A Road Travelled Twice is my forthcoming book about two journeys across Europe by bike, over the same route, twenty-seven years apart.
In 1984 the world was very different, and so was I. At twenty-four, profoundly bored with being one of Thatcher’s three million unemployed, and after something of an epiphany where I realised I was wasting my life playing games in a small town in Somerset, I set off across Europe by bicycle and rode from Calais to Athens in an attempt to break out of a rut and forge a new life. I had some fabulous adventures along the way and met many kind and interesting people before reaching Athens and going on to India.
You can find an extract form the first journey here.
Twenty-seven years later, I was in the midst of a mid-life crisis. Depressed by unemployment and a serious illness which left me barely able to walk, I realised I needed to rebuild both my body and my life, so I repeated the trip along the same route to see what had changed in Europe and what I could still change within myself.
The second trip starts here.
The changes were huge: the first few weeks were a struggle against constant pain as I forced my body to provide a fresh blood supply to my leg, and fatigue was my only companion. Northern France was almost deserted and littered with hundreds of empty houses where people had fled the land to work in cities, Italy was more crowded than ever – but still vibrant and friendly – and the Greek economy had both boomed and gone bust in the intervening period. But I completed my journey and loved it, my health and strength improved massively and my old confidence returned.
Life is what you make it; I rebuilt mine through cycling.
Here I’ll be posting extracts from the book about those journeys. For now, you can read more about the 2011 trip at www.aroadtravelledtwice.blogspot.com
“Never give up. No matter what is going on. Never give up. Develop the heart. Too much energy in your country is spent developing the mind instead of the heart. Be compassionate, not just to your friends, but to everyone. Be compassionate. Work for peace in your heart and in the world. Work for peace. And I say again, never give up. No matter what is going on around you, never give up.” Dalai Lama XIV