An introduction to the who, what, when, where, why, and how of our upcoming adventure.
We're Jay and Lauren, two Americans from Washington, DC (by way of New York and California, respectively). We'll both be 28 when we set off on our bike ride around the world, giving up a pair of comfortable, full-time jobs (in government and education, respectively) for way more uncertainty, way more discomfort, and—we hope—way more fun.
A really, really long bike ride. We want to see the world, and we think by bike is a great way to do it, so we'll be cycling and camping and cooking our way across quite a few continents, in what we hope will be a really good time. We're not off to set any records, so there'll be a lot more relaxing than racing. We don't really have a route, nor a timeframe, but we are expecting to be on the road for well over a year and definitely hope we'll enjoy our travels enough to make a full loop around the planet.
Frighteningly soon! We'll be hitting the road in June of 2017, a short eight months from now. That's a lot of time to stress, but not so much time to get visas, supplies, vaccinations, flights, and everything else in order.
Wherever the winds and weather and our own whims take us. We think we'll start in Botswana—though that too might change—and head north from there, to Ethiopia or Sudan or Egypt. Depending on how long it takes us, we may wait out the winter in southern Europe before setting out east, navigating a mess of tricky visas and geopolitical issues to cross central Asia and work our way down to southeast Asia. At some point we'll catch a flight (if not a few)—from Thailand or Malaysia or Indonesia or Australia—and pick up down in South America, steering back toward the States. That said, it's all very indefinite and uncertain: we're not opposed to cutting thing short or taking a different way around, or catching a train, plane, or ferry if certain stretches become just too difficult.
We'll be writing a whole lot more about this in the months and years to come, 'cause there's a whole lot to unpack here. Why travel? Why quit your jobs to travel? [UPDATE: 'Quitting one's job to travel the world: costs and opportunity costs'] Why now? Why by bicycle? [UPDATE: 'Why bike around the world? Wouldn't it be quicker to drive?']
So a few short answers for now. For one, we like travel—and each other—a whole lot, and we want to do a lot more of it together. We're young and healthy and we won't always be young and healthy, so it seems like a good time. Our jobs are comfortable and all, but we've both been at them a while, and we know what the next year of employed life looks like for us: lots of days in an office, lots of rushed evenings and rushed mornings, lots of routine and maybe a few short adventures to break things up, but overall not much different than the year before, or the one before that. A bike ride around the world sounds like a hell of an adventure, and we truly won't know what to expect or where we'll be on any given day, and that new horizon and fresh outlook is super-exciting.
We're enthusiastic cyclists in the sense that we love riding our bikes and think that they're great tools to get around and enjoy one's surroundings, but we're not lycra-riding diehards. We don't race and we don't take cycling too seriously. What we love about bike travel is the way it changes your whole experience: your pace, your relationship with the people and environment around you and with yourself. Bikes are a pretty slow way to get around, and for us, that's a good thing. On bikes we learn to appreciate every hill and its eventual descent, to really take in every town or village we pass, no matter how small, to really stop and talk to people and not blow by them at eighty miles per hour. On bikes, a mountain pass is an accomplishment, not just a pretty picture out a passenger window, and it's pretty easy to end each day feeling really good about yourself and what you've done.
Bikes are a clean and quiet and simple way to get around, and a cheap one too. They may make you more vulnerable, sure, but also more approachable. Humans can be an astoundingly generous species, and whether out of amazement or pity or a mix of both, one is likely to be offered more smiles, more encouraging waves, more curious conversations and genuine offers of a bed or a place to camp when biking than by perhaps any other mode of transport.
We'll be finding that out soon enough. We plan to mostly pedal, but won't rule out a ride when we're simply not enjoying ourselves or a ferry when there's water standing in our way. We'll camp and cook, sure, but also enjoy the meager comforts of guesthouses, hostels, and restaurants from time to time. We'll be doing it as simply as possible—no support vehicle, no camera crew, no complicated agenda to follow—just two bright-eyed Americans simply cycling into the horizon.
This site—simplycycling.org—will be our answer to this question. As we get ready to go, and as we leave, and as we travel from country-to-country, we'll be adding our stories and costs and lessons learned, sharing just how we're making it around the world and how, if one were so inclined, they could do the same.
So, those are the basics. We'll be explaining a whole lot more soon, but in the meantime, questions about the trip? We're not sure if we yet have the answers, but let us know in the comments section below. Of course, words of encouragement are also—and always—welcome.