The Cycling Circus
Run away with the circus!
Having had to drop out part way through an ambitious intercontinental cycle marathon, Charlie Ford has new plans for another trans-global adventure as part of the Cycling Circus!
In February 2016, my friend Raph and I embarked on a cycling trip from Germany to Thailand, to raise money for the Mercy Centre Orphanage in Thailand. We managed to raise a huge amount of money for the charity but the logistics of the trip didn’t go so smoothly. I was hindered by injury almost from the beginning, with a recurring ITB (Iliotibial Band) injury, which I sustained running two years earlier. I limped along, but the reality dawned on us that it wasn’t working; we had too many visa deadlines and entry dates, and we were falling behind. After much deliberation, I decided to drop out in Italy, and left Raph to continue alone. This wasn’t an easy decision to make; it is no exaggeration to say that we spent two years planning the route, purchasing equipment and figuring out the logistics of it all.
I attribute the injury to going out too hard. We left Germany the day Raph finished his Bachelor’s degree and planned to finish ten days before I started my master’s degree – we had very little room for error. That meant we had to do 100km/day – we failed to take into account that the first month was through the Alps in winter on very little training – in hindsight, the rigidity of our plans was our downfall.
Raph completed the trip in late September, a month later than planned, when he arrived safe and sound in Bangkok. He enjoyed the trip and managed to find people to share parts of the journey with him along the way. Unfortunately, he also agreed that the strict timetable definitely detracted from the experience, as there were many places where he would love to have stopped, but simply didn’t have the time.
After dropping out, I went back to South Australia, where I was receiving updates and pictures from Raph, which was emotionally difficult. Ultimately, however, speaking to him about the journey & seeing the pictures made me certain that someday I would have to complete the trip.
Everything happens for a reason, and it was by dropping out and returning to Australia that I was to meet my girlfriend Cara. We met on a camping trip, and our mutual love of cycle touring and skateboarding sparked our relationship. Over the next few months we travelled all over South Australia visiting skateparks and embarking on cycling trips. It didn’t take long for us to begin talking about doing this trip together, though this time we hope to do things much differently. We will have no set timetable: neither of us have any commitments, and we will have much more time off the bike, participating in WWOOF* and Work Away** programs. We also intend to make the trip much better publicised, and will use social media regularly to keep people updated.
We are currently living together in Scotland and we intend to set off in September, making make our way to Europe, from where our route will roughly follow the Silk Road eastwards.
If we reach Indonesia, and aren’t sick of the sight of our bikes, then we will take the ferry to Australia, and finish cycling in Adelaide, where we are based.
We’re also going to combine cycle touring with our other passions: Cara runs her own face painting and body art company, and I do performance juggling. Hence, TheCyclingCircus was born! We will be hitting as many events as we can along the way and hopefully we will meet like-minded people as well as keep ourselves going financially.
There is a common bicycle touring expression; “If you want to get to know yourself, cycle fast, if you want to get to know a place, cycle slowly.” The aim of this trip is to learn about the places we are travelling through, and get to know as many interesting people as possible. We hope to share the experience with as many people as possible, face to face, or through our social media platforms.
Join us on the adventure by following our pages, and don’t hesitate to get in touch, whether you want to cycle a stretch with us or just meet up for a coffee.
*WWOOF is a worldwide movement linking volunteers with organic farmers and growers to promote cultural and educational.
**Workawayers typically are interested in cultural exchange and learning and will help out for a few hours a day in exchange for food and accommodation.
FEATURE IMAGE: Java by Tim McKaughan