I am not a cyclist.
I don’t know my hybrids from my roadbikes, I don’t have a clue what a derailleur is, and I used to think pannier was a misspelling of my favourite Indian cheese. I really wish that was a joke… Until three weeks ago, I’d been on a bike for a grand total of about ten hours in the last ten years, approximately nine hours of which were spent on the floor. I’d blamed uneven paths, dodgy weather and, on one occasion, a pesky bunch of Vietnamese frogs whose cacophonic chorus of ribbits totally ruined my concentration. But it wasn’t them. It was me. I just wasn’t into it.
I remember the exact moment this changed. I was rattling through Cambodia on one of many long bus journeys during a six-month round-the-world-trip in 2011. I’d just finished reading an amazing book, so I reached into my bag to pull out the next. It wasn’t there. DISASTER! Luckily Rob had had the foresight to bring a spare, but it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. It was called Thunder and Sunshine, the second part of a round-the-world bike adventure undertaken by someone called Alastair Humphreys. A story about cycling? So not my kind of thing. But Rob insisted. “Just give it a try. Trust me”. Begrudgingly, I opened it and started reading, convinced that I’d give in by page three and spend the rest of the journey trying to doze. By the time we arrived in Siem Reap, I’d nearly finished it – all 340 pages.