I’m Jesse, an itchy footed chap from Sydney Australia. I was happy through my early twenties to live a relatively carefree life, dotted with periods of complete unstructure, hitchhiking in North America and the odd trip to Europe. This has been followed by a very structured professional lifestyle which leaves me aching to leave the city on the weekends. On this site you’ll find collections of thoughts that have come about while riding my bike or hitchhiking in different corners of the world.
My interest in bicycle travel is a long winded one but it’s worth a read. Even now as I write it I’m surprised at how linearly it progressed.
From 2008 to 2010 I lived abroad in Toronto Canada as part of a university exchange program. I recall touching down in a -25ºC blizzard and wondering what I’d gotten myself in to – I was just a kid from Sydney, too used to the balmy Sydney winters and swimming at every opportunity.
As the snow fell each day I was increasingly taken by the place, but the weather and temperature still weren’t enough to pique an interest in bicycles. I’ll credit that interest to a few months down the track, as spring sprung and the cold hustle of inner city Toronto slowly transformed. There was something about the new bulbs immediately visible on the trees that spurred the city into action. The normally silent streets were filled instead with the sounds of skateboards and screeching bicycle brakes, aching for a test after a cold winter in dark basements. The city seemed to come alive and owing to the relatively flat urban environment, I knew that the only real option was to join the masses and find myself a bike.
My cherry red beach cruiser had white wall tyres, laid back handlebars, a single wing mirror and a bell that looked a bit like a teapot. To cap it off it had a sticker on the side reading ‘good vibrations’ and a back pedal brake, which took me right back to the age of 6 – summers spent sliding the back wheel of my bike around the gravel road near the back of a caravan park my family frequented.
The bike opened the city up for me, and while the city became warmer, so too did the people of Toronto. Smiles spread as everyone spoke in earnest of ‘patio’ season, when the bars opened and spilled their seats out into the street for everyone to drink and laugh together. Countless evenings were spent riding around the city, visiting friends, having drinks and enjoying the city; and once Nuit Blanche rolled around, so too did we roll, hip flask in pocket, city our playground and with complete uncertainty where the night would take us. I sold the bike in the winter of 2009 to a girl I’d met in Chicago. The trade was even, she bought me a few beers and promised to listen to me reminisce about riding it, and additionally promised to keep my bike inside and ride her every day – I didn’t need money for the bike, only the comfort of knowing someone else’s experience might match mine.
During the summer of 2009, I packed my few belongings into a backpack and headed eastbound for Nova Scotia to find this famed Eastern Canadian hospitality. It delivered. After a few weeks exploring Nova Scotia I found myself in Newfoundland working for stay on a small hobby farm and dreaming of hiking in the province’s famed Gros Morne National Park. After a few weeks that dream was fully realised and I hitchhiked over to the West Coast of the rock to walk and write until I was bored.
What followed was a summer hitchhiking through some of the most remote parts of Canada, I slept in my tent for months and found myself drinking beers and eating moose stew with the fisherman of small fishing outports while sea yarns were spun. I practiced my french with new found love interests on les Ile de la Madeleine, hiked in the Canadian rockies and found out just how relaxed I could become on Vancouver Island. The experience taught me to slow down, engage and just let things come to me – an attitude that I later learnt was perfect for bicycle touring.
A few years later, I’d travelled a bit more again, seen some of my own country and Europe, and finally decided that a good bicycle tour was in order. New Zealand awaited. A 3 week jaunt down through westland was enough for me to know I was hooked, and I’ve been riding my bike everywhere since.
Along the way my bike has changed, the setup has been refined and I’ve become more self sufficient when I ride. It wasn’t a steep learning curve, it involved a number of trips carrying all sorts of kit I didn’t need. The final result is Rudy, a particularly aggressive looking touring bike that’s taken everything I can throw at it to date.