Post world-cycling – a roller coaster of emotions

Posted: March 25, 2017 in Cycling

Six months ago I stood on Brighton Jetty in Adelaide and burst out into tears. I had arrived. Two years of incredible adventure – but now it has ended. Many ask how it’s going. I haven’t written any blog posts. I’ve been quiet on Facebook. I felt I had nothing to say. I felt a bit empty. Now, this is the journey that everyone is interested in. What happens after the trip? I’ll take a deep breath, and try to tell you.

Strawberry pruning near Adelaide

Strawberry pruning near Adelaide

The trip – excitement on steroids
The two years before leaving the Netherlands, and the two years cycling have been dominated with that – the world cycling journey. It was all consuming, and it was bloody exciting. Before leaving, I was reading about these exotic places, and amazing stories of beautiful people and spectacular landscapes. Stories of trials and tribulations. Stories of adventure. I was going to be there soon – my heart skipped a beat.

The road to Murghab

The road to Murghab

Then cycling, reaching further and further from home, and passing though places that were folklore in the cycling community, I would laugh with joy. I am here now! The famous Akbar in Marand, Iran and Vero in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Hubs for cycling tourists. The amazing, spectacular and incredible Pamir Plateau. The videos and blogs had whet my appetite, but it was even more beautiful than I had imagined.
China was intense. Intense in culture, scenery, weather and people. And I made it through cycling all the way. I felt so satisfied – I had achieved something. South-east Asia was beautiful, but it felt less foreign and less adventurous. It left me (and many other fellow cyclists) yearning for the adventure that had once been. Indonesia gave the adventure back – an intoxicating mix of amazing scenery and some of the most beautiful people on the planet, coupled with sleeping in villages every night. You don’t know where you’ll be or who you’ll be with, and every day was an unexpected surprise.
And then Australia. First the main road through the desert, and then the back roads – sandy and corrugated, through the endless expanses of beautiful nothingness. And then the rain. Mud. Struggle. Adventure. I loved it (most of the time). But it was also approaching home, and it was the end.

The first months – mental readjustment
So there I was. In Adelaide. Where I grew up. I was 45. Unemployed, and staying with my parents.

I wanted to give something back to the world. The world that had welcomed me with open arms for the duration of my whole trip. I wanted to do something to help the environment. Something to help some of the poorest people in the world – people that I had met and had welcomed me so warmly. I wanted to learn more about aboriginal people – some who live in the aftermath of a clash of cultures that has not ended well. But here I was. I had no concrete plan, and without a concrete plan all there is to do is sit and contemplate.

I was back in a land of consumerism and capitalism. A land like the Netherlands which had given me my savings. Here, like in the Netherlands, my savings are not infinite. Not living in a tent or in random schools in Southeast Asia costs money. That’s what our society is based on. I needed a job – for the money, but more importantly, to feel like I was contributing again. I wanted a job that would pay me working towards the goals I mentioned above.

I applied for a few jobs that were similar to what I had done before – corporate communication and healthcare. My heart wasn’t behind them, and anyway, I was over-qualified I was told. It was approaching Christmas time, and so I decided to cycle to Sydney.

The summit of Koscuiszko

The summit of Koscuiszko

The next four months – emotional roller coaster
I received a wonderful Christmas present from my father – a 2 week pitjantjatjara Aboriginal language course in Adelaide. After Christmas I returned to Adelaide and completed the course. The day I started, I applied for one solitary job that I thought was just for me – a communications job in Alice Springs with an aboriginal healthcare organisation.
The next stage of my post travel journey was waiting in hope. With all my eggs in one basket, I had nothing else to do. I finished the course. I did casual work for 2 weeks. I still hadn’t heard back. I really wanted this job – it was the job designed especially for me after all, so I packed my bags and went to Alice Springs. I invited myself to an impromptu interview, and it all went well. I returned to Adelaide, and continued to wait.

Alice Springs

Alice Springs

After a one week holiday with friends visiting from the Netherlands, I rang Alice Springs and found that the job had gone to an internal candidate.

It was time to recalibrate my expectations. I may be qualified for lots of jobs, want them, and think I should get them. There are also lots of other qualified people out there, and I felt a bit lost at the difficult end of this mid-life adventure I had set out on. I was 45, unemployed and my bike trip (a valid excuse of unemployment) had ended six months earlier. I found nothing that interested me in Adelaide, and I was a nomad between several family and friend’s places. I started applying to more jobs all across the country. When I found one that I really liked, I got excited and motivated. I fired off the application, and continued on to the next one. My mood flipped from being high, thinking about a job that I liked, and low, being impatient to start. My mood changed on a daily basis, and it wasn’t any fun.

The jobs I was applying for were all over the country, but mostly in Sydney. Short term casual jobs in Adelaide are hard to get if you think you are about to leave at any minute to live somewhere else, so I decided it was time to make the next move in this post-cycling journey. I bought a bus-ticket, and off I was again to Sydney.

I arrived in Sydney on my 46th birthday. I had my trusty bike here and a few clothes. Walking down the streets in the centre of Sydney I occasionally got a pang of excitement. This is a city I love, and I was living here. It felt nearer to everything. Nearer to interesting jobs and lots of friends and family. The pang of excitement didn’t last long though. I had come here without a job, ready to pay for a place with my savings in the second most expensive city in the world. I kept on applying to jobs – there were lots that really interested me. And I found an apartment.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Harbour Bridge

I had the apartment sorted on the first day I arrived in Sydney. I will be living in Erskineville – near Newtown where one of my cousins lives – and near to the city centre. A cool part of the world to be. I will be staying with Mel – a woman I bonded with instantly when I met her. Working on social projects, I’m sure we will have a lot to say to each other in the coming months.

On Monday is my first job interview. If I don’t get that, then I will start looking for a bar job or something else to pay the rent. I need something to do – for the rent and for my sanity. I don’t envy, and understand more about the many people unemployed or under-employed. I have a good CV, and here I am. It has been a journey as epic as the bike trip. A journey that is not over yet.

  1. Yvon says:

    Wow wat is dit? Heb je een wachtwoord voor me? Ben wel benieuwd hoe het met je gaat.
    Groetjes Yvon

  2. […] expected that the last update would be the last before my ‘I have a new job post’. Maybe this one will be. When I get […]

  3. […] update of the ordeals of a world cyclist starting a new life post-cycling adventure. (This is the first update, and this is the […]

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