Bikepacking Around the World: Mind Mapping Pt. 2 (Film)
Charismatic young cyclist Boru McCullagh is on an open-ended bikepacking journey around the world, and the second “Mind Mapping” film finds him in Malaysia after having pedaled some 20,000 kilometers from London. Find a written update from Boru, a handful of photos shot between Turkey and Malaysia, and the full 30-minute film here…
This film, Mind Mapping Part 2, is releasing at a strange time for me. It comes out nearly exactly a year after I left London on a then naively expected eight-month, then nine-month, then year-long journey around the planet with the aim of diving into the world and my mind. I embarked on the ride in an effort to prove I could take care of myself and put my well-being at the forefront of my actions by putting myself in new, uncomfortable, and challenging situations. Now, a year on, the journey has grown and the way in which I bikepack has changed significantly. I’m still not sure of how long the road will be for me to return back to London. It’s not a matter of distance or time anymore. The journey is measured by the people I meet, the places I see, and what I can learn from the world around me.
Finley Newmark and I said “until next time” to each other at Kayseri Airport after filming Mind Mapping Part 1 in mid-October 2022. At that point, the journey was still very much in its infancy, with only a month and half spent riding across Europe and Turkey. Finley was returning to London, and I was about to hop over Iran and Pakistan and dive into the intensity and beauty of India. We agreed then that whether it would be to make a Part 2 or not, we would see each other next in May 2023.
Rather optimistically, I expected to be somewhere in Peru at that point, and I would have been had I carried the momentum I rode with when I left London. However, my approach changed, and applied less and less pressure on myself to ensure I rode a certain amount every day because I realised it was taking a huge toll on my ability to take in and in turn learn from the countries I had such an opportunity to visit.
I told myself there is no value in this journey if I pass through the places I’m visiting and simply ride my bike, eventually returning home the exact same person but with stronger legs. Bikepacking is about a whole lot more than that; it’s the catalyst that allows you to see the world through a different lens. An unfiltered lens. It is a connection with nature, with humanity, with yourself. My approach had to change as I grew to understand this more.
For example, I only planned to spend a week in Malaysia, riding the 850-kilometre length of the Malaysian Peninsula, but by the time Finley arrived, I’d already ridden more than 6,000 kilometres there in every state of West Malaysia. The final two were Sabah and Sarawak, the states that make up 60% of Malaysia’s total land mass and are found on the island of Borneo. It was clear where we had to go to film Mind Mapping Part 2 so I could show Finley why I decided to spend so long there and why I was growing such an affinity for this beautiful country. Where Mind Mapping Part 1 follows the reasons behind leaving on this journey, we wanted with Part 2 to tell the story of what those subsequent seven months on the road looked like.
Today, one year into this journey, I’m not sure what the next will entail. My attitude now is “go where the wind is on your back.” Not setting my bearings in one direction and reaching that point as fast as possible, but meandering around, not rushing, and moving on when the time feels right. It’s not an aimlessness, but an openness to accept that it’s hard to dictate a journey of this scale. Instead, the journey can guide me, not the other way around. I don’t want to look for things too hard, because if I do, I know I might fail to see what’s directly in front of me. My aim now is not to seek, but to find. To have a rough idea but not expect or plan any of the details. I’ve been doing this long enough now to know that unexpected surprises come in many forms.
This ride is in support of Mind, a mental health charity in the UK that gives advice and support to empower anyone experiencing mental health problems. You can donate here. With thanks to Specialized, Albion, Quoc, HUNT and Tailfin for their support in telling this story.
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