Cycling the world means you stop living life with loved ones and start living life with strangers.
Being surrounded by strangers is not a new experience for me. At 16 years old life was giving me a hammering and I was in foster care being looked after by strangers. I spent more time contemplating suicide than I did doing my homework.
I ran away from foster care and although I was homeless I clung on to dreams of university and tried very hard to go to school.
But being homeless won. Being vulnerable won.
Being 16 years old with no life experience won.
I find it amusing in interviews when I’m asked about the dangers of cycling the world on my own. Nothing has ever come close to how dangerous Scotland was for someone like me. Luckily there’s a lot more support in place now for care leavers but we still have a long way to go.
Before reaching the age of 21 I made the decision to take control, stop wishing I was dead and commit myself to living. Once I made this decision I excelled. I studied Holistic Therapies and Stress Management and headed to Australia. In total I spent 6 years having the most incredible adventures around the world. I did settle for some years and when I did I became one of the fastest female sprinters in both Scotland and Iran.
I was always determined not to allow my past to dictate my future but I struggled with my relationships. They held little value whilst I pursued personal achievements.
Difficulties in forming attachments and maintaining healthy relationships is a common consequence for those of us who have experience of being in foster or residential care.
Little did I know that an adventure around the world on my bicycle would be the remedy.
A street dog called Lucy and her unconditional love set me free.
‘Lucy smashed the wall around my heart with her tail wagging and her eyes loving and I don’t want to build that wall again.’
Lucy changed EVERYTHING and once my heart operated from love rather than fear the people in my life responded in the most incredible way. Skype is now every bit as important a tool for cycling the world as my bicycle is. There has even been the occasional wine night – talking nonsense, putting the world to right and hangovers 8000 miles apart made possible by Skype.
My relationships are so important that every year cycling the world I return home for a couple of months.
Inspiring care leavers is an important part of what I do now and I’m only a Google click away to show that life can be more amazing than you could ever imagine.
In December I’m delighted to be attending a care leavers event in Birmingham organised by:
[ilink url=”http://www.reesfoundation.org/”]Rees – The Care Leavers Foundation [/ilink]
On the 24th November I turned 36 years of age and I arrived to Scotland just in time to celebrate with my human clan!
The photos below show the biggest accomplishment of my life!
I’m a care leaver and I am absolutely nailing my personal relationships!
As a result my world is filled with love all around me. And it feels awesome!
Thank you to the amazing people who make up my life! xxx
Ishbel, creator of World Bike Girl, has spent her life on bicycles, from road racing, to velodrome sprinting to cycling the world. She has pedalled across 20 countries solo and promotes commuting by bicycle. Much to the dismay of her friends, she is an avid wearer of socks and sandals.