When Aaron Austin-Glen pedalled out of London bound for Australia in July 2014, he set out to see the world in a different light – to explore more – not only for himself, but to record and share his experiences with his friends and family.
The 34-year-old from Brisbane wanted to see the world the slow way, by bike, and spend time in the places he visited, interviewing the locals along the way for a series of short documentary films.
“A lot of my friends are quite inspired by what I’ve done in the past nine months and that’s really nice to see,” he says, adding that it challenges the idea that we must stay bound to stressful desk jobs.
“We all need to do that every now and again, but that seems like the normal; it’s not actually a normal way of living when you think about it. I’m so much fitter, so much healthier, so much happier than I’ve ever been.”
He says he would happily continue with his current lifestyle, but admits he’s pretty strapped for cash after nine months on the road.
When I spoke to him this week, he was in the coastal town of Albany, Western Australia; having cycled almost 9,000km on his Tout Terrain Silkroad since the start of his journey, passing through The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, the UAE, Oman and India.
Back in the country of his birth after having spent 10 years living in London working as a music events manager, he has returned to cycle across Australia, tackling the challenging conditions of the Nullarbor and the Outback on his way to Brisbane. Aaron says over that time he has spent about 93 days cycling, and the rest meeting people.
“The cycling, I still love it, but it’s where it gets you, isn’t it; the bits in between that are real special,” he says.
And he has met some interesting people, from local river surfers in Munich, Germany, to traditional Slovenian cobblers, to a newspaper journalists in Macedonia who had earned herself the title of enemy-of-the-state, to name a few.
And then there were the people in general, which he says got progressively friendlier as he cycled from Bosnia to Iran, which has been his favourite country to visit, closely followed by Georgia.
“It’s the kind of hospitality that you don’t get in any other place,” he says of Iran. “It’s just so innocent in a way. And it’s also a really beautiful country as well.”
Aaron is now riding his final 5,000km through Australia and preparing to head east across The Nullarbor Plain then up through Broken Hill toward Brisbane. You can follow his video posts on his Explore More Facebook Page or check out a little more on his website where he has posted two of his short films, with more to come.
Interview by Alia Parker
You can read the interview at Cycle Traveller online