My name is Astrid Domingo Molyneux. I celebrated my 50th birthday in 2006 and announced then that I was going to be cycling around the world at some time in the future. I have to admit that I hadn't quite anticipated it to be the near, rather than the distant, future, but the trouble with announcing something publicly is that events can start snowballing before you are necessarily aware of the fact.
The idea to do this cycle trip came as a direct consequence of reading a certain book (A Bike Ride by Anne Mustoe), which I had picked up in an Oxfam shop in September 2005. So, beware: charity shops can seriously damage your comfort zone. Truly, though, it was an inspirational read. Anne herself had spawned the idea of her ride whilst she was on a train during a trip to India and saw a lone European cyclist crossing the Great Thar desert. She had an ah-ha moment and realised that was the only way to see the world in a meaningful way.
I am still not quite sure how it came about that, 6 months after my announcement, I decided to go on my trip the following year! I had tentatively asked at work if there was any chance of a career break (after all, someone else had been granted a 3-month one). Surprisingly. the response to my 27-month break request was positive. How could I not then go ahead?! So, thanks to the Centre for Deaf Studies at Bristol University, I had now no excuses (did I ever want one?) to go off cycling. Oh, joy. ..... Oh, crumbs!
Here I was, then, about to leave behind my 2 children (they are grown up, I hasten to add), family and friends and head off on my little excursion for a couple of years.
I guess it's the usual thing of wanting a challenge and trying to find myself, that had caused this decision. Let's face it, everyone has their own way of doing such things. OK, so it might be more of a challenge than I had initially thought, but, I was going on the premise that God does not test us beyond our capability! How's that for faith? Especially after some of the accounts I've read of other people's adventures. Talking of which, Alastair Humphreys springs to mind, as one whose own story would have put me off, if I'd not already fixed in my mind that I was going. His trip just confirmed that I was right not to go anywhere near the route he ended up doing. :-) Having said that, he himself is a great guy; read his books. Amongst others, I read Pam Goodall's book, Riding It Out, of her bike trip round the world and met up with her for an extended lunch (we ladies know how to lunch) and a really encouraging chat about her travels. Also, Chris Smith's vivid description of his trip from Worcester, UK, to Beijing, China is pretty inspiring.