Enjoying a celebratory coconut at cape Comora, India's most Southerly point.
That's it. I'm now in Sri Lanka, with a connecting flight booked back to the UK in three days time. The last day of cycling was a long one – 120k from just North of Thiruvananthapurum (Trivandrum) and as the final kilo ticked over it was, perhaps inevitably, a bit of an anti-climax; just another day in the saddle. As I counted down the kilo's it was quite unreal to think that these were the last few pedal strokes of what has been, though I say it myself, an epic journey. I've ridden in 17 countries and pedalled just over 11,000 kilos. I've crossed six mountain ranges and along the coast of six seas and two oceans. I've pedalled through, forests, deserts and jungles, through fields of potatoes, wheat, rice, bananas, walnuts, apples, pears, maize and god only knows what else. I've pedalled plateaus, crossed high passes at over 2500m, and at 20m below sea level alongside the Caspian. I've cycled in temperatures ranging from minus 10 to plus 40. I've battled wind, rain, snow, sleet, sandstorms, dehydration, exhaustion and wild dogs. I've been constantly amazed by the generosity and kindness of people who i've encountered and, apart from the bastards who stole my bike outside Istanbul, haven't encountered any maliciousness towards me at all. I've slept vacant apartments, in spare rooms, on sofas, in hotels, guest houses, hostels and boarding lodges; in campsites, at the roadside, in fields, under bridges, by railway lines (that was a mistake!), in the desert, in the woods, on wasteland, in graveyards and in peoples gardens and porches. I've washed in seas, oceans, rivers, lakes, ponds, irrigation channels, drainage ditches and had the occasional shower. I've strained my back and my hamstring, lost the feeling in my hands up to my elbows on a long descent in Turkey and the feeling in my toes on a cold night in Iran. I've gone for days without having a conversation with another human being and been mobbed by welcoming faces when I've finally pedalled into a town. I've encountered a rich menagerie of road kill, from rabbits, cats and dogs, to monitor lizards, snakes, sheep, goats, cows and many more besides. The range of "fuel" i've used has been glorious in its diversity; to miss-quote the hungry cyclist the combination of gears and gastronomy is a truly great one. I've thought long and hard about the country who's food iv'e enjoyed the most, but ultimately been unable to make a judgement. Other than eliminating Iran, Turkey and Albania (kebab is all well and good – but every day it's a bit much), it's difficult to pick a favourite. France, Italy, Greece, Georgia and India are all strong contenders. I'm going to do some further analysis on the money I've spent, but I've managed, over the whole trip at least, if not day-by-day, to keep within my anticipated budget.
So, that's it. This time tomorrow i'll be starting to head towards to airport...