Whilst it is in the air, you will know which outcome you wish to be true…

With the cycling around the world event which I agreed to take part in from February, I have faced many challenges, firstly getting out of Europe and into the freezing temperatures of Poland and Ukraine to crashing and having to return home to the UK to fix the bicycle before carrying on from India. If only things were plain sailing from here as a day from Mumbai I got involved in another road collision and the repairs that I had made were useless and the bicycle was ruined once again.

Getting out of India then became my main priority, truth be told this was incredibly difficult for me, travelling 1600 km across a country with a broken bicycle and six bags left me in an extremely vulnerable position and was not a highlight although I see it as a great achievement to of made the trip.

Arriving in Nepal I was keen to look for a solution and had a few options, I was very keen to give the cycling one more bash so had to try and find a frame so that I could repair the bicycle once more and continue the riding. I searched within the country and could not find anything suitable for my needs and was close to giving up. I then had an offer from a company, Tout Terrain, to send me a frame so that I could continue the trip. I looked into import rules for Nepal and they are quite tight and expensive due to the climbing element of the country. This was when I took the decision to fly to Thailand.

Arriving in Thailand I thought that a frame would be with me quite quickly so vowed not to get comfortable, I stayed in a hotel far from the city centre and didn’t unpack many bags as to get going as quickly as possible. On my second day in Bangkok I scoped out a bike shop and got a quote for the work that I would need doing as to be prepared for when the frame arrived.

The shipment left Germany on the 17th April and didn’t arrive to me in Bangkok for a month. This left me in a bit of a dire situation. As much as Thailand is a relatively cheap place to live compared with European standards, a month in a city with no plan of action having to keep myself occupied as to not going insane through boredom led to a burden on my finances. Also the long break from the cycling, I did not anticipate being in Thailand for this long and did not anticipate the delivery to take so long led me with a lack of motivation to get going again.

I made the decision to get going again and take things one step at a time with the decision to cycle down to Singapore as a test run to see how I felt before deciding whether to carry on with plans to go to Australia or not. I got the bike built in a shop and got everything ready to go. I woke up early in the morning and set off from Bangkok, I cycled through the suburbs and into the centre. I crossed out to the other side which was the direction I needed to go and something did not feel right.

I decided I would book into a different hotel and get some rest and then crack on early out of Bangkok as I was staying close to the road I needed to get out of Bangkok on the next day. I took the day to fuel up and try and rest but something just wasn’t feeling right. I tried to sleep at 10 PM, 4 AM came around and I had been lying in bed all night unable to fall asleep. I started to question the whole trip and my motives behind it. I questioned going back to the solitary life I had been leading and I questioned my finances and the lack of and extremely tight budget I was on, student loans only go so far. I questioned what others would think of me if I were to stop cycling here and I questioned whether it was a decision made in haste or what.

I needed more time to decide and took a few more days in Bangkok to try and come to terms with exactly what I wanted to do. This was a huge decision to make and I did not want to make the wrong one. I tried to set off cycling once again and cycled for most of a day out of Bangkok. However it just wasn’t feeling good for me. I couldn’t put my finger on what the issue was but it just wasn’t working for me. I didn’t feel 100% confident on the bicycle and perhaps the two crashes had affected me a little more than I had expected.

I think staying in one place for so long has led to a lack of motivation for the trip and a degree of comfort in having a few friends out in Bangkok living normal lives. The money factor has also played a huge issue, I never made any attempt to hide the fact I was doing this whole trip on a ridiculously small budget but was confident it could be done. Having to fly home from Ukraine and back out to India and then a month in Bangkok led to more cash being spent than I had anticipated and to carry on could have well and truly bankrupt me.

Therefore, I made the decision to return to the UK and admit to failure for my attempt to cycle around the world. This brings me great sadness to of had to of quit such an attempt but for the past four months, life has not been real, and in all honesty I just feel totally burnt out and exhausted from this trip, the mental and physical stress of it all has played heavily on my mind and body and think I need to recharge the batteries.

Despite all this, I think my excitement for cycling has increased more than ever, I want to do more challenges in the future and have had some great ideas. I think I will have recovered some funds for a trip in September perhaps.

I would like to thank everyone who has believed in me for this trip and all of my sponsors, especially Brooks and Tout Terrain for believing me in right down to the end. I must also apologise to everyone who has supported me for not being able to continue and complete this trip.

At the end of the day, this trip has been a failure as I have not achieved the goals I set out to. I think it is important to admit to your failures and the things I have learnt from this trip have been invaluable. I will be sure to be back out on the roads all summer training for the next trip. I urge everyone to keep following the World Cycle Race and cheer on those riders still doing an incredible job every day.

Okay France was the second country which I crossed on my journey I arrived on the 18th February with the sole purpose of getting out of Calais and finding somewhere to bed down for the night and found a place which I had used before near the town of Wormhout so put up the bivvy bag and settled down for the first night of many beneath the stars. I have been debating with myself whether to write a blog for France as I was in the country for less than 24 hours however I think it warrants a blog as I had my first inkling of problems and someone may stumble across it who is planning to ride a bicycle out of Calais and this may help!


Cycling out of the ferry is always fun, and if you can get organised you can be off before the cars but if like me for this trip it took a bit longer and I ended up waiting for all the cars to leave and was last off, the rain may of made me reluctant to leave but hey I got off eventually. Calais is kind of hard to navigate but with a map and compass and a GPS route I found the road I wanted easily enough and it is very cycle friendly, I would recommend anyone who is cycling out of Calais to head for the Wormhout road. Wormhout is a small town where you can pick up the North Sea Cycle Route if desired, this is the path which I have taken before and leads all the way up to Norway if you desire. It also links with the R1 Cycle route which will take you to Berlin and beyond from Den Haag. A path which I had taken to Berlin in 2009.


Waking up in the morning, it was my first morning on the road in the middle of nowhere on the adventure of cycling around the world. The weather had changed and it wasn’t raining I was in luck! I decided to make some breakfast on the stove for the first time, I made tomato pasta and proceeded to burn my tongue, great start! However with fuel in the body I loaded the bicycle up and proceeded to hit the road and aim to get to Belgium which wasn’t too far away!


Before I knew it I was on the quiet French country lanes which are great for cycling, I was following the North Sea Cycle Route for a short while but noticed an issue with the front mud guard, it was rubbing against the tyre slightly and as I thought it might be worth checking I had an issue with the back rack as somehow coming down a hill it had become tangled with the rear guard and this proved to be a problem. I was cursing myself for having these minor problems on the first proper day of cycling. I fixed the problems and carried on going. France is a great country for cycling there is no denying this. It was also nice for it being a Sunday and seeing all of the roadies out pounding the roads like they do every Sunday but what isn’t great is the fact that everything is shut on a Sunday so it is near impossible to get supplies, especially if cycling through the little towns.


Feeling good though, I was ever approaching the Belgian border and looking forward to another cycle friendly country. This was a simple day mostly and was just about ensuring I was getting into the rhythm of riding. I enjoyed the cycle paths which immediately followed the Belgian border and would soon discover that it is pretty much possible to cross the whole of Belgium following paths.


I found myself in Belgium for a few days so will give it it’s own blog where things started to get a little more difficult. I experienced some very frozen weather in Belgium and also more technical problems and the start of the issues with punctures. That is more to come and I hope with the difficulties I can add some humour to the blog, this was more of a if you want to cycle out of Calais it is entirely possible and easy to get on some great routes blog!


Whilst I am still in Bangkok awaiting the new frame before I can get going again. I am assured it is coming soon! I thought it might be fun to do a series of blog posts following my most memorable moments from each country that I have visited thus far. If it isn’t fun I do apologize but it is still good for me to have a record of them so I will do it anyway!

February 18th 2012 – The start of something major.

The day that had been in my mind for over a year arrived, the first mention of such a date to anyone was during a shift of work. I explained the concept and that I fancied being a part of it and before I knew it I realized I had told too many people to back out.

February 18th 2012. The day I leave Greenwich Park in London to cycle around the world, I wish I had a feeling of excitement that morning. I awoke at 5 AM after two hours sleep feeling terrible and extremely lethargic. I had all my visas sorted; I had all my equipment, the only issue was the fact I did not know where my passport was for certain! I had a good idea that it was in a library photocopy where I was taking copies of it the previous day however I was about to go to a start line with nine other riders and a fair few cameras to leave London and yet I was uncertain as to whether I could even leave the country!

Packing the night before the race. Before I realized the missing passport!


To add to my misdemeanors, the tunnel from Isle of Dogs to Greenwich under the River Thames was undergoing maintenance so I had to try and sort a different way of crossing the river. I left my friend’s flat at 05:30 and thought I would cycle around it.

I got up to Canary Wharf and cycled around the business area although I was a bit lost. I also regretted the way I had set up the luggage on the bicycle but thought it too late to change anything now. I then came to a tunnel under the river with fast traffic and a sign saying no bicycles. Great!

I didn’t want to risk it and feared not making the start on time so went back to the original tunnel which I knew had a stairway down to the bottom before a stairway up the other side. This was far from ideal but I carried my 45 kg set up down 11 flights of stairs and back up the other side, just what you need the day you are about to set off on a prolonged endurance event. Being on the correct side of the river was my first challenge and I had overcome it, cycling around the world was going to be easy now

The start line was great, lots of people came to see us off and people were taking pictures and showing interest in each rider’s set up which was great. I was still being grumpy in the corner though desperately trying to contact the library which opened at 09:00 about the passport. I managed to get through to them eventually and they had the passport, which was something at least!

After a quick dash back over to the other side of the river I retraced my steps to Greenwich Park where I rode from the start line at around 10:00 for the destination of Dover. The weather was overcast but didn’t look to be anything to worry about in London so I set off smiling and looking forward to the challenge ahead. I decided not to take the most direct route to Dover and take a route which would keep me on smaller roads for part of the way. I had read many things about the A2 being notoriously cycle unfriendly so I thought it best to avoid this.

The set up was working fine and I was making progress albeit slower than I had hoped. With the delay of the start I thought the best thing was just to get to France that day. It didn’t matter about the total distance just get on a ferry!

I rode down as far as Canterbury feeling quite comfortable but then I started to doubt myself and the rain started. This was unwelcome as it was the moment I was on the dual carriageway that is the A2 all the way to Dover. I carried on riding and the bicycle just seemed to not be moving. I didn’t enjoy this slog at all. I thought that getting to Dover would be a simple task and I would be running on adrenaline and make it there with little problems however it turned out to be a different case.

Drenched! Hurting and tired I pulled into Dover and the desk to buy a ticket to France, the woman behind the desk explained that Simon had already been there and gave us special friends and family rates which was a welcome surprise which perked me up a little! Finally getting out of Britain! I was excited and didn’t know exactly what the plan was when I got to France but knew I would need to clear Calais before going to sleep so I was in for a late night. I eventually cycled 30 miles into France and put up the first bivvy opposite a spot I used a few years back when cycling to Berlin. Overall day 1 was stressful and tense but a good show of what was to come.

As I only spent one day in France that will have to come next, the purpose of these blogs is just to show what I feel was the most interesting day of each country I passed in order, so there will be a blog for each England, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, India, Nepal, Thailand.

As you are probably aware from my blog posts I am stuck in Bangkok awaiting a new frame so am just in a state of limbo. I thought I would write a brief overview of the race so far, as I have had contact with some of the riders I will be able to give a bit of an ‘insider’ view I hope which people may find of interest.

As the day 55, leader board has become available, what a 55 days it has been. I am sure we are a long way from saving the planet but the eleven names on the leader board are all sharing the same ambition and living the dream of cycling around the world. When those who set off from London met the day before we went, it was clear that some people were racing all the way and wanted to do it as quick as possible whereas there were a few of us who were more in for the wilderness experience and the experiences along the way. I think this is reflected quite fairly in the leader board and you can see the two groups quite clearly.

Leaderboard presented by QuickEnergy

The distances covered have been phenomenal though. Lets first talk about the race leader Mike Hall. He is now halfway around the world on a bicycle in 55 days, including his transit times. Just think of that in these terms. He has cycled from London through Europe, across India and across Australia on a bicycle in 55 days… mental! I am sure that would be difficult even in a car to muster.

A follower of the race said to me the other day, ‘Stuart you are the only person left who is on the Eurasia continent, do I feel lonely?’ I didn’t realise that this was the case but now I am aware I certainly do. Accidents seem to of played quite a part in trying to slow people down in the event. I have had two crashes but think people have heard enough about them so I won’t go on! Simon Hutchinson had dehydration in India which slowed him down for a few days followed by a crash into a stationary truck in Perth wrecking his front forks and some of his kit. However Simon is back on the road and still in 4th place. This is a tremendous achievement and looks to be going strong and waving the flag for the Irish.

World Cycle Race – Pt 1 from Ian Homer on Vimeo.

Sean Conway, the only man who has a route to take him over all five continents was riding happily along a road at the start of a day minding his own business when a truck came from behind and turned him over quite literally. The bicycle was not a pretty sight nor was the injuries suffered but Sean claims the helmet he was wearing helped to minimise damage. Always wear a helmet kids! I always do! Guinness agreed to stop the clock whilst Sean sorted things out and with a neck brace on decided to restart his cycling and has hit some pretty remarkable distances since being back on the road doing 670 km in two days riding and writing on twitter that there is ‘no more pissing around’ with the hashtag #digdeep. Best of luck with the rest of your effort Sean. I am sure now he is on his own schedule and different timing to the rest of the riders it may have put a bit of pressure off of him as the leaderboard is irrelevant as he doesn’t have to count the days he was getting himself sorted.

Good news to see Stephen Phillips riding again. After having problems with his achilles and throwing the towel in, he has decided to give it another go after talking with his physio. I spoke with Stephen on my brief stopover in London and told him my plans for the rest of the trip and that I was still going to be part of the World Cycle Racing – Grand Tour event even though I didn’t really have a chance of winning anymore. I also urged him to reconsider his position and I am glad that he is riding again. As one of the race supporters has said the more the merrier!

Martin Walker has been going strong and I have only spoken to him once since him being on the road, this was when he was making use of a McDonald’s facilities and said that he hadn’t started to up the pace yet. I understand that Martin has faced some quite strong winds for a prolonged time and has recently been suffering from a bad stomach! Martin is nonetheless in 2nd place and is looking very strong on the bicycle! I would not write this guy off yet. There is still the opportunity to catch Mike Hall and still half a race to go so things are still exciting at this point.

Richard Dunnet has finished his crossing of the US and is now in New Zealand, he is the third placed rider and seems to of had very little problems thus far, or he is just not reporting them. Whilst Mike and Martin are riding with very minimalist set ups, Richard is using rear panniers so think his speed is a great achievement. He looks very strong and again with the unpredictably of road cycling it is all to play for and I think Richard could have a chance of coming up trumps!

Paul Ashley-Unett set off from the Isle of Man and has completed nearly 5,000 miles, a great achievement, currently making his way across the States, he seems to be riding quite strong and generally quite comfortably (bit of guessing here, don’t shoot me if I am wrong!). I am looking forward to following Paul when he gets back onto the Eurasia continent. I believe he has an interesting route planned through China and Kazakhstan. I think it will be interesting to follow this although it is still a long way from home!


Lets not forget Jason Woodhouse, who had issues with his bicycle from the off, this meant that he was slower to get going than the others but has crossed Europe and made it to the US. I like to follow Jason’s updates, seems he meets someone interesting almost every day. from people running across America to having dinner with minor reality tv stars. Certainly living the high life!


Niel, the last person to set off has been battling his way through South America, he has witnessed extreme winds, snow and altitude so lots of fun things, however explains his pet hates to include cars honking at him and people whistling and staring at him. He seems quite comfortable and is enjoying the adventure as much as anything.

One thing is for sure, everyone is determined to get round. Crashes and injury cannot stop the riders and the pedals keep turning. I am awaiting the first crossing of riders expectantly. I always thought since the concept of this race first came about that two riders crossing each other on the road would be an amazing and surreal experience especially since the last time they saw each other they were pedalling in opposite directions and x amount of days later they still are!

I am sure we are in for a lot more twists and turns! Lets hope the second half of things provides a safer race and people stop having so many problems. I cannot wait to get back on the saddle myself. I am actually missing it very much and have looked up gyms in Bangkok.. if only stationary miles counted!

Keep those pedals turning guys and keep safe! To keep following go the race website here!


I think with all the things that have gone on in the past few weeks it is important for me to restate my aims and tell the ways that I aim to move forward with this venture. As you should know, I left London on the 18th February with other riders with the aim to race around the world. This has been far from incident free for some riders!


I have had two crashes and damaged the bicycle, Sean Conway has had a nasty accident and also damaged his bicycle. Stephen Phillips has had issues with his achillies and had to take a rest break and Simon Hutchinson has spent a spell in hospital recovering from dehydration in India. This is without mentioning Jason Woodhouse’s problems on the first day meaning he didn’t get going for over a week past the start when returning to the UK.


I bet that none of us foresaw any of these problems occurring when we all met for coffee the day before the event and spoke excitedly about our routes and our last minute preparation. I have been in limbo for a while now as my frame is damaged beyond repair and I can’t ride forward without it. I could not find somewhere to get a new frame in India or Nepal so am now in Bangkok.


I have been in contact with Tout Terrain, a German company who have some quite innovative designs with their touring bicycles, like the integrated back rack into the frame and the USB charging device called the plug which is discreet and most importantly works well. They have agreed to supply me with the parts that I need which I am ecstatic about, for one I am a student and whenever I look at the bank account it strikes fear into me and secondly, it’s a company which make quality products and I’m not just saying that! I will be looking forward to my new bike build and telling all how it rides.


So there! I will have a bicycle operational to carry on around the world! I don’t think I am going to be achieving any records, nor do I believe that Guinness specification will be met entirely, but I still intend to complete the route and do as close to 18,000 miles in total. I think North America is a place where I can make up a lot of miles if I can plan a great route.


The journey has been a long and tiring one to this point but I look forward to getting back on the bicycle, the days of the frozen beard and winter gear may be behind me but the journey will no doubt be still full of surprises, one can hope for a bit of a change in luck in the future and am positive about the next few legs, I have friends dotted about this part of the world so am happy to keep things moving.


I really cannot wait to get back on the bicycle though. It will be great to do what I actually intend to do and enjoy the wilderness side of things. I have a feeling this will be possible in parts of my Australian and US legs which still seem a fair way away.


So, awaiting a frame and then a bike build and I will be ready to go! I cannot wait and will be sure to get some videos I have online from India shortly, including one which I will dub the Audio book version of parts 1-3 of the tale at a staggering 25 minutes in length.

What an ordeal that was, who knew flying could be so stressful! Either way I am in the land of smiles now and cannot say the transit in Delhi did anything to cure my sour views of India. Here is how my day has panned out;

I woke up at 4 AM. Plan was to get up early and make it to the airport but not this early. I could feel my stomach was swollen and after an illness less than 48 hours previous I knew what this meant. I waited for further confirmation and a sinisterly nasty eggy burp came out. Yes, I was in for a fun day of traveling with further food poisoning.

I started to package up my things and get ready for the airport. I had a 20 kg allowance and was carrying around 40 so had to try get as much as possible in hand bag to minimize costs.

The lack of appetite and stomach cramps meant I was keeping toilet roll close, a rarity out in Nepal as left hand is the common method.

Arriving at airport I went to the counter and they explained my allowance was only 20kg. I tried to act shocked like I didn’t realize but they were professional and said I would need to pay excess. I couldn’t work out the charges but it was £60 for 10kg they charged me. My luggage was 34 total but they charge me only for 30 so that’s something.

The plane journey was uneventful and we arrived in Delhi at 11 30. The issue was the plane I was suppose to transfer to left at 12 15, I knew India was dumb and they make you do security again so this was going to be tight!

There were many others in same position but no one from the airline was present! Joined the massive queue for security and tried to explain the situation. All the Indians just said wait and relax. I felt uneasy and queued with about 15 other similar aged people in same position.

Eventually I got to the screening. They were not happy with my bag. I had nice rope which they took. A roll of tape which they took. They nearly took me carabiners, and were going to take my brake and gear cable but I kicked up a fuss and they didn’t. Bastards!

There wasn’t much time to argue I climbed the escalator to the terminal and saw the flight on the screen, ‘Gate Closed.’ What a joke I thought but made my way to the gate with some others. I would of been mad to spend any longer in India and round the corner an official from the airline said ‘Bangkok?’ After saying yes, he said run this was. I was dehydrated. I was tired and I was ill so said I would walk!

About 8 of us made it on the plane. I feel sorry for the others and I was off to Bangkok! Arriving at 18 30 I just wanted to get to the hotel which I got good deal on like £8 a night it’s as good as any I have stayed in!

I arrived and checked in. ‘We have upgraded you to a better room for your stay free of charge.’ I like Thailand. Someone had my bags up in the room for me and didn’t hang about for a tip. A different world here! I have a plan forward which I will divulge tomorrow. I now have regular connection so should be able to get some content up!

So the bus from Kampur was fairly straight forward left at 9 PM did not manage to sleep and got to the border at around 7 30 AM.

When arriving, the driver asked me for 200 rupees for no apparent reason.
I told him where to go in better language and got my bike off the bus to the preying vultures of Rickshaw drivers below. Once they realized I was going to the border they gave up trying to get my business as it turned out the border was around the corner.

I walked to the border and saw a guard, he told me to leave my bike with him and go to the next post, I did this and was promptly told that this border had no immigration and therefore I could not cross here.

Kind of figures that a local bus goes to a local border. I didn’t really enjoy this much and was determined to have rice and lentils before sleeping in Pokhara that night and this was another set back! I got told I must head to Sunauli which was 70 km away. I counted my money and decided I would just get a car whatever the cost within reason so went back toward the vultures.

I started asking cars away from the masses to take me to Sunauli but none were forthcoming so I joined the masses and said where I needed to go. I got offered a ride for 2500 rs a ridiculous price in all honesty this journey should cost maybe 2/300 I said 1500 and they said 1800 I was very tired so accepted.

With my bike and me loaded in the car we sped to the border at a whopping 30km/hour dodgy roads were to blame. I did not trust the drivers at all so had my tracker on and was following close on GPS. We got close and they got out to eat. I just wanted to go but could do with a drink so got some water and some nuts. We left and I didn’t pay, this would later come back to screw me over either more.

About 10 mins after the stop we arrived at the border I unloaded the bike and loaded gear on it so I could wheel it over the border. Driver wanted money and I only had 2 1000 rs notes. I knew I wouldn’t get 200 change I could just sense it.

He tried to explain the price of the stop was 200. I said it was 50 tops if that, he gave me 30 rs back, I was at the border and that was the main thing. I could have knocked the kid out but violence is wrong especially so close to peaceful Nepal.

I was in Sunauli and wheeled toward the border. I saw a sign for Indian immigration and saw a stop on the right side. I went in and they gave me a leaving form to fill out and gave me an exit stamp. Thank the lord for that!

I continued to wheel over the border and under the ‘welcome to Nepal’ banner. That wasn’t hard and you could literally walk across without getting a stamp or anything quite easily!

I saw a sign for Nepal immigration and went to get my visa. I spoke some Nepali to the guys inside and was just thankful to be there. Got a 3 month visa for $100 as plans were unclear and filled in the paperwork and gave the 1 required photo.

Said I had been before and liked the place and the guys were warm and friendly. I left and was on my way. Outside a guy asked if I needed a bus to Pokhara or Kathmandu, I said Pokhara but was dubious to what he would charge as he was an obvious middle man. He explained he could sort me a bus to Pokhara, taxi transfer to a hotel and a nights stay for 1400 Nepali Rupees which is about 12 quid.

Sleep deprivation got to me and I accepted, I could of done it alone for perhaps half the price but this was a stress free way. Only thing was the bus did not leave for 3 hours and arrived at 2 AM. I was happy to chill for a while and watched the chaos of the border from a restaurant.

I got on the bus to Pokhara, my bike was loaded and people didn’t ask for a tip! I got chatting to the ticket guys and they were friendly and let me sit at front as legs and knees get killed on buses. I gave them my version of classic Nepali folk song ‘Resham Piriri’ and they all laughed. Happy people. I took part in the infamous Nepali pee breaks where you stop all of a sudden and maybe 20 men get out and line the road and pee together! Quite social! And stopped for rice at around 10 PM.

We arrived around 2 AM and there was a taxi there for me. Don’t you love it when things work? I got to the hotel and slept. Finally in Pokhara a way forward has been reached and I can continue this journey.

I feel in next blog I need to restate my aims of this trip. It started out as part of the World Cycle Racing – Grand Tour which I am still happy to be involved with albeit not the quickest member. I have also sorted a solution for the way forward which I can explain.

I am going to Okhle village (

The time was around 7 15 and after spending the night on a sleeper bus where albeit I did get my own compartment and was able to lie down I did not sleep due to the bumps and the horns of Indian drivers, we pulled into Indore bus station.

I looked out the window and a lot of Rickshaw drivers looked back at me smiling and sensing money. It was way too early to be enthused so I must of looked quite delicate to their delight. One even put his key down the side of the window to open me up to the world outside.

The bus driver and ticket guy were nice people and told me to stay on the bus and asked me what my plans were now. I told them I wanted to get to Shivpuri, they gave me tea and said I needed to go to different bus station. They got a Rickshaw to load up all my bike and 5 bags and me! They also agreed price of 50 rs so I was happy and these guys were very nice!

The bus to Shivpuri was 420 rs. Again I sense I was ripped off but I had no choice and got going. Transport count 4 and non stop travel since Mumbai really. This was a local bus so took forever as went through every village on route and had to change buses halfway through. Saw a lorry overturned halfway through just showing that the organized chaos that is Indian driving has it’s risks. The wheels were still running so it had just happened but the driver was out so it was okay.

The bus to Shivpuri was interesting, an albino Indian guy got on and sat next to me so 2 white people together caused much amusement. I don’t know much about albino condition but I have seen more than one in this part of the world, don’t know if it is more common or just the fact they stick out like a sore thumb.

Arriving, I unloaded my stuff and wanted a bus to Lucknow, it appeared there wasn’t one and I should get on a bus to Gwalior which is a city where I can continue the journey. Transport count 6. This bus was a rip off I can’t remember exactly but taken advantage of! Charged me for ticket and for luggage and then for luggage again when arriving at Gwalior… Great!

I wanted to get to Gwalior quick in hope of a sleeper to Lucknow as it saves money on hotel but road was blocked for 45 mins and we got in late. Lucky the bus station was next to a hotel so I went and got a room, guy wanted 2000 I said 1000 he said 1500 all in I said okay as was tired.

I ate first proper meal in days and prepared for day ahead, I got to bed at 3 AM and wanted to be up at 7 to find the right bus. I closed my eyes and opened them again and it was 8 30 crikey I was tired! I rushed to the bus station without luggage to find a bus and got told none to Lucknow and I should get a bus to Jhansi which leaves at 9.

I ran back to get stuff, breakfast was off the menu. Had to do 2 trips and only just made it in time. Again this bus was a rip off but cannot recall the price. On the map I was going back on myself south so was a bit annoyed as buses were starting to get to me!

Jhansi was full of unhelpful people as I needed a bus to Kampur which was 10 meters from where I was dropped and no one would help me put things on bus. eventually 2 guys said they would for 50 rs each. A rip off considering the work but I had little choice. This was another local bus with a electronic ticket printer thing. Ticket said 157 but guy said 350 because of luggage. Corrupt idiot was obviously now 200 rs up. This bus took forever and Kampur was massive when we arrived. Big city with all the waste and foul smells which come with it in India. the bus park was very large and I talked to the 20 people who crowded me when getting off the bus to see if there was a sleeper to the border with Nepal. They said yes! My luck was in perhaps! One guy showed me to the bus and I loaded stuff on and took a seat. It was 250 rs so I bought 2 in the hope of getting some sleep and no made-up luggage fee! I had not eaten all day and bought some crisps and drink from people selling them at the bus. Transport count 8. Finally to the border and into Nepal… If only things were that simple. One more twist in the tale to be explained in final part 4.

After finishing breakfast in the cafe I wheeled the broken bicycle to the side of the road and made about trying to get a lift to the next big city called Nashik, I was at the side of the road for about 10 mins and a lot of cars just waved as they went past but I got a truck to pullover and told them Nashik and they loaded the bike in the back and let me in.

Finally on the way again and probably not aware fully of the 1700km ish journey I had just started to the border. The two guys in the truck were nice enough, gave me fruit and tea and bought lunch when we stopped. I tried to get a formal arrangement for the cost before starting but it didn’t happen but I had a feeling I would be okay, I guess one of the guys just looked genuine and kind so I had faith!

I showed them the map at lunch and they were going to a town the other side of Nashik by 30km so would take me there, this was a bonus as avoiding a big city is always good!

Eventually arriving at the destination they unloaded the bike and showed me the way I needed to go, I gave them 200 rs each, as they were kind to me and didn’t ask nor pressure me for anything. Not bad for the distance.

I tried to get back on the road to find another lift but nothing was forthcoming. A man and his wife on a motorcycle stopped to talk. He went out of his way to find out what my problem was and said he would help. It appeared I was trying to get a ride 50 meters away from a bus station which was round a bend, oh how foolish. I went to the place and the man was waiting for me trying to get me a ride to Malegaon next on my hit list.

A taxi driver said he would take me for 1000 I was close to accepting when my driver from earlier walked up. A stroke of luck as 5 mins later a local bus came round the corner going to Malegaon. With the bike loaded on top and me inside I was off again, vehicle count 2.

The bus cost 77 rs and the ticket guy had an electronic machine which printed tickets so he was unable to rip me off nice! He asked me all standard questions, where are you coming from? Are you married? Where are you going?

Arriving in Malegaon it was dark and I was unsettled. Didn’t know where to go from here. Literally making this plan up step by step and didn’t have a step for now. Luckily some guy unloaded my bike and told me to follow to go to bike shop. I went with him but knew bike shop wouldn’t do anything. We walked through busy streets and drew lots of attention I felt like I was being paraded a little.

The bike shop did nothing and seemed to like pulling the brake levers and looking at spokes but not the gaping dent in frame. We drew the attention of a bunch of 20 year old guys and one spoke good English, I said I wanted to sleep and get to Indore, he told me there was a sleeper bus which went there tonight, I was up for it so asked him to show me where. He took me to a ticket office and it cost 650 for the bus, they charged me 350 and 300 for the bike. I later got told this price should be 200 total. The bus left at 11 PM and I arrived in Indore at 7 AM. A day of massive distances and was in high spirits for coming travel plans although being absolutely tired and drained and not sleeping at all on the sleeper bus. Transport count 3.

Okay this is getting long so probably going to be 4 parts. Will continue with the Rickshaw driver opening the window of the bus with his key and literally licking his lips at the sight of a westerner when arriving in Indore later.

This is going to be quite long so I have decided to split it into three different blogs to explain the past week in India. I arrived on Saturday morning and got riding on Sunday out of Mumbai. Things were going well and I was enjoying the riding. The Indian driving ethos of bigger is better takes some getting used to, so does the overtaking/undertaking and driving the wrong way down the road. You need to keep alert at all times here and I would recommend having a horn to people!

The sun was coming up and I had ridden about 40 km and I saw a sign for a cafe 12 km away. I thought this would be a great place to catch some breakfast, drink some tea and rehydrate. I know I don’t look after myself at the best of times so this would be perfect opportunity to start, after Simon Hutchinson’s visit to hospital I didn’t want to take any chances.

Riding down the road a further 5km a motorised rickshaw which are everywhere in India overtakes me and pulls right in front of me. Literally 2 metres from where I am riding and comes to a halt. I could not slow my speed at the time but was going at about 10 km/h so not quick. I hit the back of him and 4 people got out the rickshaw. The driver did not speak English but seemed very agitated. Two of the passengers spoke perfect English and explained that they wanted damage money. I pretended to be French and shrugged shoulders saying I didn’t understand. I was quite angry as this was no way my fault nor could I prevent it! The rickshaw had a small dent in the back to go with the 20 dents already there. Eventually after much animosity they left and I didn’t give them any money.

My body was unhurt in this kerfuffle however the bicycle has seen better days. I have two impact zones, the frame is bent quite badly and is unable to be ridden, I can feel the flex in it when putting pressure on it. I could wheel the bike a long after loosening the brakes and removing a bottle cage. I now had some tough decisions to make and was not in the best of moods as this must of been about 70 km riding after the crash in Ukraine and my initial thoughts were this is it. How/What do I do here?

I wheeled the bike the 7 or so km to the cafe where I got some food. Luckily they had a menu in English with prices so I couldn’t be ripped off! I eat and had some tea and looked at a map. I made the decision before starting this leg that if anything was to happen I would get to Nepal and sort things from there. Having spent three months here previously I know basic language skills and my way around and how things work. I had about 1600 km to the border however. My budget is extremely limited and I was very angry inside about this bicycle misfortune. I did not want to be out in the sun with no certain way forward. I felt in a very vulnerable position. I have a bicycle, 4 panniers, and a bag on the rack which needs to get to the border somehow… hitch hiking seemed the best way to go from here.

Will publish part 2 later!