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“Like most decisions of great consequence my plan to cycle the length of six of the earth’s continents was made in a pub, beer in one hand, mini-atlas in the other”



When Stephen Fabes left his job as a junior doctor and set out to cycle around the world, frontline medicine quickly faded from his mind. Of more pressing concern were the daily challenges of life as an unfit rider on an overloaded bike, helplessly in thrall to pastries.

But leaving medicine behind is not as easy as it seems…

Here he shares a part of that incredible journey in pictures – crossing Mongolia. Stephen’s book Signs of Life: To the Ends of the Earth with a Doctor, tells the full story of his 6 year cycle adventure across 6 continents. A thought-provoking, humorous and highly absorbing account of his epic ride, Signs of Life is available to purchase from Amazon or from Stephen’s website -we absolutely loved it and highly recommend you give it a read.

Stephen Fabes Riding Out
Riding Out
People talk of the vastness of the Mongolian sky, but the land too is wide-open, and the wind relentless, helping you forward or holding you back.
Stephen Fabes In Mongolia
Cooling Down
Winter takes hold - there's a bite to the wind now, and snow encroaches as the rivers freeze.
Mongolian Herder
A herder who offered to let me rest for a while in his ger, a welcome break from the building cold.
Mongolian 'roads'
Mongolian ‘Roads’
For much of Mongolia, the road surface is determined by the season, varying from sand to mud to snow and ice. An unpaved Mongolian ‘road’ beyond the capital is a network of rough, transient trails. Cars forge new tracks continually, and without knowing where to put signposts, nobody goes to the trouble.
Mongolian Children
Village Children
Arriving into a remote Mongolian village on a bicycle is quite the event, especially from a kid's perspective.
Mongolian Winter
Mongolian Winter
Coming over a rise to find this trail, its ruts filled with snow, was gut-wrenching. Progress was painfully slow for the next hundred miles.
Cycling Across Mongolia
A herder, who reached into his deel, and with all the flourish of a magician, produced this cute goat (possible now butchered for its tasty flesh, sorry).
Mongolian Bikers
Local Bikers
A posse of bikers stop to say hello on the road to Ulaistay.
Stephen Fabes Lake Khövsgöl
Ice Sculpture
Lake Khövsgöl, near the border with Siberia. Frozen throughout the winter, the ice a metre thick. The lake itself is 260 metres deep in places, and between December and June, almost three-quarters of the freshwater in Mongolia is held here. The sculpture is a remnant of the festival of ice.
Stephen Fabes Pitched On The Ice
The ice croaked and muttered. Sometimes it snapped so loudly it echoed off the mountains and could be felt as a convulsion under my feet. I pitched my tent on the ice, a hundred metres or so from the shore and settled in for a cold night. It was the coldest I had known.
Signs Of Life - Stephen Fabes
The sun rose from a gold band, seaming the taiga to the sky. The temperature was around minus 40. I made some morning repairs though my painfully cold hands were not well suited to the task. There were some bad words spoken and this scene was markedly less tranquil than it appears.
Rescued By A Mongolian Teenager
When your bike breaks down on the edge of a remote Mongolian ice lake and you get rescued by a teenager with a serious hat.

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Stephen Fabes


Stephen Fabes

Stephen Fabes is a medical doctor with a bad case of wanderlust and no sense of direction. He finally found his way home in 2016 after cycling the length of six continents – a six-year adventure across 75 countries and 53,000 miles. Stephen uses human stories to explore the landscape of health and disease. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, the Telegraph, Geographical, CNN and the BBC among others. He is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, an inspiring public speaker and a regular at live storytelling nights. He currently works in the Emergency Department at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, and time off is for running trails. Signs of Life is his first book.

Signs of Life by Stephen Fabes
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