Travellers' Tales: Virtual world tour

Frank Burns exercised locally last winter – but not in his head

The advertising world is awash with advice on how you can do everything ‘from the comfort of your own home’. We cyclists are slowly being persuaded that we can live a full and rewarding cycling experience without ever stepping over the threshold. Is that true? Do I hear you shouting at the page?

In my own struggle to stave off the ‘virtual enemy’, I have tricked myself into believing that, without ever straying more than 50km from my own front door, I can actually tour the world by cycling my local lanes. Starting in ‘Paris’, I have virtually passed through Istanbul, Tehran, Karachi and, after 8,000km, I’m currently in Mumbai. All of this without ever needing visas, having my bags checked, dicing with dodgy street food, nor sleeping in river drains – the very ingredients that make adventure cycling ‘adventurous’, and thus create the stories that become the clickbait of social media. 

The world is not interested in seeing me holding a glass of wine while I gaze at a crimson sunset. No, they would much rather hear of me sitting miserably in my tent during a thunderstorm and cutting my finger on the sharp edge of a sardine can. For some dark reason, we all have a tendency of taking consolation in the misery of others, better known as the syndrome of ‘There but for the grace of God…’

The solace that I now feel on a wet December day in England is that I can arrive virtually in Mumbai during the dry season, where the temperature is 30ºC, the sun is shining in a cloudless sky, and I am assured of at least 11 hours of daylight.