DUBAI // When an expatriate decides his or her time is up in the UAE, the next step is usually a flight home.
But the Briton Sam Coultrip will fly in the opposite direction, east to Pakistan, and then cycle 12,000 kilometres over eight months.
If all goes to plan, he will end up having crossed the world's highest border as well as much of Central Asia and Europe.
"I thought to put my stuff on a ship and beat it home on a bicycle. When I looked at it I realised I had not a chance of doing that," he said.
Instead the project manager for a wayfinding consultant took his work home with him and planned the trip he has called Blood Sweat & Gears.
The venture will also help him raise money for an educational charity in Sierra Leone. The organisation builds and runs the only free secondary schools in the country and gives free meals to students who attend class.
Mr Coultrip gained further inspiration from his friend Matt Blake, who is cycling around the world. Mr Blake left for his trip in April 2008 and is in Albania. He plans to finish this April.
"I came through China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, which Sam will go through," Mr Blake said.
His advice was simple: "Just go and get on with it. The hardest part is always leaving your front door and once you're out there, the problems sort themselves."
Despite the road conditions, language barriers and cold, he said the main thing was to enjoy the trip.
"Bike touring for more than a month is not a holiday, but at the same time you need to be happy and to be loving what you do. So mental strength comes from enjoying what you are doing. If you don't have fun whilst doing it then there's no point."
Mr Coultrip drew his route after looking at Mr Blake's itinerary.
"On the same side of the map on the same page, you can ride from Dubai to the UK so I thought I'd have a go," he said. He will start his journey in Islamabad in April and head north to the Karakoram Highway, the highest paved road in the world, which connects Pakistan and China. "My original thought was that I wanted to ride away from my front door," he said. But some of the routes he drew were either too easy or too dangerous.
"The route was originally through Iran. I know it's a bit odd but I'd get into Europe quickly," he said. "I wanted to do it in two halves and keep a special element to it, which is the Karakoram Highway."
For two weeks, Mr Coultrip will ride his Thorn Nomad bike uphill to more than 4,000 metres carrying 25 kilograms of gear. He will have clothes, a stove, tent, a sleeping bag, space meals and up to 10 litres of water.
"I do like cooking, and I will be able to make stews with different ingredients from those parts. I'm looking forward to that bit," he said.
Despite the many challenges facing him, Mr Coultrip was more concerned with stone-throwing children and dangerous drivers. To avoid unwanted attention, he will wear traditional clothing at the start of the trip.
"It's just so I don't stand out like a Spandex-clad idiot. The more approachable you'll be, it's better."
From Pakistan, he will cross the mountains into China and ride on to Kyrgyzstan. Crossing more mountains, he will take a couple of weeks to reach Uzbekistan. Once he arrives in Aktau, Kazakhstan, on the coast of the Caspian Sea, he will find out whether or not his boat is waiting.
"The ferry to Baku [Azerbaijan] is unpredictable," he said. "I could be waiting up to two weeks. If you arrive and the boat has just left you have to wait another two weeks, maybe."
Mr Coultrip's cycling friend, Mark Powsney, said he had never known him to do anything quite so daring.
"He is the Forrest Gump of the cycling world. He'll just carry on and not stop," said the 39-year-old financial adviser, referring to the film character who ran across the United States several times.
Mr Coultrip will have a budget of about 17 dirhams a day until he reaches Turkey. He also plans to meet up with his girlfriend in Germany. He will eventually take a ferry to Hull from Amsterdam before cycling to his home in Oxford in December.
"I am going to blog, which will initially run through Facebook, which also gives details of the charity, Eduaid," he said.
"They are not receiving enough funding to give them free meals and some of these kids are spending their days looking for food instead of getting an education. The notion of choosing between an education and food is just astonishing."