After reaching Barcelona where I spent a couple of nights reunited with my Mum who had come out to visit, I headed north out of the city towards Andorra which sits up in the Pyrenees.  I'd love to say that my choice of route was to allow me to conquer Port d'Envalira, the highest sealed road in the Pyrenees, where many riders competing in the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana have toiled towards the summit.  I'd also love to say that my choice of hostel in Andorra halfway up a mountainside which I'd have to descend again in the morning before climbing up to the mountain pass was chosen to give me beautiful views overlooking the capital.  However it was just 'luck' that allowed me to 'enjoy' these things as I only spent five minutes looking at a map and less time searching for a hostel, not looking to see where exactly it was located.  It's fair to say I'd become a little complacent about my ability to easily ride anywhere a road dared to lead me.  The climbs were not the most difficult I've encountered on my trip but since Morocco I've struggled a little with illness leaving me lacking energy and spluttering up the road above the ski slopes to its snowy summit.  

With great relief I could sit on my bike throughout the rest of the day, peeling off layers as the air rushing past me gradually became warmer up as I descended for many miles to my campsite for the night just outside Toulouse.  From there I could spend the next day and a half following the cycle track that runs along the tow path of the Canal des Deux Mers.  Some flat, easy riding to Bordeaux, away from traffic and with some nice scenery.  Perfect I thought.  That was until I was stopped by an old French fellow who stood at the side of the canal.  He spoke good English and started asking me about my trip.  He seemed very interested but to my horror after a few minutes I felt his hand where it definitely shouldn't be.  After removing it as quickly as possible I got straight onto my bike and rode away as fast as my legs could take me.  Looking back now I really should have gone to the Gendarmerie and shown them on a teddy bear where he touched me as I expect he just hangs round along the canal waiting for unsuspecting people in lycra to prey upon.  The rest of the ride along the canal I felt a little uncomfortable and I was very glad to arrive in Bordeaux to meet up with my friend Daisy where the nasty old Frenchman couldn't get me.

After a few more days eating cheese and numerous packets of Lidl's pain au chocolat as I made my way up through Northern France, I arrived in Roscoff not really believing that I was just a few hours away from England.  I expected to feel a bit emotional when I first viewed the green hills of England as the ferry approached Plymouth but I just encountered feelings of tiredness and a craving for fish & chips which I rushed to satisfy as soon as I'd dropped my bike off at the hostel.  It was so nice to walk through the old British streets, to see the Queen's face on the crisp £10 note I'd just withdrawn from the cash machine outside the Co-op and to feel the grease of the chips on my fingers, but the thing that struck me most was that everyone spoke with a British accent.  It was music to my ears.  In the morning after a full English breakfast I set off across Dartmoor to weave between the sheep and ponies that wander across the roads, as I started the final couple of days riding to Calne, Wiltshire where I would complete my circumnavigation as it would be the first point that I had passed through twice on my trip (except following the odd wrong turn of course).  A stop with family just outside Exeter and an evening reunited with my cycling chums Chris & Lucy, who loyal readers may remember kept me company through some of China and Vietnam, led me to the start of my last morning as a mere mortal who hasn't cycled round the world.  That was all to change as I set off along the final 60km to become the first person to ever complete a journey around the world on a bicycle in Calne.  An achievement worthy of mention in the local paper who sent a photographer out in force.  Who knows, they may even one day erect a statue of me next to the pigs outside the Coral bookmakers.  I was fortunate to have Josh Simpson with me for company from Bristol and a few more familiar faces for the last few miles along the old railway line from Chippenham.  It turned out to be a very strange day as it felt like I was just riding home from a night away in Bristol but I was really glad to be able to share it with family and friends.  Its strange, I spent two years looking forward to this moment and now all of a sudden it has past.

Life seems to have changed dramatically for me since I arrived home.  There is a comfortable bed to sleep in upstairs, family and friends nearby to socialise with and a packet of chocolate Hobnobs in the cupboard.  My bicycle was wheeled into the garage four days ago and hasn't been looked at since and my lycra has had its turn in the washing machine and sits nicely folded away in the spare room.  I switch on the TV and unfamiliar faces tell me the news and others what I should be buying to make my life better.  I meet up with friends and have to ask them what is happening in the football while they all consult their smart phones as news of Swindon's play-off exit comes through over the news feeds, my slightly dated Nokia X2 not-so-smart-phone remaining firmly in my pocket as it rejoins a world in which it no longer belongs and is unable to keep up.  Until four days ago life was simple.  I just had to sit on my bicycle and every pedal stroke brought me gradually closer to my goal.  Now it's time to set new goals, to enjoy the things I've missed over the past two years and to find the next path to bring purpose and excitement to life (and a short course in popular culture 2011-2013 will probably be required to help keep me 'down with the kids').  But first there is the small matter of completing my journey, for although I have completed the circumnavigation, I have not yet returned to the place where it all started.  So before my bike has time to gather dust and my lycra to become too tight, I will set off for the last section up to Aberdeen.  So fear not, there will be a few more capers to come before this site starts to gather dust tucked away somewhere on the world wide web until the next adventure begins...