buffalo sat neck deep in the rivers, fishermen steered with gnarly feet whilst tossing shimmering nets into the same sluggish river. One bridge led to another each time with less people. True I could still get my hair cut, feet massaged and a bowl of intestine soup easily but there was a calmness to the place.

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2023 September Cycle U.K & Karslruhe to Nice.

One morning Eric announced he had a mate who may be able to help, John Carter. A few texts, a couple of phone calls and a loose arrangement was made to borrow John’s bike for a week. So here I am five months later on a train from London to Stansted airport where I was met by John and taken to his nearby house in the tiny hamlet of Bacon End. It’s a real name… “Pigs arse” I hear you Aussies mouthing. An hour later I’m away with two small bags lashed to John’s bike frame and a wave of faith from he and wife, Judith.

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2023 June Nikko, Nakasendo and ninja knives, Japan.

I stripped off, found my bike shoes were a bloody mess of squirming leeches and and headed downstairs to the onsen shower. It looked like a blood bath afterwards as the leech wounds just wouldn’t stop bleeding. The host, Satoshi eventually ran me down to the station with his wife wanting to spray everything entering their car with bleach. “You’ll laugh about this tomorrow” he said not turning but looking straight at the windscreen. “No, it’ll take a few days” I replied as I got out of the car

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2023 April Paris Brest Paris

Now these headlands no longer have gun placements instead it’s rows of camping cars all in a line satellite dishes turned skywards and being buffeted by the coastal winds. We peddle on, many in the group telling family stories over dinner of grandfathers and long forgotten uncles who went excited looking for adventure as twenty year olds and didn’t return.

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2022 November Mountain biking in the Philippines.

We left our traditional bus behind on Bohol. Siquijor has supplied us with a much small technicolor party bus. It struggles to carry us all. Young Harold, the guides assistant clambers onto the roof. He sits there cross legged clutching his bike for fear it will be scratched against the others. For a minute I feel like I’ve been transported back to India.

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2022 May Spinning through the Flinders Ranges

One hundred kms on gravel is a far harder push than bitumen. Thankfully there were sections of bitumen each day to allow my body to stop shaking. Some sections of corrugation left me unsure if my teeth would ever bite into a bread roll again. Worse was I didn’t have the skills to stop or ride over such a punishing track even if I’d wanted.

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