I cycled almost 40,000 kilometres across 32 countries and four continents in 393 days facing challenges along the way including mechanical problems, harsh weather conditions and even terrorism on the Afghan border. But in the Manipur region of India, every time I stopped, I was surrounded by men and children who were sometimes unzipping my bags and trying to take my things and at other times, just seeking a photo. Smiling and being patient was the only way to deal with this.
As soon as I crossed the border from India to Nepal, I was overcome with a feeling of contentment. I rode into the serene foothills of the magnificent Himalayas, the culture, religion and communities filled me with a sense of happiness and tranquility which I'd never experienced before. The entire country radiated an aura of peace. I discovered mountains can calm the mind.
Standing in the bay of Lisbon after finishing my 12,000-kilometre leg across Central Asia and Europe, I felt very proud. Up until that moment, I had avoided letting the enormity of what I had embarked on sink in. Cherishing my beer by the harbour, I let that moment be mine. So proud.
In the remotest corners of the world that I traversed, people who had very little gave me so much. It appeared to me that they were the happiest people I had ever met. Love and gratitude for the simplest of things was best demonstrated by a family in Kyrgyzstan who invited me, a stranger, into their yurt. Travelling onwards, I found joy resting on a park bench or when the scent of the ocean drifted over me and even when I was wearing the same shirt for ages, I was grateful for what I had.
Being humble is what my entire journey was about. I cycled around the world for me, not for that Instagram photo or to win a title – I did it for me. Staying humble kept the meaning of my ride true; after all, I love to ride my bike and I just wanted to see the world.
Adelaide-born Jimmy Ashby was 18 when he did his epic around-the-world-ride in 2018, raising money for the cause of finding a cure for motor neuron disease. See jimmyashbyaroundtheworldbybike.com