Before setting off, I attempted to frame the concept in my vision
To experience the world, unfiltered, in an active and interacting speed from my bicycle: Culture and Nature: Meet the people of the Earth, taste their food, participate in their traditions, understand their world and see their beautiful nature
As my vision states, the main goal was to experience the world and all its wonderful aspects.
The idea was definitely to cycle as much overland as is reasonably possible and I am very reluctant to catch other means of transport, though sometimes certain conditions might force me to do so.
Practically speaking, I cycled only half of the days on average. The other days is invested in regaining strength, but just as much to experience interesting places on the planet: Cities, National Parks, historical places, local people, villages, a wonderful beach, an intense market, a gorgeous coral reef or whatever catches my interest.
Travelling on a bicycle takes you through all the areas where you as a tourist are “not suppose to go”. There might not be any major monuments or amazing sights, but you get to see how everyday life is on the planet. Stopping in villages to get water and to eat and interacting with the curious local people, sometimes being the first white man they have ever interacted with. Locals who just want to look at you, get to know you, ask you questions and be friendly.
After some days I will likely reach a location of more touristic-importance, and then it is nice to be able to speak english with other travellers, have longer, more profound conversations when you share a common language, drinking a beer and seeing the tourist-sights where locals now are more interested in selling you a t-shirt or a taxi-ride.
The combination of this on/off “the beaten track” is a wonderful way of travelling, and I don’t think I could fully enjoy one without having the other.
The journey was not a record-attempt and I never intended to race around the world; instead I “stopped to smell the roses” and experience the world.
I have lots of respect for the record-attempting guys who race around the world, but feel that their vision is very different from mine. Their journey is shorter (around 29.000km) and they do it in around 3-5 months (this record has been pushed several times over the last couple of years); I consider the record-attempts to be more of a physical challenge than a long, intrepid, adventurous journey. Each man his own.
Around the World ?
Here is the big secret: Actually, I didn’t cycle around the world. Technically speaking, it isn’t really possible…
With the current design of a bicycle, it is simply not possible to cycle around the world as two major oceans are in the way, the Atlantic and the Pacific. If an efficient water-bicycle was to be designed, it could maybe be possible, but to my knowledge it has never been done before and, if it were to be done, wouldn’t really be cycling, in the traditional meaning of the word. And it was certainly not my ambition or intention to try.
The route that I ended up putting behind me took me 48.000km across 47 borders in 38 countries on 4 continents. You could argue that I cycled “around, up and down in the world”. The aim of my journey was to experience our planet and its cultures and nature, more than a mere around-the-world ride. Hence, I also got seriously detoured as the idea of a bamboo raft and a wilderness walk interfered with my initial cycling plans. And luckily so, I am grateful that I had the courage to park the bicycle and pursue those two, wild adventures. Planet Earth has an equatorial circumference of 40.075km, so I guess that I can claim to have “cycled around the world”, whatever that really means. However, this comparative geography has little interest to me.