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    Six years

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    86,209 km by bicycle

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    75 countries

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    Six Continents

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Featured Blog Post

How to write a book without losing friends or putting wizards in it

  1. Put on your ‘writing jumper’. It’s oversized, woolly and you found it behind the dressing gowns at Scope. Forget that it still smells of a gouty pensioner. Breathe. Feel powerful. You are ready to begin.
  2. Coffee
  3. Have a shot of hot water if you drool any of the grounds.
  4. Limber up: Look about your room and create luminous, poetic similes. The widow shines like a pair of shiny glasses in the glassy sun. The can of coke is as crepuscular as an isotope of beryllium. The sunrise is as bloody as a road traffic victim. The road traffic victim is as flat as a bad simile.
  5. Reread yesterday’s work. Eat / snort another coffee. Know that life is dark, hopeless and devoid of all meaning. Tape cotton wool over all the sharp edges in the vicinity of your desk and lock all windows above the ground floor.
  6. Ha ha ha! Look! What’s a pig doing on a surfboard?! Look at it wobble about! Remove facebook from your bookmarks.
  7. Decide on style of section break, *     *    * too cliché. Maybe a lozenge ◊, maybe that nameless fleuron §. Wait, was there something about the *     *     * thing that I didn’t fully appreciate the first-time round?
  8. Ask a friend to read your first chapter and provide feedback. Explain that yes, you appreciate that they’re a full-time carer, and yes, if your mum had multiple sclerosis it would be devastating too, but none of that changes the fact that your deadline is approaching and it will only take nine hours and she won’t know if you don’t wash her once.
  9. Email your agent. Explain how the industry doesn’t understand you, go into detail. Explain how most publishers are avaricious degenerates who’ll publish anything so long as the author has their mug on TV. Remind them of how many genres you are, right now, defying. Explain about that woman who wrote about the boy wizard and how many times she was rejected by publishers. Tell them you are almost exactly like her, but with significantly less wizards in your work.
  10. Apologise to your agent for your behaviour. Blame gin. Tell her alcoholism will add a frisson to your biog.
  11. Research what is selling really well right now and adapt so that a publishing deal is a shoo in. If nature writing is all the rage, add badgers.
  12. Redefine your audience in your book proposal to include all Corbyn voters.
  13. Go online and book a ticket to a reading by a published author. It will be motivating. Watch them closely, pinpoint their smugness. Know that you could be that smug too.
  14. Go to the British library archives and research the fascinating life and letters of a historical pioneer. Never question the relevancy to your book until at least 17 hours of hard study have elapsed. Then make little sobbing sounds until the staff escort you from the premises.
  15. Check out this months Amazon bestsellers in the closest genre to your work of great genre-defiance. Hate this genre. Lean out of the window. Scream ‘WHHHHHHHYYYYY!’ Do not, under any circumstances, make it sound like a question.
  16. No creative sparks flying? Go for a walk. Do not come home until you have a clear head and have been suitably inspired. Also: pack supplies, say goodbye to close relatives, get a vaccination for Japanese encephalitis.
  17. Edit for specificity: I climbed through the forest in the darkness. I elevated my hand and gripped a rock and curled my fingers around it and heaved myself up and moved my other hand and gripped another rock and noticed that the light that fell across the larch was roughly that of a three-watt bulb in the corner of a 3 by 4 metre square cellar at 67 degrees latitude at 5pm on midsummers day.
  18. Make your writing sensory. What did the wind taste like?
  19. Remember that listicle you were going to write for your blog? No better time than the present.
  20. Write 1000 decent, effortless words. Chortle to yourself. Stroke your own face. Go to high five yourself… whoa! too slow! Sleep soundly. Wake up. See point 5.

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Stephen Fabes

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Like most decisions of great consequence my plan to cycle the length of six of the earth’s continents was made in a pub, beer in one hand, mini-atlas in the other.

It took six years to complete the loop, crossing 75 countries and six continents. I visited remote medical projects and hospitals along the way. This blog is the story of that ride, a resource for adventure cyclists and a repository for my articles and musings – about a world made massive by my bicycle, and the thrill of adventuring through it.’

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An epic challenge
Bear Grylls, Adventurer
Extraordinary
Ranulph Fiennes

January 2010: I waved goodbye to my family and friends from outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London, where I worked as a medical doctor, and set off on my bicycle. My plan was to cycle the length the six continents. On that first day, I didn’t get far. I pedalled off. I made a quiet U turn. I headed to the pub. And then I hunched over a pint, fraught with self-doubt, whilst my loved ones supposed I was pedaling towards France.

Hours passed. The world I’d pedalled into was too big. I was unfit and under-prepared and feeling ungrateful for breezing away from a profession I loved, interesting friends and a comfortable life. Several curry houses knew me by my first name. I enjoyed a frappe.

Eventually, without coming up with a good excuse not to go, I set off into the night, and the dawning of the coldest European winter for thirty one years. 86,209 km (53,568 miles) later I emerged onto Westminster Bridge having cycled a distance equivalent to more than twice around the planet or 89 times the length of Great Britain.

 

 

High Times

Cycling The Six: High Times from Stephen Fabes on Vimeo.

A six year journey across six continents and seventy five countries by bicycle

Tough Times

Cycling The Six: Tough Times from Stephen Fabes on Vimeo.

The more testing bits from six years cycling around the globe

  • Home! More calf muscle than man. And there’s life after cycling.

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  • Dispatches from two crossings of Europe: from riding over the Alps mid-winter to cruising along the Danube

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  • Asia: wildly diverse, always perplexing, full of hospitality – from crossing Mongolia mid-winter to edging through the deserts of Afghanistan

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  • Blog posts from cycling Australia’s east coast with Claire, to hiking across the Pacific island of New Caledonia

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  • Blogs from US and Canada: bears, bacon doughnuts, big ass trees and a journey up the Haul Road to northern Alaska

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  • Blogs from South America: sublime Andean landscapes, 5000 metre passes, salt flats and jungles, and the Carretera Austral

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  • Blogs from Central America: Mexican deserts, beaches galore and sliding down volcanoes

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  • Blog posts from Africa: life-affirming, human, full of adventure

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  • It begins: a U turn to the pub, before riding into the coldest European winter for 31 years

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