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Cycling for culture, leisure

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Carpe diem is a well-known phrase that translates to seize the day.

That is exactly what Dominic Luther did when he decided to resign as a teacher in English and tour the world on his bicycle.

The 34-year-old man from the City of Manchester, England, started his cycling journey six years ago at the age of 28 and has travelled to 65 countries with Malawi being his 66th when he arrived in the early hours of Sunday morning on May 7, 2017.

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Asked on the reasons behind his decision to leave his home and job, Luther gleefully says he wants to experience the different cultures personally and not through books or pure hearsay.

On first encounter, one can already sense the excitement and warmth that defines Luther’s personality. The cyclist is indeed free-spirited and welcoming of ideas and new experiences.

“I want to meet different people and experience various cultures and I chose to do so with my bicycle because it acts as a key or channel for someone to comfortably talk to me. I say this because using a vehicle, although efficient and somewhat ‘safer’, would act as a barrier for people to talk to me freely,” he says, adding that people use bicycles all over the world because they make communication easier.

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The question he has been asked often is: “Are you cycling all over the world for a charitable cause?”

Nowadays, it is rare for people to take the initiative to do something as spontaneous as this without a specific cause such as charity or to raise awareness about something.

But Luther’s decision to travel is for leisure purposes. He is on a quest to interact with people and the world personally.

Through his escapades all over the world, Luther has learned different languages such as Spanish and some Portuguese which were useful when he was in countries in South America. Aside from that, he has appreciated the variety of foods that are indigenous to a certain tribe or area.

The cyclist says he has been fortunate enough to find accommodation with people who were interested in his journey to see the world.

But on days he failed to find a roof over his head, Luther has been using his sleeping bag and tent which he travels with on his bicycle. He also has bags for different everyday utilities such as clothes, a portable cooker which he lights up using a bottle of methylated spirit that is strapped to his bicycle, a torch and an insect repellant.

So he is living a quotidian lifestyle – just on a bicycle.

When he arrived in Malawi, the cyclist was welcomed by Howard Kananji, the owner of Shammies Garden in Nyambadwe. The two’s paths crossed when Luther met a fellow cyclist in Mozambique who, as fate would have it, happened to be Kananji’s nephew.

Commenting on Luther’s decision to travel alone on his bicycle, Kananji commends the cyclist, saying “it is good exercise, especially at his age. It will help him stay fit. Other than that, his plan to experience the world from his own perspective is something people are not brave enough to do. Rather than listen to what people say about a certain country, Luther has made it a point to live in the moment and take in the various cultures all around the world and I think that is a great choice”.

The cyclist has tried some Malawian dishes such as our famous chambo and nsima. In relation to his feelings about nsima, Luther says it was alright and jokingly said “I’ll add in some butter/margarine next time”.

One could say Luther made a peculiar decision to leave his family in Manchester but as fate would have it, he was able to meet some family members in Ukraine whom he assumed had lost their lives during World War II.

“My grandfather was born in Ukraine but because of World War II, he ended up in the UK thinking his whole family in Ukraine was dead. Thanks to the bicycle, I ended up back in that town and found these people that no one in my family knew existed. It was amazing,” he says.

He broke down his planning schedule which has gone through some alterations. In the first three years, Luther says he travelled to countries in North and South America as well as Cuba and Palestine. He has travelled to certain islands which he says were a bit of a challenge because he could not travel with his bicycle on these islands and so he boarded flights that were financially cheaper for him.

All the while, Luther did not visit his home in Manchester. However, in 2014, Luther made a few changes to his travelling plan and he returned home for three months and started off his journey in the next month.

Although he began the journey with his sister, he has been riding solo and finds no problem with it because he is not married nor does he have children to return to.

“Maybe I will find a partner on this journey as I tour the world and hopefully this partner will ride with me and I won’t be alone. Not that I am lonely anyway since I meet people every day,” he says.

Luther plans on touring the northern parts of Malawi and make his way to Zambia and all the countries in the southern Africa within the last few months he has before returning home.

If you would like to check out his journey so far, Luther has created a blog (www.onebikeoneworld.com) documenting his travels. The blog is equipped with pictures from the Caribbean, Tunisia, Mozambique, Malawi and all the other countries he has had the privilege of visiting.

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