What can I possibly say about the last few days?!… The last 48 hours have been spent in the vain pursuit of packing perfection – although my bike (Ramotswe; for those of you that don’t yet know) is holding everything I need in a, more or less, organised manner, she does weigh a ton. I’ve never had such a heavy bike to pedal and tomorrow I need to travel 100 miles to my dad’s house in reading! A feat I know I’ll find difficult because between uni, my old job and planning for this ride means I haven’t been able to cycle more than 40 miles a week for a very long time.
Here’s a video I put together earlier demonstrating how everything fits together. I know she looks heavy and you might think I’ve taken everything including the kitchen sink but I’m no weight weenie – I like light bikes, but I like my hammock, mask and snorkel even more, if you see what I mean?… and I’m also packing my laptop and associated electronics for the benefit of this site. So, with that defensive statement in place, I invite you to check out the video: (note: totally ripped off Ellie’s brilliant idea I’m afraid)
Aside from being a little out of shape for a 100 mile first day, and apart from harbouring a guilty consciousness about taking too many heavy luxuries on the bike, I’m really eager to get on the road and will pleased to ease myself into the simple, free and untethered life of cycle-touring again. Let the adventure begin!
Recently I found myself asking the question ‘what makes a good cycle-tour’; it’s been well over a year since Charlie, a fellow student, and I agreed that in the summer of 2012 we would embark on a transcontinental ride from England to China. Since then the plan has evolved to include more people, more locations, backup routes and has undergone many subtle revisions. Despite all this another seemingly impassable obstacle has emerged from the woodwork over the last few weeks; and that is that Charlie wants to ride fast, so he can drop over the Himalayas into India before the border closes on December the 1st, and I want to ride slow so that I can meet Ellie, see her fantastic blog here, in Slovenia and take a detour into Greece before looping around the south of Turkey. As my own separate plans have developed Continue reading Warmth and Water; what makes a good cycle-tour: pt.1→
The rest of the previous nights riding was a struggle, we knew thanks to the Germans, that we were on the right track but the road was poor and Lallo repeatedly got punctures on his skinny tyres. After dealing with pinch flats and riding with our head torches out of the dark forest we eventually found the road we’d been promised. At this point everyone was exhausted and ready for sleep so we took the first camp we could see which was right on the corner of the junction we had arrived at. It was a very dark night and even with the head-torches shining about the blackness just seemed to envelope our party and it wasn’t until morning that I came to appreciate the beauty of where we now were. Continue reading pt.6 – Misty hills and Hari Krishnas→
I don’t know how long it has been since I started taking the prospect of cycling to China seriously; well over a year I think. I’ve wanted to do it for ages but always preferred the idea of having company, and could never fully convince anyone to surrender a year of their life and what money they had to two wheels and a tent. Now, since I’ve found some like-minded people to join and I’ve been committed to a date (mid June) I’ve had to take extra shifts at work and save every penny I could to fund it, there has been quite a lot of kit to procure along with hours of research on visas, insurance, routes and mapping etc. This combined with my last year of Uni and general life stuff has made the last few winter months quite tough. But finally the end is in sight; the end of planning, the end of Uni and the start of life on the road as I make my way to China. Continue reading Switzerland 2012; the home run→
If you like a bit of gritty down-to-earth science then you may have come across the BBC’s Bang Goes the Theory. Series 6 has just begun with an episode dedicated to showing ways in which combustible fuels can be produced to run in standard internal combustion engines. It’s a great show with a very hands-on approach to science and always covers topical subjects but the part that grabbed my attention in this extra clip was that the slightly bizarre Dr Yan conducted a test of cycling efficiency on a well spec’d Thorn touring bike. In the experiment Dr Yan competes against a moped to see which form of transport achieves the most milage on 1,000 calories and also concludes with a MPG rating for each. To make matters interesting DR Yan and his Thron are loaded up so that the weight of the bike is equal to the scooter. Check out the video below to admire Dr Yan the closet cycle-tourer in action. Continue reading Dr Yan rides a Thorn→
Following the great midday climb up to Dutovlje we sat in a small cafe in the center of town and drank ice cold ‘Lasko Pivo’, a typically good continental beer, and ate damson plums that we found growing along the roadside earlier that morning. Only recently introduced to strong sunlight and with tans still absent, our faces all looked burnt and rosy. The first few days had been a hard start and I noticed a tired, fuzzy expression washed over our parched faces as we slumped down in our chairs under the shade of the cafe.
Before long the rest of the group had arrived and had entered a shop across the square. I finished my beer and went after them, I didn’t need to buy anything but I thought I’d find out what the atmosphere was like, and try and gauge whether people wanted to push on for an early camp to get some proper rest. Continue reading pt.4 – Finding our feet→
Ultralight Cycle Touring and Fully Loaded Bicycle Travel