I was born in 1985 and I think (although you'd have to check with my dad) that I've been riding bicycles since 1992, which is admittedly quite late for a young man to learn to ride a bike, but if you compare it to the fact that, at the time of writing (2016), I still don't have a driving license, it pales into insignificance.
In my early twenties, like a lot of "kids", I started to realise the joys of travelling. Something made me think it'd be pretty cool to combine my new-found love for travel with my ability to make a bicycle stay upright. A quick look on the internet showed me that I wasn't the first person to come up with this kind of scheme. So, I bought a new bike (Kathryn) and rounded up the camping gear I had kicking about. I strapped it all to my bike and found some money to go to the Netherlands. My minimal preparatory work and naive mind didn't cause me death or serious injury so, buoyed by my success, I decided I would do some more of this "cycle touring".
I made a spreadsheet and got strict with my finances which helped me stockpile funds from the various minimum wage jobs I held. I spent some time improving my collection of camping stuff and I got my mate Harry to make my bicycle better suited to my needs (I don't know what he did, he used tools that were more advanced than spanners so I lost interest) I headed off for three weeks around the Balkans in the summer of 2013 and then in 2014 trawled around Morocco for a bit.
I read books and websites, and watched documentaries about other people who had gone on long cycle trips and always liked the idea of attempting a complete circumnavigation of the globe, but felt that it would never be possible for me to do it. I made a lot of excuses for why I couldn't; fear of quitting my job, commitments to girlfriends/family, not enough money, not having the skills or being strong enough physically or mentally. The usual kind of excuses people lean back on when they're nervous about taking a leap into the unknown.
By the end of 2014 I'd made a right cock-up of my regular life; I'd broken up with my girlfriend and was in the process of losing my job. It was getting close to my thirtieth birthday, and although a little early for a mid-life crisis, I felt I had very little to show for three decades on earth, except for a few quid in the bank which had been earmarked for something “sensible” like a deposit on a house. Although the outlook was pretty grim at the time, I realised I was in the position where I had no commitments tying me down and just enough money to at least attempt to achieve my dream. All my excuses were gone, so I found a charity to raise some cash for, hassled Stuart Fyfe to whip up a website to make my botched trip look slightly more credible and hit the road.
It's now the middle of 2016 and, with my thirty-second birthday approaching, I have very nearly achieved a long term dream and raised over four grand for a great charity. Not a bad turn-around from a couple of years ago.