Why on foot?

Goodbye trusty bicycles…

Swapping two wheels for two feet

If I’m known for anything, it is cycling and writing about it. But it’s time for a change.

Bicycles provide a lot of freedom, but sometimes they get in the way. If something snaps, you have to wait for a fix. Yes, it might only take an hour, but even in a not-at-all-remote town in Scotland recently I had to wait well over a week to get a new rear wheel. And rear wheels are pretty important.

Even when the bike works, there are limitations. I can’t go directly over that mountain. I have to go on the road that winds miles around it. And at times I’ve forgone a tempting restaurant, museum or KGB torture room (yes, really) because leaving all my worldy possessions outside for an hour in a dodgy part of town didn’t seem wise.

Travelling with a bike – on a plane, train or bus – is not always easy or even possible. If you need to get out of somewhere in a hurry, or if you need to skip a dull or dangerous section, it’ll always be more practical without a bicycle. I’ve already had to abandon one two-wheeled beauty for this reason. Don’t worry, old fella, I will return to Morocco to retrieve you.

Finally, my budget on this adventure is minuscule and frequent wild-camping will be necessary. Bikes limit camping options. I want to head to the hills, possibly climbing a stile or three, to find somewhere peaceful to sleep, just like I couldn’t whenever I’ve travelled by bicycle.

Yes, it will mean moving more slowly, but hopefully this will cause more interaction with the locals. And yes, I’ll have to carry everything on my own back, but I’m hoping this will teach me a lesson in ultralight travel that will benefit me when I do finally return to my bicycle.