Andy is one half of Ride Earth. We had the pleasure of meeting him for lunch and spent a happy couple of hours hearing about life on the road (solo and with a friend), falling in love in Georgia, and generally learning about interesting and different ways to spend your time.
I'm currently working myself to the bone designing websites with a view to travelling by bike in May for a few months. Web design involves sitting in front of a computer for long hours.
I'm writing a book about the first leg of Ride Earth cycling from the UK to Georgia. This involves getting up and writing for a couple of hours every morning.
Cycle touring involves cycling all day and camping in different place every night, taking photos and film and writing in my journal.
Before I set off on http://www.ride-earth.org.uk/" rel="nofollow">Ride Earth, I worked as a web designer for an IT company. One of my reasons for leaving was to get away from working at a computer.
Using a computer and the internet has also given me a lot of access to information that has inspired me. It's easy to whine about it but it's OK as a tool.
I make websites because it offers flexibility for when and where I work, I like design, and it can be a useful skill to know. I was excited by the potential for websites to reach an audience. It's quite a big responsibility as you are making something which is quite often the first port of call for a business' or project's connection with new people.
I never dreamt of doing a huge bike tour but it entered my mind first when I was working as an MTB guide in Croatia, riding around a beautiful island, and wondered what it would be like to keep going rather than doing loops (a bit like life really). I love cycling, adventure and the outdoors. Tom, Mark and I did a MTB ride across the Scottish highlands in May 2006 and that was also a big inspiration.
No one person really inspired me to go touring. I didn't even know cycle touring existed before I came up with the idea to travel with my essential belongings on a bike.
Other people's tours are inspiring to read about but experiences are so varied and different to how you remember so it's more important to be out there doing it, and perhaps then trying to make sense of it.
Tom and I spent about a year getting sponsorship, planning routes to the nth degree and scouring the net for useful information.
However, in all honestly, you just need a reasonable mountain bike/hybrid bike, minimal camping kit and a little bit of cash and you can leave.
We self-funded it through working. We got equipment sponsorship from various companies. The WWF gave us a small monetary donation.
Everyone says you're mad but secretly they are all jealous.
The best thing about making it happen is that it provides a very rich life experience and learning process about the real world, which then filters into everything else you do. It's the university of life!
Learn by doing.
I would advise that people who want to do it sell everything non-essential to them on eBay, buy a cheap bike, get a compass and start cycling. Gear is overrated but some core, well-chosen items can be good.
My top pieces of kit are: MSR multi-fuel stoves, Vaude tents, Mountain Equipment sleeping bag, Kona bike frame, forks and brakes from Magura, Tubus pannier rack, Extrawheel trailers, Sunn Rhynolyte bike rims, Schwalbe Marathon XR tyres.
I found the bike really useful.
The website http://www.couchsurfing.com" rel="nofollow">couchsurfing.com too.