When I was quite young I received, and read eagerly, a copy of Tim Severen's Brendan Voyage from an aunt. It struck a chord somewhere deep within me. In my childhood years I undertook great explorations and treks around the farmland surrounding my home. I recall, at one stage, drawing up and attempting to implement plans to build a dugout canoe with a view to navigating the local river (stream) to source. This was but one of many similar plans, some more successful than others, although the aquatic plans never tended to be as successfully realised as those overland. Even so the treks never brought me particularly far afield. My dreams always seemed to exceed the boundaries of practicability. I was fascinated by the copies of old ordnance survey maps which my local schoolmaster had at the school. I poured over the facsimiles noting the natural features of interest and the dispersal of buildings now in ruins or utterly changed. With my first bicycle the geographical possibilities became marginally wider, but the move to Secondary school quelled and near extinguished my spirit for adventure and I all but resigned myself to a life of normality and conformity, aspiring to a career and material wealth to provide the necessary trappings of a modern life.
But then I read Dervla Murphy.
After reading Full Tilt I was hooked, captured and converted to the world of the bicycle oddessy.
I started with a couple of jaunts from London, where I lived at the time, across the channel to spend the Easter holidays cycling in Northern France.
In 1991 with very itchy feet, severe dissatisfaction in my work, and inspired by Full Tilt, I began planning to visit my friend in Eastern Europe which would involve crossing Europe by bicycle, alone - I couldn't convince anyone to come with me.
In the summer of 1992, I took 3 months leave of absence from my job and cycled home from London to Mayo before setting off on a cross Europe trek to a friend who lived in Lubjiania in Slovenia, a newly independent republic of the fragmented and strife-torn former Yugoslavia.
And out of this came somehow the idea of Istanbul and a trip that would bring me completely and officially across all of Europe to the edge of Asia.
It was a five-year dream that reddened the ears and wearied those close to me. My great plan to cycle to Istanbul. The great conversation piece, icebreaker, crazy idea, attention getter, attempt to impress and in reality it seemed that it might never really come about.
For five years I coveted the dream, planned sometimes optimistically, sometimes apathetically. And whenever a job seemed to be coming to an end or was getting to restrictive and stuffy to bear much longer, I turned to the escapism twilight of my dream and visualised long sunny days on the saddle somewhere in Europe and the anticipation made reality bearable.
And a few times in the five years it seemed to be closer.
Like the plan for the summer months of 1994 after I finished my second stint in college for a year as a mature student or when I'd almost arranged leave of absence from a job in the Spring of 1995. In the late Spring of 1996 I returned from 3 months in the US with no real job prospect and it seemed that this might finally be the time. In a bank account in England I had the remnants of an escape fund which I tried to keep topped up for whenever the day might come. But I had to repeat an exam in college and that thwarted my summer travel plans that year. My leave of absence went un-availed of when a girlfriend talked me out of the idea (For the time being!). Shortly after returning from America, I was confronted by two job offers that were difficult to refuse or cycle away from.
And then in the summer of 1997, amidst the mass tourism of Killarney, the pieces began to fall into place and I finally began to plan in earnest as my feet became ever itchier and yet another job became just a little too much to bear. At this stage I began to announce openly my intentions and even to speculate on a probable departure date.
I revised my packing list and began to arrange my finances.
I retrieved a bird-shit covered Pedro, my faithful travelling companion of 5 years, from the garage after a 2-year temporary retirement and dispatched him for an overhaul.
This site is maintained and updated by Peter Jordan,
Last Updated 24th March 2001
© Peter Jordan, 2001