Dated: 17 MAY 18
Thomas Groothuizen, 24 years of age, 5 foot average inches, New Zealander. We had been in contact online, talking at first, such talk eventually led to us getting together. Tom had left Istanbul a few days before him and arrogantly I told him that I would catch up so he offered to buy me a drink if we met. Then whilst camping in the town of Samsung on the Turkish coast in pulls Tom, indebted beer in hand; its even cold, good lad!
He is on a similar undertaking to me after having cycled the Americas, Africa and now Asia; though he did take a time out, for he met a Swedish bird and scarpered off to Scandinavia for a year or so. But now the part timer is back o the road to finish what he has started. I get the impression that he is the sort of chap that always lands on his feet, he even got the beautiful girl. I don’t have time for such antics!
His bike is as lean as he is, he has almost nothing but everything necessary; I’m a tad self conscious of all the junk in my trunk. Every cyclist that I’ve met who has been on the road for the long haul has had a similar rig to Tom, they shed every creature comfort whilst seemingly having all the comforts that I have in my baggage. I will have to wait and see what I’m like after a few years on the road.
We decide to take baby steps at first to see if we are compatible and do a short day for starters. With his student esk beard and fluffy hair Tom could be said to be scruffy, add into the mix his well loved cycling attire and scruffy definitely springs to mind. But he can pull it off. Me for, gone are the views of the long and open road, in its place is Toms behind. If I were his mother I would take him by the ear and march him straight down to Marks and Sparks for some new underwear; for his oil stained shorts are hanging off him to reveal the over stretched elastic of a pair of well worn undies.
A jack of all trades Tom left school at just 16, not long after he left NZ and over the last six years has popped back just the once. His poor mother. On occasion I can notice our modest age gap but he is a mature and as cheesy as it sounds, a worldly individual. Though I would hazard a guess that he probably doesn’t eat either fish or mushrooms, a potentially fussy eater, he may surprise me. He is an interesting chap to, he has hand built a traditional Scandinavian canvas kayak and taken it for a splash in Norway; cycled the world; worked on a equestrian farm; he plans to ride Mongolian ponies across the steppe at the end of his cycling endeavour; he is a dab hand with a sewing machine too which is apparent in his hand bike bags and his plan at the minute when he finishes up with cycling and horse riding is to go and train as a sea kayaking instructor in Cornwall.
If he were a character from The Wind and the Willows he would be Ratty. Now you might think likening Tom to a rodent is a discourtesy but I beg to differ. Bare with me one moment; firstly Tom has a flock of shaggy mouse brown hair, or should I say rat brown hair and his beard could be said to be whiskers like but secondly Ratty is a respectable fixture of the river community as is Tom on the touring scene. Ratty shows Mole the ropes of river life – In this scenario I would have to be Mole; I’m new to the global road just as Mole is to the river. Tom is on his final leg of a world tour and is a wealth of little tip bits of knowledge for countless places that I am going, I should take notes and I’m hoping he is a dab hand at bike maintenance to. And finally just like Ratty Tom is a good host rustling up a fresh pot of coffee in the mornings in which I awake him, arguably to early.
Unlike Ratty however Tom could be said to be a touch cynical. But having said that he is always eager to chat to the locals and share a laugh or to which is why his some what bleak opinion of his experience in African is surprising. He fell out of love with Africa, where as I had a great time being welcomed by the people and invited into their homes he did not. Stones were thrown by both parties by the sound of it and a few stiff words exchanged. Africa can be an over whelming place on a bike with no escape for some time by yourself. I was there for a little over three months and I felt the squeeze but Tom was there a considerable time longer and was glad to leave by the end.
We have teamed up for a time with the aim of crossing the Caspian Sea together at the very least. Our routes follow one another’s until Kyrgyzstan and on a similar time schedule to boot. It will be really awkward if we part ways but keep cycling into one another over the next few months. Time will tell. But Tom has one major and almost unforgivable flaw working against him, he is not a dog person. He literally detests them (or is secretly uncomfortable around them (scared)). But at least he isn’t a cat person either.