Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Caveat Emptor

It's now out in the public domain that we're doing this ride. We've handed in our notice for December 2020 and started telling people what our plans are.

I can barely contain my excitement, but the response from others has been mixed. Some, as you'd expect, aren't that interested (and I'm conscious of not wanting to become a cycle bore); some, usually cyclists themselves, are thrilled and a little jealous; but a good number are terrified and think we're mad.

Quite apart from the very real chance that COVID-19 might put paid to all our plans, there are a good number of people - Thais in particular - who think that cycling is just plain dangerous. A colleague pointed me to the 2015 death of a Chilean round-the-world the world cyclist. And also to the death of a South Korean cyclist. Both of these tragic accidents happened in Thailand. Then, with only a few clicks, I found myself reading the harrowing tale of a British couple - doing exactly what we plan to do in reverse - who were killed on a Thai road.

There's no doubt that Thai roads are dangerous - some of the most dangerous in the world in fact.  As cyclists, however careful we are, we will be at the mercy of other road users.

I don't want to die on this trip, and I don't want Jo to die either(!) We will do what we can to minimise the risks, but we still want to do the ride. One of the motivating factors is being able to shed, for a few precious months, the suffocating bonds of bureaucracy and to be free. If anything, in the rich world, health and safety has gone too far. People live in a perpetual state of terror, wasting untold amounts of money to try and buy their safety.

Our risk of dying - even in Thailand - in a road accident is small. If we're unlucky, at least we'll have shuffled off the mortal coil with the wind in our hair and a smile on our faces. The blog of Mary Thompson and Peter Root - still online at the time of writing - is a testament to lives well-lived, if cut cruelly short.

We'll be careful, but we won't be writing risk-assessments, nor asking for permission. That would defeat the whole purpose.