Paperback: 324 pages

Publisher: Eye Books; 5th Revised edition edition (24 Mar. 2014)

ISBN-13: 978-1903070833

Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 3 cm

Discovery Road

Andy Brown & Tim Garratt

£7.99

“Readers will be inspired to reach out and follow their own dreams.”

Sir Ranulph Fiennes

Discovery Road tells the story of Andy Brown and Tim Garratt and their exploits as the cycle around the world in a year. It is a proper expedition, ‘different and difficult; none of this catching buses and pushing bikes up hills rubbish,’ and hailed as an inspiration to the many who have subsequently done the same.

They traverse the vast deserts of Australia, battling their monotony. Next are the dangerous bushlands of Africa, but with it the charm of the people and enjoyment in local life.

Finally the awesome Andes of South America, the continent where they had been assured they would meet their doom.

Extracts

You blokes are not Greens, are yer?’ an aggressive red-faced man challenged. ‘Coz if yers are, we’ll have to beat the sh*t outta ya and ask yers to leave!’

I had just walked into the gloomy spit and sawdust bar of the Gum Tree Hotel in timber town, Orbost, closely followed by Andy and Suzanne. After two weeks on the

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Extracts

You blokes are not Greens, are yer?’ an aggressive red-faced man challenged. ‘Coz if yers are, we’ll have to beat the sh*t outta ya and ask yers to leave!’

I had just walked into the gloomy spit and sawdust bar of the Gum Tree Hotel in timber town, Orbost, closely followed by Andy and Suzanne. After two weeks on the road we had just crossed the Great Dividing Range which runs for two and a half thousand kilometres from the northeast tip of Australia all the way down to Victoria in the southeast. This range divides the fertile eastern coastal strip from the barren desert lands of the interior. Early convicts believed, to the west of the range lay China.

We had camped in a gum tree forest the previous night and crossed from New South Wales into Victoria early that morning. It had been another day of sodden pedalling in heavy rain. A warm, friendly bar had seemed a good idea. I was beginning to think we may just have picked the wrong one. I quickly realised we looked out of place in our green and blue Goretex jackets. The rugged-looking men at the counter were dressed in an assortment of jeans, T-shirts and donkey jackets. The atmosphere was not friendly. We were a welcome distraction for these locals and they obviously sensed the chance of some entertainment at our expense. My new-found buddy thrust his beery face within inches of mine, giving me the full pleasure of his buffalo breath.

‘And another thing, mate, we have two rules in this here bar – no poofters, no sheilas (women) and no Greens!’ He leered at Suzanne then turned to wink at his mates, propping each other up at the end of the bar. ‘What do you blokes say?’ He looked for support.

‘That’s three rules, Wal,’ one of his mates corrected him.

‘No poofters yeah, but we don’t mind sheilas, Wal,’ another added.

Before long there was a full-scale debate going on concerning the rules of the bar. We were soon forgotten; left to sup our beers.

The local lads loosened up a little when they found out we were cyclists.

‘Why didn’t you say you were Pommie cyclists when you came in? We thought you was Greens in those fancy rain jackets.’

My red faced friend was all hospitality now. ‘So we won’t have to beat the shit outta yers after all!’

We agreed this was jolly decent of them and we all became instant buddies. It turned out ‘Greens’ were environmentalists who had been putting great pressure on the government to reduce logging operations in this part of Victoria.

‘Thing is Orbost is a timber town, always has been,’ one of the drinkers told me. ‘We depend on the timber to put grub in our kids’ bellies. Then these bloody city slickers, arsehole Greens stick their noses in where they don’t belong and before yer know it the bastard government has cut the bloody quotas!’

It was easy to see why these men were so hostile. Their livelihoods were on the line. The drinker took a large sup from his glass, wiped froth from his mouth with the back of his hand before continuing. ‘Timber quotas have been cut to shit over the last ten years. Most of the yards round here are dead. All the blokes who worked the trees are shit outta luck. No timber, no job – it’s a real pisser!’

We stood at the bar with these rugged timber men and discussed their woes long into the night. It was clear that Orbost, along with many of the surrounding towns, was dying a slow, inevitable death. We could see both sides of the problem. On the one hand I was with the so-called Greens, after all the forests had taken hundreds of years to grow and were being decimated to produce wood-chip for Japan. It must surely be in everyone’s interest to look after the natural resources of the planet for the well-being of the present population and the future of generations to come. What we had here, however, was the practical reality of implementing an effective long-term environmental policy. In theory, it is fine. With careful management and a reduction in timber quotas deforestation can be drastically reduced and, eventually, turned around. Unfortunately, if you happen to depend on the timber trade for your livelihood then the reality of these policies is unemployment, poverty and the destruction of whole communities.

The Great Ocean Road hugs the southwest coast of Victoria. It is a thin, grey ribbon winding west from Melbourne for three hundred kilometres to the beaches of Warnambool. The project, completed in 1932, was devised by the government to provide work for demobbed soldiers, back home after the Great War.

During the second week of September the weather improved as we pedalled west, past white surfing beaches, climbed steep cliffs and dropped down again to cross gushing creeks which flowed out of dense forest. The road was made for cycling, never flat, always twisting and turning, climbing and falling through lush forest. We dropped down to deserted beaches, some of grey pebble, others of clean, white sand. There was a constant rumble and crash of the sea. At times it was difficult to make out the road ahead as surf-spray mingled with mist rolling off the forest. This was a time of pleasant cycling, we felt slightly disappointed that it was not a little more physically demanding, but it was a good warm-up for the rigours of the Nullarbor Plain to come.

In Apollo Bay we came across Keith, a burly triathlete, who had just finished a fifty-kilometre training run. He was in his mid-twenties with a youthful tanned face, a gringo moustache and cropped black hair. He sported a pair of star-spangled running shorts and was pulling on a clean, white sweat shirt that read: ‘Wind surfers do it standing up’. We chatted for a while and told him about our trip.

‘Good on yer, blokes,’ he said, his face dripping sweat.

‘So you’re going to pedal across the Nullarbor?’ said Keith.

‘That’s right. We hear it’s going to be tough,’ Suzanne answered.

He nodded. ‘Could be. There was a girl who ran the Nullarbor last year. She was doing about forty k a day with a back-up vehicle and it took her five weeks.’

‘That takes some doing,’ said Suzanne. ‘What about yourself? You’re lucky to have such a lovely place to do your training.’

‘Yeah, but if you want to see the most beautiful place in Victoria,’ he said, ‘take a detour from here up Wild Dog Road onto Turton’s Track.’

‘Thanks for the advice,’ said Suzanne.

‘No worries.’

‘Where are you going now?’ I asked.

‘I think I’ll go home, pick up the bike do a few k’s and maybe get a bit of swimming in later. See yer around.’

‘Yeah, nice meeting you,’ said Andy. ‘Good luck with your training.’

We got back on the bikes and rode off. Andy looked at me,

‘Jeez, who was that guy?’

We took Keith’s advice and followed Wild Dog Road inland. We soon found ourselves in a different world, a hidden green valley with steep sides. The road took us up the side of the valley and soon became a rough track covered in loose stones. I stopped the bike to rest and looked down into what could have been a typical Welsh scene, a meandering river with sheep dotted amongst green pastures. We ignored a ‘Road Closed’ sign – ‘Surely they can’t mean us,’ I thought, ‘we’re on mountain bikes!’

I muscled the bike up and up in a low gear, under the warm morning sun and rounded a bend to find Andy off his bike, standing in front of what looked like orange quicksand. We were faced with a landslide. The sandy hillside, waterlogged by days of continuous rain, had finally given up, depositing many tons of sand and mud across the road for a distance of one hundred metres.

‘It’s alright,’ Andy assured us, ever the optimist. ‘Only a bit of sand, we’ll be across this in no time.’ He stepped out positively and sank up to his knees in sucking orange mud. ‘Ah, well maybe there is another way around.’

Even Andy knew when he was licked! We retraced the road back down the valley and, eventually, strained and panted our way up a small side road, climbing even more steeply than before. The landslide was soon skirted and we continued to climb gently through thick gum tree forest for the rest of the morning. The track levelled out, enabling us to cruise along easily. I was in the middle of a pleasant daydream about a big, juicy sirloin steak, with pepper sauce, washed down with a couple of ice-cold beers when the dog struck. He had been waiting for us all morning. The great black brute launched himself from behind a wooden shack.

‘I suppose that’s why it’s called Wild Dog Road,’ I quipped after my heart had restarted.

We eventually picked up Turton’s Track, and entered a copper and emerald forest, pierced by shafts of white sunlight.

Huge ferns and vines pressed in on us as we turned the pedals in the cool darkness of the forest floor. In the late afternoon we emerged from the forest onto tarmac and rode into the hamlet of Beech Forest, nestling on the edge of the woodland. Andy was a few minutes ahead. He had stopped his bike in the road as a short tomboy, dressed in old blue dungarees, appeared from the pub.

Lyn was in her early thirties with close-cropped, spiky hair and a cheeky grin. She started to chat to Andy, obviously attracted by his matinée idol looks! Mind you, she’d had a few!

‘I did some bike touring a few years back,’ she told him. ‘Rode from Sydney to Brisbane once. Come on, I’ll buy you a drink.’

Suzanne and I spotted Andy’s bike leaning up against a post outside the pub. We joined him for ‘a couple of quiet ones’.

Andy introduced us to Lyn, and after sharing a few midis (medium glasses of beer) with her, she invited us all back to her place to meet her friend Louise. We followed her clapped-out Renault down the road.

Lyn introduced us to Louise, a motherly mountain of a girl with Italian ancestry. The two of them, standing side by side, looked like Laurel and Hardy.

‘We met a few years back whilst working with a road-mending gang in New South Wales,’ Louise explained. ‘When the job was finished, we decided to stick together, bought this old wooden cabin with a bit of land and a few chooks and we’ve bin goin’ strong ever since.’

Lyn proudly showed us around their smallholding and introduced us to Cecil and Gerty, two healthy-looking brown milk cows. They also had ducks, geese, chickens and a goat called Bert.

‘I used to have a job in Melbourne but all the rushing around stressed me out. Now all I’ve got to worry about is remembering to milk Cecil and Gerty, pick up the eggs, and water the vegetables. I just love it here.’ I could see that Lyn and Louise were thriving on their version of Old MacDonald’s Farm.

Louise wore the trousers in this relationship, but Lyn seemed happy enough to be bossed about. Louise was wary of us at first but soon warmed to our light-hearted banter.

‘Listen Louise. How about if Andy and I cook us all a meal?’ I suggested. ‘We have all the stuff we need in our panniers.’

‘Not on your life, mate,’ came the answer. ‘If you think I’m going to let two ham-fisted blokes loose in my kitchen you can think again!’

Suzanne was allowed to stay but Andy and I were ushered out and placed in comfortable old armchairs by a wood-burning stove in the front room, cold tubes of lager in our hands.

Louise soon appeared with a delicious pasta dish with a thick tomato sauce topped with Parmesan cheese…

quotes

“Readers will be inspired to reach out and follow their own dreams.”

Sir Ranulph Fiennes

“Once in a while you come across a book that’s a sheer delight to read.”

Alastair Humphreys

“Truly inspirational reading. 10/10.”

Cycling Plus

reviews

This is a fantastic book - it's written in an easy to read style, as if the writers were chatting to you over a pint in the pub.The story is an amazing one, covering many, many miles, but the thing I loved most was the vivid, interesting descriptions of the things they saw and the people they met along the way. It made it much more addictive than a tale of pure physical slog. It also covers the questions everyone wonders about but never normally get answered - how much did it cost, how could they afford a year off, how did they plan, didn't they ever fall out, what about their lives back home?What better review can I give than that his book alone has inspired me to escape from the rat race and cycle around New Zealand for 6 months!

(5* review)

extras

A tribute to Tim Garratt

…co-author of Discovery Road, who died in 2010 after a long struggle with a tropical illness:

I am sorry to have to write that Tim Garratt passed away in late 2010 after a long illness. When his wife Phyl gave me the news, I had been thinking of how Tim and I may celebrate 20 years since we set off from Sidney on our journey, and it came as a great shock. Now, over a year later I am at last able to sit down and write a few words about Tim and the loss I feel. It has been too difficult for me to face it up to now. When I first suggested to Tim, in a pub near Telford, that we ride around the world he told me that he had been thinking of travelling around South East Asia. In 1995, three years after our return from the cycle journey, I was living in Hong Kong and Tim did make it to South East Asia, and I met him in Sabah, Malaysia on the island of Borneo for some diving and a hike up the mountain, Kinabalu. We didn’t know it then, but in the weeks before he met up with me, Tim had contracted an illness in a jungle in Malaysia, perhaps dengue fever from a mosquito, the effects of which he would never recover from. After our time together in Sabah, he met up with Phyl and went home with heavy flu-like symptoms that knocked him out so much that his friends wondered if he was dying then. For most of the next 15 years, Tim had very little energy; activities such as working full-time and later reading and walking down the street were too much for him. This was a cruel contrast from the Tim that must have been one of the fittest people on the planet at the end of our cycle journey.

There were ups and downs and Tim did work part-time as a teacher at the Bridgnorth Endowed School for some years. He was kind enough to make the trip to Hong Kong to be the best man at the wedding of myself and Bianca in 1999. He and Phyl didn’t let on in Hong Kong that he was exhausted by the travel and the celebrations and it took months for him to regain strength. Tim and Phyl tried every cure that they could find and whilst acupuncture and some medications gave short-term relief there was a slow descent. In a photo taken of him in his final year he looked like an old man, though he was under 50. He died of complications, perhaps caused by a range of imbalances in his body. I am deeply honoured to write these words and to have shared the time of my life with Tim Garratt. I could not have foreseen that the chance meeting on the train at midnight in Agra would become a life-long friendship. Tim’s life was full of achievement, laughter, loyalty, friends, inspiration and love.

My memories of Tim are locked in those wonderful days in the early 1990s on the road in Australia, Africa and South America. He was super-fit then, smiling in the face of the worst conditions, a tough, rugged man and yet kind, especially to children. He was full of energy on the road and always up for a beer or two in some dangerous bar at night. Tim was the perfect buddy for an adventure. He was charismatic and could always be relied upon to take the risk, work hard, charm some troublesome people into becoming friends and stay laid back and jovial.

Tim’s great friends from his rugby playing days before the cycling trip remember him as a bit of a wild young guy. He was their club captain and the guy that would lead them into pranks and trouble whilst keeping himself safely behind the scenes when the police, pub landlord, restaurant owner or other innocent victims came on the scene. Those guys could tell you a hundred hilarious stories of humiliation, naked running around bars and brushes with the law with Tim as the wicked mastermind. After Tim’s funeral we celebrated Tim’s life at the Shifnal Golf Club and the love and respect shown by his rugby friends shone through in the rugby songs we sang together. I will never forget the emotion of that afternoon.

It seems that Tim and I were the first people to have bicycled across Australia, Africa and South America in one year. We learned from the terribly poor and some would say disadvantaged people, to stay positive, have hope, look after each other and make do without complaint. Tim lived this way through his long, painful and draining illness.

During our journey Tim often spoke of his family, his Mum and Dad, brother Simon and his wife Phyl and his respect and love for them. This was very surprising and touching for such a tough character. They were his inspiration and his foundation and they can take some credit for his achievements.

There are no survivors in the world. Death comes sometime to us all, it is the cycle of things; death allows new life to emerge. When we go we would all like to know that we have made a positive impact on people and our planet along the way.

I feel Tim made a difference for many people in Africa, through our fund-raising and awareness raising. Many people have written to us over the years to tell us that they have found our journey and this book a source of inspiration in their struggles.

I know that he was greatly respected by his pupils and fellow teachers. Anyone that knew Tim Garratt personally would feel themselves privileged to have known a very special guy. Tim would have liked the idea of people reading this book after his death and being inspired to make little changes in their lives or embark on great adventures to make things better. So please, don’t hold back, listen to the clues of destiny.

Tim, I love you and miss you, buddy.

Andy Brown

Hong Kong

February 2014

ABOUT

Andy Brown & Tim Garratt

Friends Andy Brown and Tim Garratt set themselves the challenge to be the first people to mountain bike around the world.

Andy, an ambitious and high-achieving petroleum executive, one evening found his attention arrested by the head of Oxfam speaking about life and the chances hundreds of millions of children never have. Andy began questioning his values. He began to question what he was getting from life. Andy hatched a plan to cycle around the world. And raise money for the charity, Practical Action.

In comes Tim Garratt, an English and Physical Education teacher, who finding himself in a rut, plans to travel.

The timing couldn’t have been better.

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