1. I can go without a shower for up to three nights without feeling dirty. As disgusting as this concept was to me beginning the trip (there's almost nothing I like more than a brutally hot, hard shower) I have taken to having to pinch myself to remember that daily showing is a 'thing' – I can and should do it if we have access to a proper bathroom.
2. I cannot get to sleep for an exceedingly long time if there is too much noise, light or cold. Especially while tenting. However, I can and do sleep in for hours longer than I anticipated if I'm in a room with shutters drawn and no need to embark on an early start the next day.
3. I shouldn't feel bad if I'm in pain, it doesn't make me 'weak' – I should just speak up and rest up. It's better for everyone in the long term.
4. Cats are always going to appear when we open our food. They have a sixth sense for human food detection.
5. Dogs are the scariest thing I've had to face and probably will have to face – I'm no longer afraid of traffic hitting me or riding all day into a head wind but as soon as those bloody barking dogs come at me I turn into a yellow-bellied jelly-head and can't think straight beyond 'get the f*** away from me, dog'.
6. I will feel terrible at least once per day but fortifyingly, it will always pass and there are a hundred times more good feelings to be had ahead.
7. Skype is a godsend. Talking to family and friends face to face as though they're sitting right next to me does wonders for my brain.
8. People think we're nuts for riding bikes… People think we're insane for riding bikes as our holiday… People think we're crazy when we tell them our plans involving the Middle East, Central Asia and anything involving the unknown. I'm used to it now and the more I hear opposition to going places, the more game I feel about travelling there.
9. But, people aren't as surprised at two bike tourers taking up their road as I thought they'd be. We get honks of 'hello' or 'look out' or 'I'm just about to pass you' but never in anger. People are slightly blasé about seeing us ride through their town, we're nothing special! Yet…
10. I now know that I can ride up and down mountains. I know I can ride on snow and ice (and fall of and get back on again). I know that I am slow but steady and that's nothing to be ashamed of when bike touring. I know that…
11. A bike tourer can never drink enough water. An Australian bike tourer can never carry enough water.
12. Meeting someone new is never a wasted experience.
13. Making friends along the road is so rewarding. We've just discovered the ingenunity of CouchSurfing.Org Soon we'll have friends in every country, all over the world!
14. Making movies about bike touring is loads of fun, and it allows me too look back on particularly hard days and completely forget how difficult it was an instead focus on the fun we had.
15. When I get home I don't think I'll want to look at a bike for a while, but then I'll see Vogue and her flashy red frame and I'll jump on her and ride to a familiar place and back again and feel free on the streets of Melbourne.
16. I don't mind wearing the same three sets of clothes day in, day out.
17. I love being able to travel somewhere on my bike and know I don't have to retrace my steps, I'll be in a brand new place and it will become my home until we move to the next one.
18. I hate knowing that if one of my friends of family members is having a hard time back home, I can't just go and see them and be part of helping them get through what they're going through.
19. Coffee makes the world go round. But so does chai…
20. If a destination seems distant, I have a clever trick of breaking it up into familiar chunks of riding: to and from my house to Alex's, from my house to Mordialloc and back…or I use familiar distances and experiences to make things seem closer and more friendly: I think “I've just got to get from Ruby's house back home”, “I'm just riding down Bell Street”, “I'm swinging past Brunswick Street on my way to Melbourne Central” or “oh look, I know that dog! It's Sid, Beats and Steve's dog!”. Mind games work a treat.
21. I know that Alex and I (or Alex, Gabe, Amelie and I, or Alex, Travis, Jordy and I…the list goes on) can whip up delicious and nutritious meals using only two pots and a bit of imaginative initiative. There has never been a time when we have had to go hungry…so far!
22. If I'm with Alex, anywhere feels like home.