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Mixed Emotions – Finally on the Road

October 13, 2009

Lord's Pre-departure

Lord's Pre-departure

The past few months have been so full of research and organisational errands, that I have barely had time to consider what I am about to do – indeed, what I have just set out to do. The departure date of 10 October crept up on me, to such an extent that at 11pm the night before the Lord’s launch I had not practiced packing, I had never ridden the bike “fully loaded”, and I had less than 100 songs on my ipod…that’s one song to listen to every four days.

Last week was fantastic. On Tuesday evening I attended the Lord’s Taverners Captain’s Dinner at the Hyde Park Hilton, in honour of the 30 living England Cricket Captains. Twenty of them were there, and I managed to sneak photos with 2 legends of the game: John Edrich and Tom Graveney.

With Chris Tarrant at the Captains' Dinner

With Chris Tarrant at the Captains' Dinner

Chris Tarrant, President of the Taverners, also wandered over and seemed genuinely interested in what I was up to. I managed to get Tony Grieg to autograph my Mongoose too….I stayed off the wine as I had accepted an invitation to talk to the boys at my old school, Caldicott in Farnham Royal, about the trip – at 8.30am the next morning. It was great to go back.

Answering Some Good Questions In Mr Masterman's Class

Answering Some Good Questions In Mr Masterman's Class

I spoke in Assembley and then answered questions in a couple of classes afterwards: What happens if your bike gets stolen? Why are cricket bats made out of wood? Were you good at cricket when you were younger? All good questions, and I am still pondering the answers. I hope they enjoy following my progress, and I look forward to going back with a few more stories up my sleeve when I get back in 15 months time. 

My leaving party was on Thursday and all I need to say is thank you to all my friends who made it so special. It was a night I won’t forget, not least because of the 400 photos someone managed to take with my camera – well done whoever you are.

After a family meal and a good night’s sleep on Friday evening, launch day arrived. As I stirred and enjoyed the last few moments in my own bed for over a year, I wanted nothing more than to hide under my duvet and pretend that I had woken to just another day. It was a strange feeling. Having spent the last few years dreaming of a time when I wouldn’t know what the next day, week or month held in store, for those few minutes I wanted stability and normality. Had I really arranged for sponsors, media and friends and family to come to see me off as I began cycling around the world? Why on earth had I decided to do something as stupid as try to cycle around the world? If indeed I was to leave on this unbelievable adventure, I certainly wanted to pedal off quietly, and without a fuss. I contemplated another “last” as I got into a nice warm shower. It was all too much to take in and I had to sit down for a while to think, for the first time in weeks, about what I was actually doing. I kept reminding myself of something I had read recently: “It doesn’t have to be fun, to be fun.”

My mood improved as Dad and I drove to Lord’s. We both commented what a beautiful morning it was. By the time we arrived, it had clouded over and begun raining. Within five minutes of arriving, I stood on the Nursery Ground at Lord’s, waiting for my Sky News interview to go live. As they began to introduce me live on air, the ear piece fell out onto the ground and I panicked.  I still haven’t seen the footage, but wouldn’t be surprised if the first few seconds are of me scrabbling around trying to gather the ear piece.

Second Day Lunch Break - Painters Forstall, Kent
The Survivors! Second Day Lunch Break – Painters Forstall, Kent

The rest of the launch went smoothly enough and my thanks go to all who helped arrange it, and especially the MCC who presented me with a replica Ashes urn that I shall pedal all the way to The Gabba. After a tearful first farewell, I was away, cycling down to Dover with 17 friends, and not to Australia on my own.

The last few weeks have been some of the best of my life. I have met childhood heroes, I have got used to being interviewed, I have spoken to a school, I have received important support and encouragement from companies and individuals keen to invest in this adventure. I have cried a bit and laughed a lot. I have realised how much my friends mean to me. At times I have been scared and apprehensive, at others excited and relaxed. I have to pinch myself that I am actually cycling to Australia. I expect most of the next year to be fun – that is part of the reason I am doing it! But plenty of it won’t be. Leaving my family and friends at Dover was probably the least fun thing I’ve ever done, and yet the promise of what lies ahead encourages me. Part of the fun will come with achievement – as I sat on the ferry and stared out to sea in those first few minutes alone, I realised that.

** I am playing catch up with my blog. In the last few days I have cycled with friends from London to Dover, and cycled solo from Dunkerque to Ypres. I was given two carrots and an apple yesterday, and 4000 songs for my ipod today. It’s been a great start to a daunting and exciting trip…..more to follow in the next blog entry, hopefully within a couple of days. For now though, it’s an early night in preparation for my cycle to Ghent tomorrow. Please do let me have feedback on the blog entries, so I can improve. Thank you!

23 Comments leave one →
  1. October 14, 2009 7:40 am

    Still can’t believe you’re doing it but I’m only jealous!! It’s going to be the most awesome experience including some bloody awful times and some truly incredible times.

    Just remember through it all though, the main thing is the Ashes. If you can’t bring them back with you, you have to cycle home again!!

  2. Mark Whitworth permalink
    October 14, 2009 9:05 am

    Hi mate,

    Such a great idea and can only wish i might be able to join you for part it over the coming year.

    Apologies for not making it to the leaving party but trust the evening was a classic.

    Will be reviewing your blog regularly so keep us updated.

    Very jealous but best of luck on your travels.



  3. Brian permalink
    October 14, 2009 9:50 am

    Fantastic, trying to blog and cycle could prove a bit tricky.
    But will be fascinating to read.
    Looking foreward to more insights from the saddle.

  4. October 14, 2009 11:37 am

    Congratulations on getting your dream under way and I hope you have a fantastic trip. I’ll enjoy following it. I especially like the route through Africa and I’ll be interested to see how your Asian leg goes.

  5. James Welbourn permalink
    October 14, 2009 1:11 pm

    Good luck with it all! Let me know how sore you get, as I am attempting a slightly shorter Lands End to John O’Groats trip next summer, and would appreciate saddle advice!

  6. Katie permalink
    October 14, 2009 1:54 pm

    Loving your writing, it made me misty eyed…..keep us updated, I’m so excited to see what the future holds for you over the next year x

  7. James Townsend-Rose permalink
    October 14, 2009 3:15 pm


    Great news that you are safely on your way. Good luck over the next couple of weeks. we will be hot on your heels in Jan but i think you will have left Kenya by the time we get there. Will write again soon.

    Hope all well,


  8. Will permalink
    October 14, 2009 4:09 pm

    Awesome stuff Oli – keep it up!

  9. Gee permalink
    October 14, 2009 6:55 pm


  10. Michael Barnett permalink
    October 14, 2009 7:02 pm

    Blog reads well.

    When during the trip things start to get a little hard just think of those people that told you you wont do it, show them you can and think about that next game of cricket on your tour.

  11. Gareth Berry permalink
    October 14, 2009 7:13 pm

    As your adventure entails two of my favourite hobbies; cricket and riding, (not in the way you’re thinking), I just wanted to wish you all the best in your quest! I think it’s amazing what you’re about to undertake and even if you get eaten by wild dogs along the way, at least you had a go!!

    I’ve been quite tempted in recent days to get the Raleigh Grifter out the shed, remove the playing card from the back spokes, and come and join you on your epic adventure!

    Good luck to you, your bike, and your nether regions!


    Gareth from Wales!!

  12. Andy Baker permalink
    October 14, 2009 9:17 pm

    Well done Oli. Everyone at Caldicott very interested in how you are getting on and hope you are working your way through your IPod.

  13. Nick Bellingham permalink
    October 15, 2009 10:04 am

    Wishing you the very best of luck Olie, my friends & I are cricket fans from Kent and we’re following your progress every day with a mixture of admiration & jealousy (that you have the Guts to do this alone!) , glad that you travelled through our county at the start of your journey. We are behind you all tha way!

  14. Max Southall permalink
    October 16, 2009 10:52 am

    My God he’s only gone and done it. I was lucky enough to have Olly as a housemate for a year or so until this January, when he, shrouded in secrecy, moved out to start saving money for this trip. I have to say I knew he had it in him to do something but what you’ve acheived with CTTA is quite phenomenal. I wish you the best of luck mate, the send off on Saturday was awesome and I’ll be in regular contact checking your progress throughout the adventure.


    • Satie Macca permalink
      November 3, 2009 5:27 pm

      HI MAXIE!!!!

      Peahead your blog makes me want to cry!! Benji and Polly would be proud.


  15. Hilary Dowling permalink
    October 16, 2009 10:52 am

    Hi Oli
    Great blog – have just read in Marlow Free Press that you had your lights removed!! Is that to be in the next episode? Just so you know, you are still featured in the local papers – with blog address etc. Hope those ‘spindly legs’ are feeling good.

  16. October 17, 2009 3:03 pm

    Hi Oli, You’ve already done most of the hard part – leaving for a big trip is never easy. Good luck out there on the road. Will be following your progress. All the best, Peter

  17. Jan McRae permalink
    October 18, 2009 10:13 am

    Dear Oli,
    Thankyou so much for making time to visit the British School of Brussels. My son Cameron (Aussie) had time with you in the Nets and was thrilled to have met you and contemplated what you are doing – although your idea of England going 1-0 at the Gabba was disputed….
    Very best wishes, McRae Family, Tervuren, Belgium

  18. Hannah Durden permalink
    October 19, 2009 10:43 am

    Olly – best of luck on your trip. Spotted some of the coverage in the Telegraph / on Sky. I, for one, am downright jealous that you’ve had the balls (no pun intended) to do this – beats sitting at a desk any day and makes my 8 mile commute into work seem like a piece of pi*s!

    Enjoy every second.


    ps Trying to follow you on twitter but link from your www doesn’t seem to work and when you search for ‘olly broom’ or ‘cycle to the ashes’ nothing comes up…. any ideas?

    • October 19, 2009 11:04 am

      hi hannah thanks for the message, I hope you enjoy following it – right twitter, youve made me realise that i hadnt updated my website when i changed my twitter nqle. if you search for cyclingtoashes or oli broom youll find me…..thanks for that!!! keep in touch, Oli x

  19. James Colver permalink
    October 19, 2009 1:10 pm

    Hi Oli,

    I don’t know you personally but I came across your trip through a friends facebook status who was wishing you luck. (David Strachan). I think what you are doing is fantastic and I am now a regular follower of your blog and site. I am so jealous of the experiences and troubles that you will have in the coming months and I just wanted to wish you the best of luck. I am off to have a hot shower which I will not take for granted.

    Cheers, James

  20. Jane Curle permalink
    October 23, 2009 1:06 pm

    Just read about your exciting adventure in the Amersham Life and wanted to wish you lots of luck, fun and new experiences. You are an inspiration to show dreams can become reality. Look forward to following your adventures, pedal hard and laugh lots.

  21. Charlie easton permalink
    October 26, 2009 9:56 pm

    Good luck pal, can’t wait to read about all the adventures.


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