Good question - we ask ourselves the same question far too often.
Ok, more seriously. Why are we doing this? Recently we read the
excellent book Riders to the Midnight Sun by Marc Llewellyn and it focused the
question in our minds. It's not as if we're not asked the question numerous time
a day so it's surprising really that it's taken us so long to ask it ourselves.
Which is kind of late in the day! In the first chapter Marc
recounts how he came up with the idea of cycling through the ex-Soviet
Union whilst drunk in the bath. We find a lot of touring cyclists
seem to be able to pin point the exact moment they made the life changing decision.
On sobering up he simply couldn't get the idea out of his mind. There
was no sudden decision like that for us. It just evolved of it's
own course. To start at the beginning.
Stani didn't learn to ride a bike until she was 10 years old. She
simply remembers it as a nasty and painful business and as soon as the
school holidays were over the bike was put away and forgotten. It wasn't until at the age of 18, at
university when faced with a 30 minute walk to university or waste
valuable union drinking money on London transport she rang her parents
in desperation requesting the abandoned bike of her youth. Stani is pretty small but her parents had a good laugh at
the thought of a fully grown (??) Stani on that bike. "Besides, we
sold it years ago."
Another bike was purchased to commute on. Some of her friends
thought this was a sensible idea and got bikes too. Eventually Sunday
rides to the pub were organised. Then full days out. Then weekends and
so on. Eventually holidays were planned abroad. There was no sudden
decision - becoming a touring cyclist just developed of it's own accord
without any effort or resistance on Stani's part.
Richard's story is a bit different. Despite coming from a
cycling background (his Godfather was a professional cyclist, his
cousins are Sylvain and Sebastian Chavanel, his parents go every year
to watch the Tour de France etc..) he didn't ride a bike when he met
Stani. His last real memories of cycling were from being at school when
he used to deliberately puncture his tyre so he could get a ride home.
Stani was horrified to find out that Richard was spending up to £20 a
night on taxi's home from work and hinted that in 1 week a bike would
have paid for it's self. Richard got a bike really just to stop Stani
nagging. Thing's have changed since then as there is no doubt that he
prefers his bike to Stani.
What are UNESCO sites and why are you visiting them?
In December 2004 we were lying in bed in Châtellerault flicking through
Geo mags. The March 2004 issue was the 25 Anniversary issue
and they did a special "Patrimoine mondial de l'humanité" issue. We were
surprised at how many sites we had already actually visited without
realising it. More to the point it was clear that several places we had
mentally listed as "must do's" on our bike tour were naturally included.
We still only had a vague route in our mind of where we were going and
it seemed to change daily. That's nothing new and it is still changing
on a regular basis but it clearly made sense to (wonder if the
Templo de Sol (that pile of stones on Isla del Sol, Bolivia) is a
UNESCO site - will check that out otherwise we may have to rethink the
decision!) to loosely plot our route on what was considered the most
important heritage sites the world had to offer.