I still remember starting this blog in 2016 where I was naively excited over my first solo trip when I was travelling alone in the Indian Himalayas, trying to imagine myself like an adventurer just like Sean Conway.
At that time, the cycle travel bug did not catch on but I knew I wanted this blog to mean so much more than just sharing stories on the outdoors.
The ideas fizzled out, and my main business became my priority, but the travelling alone tales and new cycle travel moments continued to bubble, without the ‘publish’ button. I have often wondered how people can religiously continue to blog, and despite having written one, I am still no closer to the answer.
The learning curve was wickedly steep - much like the mountains I tried to conquer on my bike, but it has proven to be valuable when I see stories and highlights from strangers and friends who went to places I mentioned in Iran and India. Sometimes a small entry will do; sometimes, even a seven-part saga isn’t enough. I have honestly spent agonizing hours coming up with different adjectives that is not too far away from Google search results.
But this is not that post where I talk about my blog growth. It is about the ideas that formed during my trip that symbolised personal freedom (solo travel or travelling alone) and mobility (cycle travel) on my year of reflection.
What’s It Like Travelling Alone and To Cycle Travel
It’s hard to summarise in words what 2018 was like. It was a year of travelling alone, discovering bicycle touring or cycle travel as you put it, a lot of cycle travel actually. My threshold for sobriety had fast been approaching and there was no way I was staying put in 2018.
With energy and creativity in the tank, I found refuge by kicking in two loves that has changed the way I look at travelling. It is empowering to set out on your own, but far more empowering when you’re on a mission-based trip whether it is cycling, hiking or running.
On the need for speed
I started my trips with hiking at the beginning of my travels but today it has evolved into cycle travels and bicycle touring. It made me feel strong, and I loved the challenge of going longer, farther, faster, as well as the seemingly endless options of routes, highways and tracks in the world.
Starting the year with a trip along the Taiwan coastal roads made everything 10 times more interesting. The simplicity of a two-wheeler bicycle appealed to me.
In Taiwan, it was fun to bear all the unrelenting elements at one go, such as crazy headwinds and watching the coconut trees waving aggressively across the shore. The need for speed continued further when I cycled along the Danube path from Vienna to Budapest and hit the highest motorable road in India.
The intense but short cycle travel trips bouts was my cue to get going. After travelling during an intense heat wave from Budapest to Vienna, I went to Slovenia.
Kindred souls and people who you meet on the road, and during your trips can truly change your perspective about life. Here, I met Tomaz and Mojca, two Slovenians who stay in the Bovec alpine region of Slovenia where we talked about life, their love for the wilderness and veganism. I was inspired by their willingness to host solo travellers and how they found a modicum of peace on doing things on their own terms.
They were simple people with a huge heart and an intense drive to share their lives with others. The friendship buck didn’t stop here. Another encounter with Jan Zajec who is smitten by the mountains shared the same sentiments about his exhilarating climbing trips in Slovenia and how accepting he is of others who strive to do things differently.
On taking life too seriously
I struggled with this notion too and it is something that creeps up on the back of my mind especially upon reaching ‘the almost 30’s club’. Most of us have romanticized this vision of how success is formed in our head and by the time we’re 30, we should be able to see the fruits of our labour.
Meeting people halfway across the world made me realise you don’t have to be running and aspiring to always become something more. If the grass is greener somewhere else, all that matters is how you choose to deal your cards.
After quitting my job and finding happiness in thriving on an irregular schedule, I started to wonder why so many people, family included, couldn’t appreciate this sense of extra time and freedom.
Instead of letting me experience the ups and downs of life, I found that I had to constantly find replacements to satisfy this reality that closely meets their vision of life.
It took a lot of self-talk, reading and meeting people to know that my newfound sense of freedom could mean an avenue to discover new things, a time for learning not neccessarily a job placement.
A writer from Outside Online wrote a compelling piece about enthusiasm and how he urges one to notice when something is awesome, as it often is, and exclaim or murmur or just make a mental note of it. There were so many times where I trekked to hidden parts of Slovenia and could hardly believe, how lucky and blessed I am to witness nature in it’s full glory.
“People can disagree with things like quality, maybe your taste in food, or whether or not a movie is good. But no one can argue with enthusiasm, especially when it is over the top.” I do believe in this saying and hope 2019 pushes me to carry on with this belief.
And what about your reflections? Share with me your nuggets of wisdom from 2018 that you’d like to carry forward in 2019.
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