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Riding Alone


“I am the one and only”
– Chesney Hawkes

Cycling with four other people has been so different to riding alone. Not better, not worse, just
In many ways I found the south of Ethiopia to be like a holiday. With a group of five people there is
no security risk and no problems with leaving your bike whilst you shop or eat or go to the toilet. You
have practical support with breakages and repair, enormous moral support in the face of 200 staring
people, relief from monotony as you talk away the long, dull cycling hours, company in the evenings,
fun, laughter and evening beers.
But cycling en masse deprives you of the days of silence, the intensity of experience, the unavoidable
(and ultimately unmissable) interactions with locals and the fears and tears and frustrations of being alone
in the heart of Africa. The character building, as my Dad would say!
In conclusion: if you want to have fun then travel in a group. If you’re not after that, stick by yourself.

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  1. Couldn’t have said this better…but, do you think the solo’ists go a little mental? And is there any recovery or professional psychiatric help for the post tour? There are plenty of books in regards of how to tour, but I haven’t found one yet about the recovery period when you get home. I haven’t made it home yet, and after 2 years I know I’ve got a lot of…ehm…”stuff”…to deal with. Perhaps this could be your next book?

    I did have a partner for 2 months once, where we rarely spoke through the day. Basically the only communication was during grocery shopping, waiting at the passes, or cooking our dinner. It may have been near perfect.

    • Rob Lowe Posted

      Ive been home nearly a year since I cycled alone through Africa and I still think of it everyday. No one at home can really understand how it feels to cycle and camp everyday alone for months on end, without actually doing it themselves.
      I actually found that being back in normality helped me discover all the lessons I learned along the way. When I finally completed my trip I was actually quite depressed for a week or so and kept having panic attacks. But Like anything, itl take some time to deal with your ‘stuff’ and when you do the memories our all worth it. Enjoy the rest of your trip, yourl be home and back at work before you no it.

    • Brave Eleanor!!! I think an important thing to learn which we need to take everywhere is to learn to focus and enjoy the present. I know it’s maybe easier said than done, and I don’t mean it in this way, but DO focus on the now and on your superb courage to go for it!! Enjoy all what life shows you and don’t anticipate any pain and if it comes I’m sure, as Alaistar said, you will be perfectly able to cope with it finding strategies to overcome it. Would love to meet you when back home (I don’t know where that is ) and maybe talking could be a way to ease the inherent pain of becoming more human! A warm and strong hug from Bath, UK!

  2. Not to mention that you alone ultimately decide exactly how you want the trip to proceed. There’s never any external conflict stemming from where you want to go or what you want to do versus your companion’s preferences. With couchsurfing, warmshowers and hostels, it’s easier to fend off loneliness through temporary company that might share some common bonds. Certainly not as deep or lasting as a travel buddy, but it adds some dynamic interactions that might at least slow the breakdown of the psyche, if that necessarily happens. Love reading about your adventures!



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