Jake had established himself as a ripper sport reporter, while Mara swiftly became all things knowledgeable on LNG, the bauxite to aluminium process and other major industries cemented in town.
Six months after becoming friends, a flame was lit and we have been together for two years. Last year we travelled to Egypt and Jordan together, a trip brought on by a mutual fascination for the ancient Pharaohs and their ways.
Now we’ve decided to take our travels to the next level, and cycle from Phuket in Thailand, through Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, and then go on to Europe from there.
As a journalist I have never found it easy to write about myself, after getting used to telling other people’s stories. At the same time, I think everyone can write a book about their own lives that is mighty interesting.
Maybe one day I will do just that.
For now though, I will attempt to answer the question I keep getting asked… why on earth would you want to try and cycle around the world?
I have always been sport mad. I began playing golf at eight and rugby league the same year. That was the result of watching every sport I could from as young as I can remember.
I quit league when I was ten because I wasn’t keen on the tackling bigger players thing and started hockey where I had a stick to protect myself.
The biggest influence on my dream is not from my playing days though, but from a sport I have never competed in.
The Tour de France always fascinated me, as did the idea of hurting yourself on a bike to get to places and feel the benefit of the effort.
So much so, I used to be nocturnal for two weeks in school holidays to watch it and Wimbledon.
The years of watching when I was young, the dream of becoming a sport journalist arose after listening to Phil Liggett commentate. I also realised I could not ride in the UCI World Tour.
Apparently you have to be pretty good to do that, so I decided one day I would create the Tour de Jake.
There is not any one part of the world I want to ride above another.
I started riding a part of Europe when I was there in 2012. But I was ill-prepared and being the middle of winter I was beginning to get sick and stopped.
It was not my first trip to Europe, having been there for an indoor hockey tour in 2007, and I have also been lucky enough to go to South Africa for hockey and New Zealand for golf as well.
I am certainly not as well travelled as some, nor am I the first to want to cycle the world.
It is a crazy dream.
Back to the question…why do this?
Simple. I love sport, especially cycling, and I love travel.
It is time to combine the two and see some parts of countries others don’t get to traveling traditionally.
Bring on the adventure, the mishaps and the fun.
Cycling across Asia. Sounds crazy right?
I think I’ve done my fair share of crazy – sky-diving for my 18th birthday, bungee jumping, running with the bulls in Spain, rafting (black and white water), La Tomatina – many of the adrenaline building activities and festivals.
But travel, travel has been in my blood my whole life.
Maybe it’s because I was the problem that stopped mum and dad from travelling all those (30) years ago.
I’m constantly reminded of it, but it just encourages me to head off more often.
A student exchange in Germany at the age of 16, and heading off on a one-way ticket to London with my cousin at the age of 22 kept me enthralled at learning about how other people live.
I may not know their languages, but I’ll give it a shot (we became quite adept at Arabic last year in Egypt) and communication is 80% body language too.
I’ve flown into cities for the weekend, jumped on trains for a quick tour and been guided around Galipoli, New York and Casablanca.
Now it’s time for us to travel slow. Meet the locals. See how the real people live.
Follow us and come along for the ride.