My first cycle adventure was to Kenya, Africa. It was probably 25 or 30 years ago and I don’t remember what inspired me. I do know my wife always wanted to visit Africa and though not, at the time, a serious cyclist she came along. I was racing triathlons seriously around this period and had qualified, in the 50 something age group, for the first world championship that was held in Avignon France. A bike trip enabled me to combine training with a vacation.
I’ve cycled in over 50 countries from Mongolia to Cuba to Indonesia to Kyrgyzstan to Borneo; probably too many to bother listing. In Europe my wife and I often go unsupported with light panniers staying at hotels each night. I firmly believe that you cannot see the world from the window of an air conditioned bus. Cycling allows you to feel and smell the countries and is fast enough to cover reasonable distances.
Mongolia and Burma were my favorite trips. In Burma we went during the disturbances some years ago and we were about the only tourists in the country. Visiting a site like Bagan, all by yourself, is a dream that is unlikely to reappear. Biking the open steppes of Mongolia and catching fish on a string line from a river that you splashed through day after day was a beautiful memory. Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan to China and then Pakistan was a rugged trip but likely the most memorable for the remote terrain and interaction with local nomads that we encountered along the way. We stayed in Yurts and occasionally got pulled to the top of a hill by a kid on a horse.
I lead an active life and have had many injuries. A helmet has probably saved my life 4 times; twice skiing and twice while biking. The spinal injury happened when skiing very fast through a dead flat area trying to reach another ski lift. God only knows what I hit. The surgeons said I was lucky not to be paralyzed and they fused me back together. After a few months of physical therapy I was back on the slopes (with a new helmet) and skiing at a more controlled speed. Seeing it was the winter season it didn’t much affect my biking.
I try to bike 100 miles each week. Once a year I bike from my ski house in Vermont back to Boston in one day. It’s 150 miles and, all in all, a rather unpleasant way to spend the day. Still each year I do it as a reminder that the body is not degenerating. This year, at age 78, I managed to set a new time record though the 10 to 15 mile per hour tail wind may have contributed. Though not much of a group person I try to join a club of older riders in the Boston area called Wednesday Wheelers. They do an imaginative route each week of 40 to 60 miles at an average speed of 14 or 15 mph. Riding with a group certainly inspires you to ride faster.
Spice roads tours attract a delightful group of riders who are similar in ability and outlook to myself. The trips are not expensive and are run with minimum numbers of participants. Having biked in so many countries I appreciate the novel new places you consistently come up with. For a spell I worried I had seen most of the world. Fortunately the political situation constantly creates new countries and Spiceroads consistently develops tours to ride in them.
Restraining my activity schedule because of an injury never occurred to me. My philosophy of life is covered in my book “Die Young…as late as possible”. Exercise. diet and attitude are the keys to staying young and if a person allows an injury to derail these goals he or she will simply grow older.