An intrepid Steyning traveller has taken to two wheels in an epic journey of discovery across Europe.
Last June, 24-year-old Tieran Freedman set off from his relatives’ house in Norway for a year-long cycle to Georgia, interviewing local people along the way.
His journey brought him into contact with a political prisoner in Turkey, a refugee from eastern Ukraine and dozens of others willing to share their stories.
“There were a few set questions and everyone I met I’d ask, ‘what does home mean to you?’,” said Tieran, who is aiming to become a journalist.
“That really put things into perspective, especially the Ukrainian who had been displaced from hers.
“When you are going on a bike, you see social and cultural changes happening slowly, rather than just flying over everything in a plane. You see the changes happening gradually.
“People are just a product of the people that they’re around and the country they grow up in. Now when I meet someone I disagree with I think how has their culture contributed to who they are.”
Tieran and his girlfriend Miriam, who travelled with him for around 1,200 miles of the trip, have been publishing the stories of people they’ve interviewed on their blog, The Place, The Person, The Plate.
Locals are asked about where they are from, who they are and to recommend a traditional dish from their homeland, which Tieran and Miriam then sample and review.
In a trip characterised by leaps of faith, interviews would often come naturally from speaking to strangers and the pair would find accommodation by knocking on people’s doors.
The pair cycled around 45 miles a day, with 60kg of luggage strapped to the bikes. Even more remarkable considering a nasty cycling fall at ten years old left Tieran needing eight years of reconstructive facial surgery and being extremely unsure on a bike.
Cycling allowed them to get off the beaten track and meet genuine local people, Tieran said, and give a better insight into each country.
With Miriam forced to return home, Tieran admitted the prospect of knocking on strangers’ doors had become less appealing. Her departure presented the most difficult aspect of the trip, he said, and left him an ‘emotional mess’ and questioning whether to continue.
“Most of the challenges that come with a cycle tour are psychological, not physical, and it was a real mental battle to keep going,” he said.
Not to be deterred, Tieran completed his adventure and returned home for a well-earned break. A second leg awaits, this time taking in Asia.
Follow the rest of Tieran and Miriam’s journey here: https://theplacethepersontheplate.com/