Dave’s Travel Pages
Recently completing a cycling trip from Alaska to Argentina, Dave is a travel enthusiast with over 20 years of experience. Since he started traveling Dave’s curiosity has driven him to the four corners of the globe. Intrigued by his cycling experiences, I recently caught up with Dave for a little Q & A. Here is the result. Stay tuned for future updates.
My name is Dave Briggs, and I was born in Northampton, England. I have always wanted to travel around the world, and began doing so in my early twenties. Over the last twenty years, I have spent more time out of my own country than in it, and have had all manner of experiences. From being a nightclub bouncer in Sweden, to picking grapes in Greece, to driving around Australia for ten months to cycling from England to South Africa. Travel is certainly in my blood, and my feet get itchy when I am in my own country longer than a few years! I keep a travel blog over at www.davestravelpages.com which has been live for about 8 years, and it documents many of my trips.
2.) You are recently cycled from Alaska to Argentina. What inspired you to do so? How did it go?
Cycling from Alaska to Argentina has always been an ambition of mine, and I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to do it. For years, I have looked at maps and thought “Wow, what a journey that would be”, or “I wonder if it would be possible to do that?”. The Alaska to Argentina trip was kind of a combination of both thoughts, and something that I thought would provide a physical, mental, philosophical and even spiritual challenge.
The journey itself was quite amazing, and took around 18 months to complete. I met some wonderful people, saw nature at her finest, and had a truly memorable experience. So much so, that I wish it had never ended! In fact, a few days after I got back to England, I started planning the next trip!
3.) In the past you have taken multiple overseas trips. What has been your motivation to keep going?
My main motivation is that I am always seeking new and unique experiences, and like to challenge myself. I also enjoy learning about different peoples and cultures, and like to see “real people” in “real situations” rather than just visiting tourist hotspots. Travelling by bicycle is ideal for this, and whats more, it is a clean and green way to travel. I highly recommend it!
4.) Traveling through a variety of countries and regions by land often raises issues (i.e. visas, bribery, potential vulnerabilities). How do you cope with some of these things when traveling such long distances by land? For example, have you secured all visas before hand?
Organising visas in advance can be a headache in some areas of the world. One example of this, is when I had to organise a visa for Sudan when I was in Egypt. Once I had received it, I was cycling against the clock to a certain extent as I had to go through both Egypt and Sudan within a set time.
In terms of bribery, I have never had an issue with it, and I have probably cycled through most of the countries in the world where it happens the month. Being and around the world cyclist puts you in an almost unique category. You often get waved through customs and immigrations on borders, and the only times officials will pull you over is out of curiosity for a chat.
When it comes to vulnerabilities when cycling, there are certain dangers involved, and the highest of these are other road users such as cars and trucks. Touch wood, I have never had a serious accident, although I have had a couple of close shaves! Some cyclists have had bags snatched from their bikes or encountered other problems, but so far, I have had none. Is there a specific reason for this? I am honestly not sure, although I would say that I am quite street wise and good at weighing up situations.
5.) What has been a most memorable place or instance in all of your travels?
There have been many, but one that sticks out, is from when I was cycling through Syria. I had stopped for the night to wild camp in a road workers vehicle depot, and the night watchman came out to see me. As I was cooking a meal, I shared some with him. He thanked me and then left. A little later, he returned in a truck with a friend. This was one of those moments where it could have gone either way I suppose, but after a bit of sign language and basic words in both English and Arabic (my Arabic is not great!!), I followed them across the desert in the pitch black on my bike. Half an hour later, we reached their encampment, where they invited me into the “mens house”, where we had a meal sitting around a room with about 8 other guys. I wish to this day we had more common language between us, but it was a unique experience all the same. In hindsight, was I the logical thing to do? Probably not, but it doesn’t hurt to say yes from time to time! On a separate note, it breaks my heart to see what is happening in Syria now, and I hope those guys are ok.
6.) Do you have a favorite picture to share with us?
7.) Is there one area of the world, or trip that you have not yet taken, that you are just itching to get to?
There are several areas and countries that I still want to cycle through, with the main ones being Mongolia and Japan. I hope to include these and many others on my next trip.
8.) Do you speak other languages? If so, how do you think that knowing these languages has helped you to become a better traveler? If not, how do you think it would?
During my travels, I have learned a little Swedish and Spanish. It certainly does help to communicate with people, as despite what most people may think, English is not spoken by everyone! Speaking a little of the local language, if only a few words, has in my experience helped to open up doors and possibilities that might otherwise have been closed to me.
9.) What is the most bizarre situation you have found yourself in when traveling? Like crazy cultural moment in the middle of nowhere kind of situation… Feel free to share a story if you wish.
I have found myself in a few surreal situations, with perhaps the oddest one being I transported in the back of a cattle truck, complete with goats, from the border of Ethiopia to a few hundred miles inside Kenya. At the time, it was too dangerous to cycle this section of road.
10.) Do you have advice for people who have never traveled or are just starting out?
My only advice is to say to just give it a go. The world is a fascinating, wonderful and fun place – Go and see some of it!
11.) Do you ever see yourself settling down, or is the nomadic life for you?
I really don’t see me settling down at all. I am currently saving for my next cycling expedition which I will start in 2015, and I hope to be on the road for between five and seven years as I cycle slowly around the world, starting through Europe first. Whilst I am saving up for the trip, I have certainly developed a great deal of patience, but I can’t wait to go!
You can follow Dave on his future travels at Dave’s Travel Pages.