It was nice to see that in spite of the drought dear old Melbourne could still conjure up a cold gray drizzle for our arrival at Federation Square. A huge ‘thank you’ to those hardy souls who braved the weather to come out and welcome us home – you truely made our day. It’s safe to say that not even the foulest of weather could have dampened our spirits that day ….. it was the most incredible feeling to cycle into the centre of Melbourne and realise that we’d finally made it, it was all over and all that remained really was to start celebrating!
The previous fortnight has seen us cover the last eight hundred kilometers from Adelaide to Melbourne. It was a mostly dry and cold trip, except the ride out through the Barossa Valley in steady rain (the only wet day since leaving Darwin).
We followed the Murray River to Echuca before turning south through Bendigo and Woodend then into Melbourne.
So after one year, three months, one week and six days the Long Way Home Project has come to an end. We wound up pedaling 30,043 kilometres and visiting eighteen countries along the way.
Asked about our favourite countries we’d say Iran (the friendliest), Kyrgyzstan (the most scenic), and China (the best food). Our favourite city was Esfahan in Iran.
Of a total 469 days we rode 306 and had 163 rest days (average 98km/day). Our longest cycling day was 202 km (Turkmenistan – thanks to draconian visa restrictions) and shortest was 10km (from the Kazakhstan border into China).
Between us we wore out/trashed eleven bike tyres. The most punctures in a single day was seven (Uzbekistan). The highest pass was around 4250 metres (China). The hottest day was 50 Celcius in Tehran, Iran; and the coldest night minus 18 Celcius in China. The cheapest hotel was US$1 each (China).
The longest stretch without a shower was eight days (Kyrgyzstan). We spent the most time in China – 90 days and 5932km.
We were offered more tea in Turkey than anywhere else and consequently often found ourselves still out on the road at dusk after spending hours sipping tea with gregarious Turks of all ages and backgrounds.
In a world where we are constantly bombarded with images and stories of war, hatred and destruction, we were surprised and delighted to find ourselves on the receiving end of so much warmth, hospitality and generosity. We are frequently asked about the ‘scary moments’ or hostility that we experienced during our travels, but we really struggle to come up with a satisfyingly nasty moment. About the best we can offer is to comment on the aggressive attitude of border officials and police in certain countries, or the feeling of intimidation when you are surrounded by a really humungous crowd of curious locals for the first time.
In contrast we can talk for hours about the numerous occasions when individuals or families warmly invited us in to share their homes and their lives.
The trip would have been impossible without the help of a great many people. We would like to thank the following for their wonderful hospitality along the way: Rod and Loz in London; Jess, Michele, Adriana and Nico in Milan; the Du Fourcq family in Laon; Dave and Jocelyn in Kuala Lumpur; Jin in Singapore; Richard and Leonie in Darwin; Mark, Peter and Lorraine in Adelaide; Richard and Lesley, Joy and Tom in Bendigo; Jo and Oliver, Robert and Rita, in Melbourne, and the Bourke clan in Langwarrin. We’d also like to thank Jo and Ollie for their special care of Jodie the Jack Russell in our absence; and Mel and Betty for their support in every way (and for finishing their new home in time so we could have our place back!)
Thank you also to Mark who distributed our email newsletters, added photos to the website and helped us out on numerous occasions.
We are grateful to our sponsors for the opportunity to take their gear and give it a good hiding! – thank you for your support. The website will shortly be updated with the post-trip gear reviews, so if you are in the market for a new bike, sleeping mat, digital camera, cycling clothing, hydration pack, head torch, water purifier, sleeping bag, or travel guide, then check out our assessments.
Most of all I would like to thank Ed. This trip required him to make some big sacrifices by deferring his website business opportunities and leaving his family behind here in Melbourne. Without his support and enthusiasm for The Long Way Home Project it would have remained just another one of my slightly wacky cycling schemes.
Some people ask how it feels, now that it’s all over. I am reluctant to accept that it is actually over, as the Long Way Home is in many ways just the beginning. Our journey has opened our eyes to many new people, places, possibilities. As the door closes on the Long Way Home we can see the light behind other doors just down the road…….
We’ve met many inspiring people, and ideas that we might previously have thought impossible begin to seem not only possible but positively inviting! For now though, the prospect of paid employment looms. Ed plans to race the Simpson Desert again in September and we are working towards a three month sojourn to West Australia next August to attempt to cycle the length of the Canning Stock Route.
After that – who knows?