Over 200 days I cycled 9,800 km in 12 countries requiring 6 visas, 10 land border crossings, one restricted area and twice changing from the right-hand side of the road to the left. I have pedalled up 12 mountain passes over 3,900 m, the highest of which was 5,500 m in India and down to -200 m in Iran in temperatures ranging from 45 to -10 degrees Celsius. Rain has soaked me on just 3 days of biking and snow has fallen twice. I have seen 3 of the remaining 76 soon to be extinct Irrawaddy fresh water dolphins in the Mekong River and observed the massive damming, deforestation and mining operations which contribute to their demise.
Dogs have chased me on over 30 occasions but never seriously attacked. I have rolled past (or over) thousands of dead snakes, lizards, dogs, cats, horses and donkeys, all victims of speeding cars. Dust storms in Iran caused by over exploitation of water resources in Iraq chocked the air and the people of Tehran and made breathing difficult. I have inhaled, enough exhaust fumes from poorly maintained trucks and burning rubbish to make my lungs look like a smokers.
On a near suicidal dash to Istanbul I covered 162.6 km in one day and in India 7 km of arduous uphill was enough for a day. Roaring tail winds propelled me more than 100 km across the desserts of Iran with little effort while brisk headwinds in Thailand kept my brakes on for a tough 70 km slog to the border. I broke the speed limit on 26 occasions, usually as I screamed downhill through road works. My body burned every last ounce of fat as my weight plummeted by 10 kg. My legs grew while every bit of exposed skin turned brown. My beard and hair grew out to create the genuine caveman look which was enough to send small children scurrying in fright. I had two accidents, one in Serbia where my pedal was damaged and had to be replaced and the second in Thailand where I had to pay for a damaged car and my rear view mirror got smashed when I failed to see the vehicle stop in front of me. Three flat tires and a set of brake blocks, 3 new drink bottle holders and 2 bottles of chain oil were the only required spare parts. However, for others, I have built a rack from sticks, fixed a split rim with twigs and hose clamps, pumped tires, replaced spokes, adjusted seats and brakes, sewed up a torn tire and repaired a broken chain.
I consumed up to 7 normal meals a day and burned about 1.2 million calories of energy all washed down with around 600 liters of water. I cycled with 28 other cycle tourists from 16 countries and met a further 80 or so. I took over 9,000 photographs and logged more than 500 GPS positions. I was in the national newspaper in Serbia, TV in Cambodia and a magazine in Iran. I received gifts from a Chinese army general and the captain of the Bulgarian Air force. I slept 40 nights in my tent, 16 nights with CouchSurfers, 15 with friends and the rest in guesthouses, hostels or hotels. I have listened to 15 languages and observed the subtleties and practices of 8 religions.
On top of that I spent time in Europe as well as at home in New Zealand and in Brunei and Malaysia on the island of Borneo.
Taking 8 months off from the development of medical equipment for heart attacks and organ transplantations, I am most often found somewhere in the far corners of the globe, preferably on a bicycle with camera in hand. A deep routed passion for exploration of people and places keeps me motivated to continue in both areas of life. Photography has become a means to share the world’s wonders with anyone who lacks the motivation, ability or freedom to explore everything on offer themselves. An active lifestyle was a natural continuation of life in New Zealand as a child, a land best described as an endless playground. This has led to cycle touring as an incredibly free way to discover the heart and soul of both the people and places without intruding on their lives.
Antarctica 2011 Published September 25, 2011