180 Days and Counting

“I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine.”

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My tent has turned into my home, my bike into my best friend, and the world into my playground. I have no deadlines to keep or appointments to make. No stress or frustration to deal with. And my hardest daily decision typically involves picking what type of noodles I feel like making. I am living in an alternate universe, in a world where nothing can take me by surprise. I live in a world where seeing an enormous yak meander down the street, sleeping in a small stone hut with a tarp for a roof, and showering in a river seems perfectly normal… because it is. For the last 180 days I have been living the life of my dreams, cycling through the unknown on a quest to live and experience life around the world.

180 days. That’s how long I have been “the girl cycling around the world.” That’s how people I meet know me, and quite frankly, that’s how I know myself. I am the happy girl, full of life, often described as “a little ball of energy.” And how could I be anything else? I am camping in the most beautiful places, meeting the kindness most interesting people, and learning more about different cultures and ways of life than I ever believed possible. I am experiencing the world from a unique point of view, and because of this, I have seen the best of each place I have been. I have seen the generosity of people, the kindness, curiosity, and hospitality, and the ultimate potential of our human race.

What I have learned about myself:

-I really enjoy and appreciate my alone time. Though I worried before starting out that I would get lonely, this has never been the case, and I have realized how grateful I am to be someone who enjoys being alone. That being said, having traveled alone (on this trip as well as for a year in South America preciously) I know I am now ready to share this trip with someone else. (Spoiler alert! In March I have a certain special boy and his bike coming to join me.)

-There is absolutely no way to be bored while bike-touring. My other worry when starting out was that I would have too much spare time, and boy was I wrong! I never seem to have enough time and I am definitely anything but bored.

-I love living the “double life” cycle-touring brings. Most of the time my journey is about culture and exploration, but once I get to a tourist town, it is nice to stay for a week or two and live the easy life bouncing from cafe to cafe meeting fellow travelers. These two different travel styles create a balanced life that makes it possible to life continuously on the go.

-I really hate being starred at. And I mean really, really, REALLY hate it. I had heard that India was “full on,” and that I would certainly receive a lot of attention, but I was definitely not prepared for what I found nor did I know how much the starring would bother me.

-I have learned that I can do anything. Money, time, visas… There is always (alright, almost always) a way around logistical battles, and the reason why most people don’t do the crazy things they dream about is just because they just don’t think they can. There is no country I wouldn’t visit and no mountains I wouldn’t climb given the opportunity. If I suddenly want to paraglid across the Alps, well, I know that I could learn how. There is nothing that can stop me from living my life however I chose to, no matter how crazy it may sound to most, because I know that the only thing that can stop someone is yourself.

-I love being unplugged. I love not having a phone or constant internet connection. I love living in the moment, in a real world, rather than the virtually reality so many people are falling into.

-I am a mountain girl. I knew this before setting out, but this trip has intensified my love for the desolate beautiful landscapes of high altitude mountains. I now know I am on a mission to cycle through the highest peaks in the world.

What has surprised me:

-Just how perfectly everything works out. I was indeed a bit worried setting out. Keep in mind I set out with no touring experience and no knowledge of bikes whatsoever. I had no idea what I was getting myself into or how things would turn out. I have been surprised how easy everything is, and how perfectly everything always falls into place. The hardest part is leaving, after that, the lifestyle comes naturally!

-Kindness. I have said it a thousand of times, and I will say it at least a thousand more. People around the world are good, great even, and cycling has given me hope for our violent and turbulent world. Though there is crime and war in all corners of the earth, there is also extreme generosity and selflessness. Cycling has shown me the best of our earth and had inspired me to pass it on.

-I have been amazed by how many other cyclists there are! Though I personally haven’t met that many yet, after hearing other people’s stories, you realize there are a whole lot of us who have chosen to live our lives in the saddle.

-It has surprised me that in such a short time I have seen how much I want it to be my passions that define me, not a career. Of course, I will have a “real” job at some point down the line, but I feel no need to rush into it anytime soon. There is too much in this world to see and it would be a waste to let this amazing opportunity pass right by.

I am not a journalist, photographer, or scientist. I am a curious girl with a dream and a sense of wonder who wants to see what our world is really like. And because of this, because I am simply going out into our world as another human being, I get to experience more than most anthropologists ever will. I have slept in a slum, been adopted by Indian and Nepali villages alike, and met other travelers who make my journey seem small and unworthy in comparison. When I set out six months ago I was nervous. For the previous three months I had been telling people confidently that I was setting off to cycle around the world, but it really hadn’t hit me that I was… what? Setting off to cycle around the world?! My worries quickly diminished, then disappeared completely within the first few days, and suddenly I found myself extremely comfortable in my new lifestyle. So comfortable in fact, that I really couldn’t imagine living any other way.

Here is to another 180 days of pure and simple happiness!

8 thoughts on “180 Days and Counting

  1. Hi Shirine! Congratulation for your ride & thanks a lot for sharing This! its always inspiring to read such experiences! all the best for your future rides! keep posting!

  2. I just came across your blog and really enjoy it! I retired this past January and for my first “bucket list” item I cycled solo, self supported, from my home in Rhode Island to visit my sister in Port Townsend, Washington. I wanted to comment on what you said about traveling alone. I love solo touring and often answered that repeated question, “Don’t you get lonely?” With, “Never! There is a difference between being alone and being lonely.” You appear to share that same philosophy. As for that “special boy”, it’s so important to find someone who shares and supports your passion and if you have found that person, I’m very happy for you! I love my wife and it’s worked well for over 20 years and 2 great kids but her lack of interest in bicycle touring has been a source of disappointment. Still, she supports me and “allowed” me to leave home for almost 2 months so that’s pretty cool. I have friends whose spouce said , “No way!” So in that respect I’m pretty lucky. Keep living your dreams, kiddo, you are a beautiful young lady and a great inspiration to all who follow along!

    • There is definitely a difference between alone and lonely! And I am lucky to have found a boy with the same passion for travel and life as me, it seems only natural because if not, my habit of leaving for years at a time would definitely get in the way. Thanks for the support, and enjoy your own cycling!

  3. Pingback: 545 Days and Counting | The Wandering Nomads

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