There I was happily married, content with life. I had a beautiful wife, my own business, good friends, BMW’s on the drive and a home that we were comfortable in, your regular suburban dream !!
It didn’t last, my business failed, my wife and I separated and finally divorced, the cars were replaced by cheaper models and although I ended up with the house it required three lodgers just so I could afford to stay there, it was now a business and not a home !
Slowly but surely and without even knowing what was happening I became depressed, I lost some friends, I pushed others away, I worked like an automaton, I had no self worth and my life was like living under a black cloud. My first thought every morning was ” oh no not again ” it meant that I had to endure another day and believe me the days felt endless !!
During this time I have to admit to trying to take my own life, several times in fact and at least once it resulted in a hospital stay, if I hadn’t been such a coward I would not be here! At the time though it felt like another failure, something else I’d fucked up, how could I be so bloody useless that I couldn’t even kill myself !!
When I look back now I realise just how lucky I was, I had some friends that just wouldn’t give up on me. They started a film club, every week at my house they would turn up and we’d all watch a film, sometimes I just wanted them to leave but I couldn’t be that rude, other times I did enjoy it and there was always a bit of time at the end, they’d ask how I was, what I was doing. I’d tell them about getting to work and bursting into tears or running out of the pub with a panic attack and hiding for days, I told them about lying to my boss about taking time off work because I just couldn’t face it !
Slowly though their efforts started to have an effect, I told them I wanted to sell the house and go traveling. As soon as I realised this my life had meaning again, they helped me to work out how to get to where I needed to be.
In the meantime another event helped to shape my future even more, a friend offered me a ticket for the St George’s day rugby match at Twickenham, this was 2010 and although I wasn’t overly excited, this being my normal state I agreed to go with him. Now at the time I was a heavy smoker, I drank a lot but never to the point of being drunk, I liked to remain in control . And I was fat, really fat at least by my standards, I was nineteen stone and looked bloated, a bit like a beached whale !
Anyway, someone pointed out that you can’t smoke on the trains, tubes or at the ground, I left my cigarettes at home, the match…. I don’t remember nor do I remember getting there or back, what I do remember was being pleased to have survived the day without a cigarette !
I got through the next day, then the week and very quickly the idea formed that I could give up, well I did, two and a half years ago I had my last cigarette ! That was a catalyst for me, an eye opener, I’d managed to get something right but I also knew that if I stopped smoking I’d put on weight so I got out of the shower a few days later, I looked in the mirror and a big fat bloated man looked back at me, I was disgusted, this wasn’t me….I wanted to change !
In my garage was a bicycle, I bought it off a friend years ago, I only had it because he needed money and it was all he had to sell. I’d never used it but I went down to my garage, pumped up the tyres, dusted it down and adjusted the seat and without any thought other than I need to lose weight I set off. I cycled to Reading and back, 50 miles, I hurt, I was knackered but I did it. Soon I was cycling frequently, going further, I bought a better bike and my friends started coming with me.
Then the winter came and cycling stopped, all the good feelings started to drain away, I needed to do something else so I started running. My first run in the winter of 2010 was about 200 yards but I kept going and very soon a friend and I had entered a 10k event. We trained and finally the day arrived and we lined up near the back, the race started and we ran, we overtook people, we felt great and when we finished we were in the top 200, we were amazed that with so little training that we could do so well, we carried on running and cycling, we entered events for both.
In the meantime I’d put my house on the market, I was going to travel !!
More of my friends got involved in running and cycling, we joined bootcamp classes and circuit training, we finally cycled 100 miles in a day, we ran our first half marathon, we did duathlons, multi sport events and finally in may 2012 my mate and I ran the Edinburgh marathon, me in 4hrs 8mins, I was delighted.
My house finally sold and I moved in with another friend. Back in 2011 a friend and I cycled from London to Paris with a group, all for charity. One of the people kept reading about my completed challenges on Facebook and would occasionally suggest things for me and my friends to do, one day she posted about the Global Bike Race, I checked it out but after reading it I decided it wasn’t for me, but I was interested in cycling round the world. I looked online and found The World Cycle Challenge,  I read up on it, emailed the organisers about some reservations I had but I knew I wanted to do it and eventually I paid my deposit. I started training even harder, the WCC had a Facebook page where we could all discuss our training and get to know each other before we met, it was great, just what I needed, a way to see the world and cycle, I was very happy !!
Unfortunately my happiness didn’t last, the organisers decided that there just wasn’t enough interest to make it a viable proposition, we all got a phone call to say it had been cancelled….I can only speak for myself but it felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach, I was gutted. We all got our money back fairly quickly and I knew that I still wanted to get out there and do something. I posted on the WCC Facebook page that I still had the time, money and inclination and was anyone else up for it, one person came back and said yes !!
She lives in Edinburgh, very useful in May when we ran the Marathon as I got to meet her for the third time !
We or to be honest mainly her, planned our trip and finally left for Seattle on July 7th 2012, bearing in mind that we’d only met four times before we got to the airport !!
Since then we’ve cycled down the Pacific coast from Seattle to San Francisco, 800 miles round Japan, a quick layover in Hong Kong to do some sight seeing, cycled round the Annapurna circuit in Nepal, a month in Rahjastan and a month in southern India. We arrived home on December 8th 2012 after about 4000 miles or so and we’re now ready for our next tour, Cairo to Capetown. We leave on January 6th 2013 and will hopefully be back in late May. We’re not doing Africa on our own as its dangerous, the company organising this trip is called Tour D,’Afrique and because its their show we will need to cycle at their pace, it works out at about 86 miles a day !!
Even when we get back in May we already have plans to go to Europe, South East Asia, New Zealand and Australia, money permitting !
It’s amazing to think back now to the person I was two and a half years ago and see how far I’ve come, some very good friends, a little luck, a new found determination and exercise !
When I finish travelling I’d like to use my experiences to try and help motivate or encourage people who feel like I did, to show them that things can change and that life can be better, I’m not suggesting that everyone should go and cycle round the world but to have some sort of goal isn’t a bad thing and exercise and fresh air are free and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to turn off the TV and have a go !!




14 Responses to About

  1. Paul Markham says:

    John, dont know if you remember me, I meet you in newcastle I was waiting for my partner to bring a tube to repair my puncture.
    We so regret not inviting you back for a meal and a bed, you would have been welcome to use my house on the central coast.
    there are so many questions I would have liked to ask. Would you be happy to answer them via email, I wont load you up just a few at a time.
    As I mentioned to you both, I will be setting of in 2015, im flying to singapore then riding to the UK,
    anyway hope to hear from you

  2. Paul Markham says:

    Well my biggest issue is internet, how do you access this in different countries. What about tyres and brakes what sort of mileage have you been getting.
    Cheers Paul

    • John Chevis says:

      In most countries you’ll find some cafés and hotels have free wifi but to make sure I get good wifi when I want it I buy a data sim for my ipad. Most countries through Asia have great mobile networks so there’s plenty of shops about, alternative you but a sim for your phone and use it to hotspot !!
      As for tyres, Schwalbe Marathon Plus, just can’t go wrong, I’m on my third set after. 26,000km, of course you’d be silly not to carry spare tubes (4) in my case and a few puncture repair kits. Buying tyres abroad is ok but you won’t get quality ones so take a folding spare with you.
      Brakes, were using V brakes, simple,effective and you can buy bits for them easily.
      Hope that helps !!
      What’s next on the list ?

  3. Paul Markham says:

    I hope you enjoyed yourself in alice springs and got to see the rock
    Well I was going to take two chains, and a couple of spokes, I have been reading on the web people are taking whole hubs and bottom brackets.
    What kind of spares did you carry, im looking at this stage of going throu russia if I can get a visa
    cheers paul

    • John Chevis says:

      Are you doing this as a supported trip or on your own ?
      If you had a bottom bracket could you fix it or would you need a bike shop ?
      If you’d need a bike shop then there likely to have a bottom bracket unless it’s unusual (check with your own shop). Of course if you have room for it and the tools to do the job and the skills then yes, take one.
      As for spokes, I carry a few but only because mine are an unusual length due to my dynamo hub.
      As you probably noticed are bikes use internal hub gears so no spares needed. I do carry a spare chain but have never needed it. Brake blocks, brake cables, 1 tyre and three tubes is all I carry.
      Your needs may be greater, derailleur gears are not so robust !!
      Russia would be cool, I’d be interested to hear how you get on 😉
      Hope this helps !!

    • John Chevis says:

      I forgot to say, the rock was incredible, it rained so there were waterfalls and a rainbow !!

  4. Paul Markham says:

    Im doing this on my own, I myself am recently seperated and felt I needed to do this before I die. Im flying to singapore and then riding to uk , hope to be there for christmas with my mother and sister.

    • John Chevis says:

      Cool, let me know your route, it makes a difference when it comes to spares and bike shops !!

      • paul markham says:

        John, I hope you have been enjoying your stay in Australia, well due to finding it a real pain getting visa for russia my plan is to cycle through malasia,thailand, laos, china, india,nepal,Pakistan, Iran, turkey then on to the UK. So far I am planning to take 2 spare tyres, 4 spare tubes,1 each brake/gear cable , four sets brake pads and 2 chains( I have derailer gears ) Would love your thoughts on spares , my bike has 700 wheels. Also any comments you have on my proposed route.

        If I get to the UK .and realy am enjoying it my next step would be from Canada to the bottom of south America. You may wish to join me if this eventuates.

        Cheers paul

        Sent from Samsung tablet

      • John Chevis says:

        Well I have to say, that sounds like one fantastic trip !! Malaysia into Thailand – be careful about the length of visa you can get, some land boarders only issue 15 days !! You can extend it but you’d need to find a consulate, check the websites for info !! Thailand to Lao – didn’t cause any problems and should be no different for you, again check the map for borders, some are only for locals and I can’t remember which ones !! Lao to China – don’t know as we never got to China but I’d check the websites again for land crossings and length of stay issued on visas !! China to Nepal – never crossed into Nepal from China but make sure you take lots of passport photos, large and small, you’ll need them for visas, also passport photocopies are useful in some places !! Nepal to India – India is the land if form filling and paperwork, a left over from the British (sorry) getting into India is a little frustrating but it’s ok, just smile a lot and except that everyone needs a job !! India to Pakistan – again not been there so I’d be checking the consulate for details and making sure they knew I was coming, it could be a dicey route but I’ve heard it’s stunning !! Pakistan to Iran – even men need to cover up a bit here, meant to be one of the most hospitable countries on the planet though, allow extra time for just getting involved. For Brits the visa is expensive and needs to be sorted before we go, check the websites as you may need to get it done and it’s tricky if there’s no consulate in Australia !! Iran to Turkey – Turkey have recently changed there visa policy, you can get an e-visa now before you go, other than that Turkey should be fine although they drive like lunatics so be careful !! From Turkey it should be a breeze and for most of the trip the countries your passing through all use 700 wheels and parts are available, you just may need to wait a few days to get sorted if something brakes !! Your spares list looks ok and to be honest, you’d need to take sone serious tools to worry about taking cassettes and chain rings !!

        My only advice is to read other blogs like super cycling man and his ilk, they have been there and done that. Also like I said above just check the internet for advice on crossings and visa length and whether you need to get then done before you go. Other than that I wish you a safe trip and when you decide on the next one, let me know, I may just say yes 😉 Take care JC

        Sent from my iPad


      • John Chevis says:

        Paul, another though for your spares list, this comes from our personal experience !
        A small bag of nuts and bolts, obviously to replace those that will shake loose on your bike and panniers. Spare skewer for your wheels, we managed to break one ! And lastly, spare spokes, we’ve not actually needed them yet but have met several people that have !!
        Take care

  5. Wish you had some maps. I am planning a Turkey bike trip from Fethiye to Ordu on the south side of the Black Sea. Love to see how you went Fethiye to Konya. I am afraid I planned too long a trip for the time I have so I am likely taking a bus to Konya and then starting to roll at about 60 miles/100km per day. Love to know more details, e.g. miles per day, how easy to find hotel, bike repairs and tire choice. You now the exciting stuff.

    • John Chevis says:

      Got to honest Forrest but we used an iPad and google maps for the whole trip. Hotels and wifi are easy to come by.
      The Turks once your away from resorts are friendly and helpful, we sometimes couldn’t spend money !!
      As for bike tyres, we always used Schwalbe although we still had to fix a few punctures !
      As for route from Konya to Fethiye, we went Seydeshir, Side, Antalya, Olympus, Demre, Kalkan.
      No problem finding hotels on this route although you’d have two long hard days from Konya to Side !!
      100km a day is ok otherwise though 👍

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